It List: The Best New Hotels 2013

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Best New Hotels 2013: Wythe
Adrian Gaut/Courtesy of Wythe

Introducing the coolest new hotels, from a loft in Brooklyn to a sybaritic hideaway in Brazil.

When you check in to Hub Porteño, you unlock more than your stylish, light-filled room: you get access to the best Buenos Aires has to offer thanks to owner Gonzalo Robredo, who can get you into a tango club after hours or arrange a walking tour with a noted architect.

It’s the kind of trip-changing service you can expect from the best hotels. For our eighth annual editors’ choice awards, we logged thousands of miles to find the extraordinary hotels that are transforming their destinations and that promise to improve your next vacation.

The region of Coorg in southwestern India, for instance, is appealing for its mist-shrouded rainforests, coffee plantations, and off-the-grid vibe. The opening of Vivanta by Taj Madikeri gives intrepid travelers added incentive to visit. Its villas and suites are modeled after traditional homes, with vaulted ceilings, doors made from coconut shells, and windows that let the sun seep over the horizon at dawn.

Many of our favorite new hotels, like Vivanta, showcase what’s distinctive and authentic about their location. In Sicily, Monaci delle Terre Nere’s walls are cut from local volcanic rock and the mini-bars are stocked with regional wines and beers; Sugar Beach resort employed a Rastafarian craftsman to use 900-year-old Carib Indian techniques to create a tree-house spa for the St. Lucia property.

But you don’t have to pack your passport to experience the best of what the hotel industry has to offer. Our research was a reminder that there is always something new to discover in the U.S., from the affordable 21c Museum Hotel, which is reinforcing Bentonville, AR, as a weekend getaway destination for art lovers, to the Wythe, where you can experience firsthand what all the Brooklyn buzz is about. And if you think you know Aspen’s iconic 125-year-old Hotel Jerome, think again—it’s got a fresh look, thanks to a multimillion-dollar renovation.

Read on for all of 2013’s most groundbreaking hotels.

Hotel Pricing Key
$ Less than $200
$$ $200 to $350
$$$ $350 to $500
$$$$ $500 to $1,000
$$$$$ More than $1,000

Edited by Nilou Motamed, Jennifer Flowers, Clara Sedlak, and Nikki Ekstein. Reported by Christine Ajudua, Gini Alhadeff, Kate Appleton, Luke Barr, Gemma Bowes, Jackie Caradonio, Ben Carlson, Jennifer Chen, Robyn Eckhardt, Irene Edwards, Andrew Ferren, Peter J. Frank, Adam H. Graham, Frances Hibbard, Peter Hughes, Katie James, Stirling Kelso, Sarah Khan, David Kaufman, David Keeps, Matt Lee, Shilpi Madan, Alexandra Marshall, Heidi Mitchell, Shane Mitchell, Lindsey Olander, Kathryn O'Shea-Evans, Sam Polcer, Brooke Porter, Adam Sachs, Andrew Sessa, Patrick Sheehan, Maria Shollenbarger, Samai Singh, Sarah Spagnolo, Marguerite A. Suozzi, Laura Teusink, Valerie Waterhouse, Lucy White, Ingrid Williams, and Alexandra Wolfe.

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City: Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund

It List - The Best New Hotels: Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund
Courtesy Banyan Tree Shanghai On the Bund

If a visit to this megalopolis of 23 million feels overwhelming, then Banyan Tree’s first Shanghai property, located on the northern part of the iconic Bund waterfront, provides the ultimate escape. Take the 130 enormous guest rooms—among the city’s largest—all with chaise longues offering unobstructed views of the Huangpu River. Then there’s the service, both thoughtful and discreet, from the laundry pickup via a valet box by your door to the attentive staff in the Ming Yuan Cantonese restaurant. The showstopper, however, is the three-floor, marble-clad spa, spread over 14,000 square feet, with a treatment menu so comprehensive that it could take months to explore fully—Tibetan hot-stone massage, anyone? $$

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Rustic: Berkeley River Lodge, Kimberley Coast, Australia

It List - The Best New Hotels: Berkeley River Lodge
Courtesy of The Berkeley River Lodge

It takes more than 24 hours of travel from the U.S.—including three connections, plus a jaunt in a floatplane—to get to Berkeley River Lodge, on the Kimberley Coast, in Western Australia. The payoff? Barefoot luxury in one of the most remote places on earth. Twenty stylishly spare villas are set on massive sand dunes that rise 200 feet above the Timor Sea, each with alfresco bathrooms and cantilevered patios that overlook otherworldly gorges. Go on a naturalist-led hike through the surrounding grasslands, or better yet, explore King George Sound and Mitchell Falls with a ride in the hotel’s private helicopter.; all-inclusive. $$$$$

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Design: Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht, Amsterdam

It List - The Best New Hotels: Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht
James Merrell

The latest project from Dutch wild child Marcel Wanders—who’s been called the Lady Gaga of design—is, of all places, a former public library. But walking through his dreamlike interiors you would never believe it: quirky touches playfully reimagine many of Holland’s icons (tulips; shipping maps; wooden clogs), while the country’s signature delft blue appears on custom rugs, wallpapers, and hand-painted sinks. A feature we loved: the 40-piece, avant-garde video art collection displayed on screens throughout the hotel comes courtesy of a partnership with the newly reopened Stedelijk Museum nearby. $$$

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City: Shangri-La, Mumbai

It List - The Best New Hotels: Shangri-La Mumbai
Courtesy of Shangri-La Hotel, Mumbai

Mumbai’s newest kid on the block is adding even more glamour to the city’s commercial center. The lobby’s Botticino-marble staircase is flanked by ornate gilded mirrors and wall sconces bejeweled with crystal. Upstairs, the 390 well-appointed guest rooms have sweeping views of the city and Arabian Sea beyond and incorporate classic Indian flourishes such as tikri artwork sourced from Rajasthan. There are plenty of diversions here: hot-stone massages at the Chi spa, designer shopping at the ground-floor Palladium Mall, or lounging by the breezy outdoor pool. $

