During our 7 month trip through Asia and South America we’ve stayed in over 70 different hotels. For each city and country we had a tight hotel budget, all hotels we booked where in the low to midrange price of the available hotels in the specific city. We always looked for a hotel with a special ‘feel’ : small boutique hotels or guesthouses with a personal touch. We encountered some real gems during our many stays, however, the hotels described below are our absolute favorites:
1. Miyajima Guest House Mikuniya – Miyajima (Japan)
Why go: Hospitality, Unique experience, Beautiful rooms with unbelievable views
The Island of Miyajima is one of the highlights of Japan: the beautiful scenic views attract loads of tourists during the day, therefore we recommend you to stay at least one night on the Island. In the afternoon, when the tourists go back to Hiroshima, the island becomes more tranquil and mysterious. We chose to stay at Guest House Mikuniya, a short walk from the world famous Itsukushima Shrine and it’s huge Torii Gate. The small Guest House is beautiful in every detail: decorated with Japanese art and furniture. There is a lounge where you watch DVD’s, read a book, learn how to make origami or enjoy some Japanese tea. However, you will likely not be spending too much time here.
The friendly owner Mr. Masaharu Terazawa treats his guests like friends and adds a personal touch to the whole experience.
We already were in love with the place without having seen the highlight of the Guesthouse, our room. We stayed in a beautiful traditional Japanese style tatami room with a stunning sea view. It’s amazing to wake up in the morning, opening the window blinds and see the huge red Torii Gate staring at you. It doesn’t get much better then this in life.
327 Chue-machi, Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima, Japan, 739-0523
2. Rendezvous Guest House – La Paz (Bolivia)
Why go: Excellent service and insider tips, Extensive and divine breakfast, Great amenities
We did not book any hotels in advance in La Paz (Bolivia), except for the first night. We were glad we did, because the first hotel we stayed had a strange vibe and we didn’t really like it. By chance we booked a room for a night at a guest house nearby, called Rendezvous Guest House. This ended up to be a great guess!
Because of this guesthouse we prolonged our stay in La Paz with 3 nights, it simply was that good.
Rendezvous is located in Sopocachi, one of the safest areas at night in La Paz. There are various restaurants and bars in the area, however the hotel itself has an excellent restaurant. The bustling city centre of La Paz is a pleasant 30 minutes walk, which for us was a good way to start the day.
We got a room in the top of the building, with a magnificent view over La Paz. The room was beautifully decorated with paintings and other artifacts. Our room had a large TV with DVD player, so we spend at least half an hour a day in the Lounge/Kitchen. Hundreds of DVD’s were displayed so we had plenty of options to choose which movie to watch during the evening. The kitchen is well equipped and we actually ended up cooking two nights there. We enjoyed our dinner on the rooftop terrace with some local Bolivian wine whilst seeing the sun set on La Paz. Need I say more?
We loved La Paz as a city, but for a great deal thanks to Rendezvous Guesthouse. > Watch our video of La Paz
Pasaje Carranza Num. 461 | Final Sanchez Lima, Sopocachi, La Paz 3165, Bolivia
More info >
Tip: get to know the city with the Red Cap City Walk guides for only 20 Bolivian pesos! Every day at 11:00 am at Plaza San Pedro.
3. Country Retreat, Chiang Mai (Thailand)
Why go: Beautiful surroundings, Personal touch, Great to relax
After staying for a week in the city of Chiang Mai we were looking for a place to relax before heading to our next destination. We chose Country Retreat and we did not regret that choice!
A paradise located 21km from the city of Chiang Mai, set in the midst of the rice paddies. This is the place to relax, swim, bike, walk and enjoy delicious home cooked meals. We actually hardly left the resort during our stay: in the morning we made a refreshing stroll through the ride paddies. After a home cooked lunch we installed ourselves in one of the hammocks or lounge cushions at the pool area. We enjoyed drinking fresh smoothies and a cold Thai Beer until dinner time arrived.
The resort offers on site massage and bicycle rent. The Sa Elephant Camp is very close at only 9 km distance.
274 Moo 3, Tambon Huai Sai, Chiang Mai
Mae Rim, Province Chiang Mai, 50180, Thailand
Cooking class with Natalie and Yin
4. Antigua Residencia, Mendoza (Argentina)
Why go: Excellent Food, Amazing wine, Perfect location
Located in the middle of the wineries, Antigua Residencia is the perfect starting point for a crash course Mendoza: next to the hostel you’ll find the famous Trapiche Winery (take the tour!) and several other wineries, olive oil producers, chocolatiers, artisanal liquors and… a beer garden. All within walking distance.
