Courtesy of Peninsula Shanghai

T+L found 8 new hotels with city views, impressive pedigress, and cosmopolitan edge.

November 13, 2009

If HBO ever remakes Green Acres, I will replace Eva Gabor. Despite living in a 19th-century farmhouse in upstate New York, I’m a city slicker at heart. Give me a great metropolis to explore, and I’m always ready to trade my barn jacket and mud boots for higher heels and glossier gear. And with so many new and renovated hotels in global capitals, it may be difficult during the next few months to keep me down on the farm.

Gabor trills in the theme song to Green Acres, “I just adore a penthouse view. Dah-ling, I love you, but give me Park Avenue.” She’d love the penthouse view at the Surrey: This suite on the 17th floor has panoramas of Central Park. A once-threadbare hotel with a residential sensibility, the Surrey (doubles from $800) had been outshone by Daniel Boulud’s restaurant on the ground floor. But that has changed since the chef extended his Gallic hospitality to a smart new lounge bar off the freshly appointed lobby. With a renovation of every corner of this Madison Avenue property, even standard guest rooms have been spruced up—look for Duxiana mattresses, Pratesi robes, and Waterworks fixtures.

A master of luxe hospitality, Peninsula Hotels chairman Michael Kadoorie spent his childhood in Shanghai. His entrepreneurial forebears operated four hotels there and built the Marble Hall, now a children’s school for the arts. So the premiere of his ninth property, the Peninsula Shanghai (doubles from $470), is a homecoming of sorts. On a stretch of the historic Bund, the 10-story granite-clad building is a Modernist reflection of its Art Deco–era neighbors, the Shanghai Club and Sassoon House. Kadoorie is also a vintage-car enthusiast, and there’s a 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II for guests who want to head to Pudong International Airport in style ($370, with chauffeur).

Last time I was in the Rajasthani capital of Udaipur, another heritage destination on my radar (and the winning city in T+L’s 2009 World’s Best Awards), I hunted through the bazaars for Ganesh tokens. This Hindu god with an elephant head is the good luck charm of many travelers; when I arrive by private launch on the jetty at the 80-room Leela Palace Kempinski Udaipur (doubles from $712), on the banks of Lake Pichola, my worn silver idol will rest in style on one of the silk brocade pillows scattered in a suite appointed with gilded, locally made furniture. If I’m passing through Germany en route to India, however, I’ll fly Lufthansa’s business class—passengers are now being served dishes like lamb korma with coconut rice from a menu developed by Farman Ali and Surender Mohan, Leela Group master chefs.

When I want perfect veal Milanese, I head to Milan’s Hotel Principe di Savoia (doubles from $490), where designer Celeste Dell’Anna restyled four Imperial suites and French interiors master Thierry Despont updated the bar and the lobby. A Murano glass chandelier now dominates the bella public space, and the Principe Bar has a curvilinear banquette next to a grand piano. In Spain, the W group continues its expansion and reinvention with the opening of W Barcelona (doubles from $370), housed in architect Ricardo Bofill’s sail-shaped building, known as La Vela, on Nova Bocana, Barcelona’s new port. The brand is also evolving at the W Washington D.C. (doubles from $399); designer Dianna Wong has retained the Hotel Washington’s Beaux-Arts sensibility while incorporating a roguish pinstripes-meet-black-lace vibe, suited to the next generation of Beltway insiders. In the El Golf district of Chile’s capital, the ebullient Tony Chi (the designer behind the restaurants at Park Hyatt Sydney and Mandarin Oriental New York) is responsible for witty flourishes like the sheepskin walls at W Santiago (doubles from $299).

Another Latin charmer, Las Alcobas (doubles from $415) is finally opening its doors in Mexico City’s Polanco district. Months ago, managing partner Samuel Leizorek gave me a sneak preview, and I was smitten with the spiral staircase at the back of the lobby. Forget the elevator: I’ll climb this rosewood-and-steel flight of fancy, one of the main attractions in the atmospheric hotel designed by Yabu Pushelberg, best known for the airy interiors of Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi. I love the zucchini-blossom quesadillas and a tequila sampling at the hotel’s Dulce Patria, chef Martha Ortiz’s contemporary cantina. The Presidential Suite here has an indoor-outdoor fireplace next to a terrace overlooking the jacarandas on Avenida Masaryk. Eva Gabor would feel right at home.