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Beach: Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Puerto Rico

It List - The Best New Hotels: Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Courtesy Dorado Beach

In the 1950’s, Laurance S. Rockefeller’s 1,400-acre retreat on Puerto Rico’s palm-fringed northern coast was a Caribbean hot spot for Hollywood’s elite (Ava Gardner, JFK, and Joan Crawford were all regulars). Now a $342 million renovation promises to bring Dorado Beach back to its glory days. Private embajadores are at the ready to whisk guests in golf carts on jungle-​lined paths to their two-story beachfront bungalows decorated in cream-colored fabrics with soothing sand-tinted walls. The colonial-style Su Casa villa has been meticulously restored (and can be all yours for a cool $30,000 a night). Adding to the wow factor is chef José Andrés’s Puerto Rican–inspired Mi Casa restaurant, his first outpost in the Caribbean. But the hotel’s shining star is the five-​acre Spa Botánico, where we indulged in an unforgettable tree-​house hammock massage that lulled us into a blissful slumber. $$$$$

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Renovation: El Encanto, Santa Barbara, CA

It List - The Best New Hotels: El Encanto
Courtesy of El Encanto

Seven years and $134 million in the making, Orient Express Hotels’ takeover of the storied El Encanto (the brand’s first West Coast resort) is reinventing a genteel slice of California history. The once quaint hillside hotel (a favorite of A-listers such as Clark Gable in the 1960’s) has been reimagined to include 92 California Craftsman and Spanish-colonial-revival bungalows spread over seven lushly landscaped acres. In the guest rooms, century-old charms were preserved (we loved the plantation-style shutters and wide patios) while luxe updates were added (mohair loveseats; pillows monogrammed with guests’ initials). It’s tempting to hang up a Do Not Disturb sign and stay put. We suggest making time for the farm-to-fork restaurant: the bounty of vegetables and herbs from the on-site garden did not disappoint, nor did the aged white cheddar made with milk from its very own Holstein cow, Ellie. $$$$

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City: Zero George, Charleston

It List - The Best New Hotels: Zero George
Courtesy of Zero George Inn

In a city known for antebellum-style inns and antiques-filled bed-and-breakfasts, a local iconoclast is shaking things up. Owner Dean Andrews—who ran the venerable Charleston Place hotel for 16 years—has introduced this genteel town’s first truly contemporary retreat with Zero George, in the oak-lined Ansonborough district. The 18 guest rooms, scattered among five historic buildings (all circa 1805), have the signature pocket gardens, piazzas, and sprawling verandas you’d expect from hotels here, but Farrow & Ball paint colors and Kravet linens bring the look refreshingly up to date. Guests can take Lowcountry cooking classes in the former kitchen house or dine on southern-inspired tapas in a sunny courtyard flanked by azalea- and palmetto-lined gardens. $$

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Resort: Alpina Gstaad, Switzerland

It List - The Best New Hotels: Alpina Gstaad
Courtesy Alpina Gstaad

With the arrival of the Alpina, the first luxury hotel to be built in Gstaad in a century, Switzerland’s elite wintertime playground finally has a contemporary clubhouse to call its own. Better known for its deep pockets than for its cool cachet, Gstaad has long lacked what the Alpina delivers: an of-the-moment cosmopolitan vibe and youthful sensibility, complete with an outpost of the Japanese restaurant Megu, a cutting-edge art collection, and a lounge destined to become the meeting spot for après-ski scenesters. The Six Senses Spa, with its curving cream walls, may feel a bit out of keeping with the rest of the property’s warm embossed leathers, herringbone wools, and antique fir wood, but the soothing deep-tissue and hot-stone massages more than make up for any aesthetic misstep. $$$$$

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City: Das Stue, Berlin

It List - The Best New Hotels: Das Stue
Courtesy Das Sue

Hidden away on leafy Drakestrasse—between the Tiergarten park and the city’s zoo—this 80-room retreat has quietly stolen the spotlight in Berlin. Housed in the former Danish embassy, Das Stue derives its name from the Danish word for “living room,” a concept that interior designer Patricia Urquiola embraced to tasteful effect, seamlessly combining the 1939 Neoclassical building with a new five-story addition. Throughout, it’s the stylish touches and homey feel that won us over: photographs by Horst and Helmut Newton; library nooks with shag rugs on each floor. Request a room in the new wing for a view of the zoo’s ostriches and gazelles, or get a glimpse of the same scene while enjoying the lavish breakfast in the dining room downstairs. $$

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Rustic: Capaldi Atlas Mountains, Morocco

It List - The Best New Hotels: Capaldi Atlas Mountains
Courtesy of The Capaldi

Visitors to Marrakesh now have ample reason to venture out to the windswept dunes of the Moroccan desert. At the foot of the Atlas Mountains, the crimson-hued Capaldi is the ultimate sybaritic escape—and it’s only 25 miles south of the city. The 23 slick rooms and suites are near-monochromatic (some gray, others chocolate or ivory) with biscuit-colored tile floors, stone fireplaces, and deep, soft beds covered in plush duvets and Egyptian-cotton linens. At night, we feasted on tender côte de boeuf at the French-inspired restaurant before a starlit swim in the pool and a midnight movie at the hotel’s private cinema. $$

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Design: Bulgari Hotel & Residences, London

It List - The Best New Hotels: Bulgari Hotel & Residences
Courtesy of Bulgari

For the opening of Bulgari’s third property, the brand spared no expense: lacquered mahogany; polished black granite; antique jewelry on display throughout its public spaces. A stone’s throw from Hyde Park in tony Knightsbridge, this gem fits right in with the haute boutiques up and down the block. The 85 rooms and suites are just as grand, with their onyx baths, vintage Moroccan carpets, and silver brocade beds. At turndown, you’ll find your butler has left Amedei Toscano Black chocolates on the pillow. Downstairs, Il Bar will quickly become your favorite cocktail lounge—order a Morello-cherry Bellini and take in the titanium-clad surroundings. $$$$

