September 18, 2009 / 7:44 AM / 8 years ago

Travel Picks: Top 5 small, boutique hotels

<p>Tourists enjoy a morning snooze on Miami Beach August 24, 1998.Colin Braley</p>

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Small can definitely be beautiful, with boutique hotel specialists and booking service Mr & Mrs Smith (www.mrandmrssmith.com) listing their five favorite properties around the world.

This list is not endorsed by Reuters.

1. Casa Tua, Miami, United States

There's no sign above the door of this intimate hideaway, and it's screened from the street by wrought-iron railings and lush vegetation, but everyone knows where Casa Tua is. It's won acclaim for its excellent Italian-fusion restaurant and draws Miami's in-crowd to its exclusive members-only lounge bar. In each of the five guest rooms, which have a separate entrance, heavy cream drapes, soft white Bellora linens, rich dark woods and carefully chosen art pieces suggest rigorous editing and impeccable taste. White marble gleams in the bathrooms, and little balconies jut jauntily out over the garden greenery.

2. Lone Star Restaurant & Hotel, Barbados, Caribbean

This one-time petrol station has much more to offer than finessed world cuisine and a celebrity cast list, however; its four impeccably appointed suites offer a brand of luxury Caribbean accommodation with a refreshingly personal touch and a quirky designer eye. This Barbados hotel sustains a smart palette of blue, white and mahogany throughout. There are playful touches, too: huge gilt silver mirrors lean against palm trees on the talc-white beach, waiters and waitresses flit around the restaurant - dubbed 'the Ivy of the Caribbean' by British restaurant critic Michael Winner - in mechanics' overalls in a throwback to the hotel's garage roots.

3. Casa 32, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Owned and run by a friendly and welcoming family - Senhor Lucio knows Rio inside out - this historic mansion at the foot of Rio's iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer is the ideal eye-opener for jaded hotel hoppers. A succession of art lovers and collectors have owned and passed through Casa 32 over the generations, and their legacy is visible in the stunning baroque carvings, impressive murals and hand-painted rococo tiles. Modern touches also abound, too. Both suites (yes, there's only two) exhibit swish designer furniture and a sensitive contemporary color scheme. The looks may be lavish, but the atmosphere's as homely and intimate as it gets.

4. Thirty Two, Cotswolds, Britain

A four-room, five-star boutique bed and breakfast in Cheltenham, on the edge of the Britain's largest designated area of natural beauty, Thirty Two serves up historic splendor with a huge dose of lofty-proportioned Regency-era gorgeousness. Its style-savvy owners, both former London-dwellers, run an interior-design company from the house, and Thirty Two is an impeccable blend of ancient and Noughties furniture, original fittings and stylish stand-out pieces collected from around the world. Perched on the fringes of the main Imperial Square gardens, this grand townhouse is the ideal romantic country escape for two.

5. Crossing Condotti, Rome, Italy

Sandwiched between some of Rome's most fashionable shopping streets, the entrance to Crossing Condotti is as discreet as a royal bodyguard. Up on the first floor, this beautifully restored apartment building has been transformed into an independent traveler's home away from home, mixing contemporary comforts with conversation-piece furnishings from the owners' private collection. Warm parquet floors, beamed ceilings, ecru walls and enough paintings to fill a small room in the Galleria Borghese give Crossing Condotti a characterful, luxe-apartment vibe. This boutique hotel in central Rome may not provide B&B or food, but what it does offer is the rare opportunity to feel like a resident of the Eternal City.

Editing by Miral Fahmy

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