We’re sure you’ve heard the term “boutique hotel” before—but what exactly does that mean? Read on to find out, and see some of our picks from the Inspirato Collection.

What is a boutique hotel?

At its core, a boutique hotel’s goal is to offer a more personalized and unique experience than that of a typical major hotel chain. These smaller retreats are often tucked into cities’ historic or cultural centers, and within walking distance of trendy bars, restaurants, or local landmarks.

Boutique hotels tend toward the smaller side, with most offering fewer than 100 rooms. That smaller size allows for a more intimate experience for guests; many find that a stay at a boutique hotel allows for more personalized service and interaction—say, with the hotel’s owner—than what would normally come from a larger hotel.

The feel of a boutique hotel is different, too; many pay homage to their surroundings with local art and interior design that adds a splash of personality. Rooms tend to have their own special décor, rather than the more “cookie-cutter” fixtures of a chain hotel.

Ready to start planning a stay? Here are four of our favorite boutique hotels in the Inspirato Collection.

Farmhouse Inn — Sonoma, California

This rustic retreat in the heart of the Russian River Valley has been family owned for five generations of winemakers. The Farmhouse Inn was voted the No. 1 Best Resort Hotel in California—as well as the No. 12 Best Hotel in the World—by Travel + Leisure in 2016. Its 25 rooms and suites boast woodland views and vaulted ceilings, as well as curated wine refrigerators, and guests can dine at the on-site, Michelin-starred restaurant.

Hazelton Hotel — Toronto, Ontario

This boutique hotel in Toronto’s hip Yorkville district (home of Toronto Fashion Week) prides itself on its artful design, including a unique, curated collection of paintings, sculptures, and photos showcasing Canadian artists. Featuring a private screening room and an on-site spa and restaurant, the Hazeltons 77 rooms are also just steps from great shopping and restaurants.

Grand Hotel Zermatterhof — Zermatt, Switzerland

The aim of this alpine retreat is to provide a space that guests won’t want to leave, even with a prime location amid the  snowcapped peaks of the Alps. The Grand Hotel Zermatterhof has 84 rooms and suites, an on-site restaurant and spa, and a horse barn (the four horses reportedly love to be petted). The historic hotel is tucked into Zermatt, a small, pedestrian-only village renowned for its world-class skiing, hiking, and climbing, all in the shadow of the iconic Matterhorn.

Palazzo Avino — Amalfi Coast, Italy

Perched along clifftops in the historic small town of Ravello, the building housing this chic boutique hotel along Italy’s famed Amalfi Coast was first built in the 12th century as a private residence for Italian aristocrats. After it sat abanonded for 19 years in the mid-20th century, it reopened officially as a hotel in 1997, remaining in the same family ever since. Palazzo Avino’s amenities include Rosselinis, the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, and complimentary shuttle service to its private Clubhouse by the Sea. Forty-three rooms and suites provide stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea below.

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