The 17 Coolest New Urban Hotels in the Country
1. Hotel Eastlund, Portland, Oregon
Open since June, this 168-room hotel is anchored by cups of Ristretto Roasters’ coffee and flaky croissants at a ground-floor café and bakery (Citizen Baker, from chef David Machado, also linked to Nel Centro) and 16 taps for local beers at the rooftop Altabira City Tavern, which boasts sweeping skyline views. The lobby’s hip-and-mod vibe features furnishings in tropical-fruit hues and wall murals against a heather-grey backdrop. Back in the rooms are walk-in showers, 40-inch Smart HD TVs, and a Keurig coffeemaker—punched up with fuzzy leopard-print blankets and geometric-patterned pillows. To explore beyond the Lloyd District, you need only hop on the streetcar or MAX Light Rail, just outside your temporary digs.
2. The Palace Hotel, San Francisco, California
Last summer’s epic restoration breathed new life into an historic landmark that first welcomed guests in 1875, only to perish in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and then become a Sheraton. Lately, it's been recognized as a T+L It List winner for 2016. Its entry into Starwood’s Luxury Collection gives the 556 rooms a new look (think creamy-ivory tufted leather headboards and jewel-toned throw pillows, and an all-white marble bath with a walk-in shower). Swim in the newly renovated indoor pool while gazing at a starry night through the glass rotunda. Ramp up for sightseeing with the new Sunday brunch service (à la carte items like “Pancakes, Eggs & Bubbles” push the hotel’s former buffet into the dust) in Garden Court.
3. Baccarat Hotel & Residences, New York City
Linked to French crystal-maker Baccarat, and at the hands of design duo Gilles & Boissier, this is the brand's only property, open since April and a T+L It List winner for 2016. It's tucked into a 50-story glass tower across the street from the MOMA. It features a surprising perk: one of Manhattan’s largest swimming pools. Enter the lobby and you’re greeted with 12,000 glittering pieces of Baccarat crystal, followed by commissioned art (inspired by Baccarat Harcourt stemware) outside each of the 114 rooms, which feature white marble baths. Further take in the scene with Meriage Frères afternoon tea in the salon (which mimics a French drawing room with silk walls and a coyote-fur chair) or sip a cocktail at the bar, with its mirrored tabletops, vaulted ceiling, blood-red walls, a crystal chandelier, and black-and-white flooring. Chevalier is the on-site restaurant, featuring delicacies like Wagyu and white truffles; and pampering can be found at Spa de la Mer.
4. Hotel Zephyr, San Francisco, California
Situated on the city’s best parcel of shoreline (hello, Fisherman’s Wharf), this youthful property—open since June, with an eye on attracting Millennial travelers who want to play with the life-size Jenga and Connect Four games in the courtyard while sipping beers by the fire pit—has porthole windows and window-bench seats in each of the 361 rooms, and an offbeat “S.O.S.” stitched onto the bed’s blanket. A partnership with Project Runway Season 10 contestant Melissa Fleiss yielded employee “uniforms” of grey blazers with built-in hoodies, paired with jeans and a T-shirt. Décor doubles as entertainment (think magnetic dartboards in your room). Even the lobby feels more like a ship than a hotel with sunken ceilings, wide-plank wooden walls, and porthole windows. Spot wall art you’d like for your home? Snap it up via an app or the hotel’s iPad.
5. Press Hotel, Portland, Maine
In the shell of a former printing plant, Maine’s largest city greeted its first boutique hotel in May. This 110-room hotel, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, has plenty of historical character: Writers and art lovers will swoon over the retro 1920s-era writing desk in each room, along with the tapestry wall hanging by Portland rug and home-goods designer Angela Adams (part of design partnerships with Anthropologie and J. Crew), plus quotes in surprising places, like “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” embroidered onto the back of the desk chair. There are two food and drink options in the hotel: Union Restaurant (sea-to-table dishes) and the Inkwell Bar (each table’s design features vintage Portland Press Herald headlines).
6. The ART, a hotel, Denver
Denver’s Golden Triangle Museum District (home to the Denver Art Museum and the Mile High city’s creative hub) gets even edgier with this 165-room hotel, open since mid-June. It is home to a noteworthy 20th and 21st century art collection—organized by an in-house curator formerly of the Denver Art Museum who has also organized exhibits in far-flung cities like Rome—that includes works throughout by Ed Ruscha, Deborah Butterfield, and Claes Oldenburg, plus a 22,000 LED light installation in the porte-cochère by Leo Vireall. Each guestroom floor is devoted to an artist, whose works are also in each room. For a break from museum hopping, settle in with a cocktail at FIRE, the hotel’s fourth-floor, glass-enclosed restaurant and lounge (plus an outdoor terrace), for artfully plated dishes like Colorado-bison tartare.
