Marqués de Riscal, Rioja, Spain
Frank Gehry creates a modern destination in one of Spain’s oldest wine regions.
Location The 149-year-old Herederos del Marqués de Riscal winery, in Elciego, a drowsy Rioja village of medieval vintage, 90 minutes southeast of Bilbao.
Pedigree The 43-room Marqués de Riscal is Pritzker Prize-winner Gehry’s first foray into hotels; Starwood’s Luxury Collection group manages the property.
Style + Design Gehry revisits his fascination with titanium (his first big success with it was the Guggenheim Bilbao). Fat, twisting ribbons of pink and gold metal are meant to suggest wine rushing from a bottle.
Service + Amenities A knockout Caudalie Vinothérapie spa with wine- and grape-themed products and treatments. Surprisingly, there are Caudalie products in only some of the guest rooms.
Value for Money The hotel could probably charge twice as much and architecture buffs would still feel they were getting a bargain. The rest of us will probably feel we’re being overcharged by about 25 percent.
Needs Work Booking agents should make it clear that only 14 guest rooms are located in Gehry’s titanium fantasy. The balance are in an annex designed by his firm, and not all have views of the main structure.
800/325-3589 or 34/94-518-0880; www.luxurycollection.com; doubles from $1,140.
Bowery Hotel, New York City
Two stylish hoteliers breathe new life into Manhattan’s once desolate Bowery.
Location Gotham’s former Skid Row is now home to luxury apartments and, since February, the 135-room Bowery Hotel. A dazzling new building for the New Museum of Contemporary Art is opening a few blocks away later this year.
Pedigree Brought to you by Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode, known for Manhattan restaurants and a hotel (the Maritime) with serious staying power.
Style + Design Entering the lobby is like stepping into a pre-Raphaelite painting: a Gothic fireplace, Oriental rugs over a Moroccan-tile floor. Rooms are pure vintage-repro, down to the patinated fittings on the marble washstands.
Service + Amenities Guest quarters have complimentary Wi-Fi, and toiletries from the storied Bigelow & Co. Apothecary. Those expecting a dose of New York attitude will be disappointed by the solicitous, uniformly friendly staff. At press time, an Italian restaurant is in the works. No fitness center, though.
Value for Money Standards with queens, though relatively spacious at 240 square feet, are not exactly bargains. But this is Manhattan, where city views and atmosphere are at a premium—and the Bowery has those in spades.
335 Bowery; 212/505-9100; www.theboweryhotel.com; doubles from $375.
Baghvan, Pench National Park, India
The luxury African safari experience comes to the subcontinent.
Location A nature preserve in India’s northwestern hinterlands, a one-hour flight from Bombay to Nagpur followed by a two-hour drive.
Pedigree A-listers CC Africa and Taj Hotels & Resorts have teamed up here, with Taj supplying the service and CC Africa bringing in the naturalists.
Style + Design After following Bengal tigers and leopards in a Tata truck outfitted with an overstuffed picnic basket, guests retire to one of 12 suites, where irreverent touches (a rotary-dial phone) combine with traditional ones (ebony carvings). All have outdoor machans (jungle lookout towers), which can be transformed into romantic mosquito-netted hideaways for sleepouts.
Service + Amenities Bags magically appear in rooms, and the staff gathers to welcome guests. Thanks to lots of personal attention from everyone—including the pool attendant, waiters, and naturalists—no requests go unfulfilled.
Value for Money The free in-room massage and laundry service are nice, but at this price, the airport transfer ($390 round-trip) should be complimentary, too.
Needs Work Glass-walled bathrooms are in full view of the main path, forcing guests to duck for cover. The booking process has a few kinks—getting logistical information from Taj took days.
91-11/2650-7750; www.tajsafaris.com; doubles from $1200, all-inclusive.