Must Eat

The salmon fish cake with buttered spinach and sorrel sauce at the new Le Caprice restaurant in the Pierre, New York. Dinner for two $115.

Must Drink

Austrian rum–spiked hot chocolate by the lobby fireplace at 101 Hotel, Reykjavík, Iceland. Drinks for two $20.

Must Meet

Sallie Ann Glassman, Vodou priestess, for a happiness ceremony at Soniat House, New Orleans. Doubles from $295.

Must Try

A Carol Joy London facial infused with vitamin-rich golden millet oil in the new spa at the Dorchester, London. Facials from $120.

Must Listen

In-room indie-pop CD—including tunes from Vinicius Cantuária and Alamo Race Track—at Encantado, Santa Fe. Doubles from $250.

Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado

The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, New York

Soniat House

The combination of very traditional, almost rustic luxury accommodations and French Quarter setting distinguishes the Soniat House as one of New Orleans' most desirable hotels. Comprising three historic, Creole-style townhouses built in the 1830s by Joseph Soniat, the rooms promise a discreet tranquility that is delivered immediately as you walk into the gated tropical courtyard. Evenings can, and should, begin with a cocktail from the honor bar in the period parlor. Come morning, a breakfast consisting of cafe au lait, homemade Southern biscuits, and fresh preserves is served in the verdant courtyard or to your room by uniformed staff.

The Dorchester, Dorchester Collection

With a prime address on Park Lane facing Hyde Park, this grande dame embodies a posh formality that’s attracted Prince Philip (who held his bachelor party here in 1949) as well as rock and Hollywood royalty who regularly take up residence. Rooms are spacious and charmingly designed; you’ll also find excellent service, afternoon tea in the opulent lobby lounge, a smart gift shop (think bespoke bathrobes), a luxurious spa, and China Tang, David Tang’s Art Deco-inspired Cantonese restaurant and classic cocktail bar. Its 175 rooms and 75 suites are light and airy, and feature floral drapes and carpets, antique furniture and inviting armchairs, and marble bathrooms (with what may be the deepest tubs in town). For a large hotel, it’s still reassuringly exclusive.

Room to Book: One of the Junior or Dorchester suites; each has access to a tech-savvy “E-Butler,” on call daily to solve any Internet or plasma-screen-TV issues.

101 Hotel

Modern, art-focused property with 38 rooms. Stop by the lobby bar for Austrian rum–spiked hot chocolate by the fireplace.

W Barcelona

Like a slice of Dubai plunked amid the formerly modest fishing enclave of Barceloneta, this gleaming 26-story W (which opened in October 2009) resembles a giant glass sail at the end of the Port Vell pier. The setting ensures that nearly all of the 473 rooms have spectacular views of the Barcelona shoreline—though the panorama is just about the only thing Spanish about the property. Everything here—from the rooms’ blandly stylish international décor to the slick rooftop bar to the Mediterranean fusion served at the Bravo restaurant—is designed to appeal to a generic modernist-chic sensibility.

Leela Palace

Sandstone-hued splendor on Lake Pichola with a supervised kids' buffet and play zone during Sunday brunch.  Guests of the 80-room property arrive by private launch. Suites are appointed with gilded, locally made furniture.

The Surrey

W Washington DC

With a choice location and a rooftop lounge overlooking the White House and National Mall, the W will fully immerse you in the nation's capital. In addition to offering a spa and gym, this stylish and pet-friendly hotel will lend you an iPod Shuffle for your morning run. Dine at the Mediterranean-inspired Pinea, or grab drinks in the basement whiskey bar (or on that rooftop lounge).

W Santiago

In the El Golf district of Chile’s capital, the ebullient Tony Chi (the designer behind the restaurants at Park Hyatt Sydney and Mandarin Oriental New York) is responsible for witty flourishes. Aquamarine on the corridor ceilings is an ode to the country’s lengthy coastline and sheepskin walls in the lobby channel Patagonia. Unparalleled views of the chiseled Andes are a given; the best panoramas are seen from the rooftop lounge and pool. For even more local flavor, head to the hotel’s NoSo restaurant and order its fuente de mariscos, a platter of sea urchins, oysters, clams, shrimp, and ceviche, paired, of course, with a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.

Las Alcobas

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