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It List: The Best New Hotels 2012

Petit St. Vincent

Mike Toy Photography

After a day at the beach, you wander back to your villa and, right on cue, a personal chef stops by to grill lobster tails—and do the dishes afterward. That’s the kind of above-and-beyond service to expect at Secret Bay, a stylish newcomer on the Caribbean island of Dominica.

You know the markers of a lousy hotel (poor service, snooze-inducing design, mediocre food), so what makes a hotel one of the best—not just recommendable, but groundbreaking? For our seventh annual It List, T+L editors traveled the globe to test out new and renovated hotels. The results are in, and our favorite 50 hotels showcase the best the hotel industry has to offer this year.

Consider Tierra Patagonia, a spectacular resort that rises from a glacier-scape on the edge of Torres del Paine National Park. Rooms are stocked with local comforts (handwoven throws, armchairs upholstered in light Patagonian wool), but it’s the only-possible-here activities that you’ll be talking about for months after your stay, such as fording the Baguales River on horseback or shearing sheep by hand with the help of gauchos.

In Italy’s untrammeled Basilicata region, director Francis Ford Coppola opened his fifth stunning hotel project: Palazzo Margherita. With only nine guest rooms, it feels much like your own private estate—one that happens to be owned by a Hollywood mogul, with hand-painted frescoed ceilings, glass chandeliers, and a hidden inner courtyard.

Closer to home, we love the Washington School House in Park City, UT, for its French and Swedish antiques and easy access to the ski slopes, and Florida’s St. Regis Bal Harbour—part of a $700 million development on Miami Beach—for its Jean-Georges Vongerichten poolside grill and eye-catching entrance hall.

You can enjoy a different kind of water view from the Conrad New York, a Zen-inspired respite in the Financial District that overlooks the Hudson River. Further north, New York’s of-the-moment neighborhood Chelsea finally has a trendy hotel to call its own, thanks to the opening of the steel-and-glass Hotel Americano near the High Line. The modern hotel reveals irreverent details Johnny Cash might appreciate (harmonicas in the mini-bar, denim bathrobes in the restrooms).

Whatever your definition of a great hotel, you’re sure to find it in T+L’s 2012 It List.

Hotel Pricing Key
$ Less than $200
$$ $200 to $350
$$$ $350 to $500
$$$$ $500 to $1,000
$$$$$ More than $1,000

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