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City: Sofitel Mumbai Bandra Kurla

It List - The Best New Hotels: Sofitel Mumbai Bandra Kurla
Courtesy Sofitel Mumbai BKC

Located in the city’s Bandra Kurla Complex, the 14-story glass building was designed by BBG-BBGM with interior designs by Isabelle Miaja, who put a playful spin on Indian- and French-inspired motifs. There’s a huge bronze elephant statue on the outdoor terrace and sky-high totem poles embellished with grinning tigers and Eiffel Towers in the lobby. Upstairs, guest rooms are decidedly more understated, with neutral tones, dark wood floors, and freestanding tubs. If the hyper-attentive service doesn’t win you over, the sheer variety of culinary offerings surely will. Feast on Thai vegetarian red curry and bhindhi do pyaza (garam masala-inflected okra and onions) at the splashy red-and-gold Pondichery Café, sample the house-made chocolates at patisserie Artisan, or head to Jyran for Indian tapas such as spice-rubbed lamb shank and chicken tandoori stuffed with ginger and pomegranate seeds. $

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Beach: Jumeirah Port Soller, Mallorca, Spain

It List - The Best New Hotels: Jumeirah Port Soller
Gerrit Meier/Courtesy of Jumeirah Port Soller

Jumeirah’s first hotel in continental Europe takes full advantage of the untapped potential of Port de Soller, a quiet fishing village just a half-hour’s drive north of the island’s capital. Aside from the hairpin approach up the Tramuntana Mountains, everything here exudes calm. On a rugged promontory, sweet-smelling orange groves fringe 11 low-slung buildings, where 120 rooms all have private terraces that look onto the Balearic Sea. When we weren’t lounging by the infinity pool or getting an ayurvedic massage at the three-story spa, we ventured down to the village to stroll the café-lined promenade and ride the vintage tram, which shuttles sun-kissed passengers along the horseshoe-shaped bay. $$$

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Renovation: Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice

It List - The Best New Hotels: Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel
Courtesy of Gritti Palace

Starwood’s Luxury Collection pulled out all the stops to renovate Venice’s legendary hotel on the Grand Canal, with an estimated price tag of $55 million. The results of the restoration are staggering: more than 200 Rubelli silk wall coverings and textiles, including archive patterns last produced in the 18th century, were re-created, and around 280 antique pieces refurbished, as were some 600 light fixtures, among them dozens of one-off Murano chandeliers. Spacious rooms incorporate rich terrazzo floors and a muted palette, a combination that adds up to understated splendor rather than over-the-top luxury. The bathrooms compensate for their often diminutive size with extravagant cladding in marble from five regions of Italy. We’d love to see a slightly more relaxed lunchtime menu at the canal-front Club del Doge restaurant, but after feasting on a faultless lemon, black pepper, and Parmesan linguine at dinner, it’s gauche to complain. $$$$

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Resort: Amanzo’e, Porto Heli, Greece

It List - The Best New Hotels: Amanzo'e
Courtesy of Aman Resorts

If the ancient Greeks designed a city on a hill today, with all the innovations of the modern world, it would probably look and feel like Amanzo’e. Its stone columns, acres of olive trees, and panoramic views of azure seas—not to mention its 38 residence-like, plunge-pooled guest pavilions, private beach club, three 90-foot-long green-marble-lined pools, and 12,000-square-foot spa—would make any returning Homeric hero weep. Add to that its covetable position on the Peloponnese peninsula’s sun-drenched southern coast, known for secluded pebbled beaches and easy access from Athens (the capital is just over two hours away by car or hydrofoil), and you’re well on your way to Elysium. $$$$$

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City: East, Beijing

It List - The Best New Hotels: East
Courtesy of East Beijing

If Beijing is China’s creative hub, this new hotel embodies that ethos perfectly. Step inside the 25-story glass tower, in the city’s Chaoyang business district, and you’ll find a young staff in hoodies, a bar with a foosball table, and a media center that operates more like a corner café. That’s where tech entrepreneurs and young movers and shakers mingle over made-to-order lattes. This plugged-in approach is in keeping with the growing Swire Hotels group’s other stylish properties in China. Here, the 369 sleek guest rooms have muted hues and Bose sound systems; downstairs, there’s a standout Japanese restaurant and a lounge with live music and 180 premium whiskeys. $

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Rustic: Cicada Lodge, Nitmiluk National Park, Australia

It List - The Best New Hotels: Cicada Lodge
Peter Eve/Courtesy of Cicada Lodge

The 500 remaining Jawoyn Aborigines in the Northern Territory make up one of the world’s oldest surviving cultures, and now, with the opening of Cicada Lodge, they’re also Australia’s most anticipated new hoteliers. Their goal is twofold: put Nitmiluk Gorge—with its carved canyons of ancient sandstone towering over the Katherine River—on the traveler’s map, and use the lodge as a means of preserving Jawoyn heritage. Here, 18 airy rooms in muted shades of green and brown incorporate Aboriginal art. If you are drawn to high-octane pursuits (four-wheel-drive touring, say), you’ve found your place. But there are plenty of less demanding activities, including swimming under pristine waterfalls and helicoptering to sacred rock-art sites that date back 20,000 years—all under the guidance of indigenous locals. $$$$

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Design: Café Royal, London

It List - The Best New Hotels: Cafe Royal
Courtesy of Cafe Royal

David Chipperfield Architects went to great lengths to create a hotel worthy of this central location (between St. James, Mayfair, and Soho) and the landmarked salons and dining rooms of the site’s eponymous café, where Oscar Wilde famously spent absinthe-fueled evenings. Neighboring buildings now house the 159 ultramodern rooms, all outfitted with custom furniture by Chipperfield and B&B Italia and baths carved out of solid Carrara marble. We loved watching the bustle of Piccadilly Circus from our soundproofed suite, where we could tune it all out just by closing the curtains. $$$$

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City: St. Regis, Doha, Qatar

