Because you can spend the night with some of your favorite chefs.
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
Because safari tents have never been this glamorous.
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.
Because the right hotel will lead you to new places.
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
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.
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.
Because you don’t need to go to Africa to see some pretty amazing wildlife.
Ted Turner’s Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico is one of several vast Western properties in the media mogul’s recently launched Ted Turner Expeditions ecotourism company. Guests of the elegantly rustic seven-bedroom Casa Grande (doubles from $850) can roam nearly 600,000 acres of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in search of bison, elk, bears, and more of the park’s 76 indigenous species of mammals. In Nepal, Taj Meghauli Serai, a Taj Safaris Lodge (doubles from $300, including meals), on the western side of Chitwan National Park, serves as a launchpad for expeditions into Terai lowlands to spot Indian rhinoceroses and, if you’re lucky, leopards and Bengal tigers. After a Jeep excursion, guests can withdraw to their riverside villas, complete with plunge pools. Above the Arctic Circle, in a Norwegian animal sanctuary known as Polar Park, the innovative retreat Wolf Lodge (from $8,770 per night, including breakfast and dinner for up to 12) lets you get up close and personal with socialized wolves who like to kiss and cuddle. Available for exclusive use, the Scandinavian pine lodge has floor-to-ceiling windows for prime-time views of both the animals and the northern lights.
Because these hotels will make you want to explore America.
High-design hotels are putting unlikely destinations on sophisticated travelers’ maps and cementing smaller cities as cultural hubs. At the 21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City (doubles from $219), rotating exhibitions make the industrial-chic lobby and restaurant feel more like a gallery. The hotel currently features the surreal photos of Serkan Ozkaya (such as a human-horse hybrid wearing a raincoat and holding a cat). “Contemporary art has the power to transform a community,” says 21c Museum Hotels cofounder Steve Wilson. “Cities known as ‘second-tier markets’ are often bursting with enthusiasm for the arts and culture that larger cities traditionally offer.” This enthusiasm has spread to upstate New York’s Catskills, a popular retreat for stylish urbanites. The interiors of Scribner’s Catskill Lodge (doubles from $105) are airy and minimally adorned—all the better for showing off the mountains. Though it’s not the first cool hotel in Marfa, Texas—that artists’ enclave where even Beyoncé has vacationed—the Hotel Saint George (doubles from $185) is the plushest place in town, with a marble-meets- cement lobby and gallery-worthy local art. And in New Orleans, which was in need of a modern landmark hotel, the Ace Hotel (doubles from $269) has arrived in the Warehouse District with Art Deco lighting, chesterfield couches, and a gold-accented bar. Since the brand has helped change the image of cities from Portland to Pittsburgh, we’re expecting that it will prove the theory that the right hotel is a harbinger of good things to come. —Eimear Lynch
Because this is the sexiest new beach spot in years.
Every aspect of Mar Adentro is spectacularly designed. Instead of the hacienda-style architecture so common in this part of Mexico, you’ll find sugarcube-like buildings. The only pop of color in the all-white rooms comes from the views of the Sea of Cortés. And the biggest statement is Nido, a restaurant that looks like an upside-down bird’s nest. Doubles from $326.
Because there have never been so many ways to achieve nirvana.
Amanemu, Ise Shima National Park, Japan
If you want to collapse in total privacy, this 24-suite, four-villa resort is an exquisite ship in a bottle made for silent observation. The crowning glory of Aman’s newest creation is its gently lit, mineral-rich onsen, with different pools at varying temperatures. Pavilions with plush daybeds, a Watsu pool for hydrotherapy, and four spa-treatment rooms round out the Zen experience, as does the property’s traditional Japanese design, including narrow corridors, small courtyards, and views of maple trees and cherry blossoms. Doubles from $770.
Chablé, Yucatán, Mexico
This 40-villa resort, which is spread over 750 acres of jungle near Mérida, celebrates Mayan culture in a way that feels authentic and not at all gimmicky. The 15-room spa is centered around a large cenote, and offers a wide range of experiences, from a “Tree of Life” ritual incorporating massage and sound healing to three temazcales (pre- Hispanic versions of a sweat lodge), where ceremonies are performed by local shamans. At night, guests can sample tequilas and farm-to-table cuisine overseen by chef Jorge Vallejo of Mexico City’s standout Quintonil restaurant. Doubles from $780.
Aja Malibu, California
Ready to indulge in a digital detox? A seven-day, all-inclusive stay at this New Age spa— which is set on property once owned by Teddy Roosevelt—is called the Magick Process. The ultimate goal: getting your seven chakras aligned, through a combination of ancient and modern healing practices. You won’t be allowed a cell phone, and there’s no formal gym, but there is plenty of hiking, acupuncture, infrared saunas, “wisdom workshops,” and plant-based, biodynamic cuisine. Days begin at seven, follow a strict schedule, and end (meaning lights out) by 10 p.m. From $10,000 per week, per person, all-inclusive.
Because the grandes dames are getting face-lifts (and they look great).
This past year was one of reinvention for many beloved classic hotels showing their age. Cramped rooms, spotty Internet, and a stuffy vibe all had to go in the name of attracting new customers, satisfying the old ones, and keeping up with the competition. The Ritz Paris (doubles from $1,107) succeeded after its four-year closure and $440 million revamp. The Hemingway Bar still stands, but the new Ritz Bar offers bistro fare and inventive cocktails by 26-year-old Aurélie Pezet, the hotel’s first female bartender. And the enlarged rooms are now equipped with high-speed Wi-Fi, quiet heating and air-conditioning, and televisions embedded in the mirrors. The Peninsula Beijing (doubles from $317) reduced its room count to create the most spacious accommodations in the capital (from 525 to just 230). Traditional elements—like hand-embroidered floral wallpaper and blue-and-white paintings inspired by Ming dynasty porcelain—complement the up-to-the-minute technology: check-in and checkout, concierge services, and room controls are all done via tablet. In Amsterdam, the 45-year-old Pulitzer (doubles from $295), which is spread over 25 historic town houses, has been reimagined by designer Jacu Strauss.
The 225 rooms nod to eclecticism, with décor ranging from delft porcelain to furniture by contemporary darlings Maarten Baas and Piet Hein Eek. Equally stylish is the renovated Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills (doubles from $413), a longtime celebrity favorite. The property recently amped up the luxe with touches like Venetian cut-glass mirrors, suede-covered walls, and abstract paintings by French artist Yves Klein. And the Four Seasons Resort Lanai (doubles from $1,150)—a Hawaiian A-list hideaway now owned by billionaire Larry Ellison—debuted a crisp look that utilizes plenty of teak, koa, mahogany, slate, and stone. The result is a modern, tropical fantasy that perfectly frames the lush gardens and Hulopoe Bay, the white-sand beach at its doorstep. —John Wogan