La Suite, Rio de Janeiro
This seven-room hotel offers an alternative to the jam-packed Ipanema and Copacabana.
Location Set in a former private house, 165 feet above the Atlantic, in Joatinga, a gated community 10 minutes’ drive south of Rio.
Pedigree Created by former investment banker Francois-Xavier Dussol, who opened La Maison, Rio’s first boutique hotel, in 2004, quickly garnering a fan base of fashion and beau monde types.
Style + Design Each of La Suite’s rooms is painted a different shade—acid green, poppy pink, lavender, saffron—with an überluxe bathroom clad in matching marble (yes, yellow and purple marble). All have private terraces with sea views. There’s a small plunge pool, two cabanas, and an infinity pool on the way.
Service + Amenities Either Dussol or his partner, Rodrigo Harold, is always on site to greet guests; other staffers are eager and friendly, but speak only Portuguese. The dreamy breakfast includes exotic tropical fruits, smoothies, and house-made French pastries.
Value for Money Service is warm and lovely, but decidedly small-hotel; and the business traveler might feel stranded.
501 Rua Jackson de Figueiredo, Joatinga; 55-21/9557-5986; doubles from $390.
El Casco Art Hotel, Patagonia, Argentina
One of many exciting openings in Argentina this year, a modern-art showcase with a stunning backdrop, Lake Nahuel Huapi.
Location Secluded in a copse of fir, pine, and sequoia, seven miles from Patagonia’s famed mountain resort Bariloche.
Pedigree First opened in 1970, El Casco Hotel had a reputation for restrained elegance throughout the seventies. Decades of neglect ended last December when a new owner, Buenos Aires art collector Ignacio Gutiérrez Zaldívar, completed a $5 million refurbishment.
Style + Design A sober coffee-and-cream color scheme extends from sofa-filled common spaces bedecked with 300 works of modern Argentine art to the 33 spacious guest rooms, where Egyptian cotton, goose down, and fine linen make up in coziness what they lack in flair.
Service + Amenities Executive chef Fernando Trocca (owner of buzzing Buenos Aires restaurant Sucre) elevates Patagonian classics. Zaldívar has assembled an amiable, efficient staff.
Value for Money Worth every penny for the superlative (if conservative) comfort surrounded by abundant Patagonian nature.
54-2944/463-131; www.hotelelcasco.com; doubles from $390.
Chambers Hotel, Minneapolis
Who could have predicted that the prairielands would be home to a minimalist hotel packed with maximalist art?
Location Downtown Minneapolis, a short drive from Herzog & de Meuron’s Walker Art Center extension and Jean Nouvel’s electric-blue Guthrie Theater.
Pedigree The Midwestern sister of the six-year-old Chambers in New York, with interiors by David Rockwell and a restaurant helmed by Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Style + Design It’s all about the eye-popping contemporary art from the collection of owner Ralph Burnet. There’s a Damien Hirst at the front desk, video art in the halls, and original paintings and photographs by up-and-comers in the 60 guest rooms.
Service + Amenities All the perks of a fashionable hotel (24-hour room service from the Vongerichten restaurant, three trendy bars), with arty extras such as a gallery off the lobby and a gift shop specializing in design magazines and artist multiples.
Value for Money Pricier than anything else in town, but incomparably stylish: Where else can you sip a pineapple mojito within inches of MOMA-quality art?
901 Hennepin Ave.; 877/767-6990 or 612/767-6900; www.chambersminneapolis.com; doubles from $450.