A great hotel can be the highlight of your trip, the key that unlocks a location, even a destination in itself. Which is why we celebrate the latest trailblazing properties: the ones that elevated design, redefined wellness, whetted our appetites, and reminded us that true hospitality is always in style. And don't miss our 2017 It List—the best openings of the past year.

By Travel + Leisure and Travel + Leisure Staff
February 21, 2017
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Credit: Floto + Warner

No. 1

Because you can spend the night with some of your favorite chefs.

Coombeshead Farm, in Cornwall, England. Simon Watson

Over the past decade, every celebrity chef under the sun established a restaurant in a hotel (and then promptly left the cooking to someone else). Now some culinary stars are turning that idea on its head by opening their own properties—albeit on an intimate scale. James Beard Award winner Alex Roberts recently reopened Restaurant Alma (menu from $58; doubles from $166) along the riverfront in Minneapolis. The restaurant, which serves a three course prix fixe—perhaps yellowtail crudo to start, then chicken and foie gras with leeks and black-truffle sauce—is complemented by seven contemporary bedrooms with gold-accented bathrooms. Last summer, British chef April Bloomfield unveiled Coombeshead Farm (menu from $61; doubles from $215), the inn she co-owns in Cornwall, England, with Tom Adams of London’s Pitt Cue. The 18th-century farmhouse has five spare but comfortable rooms; in the open kitchen, guests can watch the team preparing that night’s communal farm-to-table feast, like lamb sweetbreads with capers and sorrel salad cream. And at SingleThread (menu from $294; doubles from $700), in Healdsburg, California, Kyle Connaughton creates 11-course, Japanese-influenced menus that highlight produce grown by his wife, Katina, on their nearby farm. Expect dishes like turbot with matsutake mushrooms, leeks, brassicas, and sansho peppers. On the second floor of the inn, there are five rooms with furnishings by of-the-moment design firm AvroKO. —Jeff Chu

No. 2

Because safari tents have never been this glamorous.

Courtesy of Asilia

It’s not even really a tent. At Asilia The Highlands, in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area, you’ll stay in a geodesic dome near the Olmoti volcano. Cooled by solar-powered fans and warmed by wood burning stoves, the eight futuristic, canvas-and-plexiglass suites are inspired by Masai bomas. From $430 per person, all-inclusive.

No. 3

Because the right hotel will lead you to new places.

The bar at the Beekman hotel, in downtown New York City. Floto + Warner

Years ago, it would have seemed odd for a visitor to New York City to book a hotel in the Financial District, which basically used to shut down on the weekends. Now the area is one of the most exciting places to be for travelers and New Yorkers alike. Sparked by the post-9/11 building boom, shops, markets, and restaurants continue to move in, catering to an increase in residents and businesses (including Travel + Leisure’s parent company, Time Inc.). The neighborhood has one of the biggest hotel debuts in town: the Beekman, a Thompson Hotel (doubles from $619), is set in an 1881 landmark that took more than four years to bring back to its original architectural splendor. Over a century ago, Edgar Allan Poe wrote several novels here, when the site was home to a library. The public spaces evoke a moody den, with dark walls and glass cases displaying curiosities. On a recent Friday, the lobby bar, which sits in a restored, nine-story Victorian-era atrium, was packed with visitors and locals.

The 287 guest rooms, which are arranged around this central atrium, feature a quirky mix of art and furniture (fringed lamps, oversize leather headboards); it feels like you’re staying with a wealthy, eccentric relative. Downstairs, Tom Colicchio’s Fowler & Wells serves refined American classics like diver scallops and pork with apples, while Keith McNally’s French bistro, Augustine, turns out a killer steak frites.

The Beekman is within walking distance of some of the city’s best new attractions, like the Santiago Calatrava–designed Oculus, a transit hub and shopping mall. There are more than 100 stores inside, and it connects to a branch of the Italian-food emporium Eataly, where Osteria della Pace serves the city’s best spaghetti carbonara (entrées $23–$41). Nearby is Blacktail, a Cuban-themed bar inside the Pier A complex. And the Four Seasons Downtown recently opened with Yabu Pushelberg– designed rooms and Wolfgang Puck’s Cut steak house (entrées $31–$88). There are also eight more hotels in the works. Centering a vacation around the Financial District might have seemed ludicrous in the past, but it’s now a real—and very attractive—possibility. —Stephanie Wu

No. 4

Because...beaches

The pool at Le Barthélemy.

Le Barthélemy

The first newly built hotel on St. Bart’s in 20 years is fresh, modern, and decidedly unfussy. Pops of Caribbean pink and blue in the 46 rooms create a cheerful island vibe, but touches like rain showers and Hermès toiletries wouldn’t feel out of place in Paris’s 16th Arrondissement. Outside, you’ll find an infinity pool and cushy loungers dotting the deck and sand. Sit with a bottle of rosé and watch kiteboarders skip over the surf, kids splash in the shallows, or some fabulous celeb swan by in her Eres. Doubles from $636.

Park Hyatt Mallorca

Built into a hillside in Canyamel, this striking Spanish resort was modeled on a Mallorcan village. Its central plaza is flanked by a grand reception villa that opens onto reflecting pools, restaurants, and a scenic promenade. Stone pathways wind around hidden courtyards, then up to the beautifully appointed guest rooms on the hill. Some of the island’s best coastline is minutes away. It’s the perfect spot for sun, Rioja, and the languorous rhythms of Mediterranean life. Doubles from $369.

Helena Bay

Set on more than 750 acres of forest-framed New Zealand beachfront, the latest lodge on the North Island’s pristine northeastern coast sleeps just 10, ensuring the main house (including the heated outdoor pool, library, multiple dining spaces, and spa) never feels crowded. The spacious villa suites, all just a few steps from the shore, have colorful furnishings and decks overlooking the South Pacific. “Estate to plate” dining stars, along with an impressive cellar of local and international vintages. Doubles from $2,100.

No. 5

Because you don’t need to go to Africa to see some pretty amazing wildlife.