It List - The Best New Hotels: St. Regis, Doha, Qatar
Courtesy of The St. Regis Doha

There’s no question—Doha is poised to emerge on the global stage, with its I. M. Pei–designed Museum of Islamic Art and 2020 World Cup plans. The new 336-room St. Regis evokes the brand’s century-old Manhattan roots with more than its Fifth Avenue–worthy style: it also features the first international outpost of Jazz at Lincoln Center, overseen by artistic director Wynton Marsalis. The crowds haven’t yet arrived, but the pedigree is hard to resist, thanks to two Gordon Ramsay restaurants, a Remède spa, and butler service fit for a sheikh. $$

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Beach: Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa, Guacalito de la Isla, Nicaragua

It List - The Best New Hotels: Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa
Jessica Sample

When Nicaraguan industrialist Carlos Pellas decided to build the country’s first five-star hideaway, he chose an undeveloped stretch of land on the Pacific coast—a blank slate, in effect, to create a new image for a country in flux. Pellas smartly added the familiar trappings of luxury: plunge pools, butlers, a spa with themed treatment rooms, a golf course designed by David McLay Kidd. Mukul soars on its strong sense of place: the staff is mostly local, and the furniture in the 23 cliffside bohíos and 12 freestanding beach villas is built by hand (unique touches include headboards made of rum-barrel staves and polished pewter tables). Grass-fed Nicaraguan beef, as well as Pellas’s own excellent rum, Flor de Caña, is served at the beachfront restaurant. And there is a palpable feeling of pride in a project destined to help transform this oasis and jungle into Central America’s next fashionable destination. $$$$

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Renovation: Hotel Alfonso XIII, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Seville, Spain

It List - The Best New Hotels: Hotel Alfonso XIII, a Luxury Collection Hotel
Courtesy of Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Built in 1929 to host the Spanish king’s crowned cohorts, Seville’s Hotel Alfonso XIII has never abdicated its role as the city’s premier address for discerning visitors. But even royal retreats occasionally need a makeover, which is why Starwood spent nine months and $25 million restoring the landmark—an Andalusian architectural confection of colorful tiles, carved plaster, and curlicue ironwork. Traditionalists may grieve over the disappearance of heavy furnishings from the 151 guest rooms and suites, but we love the lighter new colors, restored antiques, and sexy shimmer of vivid silks (everyone looks princely in the new peacock-blue American Bar). And now that the traffic-clogged streets once isolating the hotel have been converted into pedestrian walkways, the property feels like your very own private oasis in this romantic city. $$

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Resort: Botanique Hotel & Spa, Brazil

It List - The Best New Hotels: Botanique
Tuca Reines/Courtesy of Botanique Hotel and Spa

High in the mountains of Vale dos Mellos, 160 miles northwest of São Paulo, sits a stone-and-glass lodge conceived to showcase the best of the country. There’s the wine cellar (all Brazilian); the food (farm-to-fork); and the furnishings (sourced by Adélia Borges, the country’s leading design authority). The six suites and 11 villas are built with reclaimed wood and have terraces that overlook the valley. But this is not luxury to satisfy all tastes—floorboards are rough, bathrooms doorless, and décor is on the spare side. Still, the range of activities—horseback riding, capoeira, cooking classes—are enough to keep the most restless of guests happy.; all-inclusive. $$$$$

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City: Fairmont Jaipur, India

It List - The Best New Hotels: Fairmont Jaipur
Courtesy of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Rajasthan’s capital is no stranger to luxe hotels, but a newcomer is turning heads in the Pink City. Fairmont’s first Indian property, tucked into the Aravalli Hills on the outskirts of Jaipur, takes its inspiration from a Mughal palace: a frangipani-filled garden leads to the lobby, with its hand-painted ceilings and crystal chandeliers, while the 255 richly detailed guest rooms have opulent wall coverings and carved bedposts. The royal theme extends to the restaurant Zoya, complete with a canopied tent and traditional Rajasthani dishes such as bharwan mirch (stuffed green chiles). We loved the range of activities, all seamlessly organized by the hotel, from hot air balloon rides and elephant polo lessons to a guided tour of the Amber Fort, one of the region’s most breathtaking landmarks, a 15-minute drive away. $

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Rustic: Kura Design Villas, Costa Rica

It List - The Best New Hotels: Kura Design Villas
Courtesy of Kura Design Villas

The northwestern province of Guanacaste has always been the epicenter of Costa Rica’s splashiest hotels—but all eyes are moving south to the lesser-known Osa Peninsula. A bumpy, 20-minute drive up a steep mountain from the tiny town of Uvita leads to the rustic-chic Kura Design Villas, the first property of its kind to open in the region. The six-room hotel—set within a verdant rain forest and overlooking jungle-lined beaches—is the passion project of a local couple (he’s the architect; she’s a marine biologist) who partnered with sustainable hospitality group Cayuga Collection (a T+L Global Vision Award winner in 2012). Solar-powered, open-plan rooms have glass-walled rain showers and bamboo ceilings. It’s nearly impossible not to unplug here, especially at night, when chirping crickets lulled us to sleep. The saltwater infinity pool is at the heart of the complex, and it’s no accident that it faces west. Come sunset, order a refreshing Guaria Morada cocktail, made with sugarcane liquor, blackberry, and coconut cream, and settle into a white leather chaise for the colorful show. $$$$

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Design: Downtown México, Mexico City

It List - The Best New Hotels: Downtown Mexico
Luis Garcia

Star local hoteliers Grupo Habita have a knack for creating happening social hubs out of thin air (case in point: New York’s Hôtel Americano, It List 2012). Their fourth Mexico City hotel, in the 17th-century Palacio de los Condes de Miravalle, is an oasis of style in the formerly neglected Centro Histórico, the 500-year-old city center. The 17 guest rooms and public spaces, created by young Mexican architect duo Cherem-Serrano, blend original details, such as wood floors and fortress-thick brick walls, with tasteful handmade pine furnishings. In the atrium, a collection of artisanal Mexican boutiques sells everything from colorful scarves to mezcal. But you’re really here for the rooftop scene, where jet-setters sip mango and tamarind margaritas near the sexy lap pool. $