There aren’t too many restaurants in the area, luckily there is no need for that. The on site restaurant offers delicious homemade Italian/Argentinian meals based on fresh products from the farm (best caponata ever). The meat equals our Uruguayan experience (where we ate the best meat so far) and the wine menu is extensive and affordable. Combine the location and the restaurants with a great pool and some playful farm cats and you’ll have the ultimate Mendoza experience.
Julio A. Roca esq. Nueva Mayorga- Coquimbito, Maipu, Argentinië
Vineyards @ Trapiche, opposite to the hostel
5. House Boutique Hotel, Phnom Penh (Cambodia)
Why go: Cheerful and helpful staff, Nice design, Great hotel restaurant/bar
We loved it so much, we’ve stayed here twice during our month in Cambodia. Set in the middle of the hectic and hot city of Phnom Penh, this is a heaven of tranquility and peace.
The staff is the one of friendliest we’ve encountered during our trip, it feels like hanging out with friends. The rooms are nicely decorated, modern and spacious.
One of the best things about this hotel is the restaurant: it is so good (and well priced) that we ended up eating almost our meals here, which is something unique for us. The menu offers about 6 different meals, ranging from fresh salads to Cambodian dishes and it changes every 1 or 2 weeks.
The hotel has a cool pool with relaxing seats. Three small, curious and playful house cats cheer up the place even more. Did I mention the hotel is eco-friendly too?
No 76, Street 57, Phnom Penh
6. Costel Minoshima, Fukuoka (Japan)
Why go: Nice interior design, Great location (traditional Japanese street), Personal touch
Costel Minoshima is located in a charming street with all kinds of small restaurants and shops. The hostel itself is beautifully designed and the rooms are sizeable. Our room had a spacious balcony with street view. if you’re looking for a charming hostel in a nice area with lots of small shops and restaurants, this would be a good choice, however, this is not the main reason to stay here…
The host Hideyuki is a walking Shochu and Japanese music encyclopedia. After we checked in, he invited us to taste some Scochu (Japanese distilled beverage, based on rice, barley or sweet potato). We ended up tasting numerous different scochu variations accompanied with Japanese pop and Okinawa music from the 70’s and 80’s. It was very entertaining to hear Hideyuki talk about Japanese culture, art and music.
Thanks Hideyuki for sharing your knowledge and giving us this great Japanese cultural experience!
2-27-14-1 Minoshima, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka 812-0017
More info >
7. Chez Mario et Solange, Montevideo (Uruguay)
Why go: Personal touch, Creative interior design, Delicious and varied breakfast
We found Montevideo not to be the easiest of cities we have been to: you need some guidance on where to go and what to eat. Therefore we were looking for a guesthouse/hostel with a personal touch to help us guide us through the city. We found Chez Mario et Solange.
Mario et Solange offer a nice accommodation in a colorful, cozy and inspiring atmosphere. The rooms have been decorated in a creative way which suits the city of Montevideo. The breakfast is delicious: local and homemade products. Every morning Mario and Solange will join their guests at breakfast which adds to the ‘staying with locals’ vibe.
There’s a kitchen where you can prepare your own food and a rooftop terrace where you can relax and enjoy your meal.
Curiales 1534 Montevideo, Montevideo, 11000, Uruguay
You might have visited Peru in the (recent) past where you probably went to famous sites like Machu Picchu, the city of Cusco and the floating islands at Lake Titicaca. But did you know the northern coast of Peru has hidden gems too? During our 7-month trip we stayed for several weeks in the beach town of Huanchaco. This is a cool place to unwind, enjoy local gastronomy (ceviche!), learn how to surf and visit many archeological sites from the ancient Moche and Chimu culture.
When visiting Huanchaco, make sure to stay at Casa Naranja Peru owned by a Dutch-Peruvian couple who happen to be my parents in law 🙂 They recently opened the guesthouse in March 2016!
Casa Naranja Peru, Huanchaco
Why go: fantastic ocean view, friendly hosts, great insider tips
When travelling to a country like Peru, it’s nice to stay in a hotel or B&B where people speak English and provide you with information and tips. At Casa Naranja, the owners make you feel at home. The interior of the house is modern yet charming, and the rooftop terrace is great to have breakfast with ocean view. When the sun goes down, this is the perfect spot to enjoy a drink and a bite. You can ask the owners to arrange a tasting of local delicacies. They can also prepare an excellent frappucino with coffee toasted and grinded at home!
Las Orquideas 340, Huanchaco (Peru)