7. Faena Hotel Miami Beach, Miami Beach, Florida
Anchoring Miami Beach’s current hotel boom is this 169-room property with its own zip code. Open since December, the former Saxony Hotel is named for the Argentine developer Alan Faena. Soon to join this cultural hub (modeled after the work done by Faena in Buenos Aires’ Puerto Madero) will be Faena Art Center, restaurants, and retail boutiques. Turquoise and cherry-red in the rooms evoke both whimsy and grandeur, and many rooms have balconies flaunting ocean views. At Los Fuegos—opening soon—will be Argentine-style grilled meats prepared in an open-fire kitchen, while the Tierra Santa spa borrows from South American healing practices by offering Amazon white clay and maca scrubs (from a Peruvian plant), plus a Hammam cleansing ritual.
8. The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery, New Orleans, Louisiana
Filling a trio of adjacent 19th Century warehouses, this hotel debuted in spring in the Warehouse Arts District, home to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, housing the world’s largest collection of the style. It’s also only a three-block walk to the French Quarter. All under one roof are a restaurant (Compère Lapin, with St. Lucia-born Top Chef Season 11 runner-up Nina Compton) and a cafe (Tout La, serving mimosas, coffee and pastries), and two art galleries (each featuring works by local artists, including students at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts). You can bring your dog, too (there’s even “pet room service” and books on pet psychology to borrow during your stay). In each of the 167 rooms is a minimalist design with hardwood floors, an antique writing desk and exposed-brick walls, plus even more edgy local art (like, in one room, a hand gesture on top of a field of daisies).
9. Chicago Athletic Association, Chicago
Right across the street from Millennium Park, this new hotel—also a T+L It List winner for 2016—makes preppy look cool again. Interior-designer duo Roman & Williams (who also did Highline Hotel and Ace Hotel New York) preserved the Venetian Gothic building’s—not to be confused with a gym, although it’s worth knowing this was once a men’s club, dating back to 1890—charm while adding lots of dark wood, leather club chairs, boxing-inspired robes, and objets d’art such as vintage Oriental carpets and custom Faribault Wollen Mill Co. blankets on each bed (with a pommel horse at the foot). It's a foodie destination with five venues, including Cindy’s, a rooftop lounge with Lake Michigan views; and Cherry Circle Room, serving surf and turf all day long along with cocktails developed by one of the city’s best mixologists (Paul McGee, who opened Lost Lake last year). Game Den merges shuffleboard and bocce ball with martinis.
10. The Godfrey Hotel Boston, Boston
Snug in Bean Town’s ‘hood-of-the-moment (Downtown Crossing), this 242-room hotel—with a Chicago sib of the same name—will, any day now, greet guests with a lobby coffee bar from a leader in America’s artisan-coffee scene (George Howell, the purveyor behind George Howell Coffee Café). The hotel is born out of two adjacent historic buildings constructed in 1904 and 1908. Plaid headboards, heather-gray carpet, glass-enclosure showers and Frette linens cultivate a classic look in each room, while the tall windows reveal Boston’s skyline. Midcentury decor (think orange, gray, and brown) drives the lobby design. Techie note: the hotel’s Innspire lets you stream, on the 55” HDTV, music, television shows, and movies—as well as access hotel services—through your personal devices. Up next: a restaurant.
11. The Camby Hotel, Phoenix
Further heating up the desert’s design scene is this 277-room Autograph Collection hotel from Marriott, in Phoenix’s Biltmore neighborhood (inside the former Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix), open since late last year and nicknamed after the city’s Camelback Mountain. In the rooms a stuffed shark hovers over the bathroom vanity on a clothesline, while the ceiling mirror tells you “You’re not lazy, you’re just on energy saving mode.” Artizen’s farm-to-table mantra plates some menu items into Mason jars and taps into local crops, while going five-star with “Can You Buy Me’s" brunch item (a lobster-tail omelet with foie gras, winter truffle, and caviar). Head up to The Revelry Rooftop Bar for street tacos and ‘ritas, or settle into the Bees Knees for cocktails and sandwiches. At Zest Spa are half-hour “Treats” (mini spa treatments for hurried guests), and the rooftop pool screens movies.