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City: Taj Palace Marrakesh, Morocco

It List - The Best New Hotels: Taj Palace Marrakesh
Courtesy Taj Palace Marrakech

The Taj brand’s Moroccan pièce de résistance was seven years in the making, and its sheer grandeur raises the bar for a city already gifted with impressive hotels. A mix of Asian, Moroccan, and Ottoman influences is on display in the 161 rooms; there are Swarovski-bedazzled curtains, mirrored and frescoed ceilings, hothouse-palette Indian textiles, and a mint’s worth of gold leaf, all juxtaposed with hundreds of antique Berber rugs. What we loved best: the yoga classes at the spacious pavilion, complete with a terrace and a fireplace. $$$$

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Beach: Oyster Inn, Waiheke Island, New Zealand

It List - The Best New Hotels: Oyster Inn
Kieran Scott

Just 35 minutes from Auckland by ferry, Waiheke Island is the Montauk of New Zealand, combining the cool cachet of your prototypical seaside town (beach shacks made of castoff wood; laid-back residents) with a sophisticated edge. Kiwis have known about it forever, but the world is just catching on, thanks to the Oyster Inn, a three-room retreat near Oneroa Beach modeled after the rustic houses, or baches, that dot the island. Set in a Victorian-era newspaper office, the guest rooms are small but sweet, all whitewashed walls, exposed rafters, and colorful kilims. We whiled away the day at the patio café overlooking Oneroa Bay, happily ordering platters of bivalves plucked straight from the sea. Turns out they didn’t name it Oyster Inn for nothing. $$

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Renovation: Hotel Jerome, Aspen, CO

It List - The Best New Hotels: Hotel Jerome
TAL Studio/Todds-Avery Lenahan

This 125-year-old Aspen icon has a storied past: in the 1970’s Hunter S. Thompson was a regular at the hotel’s J Bar; 19th-century silver miners used the property as a boarding house; ghosts are said to haunt the place. Now a multimillion-dollar overhaul opens a shiny new chapter. While the Victorian red-brick façade remains, the common areas offer a playful take on the Old West: tufted leather sofas and mounted deer heads are juxtaposed with modern accents such as black-and-white cowhide rugs and crystal obelisks. The theme extends to the guest rooms, filled with vintage-inspired tree-stump lamps, plaid steamer-trunk dressers, and chairs upholstered in tartans and pinstripes. Add to all this the jaw-dropping mountain views and a lively après-ski scene, and Hotel Jerome is poised for a new golden era. $$$

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Resort: Trident Hotel, Port Antonio, Jamaica

It List - The Best New Hotels: Trident
Courtesy Trident Hotel

Make no mistake: the verdant, still-under-the-radar area of Port Antonio, on Jamaica’s northeastern coast—a former stomping ground of Hollywood legends like Elizabeth Taylor—is about to reclaim its status as a hideaway for the jet set. Case in point: the Trident Hotel, one of a series of high-profile projects from the Geejam Collection that will debut this year. Run by music producers Jon Baker and Steve Beaver, Trident has 13 white-on-white villas overlooking the ocean, along with a clutch of statement-worthy public spaces: there’s the Explorer’s Lounge, with its burnished light fixtures and 1930’s billiard table, and Mike’s Supper Club, hosting weekly jazz performances on a 1917 Ferrari-red Steinway grand. Next up? The redevelopment of the nearby Blue Lagoon, a spring-fed cove and restaurant where guests once danced until dawn. $$$$

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City: Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto

It List - The Best New Hotels: Four Seasons Toronto
Courtesy of Four Seasons

Towering over the upscale Yorkville district, Four Seasons Hotel Toronto lays the groundwork for the global hotel group’s next-generation ambitions. Bold statements abound in the thoroughly contemporary 55-floor skyscraper. The glass-and-steel façade gives way to soothing guest rooms in shades of beige and gray. In a grand gesture of luxury, the spa is by far the city’s largest, and chef Daniel Boulud brings with him the requisite culinary bona fides. Add to that a new location that’s second to none—within walking distance of the Royal Ontario Museum and the Bata Shoe Museum—and you have the makings of a brand reborn. $$$

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Rustic: Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

It List - The Best New Hotels: Mashpi Lodge
Courtesy Mashpi Lodge

A secluded retreat surrounded by 3,000 acres of cucharillo and copal trees, Mashpi Lodge (owned by Grupo Futuro, also behind 2012 It List winner Casa Gangotena, in Quito) is turning Ecuador’s mainland into a serious ecotourism player. It’s a 2 1/2-hour car trip on a winding road from the capital to the ultramodern glass-and-steel hotel, where the endangered Choco rain forest takes center stage (indeed, Mashpi’s owner refused to cut down a single tree to build the property). Rooms are light-filled but minimally decorated (seike wood furnishings; slate floors) and include floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a wild habitat that beckons you to head out and explore. We took an aerial gondola ride to the hotel’s eight-story observation tower, followed by a guided hike to a secret waterfall—the perfect spot for a dip. $$$$$

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Design: Ett Hem, Stockholm

It List - The Best New Hotels: Ett Hem
Felix Odell

This may well be the year of hotel-as-home, and the 12-room Ett Hem, in Stockholm’s residential Lärkstan district, is a prime example. Interiors by London-based Ilse Crawford, who was also behind Soho House London and New York, mix Midcentury Scandinavian furniture with custom-made brass cocktail cabinets, Gotland sheepskins, and contemporary art from the owner’s personal collection. Go ahead, roam the house: play the piano in the light-filled living room, pull a novel off a shelf, or sneak down to the kitchen for a midnight snack. We especially appreciated how every member of the staff, from the chef to the housekeeper, stopped to offer us a warm välkommen. $$$$

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City: Tokyo Station Hotel

It List - The Best New Hotels: Tokyo Station Hotel
Courtesy of The Tokyo Station Hotel

