ACE Hotel NYC, Douglas Lyle Thompson
It used to be that the words "chain hotel" conjured up images of beige rooms that are exactly the same from city to city. Not anymore. A new crop of boutique hotel groups is turning the chain concept on its head with smaller properties that incorporate local style and flare with the service and stability that you expect from major chains. "Travelers are increasingly looking for one-off, 'bespoke' experiences and the cookie-cutter people-mover product that was entrenched until the 1990s seems to have had its day," says veteran travel journalist Gretchen Kelly.