12. The Knickerbocker, New York City
Consider this a second chapter for the Beaux Arts beauty that first opened in 1906. In February the 330-room property, overlooking Times Square on 42nd and Broadway, debuted a $250 million top-to-bottom renovation, working with the same design firm for The Edition Istanbul to reveal lots of gold leaf on the ceilings, Carrera marble throughout, and three Charlie Palmer concepts from the celeb chef (including Charlie Palmer at the Knick, which rolls out a martini cart for dinner, as a nod to the hotel’s claim as the birthplace for this cocktail). Rooftop bars may be plentiful in the Big Apple, but the Knick’s got a vertical green wall at St. Cloud on the 7,800-square-foot rooftop, with indoor seating that includes the Waterford Crystal Lounge. In each room are walk-in rain showers, calming décor (light woods, mother-of-pearl-inlaid coffee table, and soft shades of gold and silver), and Ted Gibson bath amenities and beauty bar (a stylist to stars such as Angelina Jolie, this is Gibson’s first hotel collaboration).
13. The South Congress Hotel, Austin, Texas
In the heart of Texas’ most techie and music-loving city, this 83-room hotel—open since September, and another T+L 2016 It List winner—fits right in. Each room has its own WiFi network, and a partnership with Austin-based Drafthouse Films gets you 40 unique in-room movies. L.A. design firm Studio MAI’s light-and-bright interior means—from the rooms to the public spaces—wide-planked hardwood floors, locally made saltillo terra-cotta tiles (an exclusive design for the hotel), a white backdrop, and accents of leather and denim. Central Standard’s wood-burning oven turns out dishes like a cheeseburger topped with marrow-bone onions (there’s a raw bar and wine cellar, too) and Amanda Rockman (who made it to Top Chef’s “Just Desserts” final challenge) handles sweet treats like her signature Basque cake and gooey butter-cake ice cream at the all-day Café No Se. Next up: Paul Qui’s 12-seat sushi spot Otoko, with a ticketing system. Take in the city from two cool vantage points: the rooftop pool and Central Standard’s wraparound patio.
14. The Ivy Hotel, Baltimore
Within the shell of a former mansion that dates back to 1889, this 18-room hotel in Mount Vernon (near downtown) is elegant to the core—and a T+L 2016 It List winner. Leaded-glass curved windows are in Magdalena—its restaurant with five distinct seating areas, including a wine cellar with a brick floor, and dishes like rabbit risotto—and the rooms’ historic décor includes a fireplace, hand-painted armoire, and four-poster canopied bed. Included in all room rates is a daily breakfast (served in the sunroom), afternoon tea, cocktails, midnight snacks, and private car service in an antique black London taxi cab. Open since last summer, Spa at the Ivy’s menu folds in facials, massages, and body treatments.
15. Hotel Covell, Los Angeles
Los Feliz’s first boutique hotel, which opened on Hollywood Boulevard above Bar Covell in a 1930s building a year ago, reflects the East L.A. neighborhood’s attraction to artists and creatives. Each of the five apartment-sized rooms flaunts a different, eclectic personality of the fictitious George Covell through its décor, like a vintage suitcase on the nightstand or a window seat in a pool of sunlight, against a backdrop of crisp white walls and linens, geometric-patterned wallpaper, and wood floors. Also in each room: a record player, an archway, and a kitchenette with a ‘50s-style Smeg fridge. Bar Covell downstairs pours 150 wines by the glass—paired with cheese and charcuterie boards, croque monsieur and pot du crème au chocolate.
16. Hotel Emma, San Antonio
At the historic Pearl Brewery complex on the north end of the River Walk, this 146-room property—named for the brewery founder’s widow, Emma Koehler, and another 2016 It List winner—joins a farmers market, amphitheater, restaurants, and a Culinary Institute of America campus. Foodies, take note: two culinary destinations are on site. Supper dishes up offbeat entrees with southern flair, like smoked crispy quail and white-anchovy beignets with dandelion salsa verde, while Larder sells artisan groceries and bottles of wine for an impromptu picnic. A South Texas staple—margarita—is gratis upon arrival, perfect for sipping while wearing the room’s seersucker robe back in the room, where the design features a custom exotic-hardwood dining table. Some rooms are in the original brewhouse tower, and a library of books is open to guests craving a good read.
17. Palladian, Seattle
Tucked into an early 1900s building in Belltown (downtown Seattle’s trendy waterfront nabe), this 97-room Kimpton hotel packs some quirk into each room with red rotary-dial phones and throw pillows emblazoned with Brad Pitt, David Bowie (yes, you can buy it), and Tom Selleck. Open for nearly a year now, it’s also home to Shaker + Spear (serving Walla Walla Semillon and Pacific Northwest oysters) and Pennyroyal (where eight specialty cocktails, wines by the glass, and “Maybe I’ll Catch Fire” punch join a small-plates menu). Like all other Kimpton properties, this hotel caters to yogis with mats and Rodney Yee’s yoga programming, viewable through each room’s televisions.