Nary a bullet-train rumble can be heard from the 150 serene rooms of the Tokyo Station Hotel—a surprise given that the hotel is directly above Japan’s busiest railway hub. Located in the renovated Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building, one of the few remaining examples of pre–World War II architecture in Tokyo, the property reopened after an exhaustive six-year overhaul that restored century-old historic details, including the ornate yellow domes in the lobby. Tokyo Station Hotel delivers all the modern amenities you could hope for (Toto toilets; goose-down-topped beds; mini-bars stocked with top-shelf Hibiki whiskey). The clincher, though, is the covetable location in the heart of Tokyo, a short stroll from the Imperial Palace and just steps from rail lines that connect to all corners of the country. $$

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Beach: Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, St. Lucia

It List - The Best New Hotels: Sugar Beach
Courtesy of Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort

The 100-acre Jalousie Plantation, skirting a sleepy stretch of sand, was always lovely. And the location, wedged between the towering Pitons—a UNESCO World Heritage site—was second to none. But when British pub baron Roger Myers put $100 million into a rebranding by Viceroy, he raised the bar on an island already known for luxury. The result: 78 bleach-white accommodations including 42 hillside villas built with kiln-dried Central American hardwoods and filled with indigenous art; a tree-house spa made by a Rastafarian craftsman using 900-year-old Carib Indian techniques; and old-world uniforms for the staff (prim white cotton dresses for the housekeepers; top hats for the bellmen). The area’s star attractions? Hundreds of triggerfish and clown shrimp that live in the nearby Anse de Pitons bay; plumb the azure waters with a diving lesson from the resort’s longtime instructor, Cocoa Puffs. $$$

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City: Wythe Hotel, New York

Best New Hotels 2013: Wythe
Adrian Gaut/Courtesy of Wythe

People are still buzzing about the “new Brooklyn,” where each artisan establishment seems to out-craft the next. And the Wythe—near the Williamsburg riverfront—has become the crown jewel of the borough’s renaissance. Converted from a 1901 factory, the 72 rooms are studies in restraint, with original cast-iron columns, salvaged-timber-beamed ceilings, and cement floors (thankfully heated on colder nights). Details are steadfastly local, from toile wallpaper that evokes the cityscape to the small-batch brews in the mini-bars. Downstairs at Reynard restaurant, the tattooed staff serves farm-to-table dishes, but if it’s the hipster scene you’ve come for, the Ides rooftop bar will deliver in spades. $

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Renovation: Peninsula Hong Kong

It List - The Best New Hotels: Peninsula Hong Kong
Courtesy The Peninsula Hong Kong

Serenity is the word that comes to mind when you enter one of the Peninsula Hong Kong’s renovated Tower rooms. There’s gleaming burl-wood cabinetry with hardware modeled after vintage trunks and luxurious upholstery and paneling in creamy tones; the only dash of color comes from the blossom appliqué hovering on one wall, a subtle reminder that you are, after all, in Asia. Nestled deep within the walls of these classic modern spaces is 21st-century technology on steroids: electronic panels control the rooms’ various features, from lighting, window treatments, and music and video selection to a guide to the city and live flight-status updates in five languages. And then there are the heart-stopping views of Victoria Harbour and towering buildings of Hong Kong Island—a sparkling rim of lights once the sun goes down. $$$$

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City: Waldorf Astoria, Berlin

It List - The Best New Hotels: Waldorf Astoria Berlin
Courtesy Waldorf Astoria

The floor-to-ceiling windows provide an unfiltered and entirely dramatic view of the city: look at Berlin, there it is, in all its gritty, peculiar glory. The Waldorf Astoria tower, 32 stories high, anchors the reviving City West neighborhood around the Tiergarten, where history (the preserved ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Church) rubs shoulders with the future (the hip Bikini Berlin retail development, under construction), and the city’s creative energy is palpable. Inside, well-appointed rooms with soft beige, brown, and gold finishes signal the embrace of luxury and comfort. Among the many and welcome amenities is a Nespresso machine (which really ought to be standard issue in every hotel room from now on). While the lobby may carry a tinge of business as usual, the Lang Bar is dark and moody and just what we want in a hotel bar at the end of the day. $$

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Resort: Uma by Como, Punakha, Bhutan

It List - The Best New Hotels: Uma by Como
Courtesy of COMO Hotels and Resorts

Eastern Bhutan, with its pristine landscapes and well-preserved Buddhist temples, has had little in the way of stylish retreats. Enter the newest offering by Como hotels in the untouched Punakha Valley. The sleek sister property to western Bhutan’s Uma by Como, Paro is a welcome haven between long treks through the Himalayas: nine guest rooms designed by Malaysian-born Cheong Yew Kuan (also behind the Como Shambhala Estate, in Bali) are clad in native blue pine, while floor-to-ceiling windows overlook rolling green hills. A breakfast of ginger-and-lime muffins with house-made watermelon jam fortified us for a trip to Punakha Dzong Monastery—one of the country’s most important sites—just a 25-minute hike away along the valley’s lush rim. $$$

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City: Gran Meliá Rome Villa Agrippina

It List - The Best New Hotels: Gran Melia Rome Villa Agrippin
Simon Watson

Ancient Rome may have been famous for its pleasure palaces, but the city has never had a retreat that combines the conveniences of an urban hotel with the comforts of a resort. That all changed with the arrival of Gran Meliá’s new flagship, located across the Tiber River from the centro storico. Set on two landscaped acres, the sprawling retreat has 116 guest rooms—antiqued metal doors, sculpted white stone counters, and large-scale photographs depicting details of centuries-old Italian paintings. The property has a notable past (Emperor Nero’s mother, Agrippina, lived in a villa here), but there are myriad ways to channel the present day: the tranquil spa, a serene outdoor pool, and a terrace, where a sunset aperitivo rewarded us with panoramic views of the Eternal City. $$$$

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Rustic: Monteverdi, Val d’Orcia, Italy

It List - The Best New Hotels: Monteverdi
Bernard Touillon/Courtesy of Monteverdi

