Maybe it’s a waste, but my favorite part of traveling is the hotels.
I know it should be the sights, the hikes, the adventures I book. But, inevitably, I end up sitting at the hotel bar instead. But no, I love a good hotel.
I’ve never understood people who skimp on the hotel, claiming they “won’t be in the room much anyway.” But that’s where I sleep! And I famously splurge on sleep — from my bedroom’s Brooklinen sheets to those delicious Slip Silk accessories.
But it’s not just about the money to me — an expensive hotel doesn’t always signify quality. I’ve learned — after staying in a few big-ticket, luxury accommodations — that my taste isn’t fancy, it’s unique. While some people are super impressed by marble bathrooms and hotel slippers, I’m intrigued by architecture, design, and storytelling.
Boutique hotels often say more about a destination than any mere Hyatt or Ritz can. With destination-inspired architecture, local art, and often local cuisine, small hotels provide an intimate experience.
I’ve noticed that newer boutique hotels offer even higher quality service and unique perspectives. Recently, there’s a growing number of boutique hotels owned by Black hoteliers who are bringing a welcome diversity to international travel.
In an article in the New York Times, this is a trend that started in 2020. They said: “many travelers are paying close attention to whether companies are following through with their promises from last year. Black travelers, in particular, are doubling down on supporting Black-owned businesses. A survey released earlier this year by the consulting firm MMGY Global found that Black travelers, particularly those in the United States, Canada, Britain and Ireland, are keenly interested in how destinations and travel service providers approach diversity and have indicated that it has an influence on their travel decision-making.”
This global surge is not going anywhere soon, and has driven up business for Black hoteliers. “after a year in which protests of the police killings of Black people amplified the perils of skin color, Black travelers are seeking out Black travel agents, Black hoteliers and Black-owned short-term rentals in addition to organizing in groups dedicated to Black travelers … In fact, according to the international survey of nearly 4,000 Black leisure travelers by MMGY Global, 54 percent of American respondents said they were more likely to visit a destination if they saw Black representation in travel advertising.”
The complete overhaul of the industry has touched every corner of it, spotlighting Black hoteliers and boutique hotels. I’d recommend you add these Black-owned boutique hotels to your travel bucket list:
Akwaaba Mansion – Brooklyn, NY
Akwaaba Mansion is a charming bed and breakfast that provides all the best of Brooklyn: exposed brick walls, fireplaces, ungentrified New York charm. Feel like a New Yorker in these apartment-like rooms — all while enjoying the cozy comforts of a traditional B&B. They also have locations throughout the East Coast for a bespoke experience.
Half Moon — Jamaica
Oh, a Jamaican vacation sounds good right about now. Forbes voted Half Moon the highest rated Jamaican resort in 2020. Located between Jamaica and the Caribbean, this offers picturesque views and a customized, personal experience.
iKhaya Lodge — Cape Town, South Africa
No matter your travel style, Cape Town should be on your travel bucket list. Whether you want to hike, eat, or lay out on the beach, this city has it all. And — in the very heart of the city — the iKhaya Lodge offers experiences as versatile as Cape Town itself.
Hostelle — Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Want to backpack across Europe sampling hostels along the way? As a female traveler, consider your safety by staying at Amsterdam’s Hostelle. It’s not merely Black owned, it’s the first and only all-female hostel in Amsterdam. It was founded to create a safe and fun experience for women travelers, and does so by blending utility, unbeatable service, and design.
Sonesta — Silicon Valley, CA
The perfect blend of work and play in San Jose, Sonesta is the ideal retreat. Outfitted for the luxury business traveler — as well as retreat seekers — this exquisite landscape offers it all.