If you’ve always fantasized about living in a medieval Tuscan town, Monteverdi is the hilltop retreat you’ve been waiting for. At just seven suites, the scale is decidedly intimate, with stylish farmhouse interiors by Roman designer Ilaria Miani, all neutral hues, rich textures, and whitewashed antique wood. And of course, you have the picturesque setting, in the tiniest of villages (population: 25), on one of the highest hills in the Val d’Orcia, recognized by UNESCO to be among the region’s most beautiful valleys. And thanks to a restoration by the owners—an Italian-American family who have taken a slow and steady approach to integrating the property into the town—it’s the kind of getaway that encourages hunkering down, even though the best of Tuscan wine-and-food country is just a short drive away. $$$

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Design: ITC Grand Chola, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Chennai, India

It List - The Best New Hotels: ITC Grand Chola
Bindu Panicker

A museum of luxuries has opened in Chennai, and it can be slept in. A grand marble staircase, the color of honey, welcomes guests at the ITC Grand Chola, leading them past a series of glazed glass doors lit by crystal chandeliers and ascending gracefully to the strains of South Indian pipe music. Elegant women in saris direct you hither and thither; there is a shallow pool of crystalline waters with real lotus flowers, yellow and pink. The first impression: a true palace. All of Chennai had been awaiting the arrival of this 600-room, state-of-the-art wonder, with an iPad in every room and understated glamour to spare. $

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Resort: Vivanta by Taj Madikeri, India

It List - The Best New Hotels: Vivanta by Taj Madikeri
Courtesy Vivanta by Taj – Madikeri, Coorg

For decades, in-the-know Bangaloreans have flocked to the region of Coorg, in the southwestern state of Karnataka, for its mist-shrouded rain forests, rolling coffee plantations, and off-the-grid vibe. Now, with the opening of Vivanta by Taj Madikeri, this undiscovered area has landed on the global traveler’s map. The seven-hour drive from the city may be long, but a glimpse of the staggering vistas from the open-air lobby provides an instant antidote—as do the 63 villas and suites. All are modeled after traditional Coorgi homes, with soaring vaulted ceilings, doors made from coconut shells, and picture windows that let the sun seep over the horizon at dawn. If you’re here to Zen out, the resort’s 180 acres hold plenty of soothing diversions, from clay-sculpting sessions at the outdoor pottery studio to deep-tissue massages at the tri-level spa. $$

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City: Hub Porteño, Buenos Aires

It List - The Best New Hotels: Hub Porteno
Daniella Mac Adden/Courtesy of Hub Porteno

The allure of this gem in the Recoleta area is its impressive ability to unlock the best Buenos Aires has to offer. Whether you’re a polo fanatic aspiring to meet a star player or an architecture buff eager for a city tour with a noted interior designer, anything is within reach, thanks to the black book of the Hub’s well-connected owner Gonzalo Robredo. We took a private lesson with one of the city’s premier dance teachers, and then paid an after-hours visit to a hidden milonga (tango hall) on the city’s fringes. The hotel itself has 11 light-filled suites, each of which pays homage to Argentina with Belle Époque furnishings and paintings from the celebrated art collection of the late Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat—Robredo is a family friend. $$$

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Rustic: Monaci delle Terre Nere, Sicily

It List - The Best New Hotels: Monaci delle Terre Nere
Courtesy of Monaci delle Terre Nere

When industrialist Guido Coffa purchased a Baroque villa on a 40-acre fruit farm at the foot of Mount Etna, transforming it into one of the most sustainable hotels in Sicily wasn’t part of his plan. Yet, five years later, he’s accomplished just that. The walls are cut from local volcanic rock, the beamed ceilings are made from Etna chestnut wood, and 50 percent of the hotel’s energy is renewable. But that doesn’t mean style has been sacrificed: eight (soon to be 14) sleek rooms mix 18th-century antiques with black Louis Ghost chairs, larger-than-life paintings, and glossy red lampshades. What we loved best? The thoughtful touches, such as mini-bars stocked with regional wines and beers, and the cozy, king-size beds draped in organic-cotton linens. $$

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Design: JW Marriott Marquis, Dubai

It List - The Best New Hotels: JW Marriott Marquis
Baerbel Schmidt

Welcome to the world’s tallest freestanding hotel. With 1,608 rooms across two 72-story, palm-shaped towers, the JW Marriott Marquis is the latest addition to the city’s starchitect-crafted skyline—and is ideally located in Business Bay, a waterfront neighborhood recently selected for rapid-fire development due to its proximity to downtown and the expanding Dubai promenade. Here, most everything is mega-size: the 17-foot-high murals adorning Rang Mahal restaurant, the floor-to-ceiling white leather headboards in each guest room, and a glass-fronted lobby so vast that arriving glitterati look like ants. Even a few short weeks after opening, we were greeted by a lovely server (and our favorite guava yogurt) at Kitchen 6 each morning, and never waited more than a moment for the elevator to arrive. $$

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City: Leela Palace Chennai, India

It List - The Best New Hotels: Leela Palace Chennai
Trujillo Paumier

At the Leela Palace Chennai, set on the waterfront, guests are greeted by a doorman in a black cap with a red feather held in place by a diadem, and by rows of bronze urns filled with hundreds of marigolds. Silver tables in the front hall are also laden with flowers; the swimming pool is surrounded by frangipani and a walkway made with stones from Rajasthan. In the guest rooms, many of which overlook the Bay of Bengal, there are mahogany wood panels, mother-of-pearl-inlaid writing tables, and all-marble bathrooms with large tubs. Steal the stationery. $

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Rustic: Odzala Camps, Republic of the Congo

It List - The Best New Hotels: Odzala Camps
Courtesy Odzala Camps

With only western lowland gorillas, forest elephants, and a handful of Pygmy tribes to call it home, northern Congo’s Odzala-Kokoua rain forest—the second largest in the world—has remained unexplored by travelers. Now Wilderness Safaris is pulling back the curtain on one of Africa’s next great safari destinations with the region’s first high-end camp. Two environmentally minded lodges—Lango, on the edge of the savanna, and Ngaga, set deep in the rain forest—consist of 12 elevated tree-house suites constructed with local bamboo and decorated with Congolese crafts and artifacts. Leather and canvas campaign furniture and wraparound terraces add creature comforts, as does the organic French cuisine. But the real draw is Odzala’s unrivaled access to its wild neighbors, particularly the 20,000 resident gorillas who live just outside your door. $$$

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Design: Macalister Mansion, Penang, Malaysia

It List - The Best New Hotels: Macalister Mansion
Courtesy of Macalister Mansion

Take a hundred-year-old manor house and add mid-20th-century furnishings, life-size animal sculptures, and large bathtubs lined with silver mosaic tiles, and you’ve got Malaysia’s most stylish new hotel. Located on the island of Penang—home of the UNESCO-designated 18th-century George Town neighborhood—the eight-room Macalister Mansion references the destination’s colonial past, but with a bold nod to the future. To wit: the entrance’s eight-foot-high resin bust of the first British governor of Penang. Come evening, take a 20-minute taxi ride to the center of George Town to explore one of Southeast Asia’s most exciting street food scenes, or linger at the hotel for a dinner of assam laksa (tamarind-infused fish soup). $$

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City: Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou, China

It List - The Best New Hotels: Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou, China
Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou

Just 130 miles north of Hong Kong, this sprawling metropolis—population more than 12 million—is China’s next boomtown. A magnet for regional entrepreneurs, Guangzhou’s attractions also include noteworthy new architecture (the Zaha Hadid–designed opera house), a thriving food scene (it’s the capital of Cantonese cuisine), and most recently, a flurry of luxury hotel openings. Among the international brands staking their claim here, Mandarin Oriental sets itself apart with alluring interiors: the 287 guest accommodations, created by star hotel designer Tony Chi, are clad in black wood, muted bronze, and mirrored chrome, while labyrinthine layouts modeled on ancient Chinese courtyard residences lend an intimate feel. Business travelers will appreciate the central location in the Tianhe district, one of China’s busiest electronics hubs, while pleasure-seekers will want to tap the street-smart concierges, who led us to the city’s best hand-pulled-noodle stalls. $$

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Rustic: Pig in the Wall, Southampton, England

It List - The Best New Hotels: Pig in the Wall
Courtesy of Lime Wood

The team behind the Pig—that food-focused hideaway in Hampshire’s New Forest (It List 2012)—has done it again. The Pig in the Wall brings its older sibling’s rural charms to the port town of Southampton—ideal for guests who prefer pub-lined, cobblestoned streets to kitchen gardens and woodland walks. Here, a dozen rooms are built into the city’s medieval walls and packed with eccentric flourishes, from mismatched furnishings to potted herbs in corners. And while the property is too small for a proper restaurant, it maintains plenty of foodie appeal: a deli counter offers unique “piggy bites” such as house-cured lomo, while in-room larders are stocked with Piddle Lager and crisps flavored with local Ashmore cheese. Still peckish? Ask for a complimentary transfer to the bigger Pig nearby, where a porcine feast awaits. $

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Design: Mama Shelter, Marseilles, France

It List - The Best New Hotels: Mama Shelter
Francis Amiand

We were thrilled when Mama Shelter opened in Paris three years ago—what’s not to love about a Philippe Starck–designed retreat for under $100 a night? Now the brand, which has made a name for itself with quirky high-gloss/low-cost comfort, has rolled out to the burgeoning city of Marseilles. Starck stays true to the brand’s ethos: the look is colorful and poppy, with chalk-scribbled ceilings, Batman masks for sale in the lobby, and a collection of Marseillais slang on the elevator walls. Rooms are chock-full of amenities—free Apple TV; soft towels; Kiehl’s products—and are outfitted with enormous windows to let in the Provençal sun. It’s only 10 minutes on foot to the city’s historic center, but the hotel’s buzzy restaurant and bar makes Mama’s house a destination in its own right. $

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City: NoMad Hotel, New York

It List - The Best New Hotels: NoMad
Courtesy NoMad Hotel

It took a New York minute for the long-overlooked stretch between the Flatiron and Herald Square to go from interstitial wasteland to Manhattan’s “it” neighborhood. Out went the wig shops and counterfeit perfume dealers; in came glittery nightspots and brand-name chefs. The tipping point? The elegantly burnished NoMad Hotel, which opened in a 1903 Beaux-Arts tower on 28th Street. Developer Andrew Zobler—whose Ace Hotel jump-started the area’s transformation in 2009—has partnered with chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara, the acclaimed duo behind Eleven Madison Park. The NoMad’s 168 Jacques Garcia–designed guest rooms channel old New York, with atelier-inspired furniture and claw-foot tubs. But you’re likely to spend more time in the five—yes, five—dining rooms and bars downstairs, where walls of bookshelves and mohair banquettes provide a sexy backdrop for Humm’s signature foie-gras-and-truffle-stuffed chicken. $$$

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Rustic: Refugia, Chiloé, Chile

It List - The Best New Hotels: Refugia
Courtesy of Refugia

Chile’s largest archipelago, known for its wildflower fields, picture-perfect rocky beaches, and centuries-old wooden churches, has just welcomed the most unlikely of architectural monuments: Refugia. The contemporary retreat is sheathed in wood and hovers above a glass-and-concrete base. Twelve guest rooms lined with native mañío wood command unobstructed views of the salmon fishermen tracing the tide, while downstairs, the crackling of a roaring fireplace fills the austere lounge. If quietly sipping Carmenère and counting the shades of gray shifting across the inland sea fails to quicken the pulse, an outing to the dramatic fjords and tiny fishing villages is just a custom-kitted boat ride away. But this far afield, isn’t isolation precisely the point? $$$$

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Design: The Siam, Bangkok

It List - The Best New Hotels: The Siam
Courtesy of The Siam Bangkok

Leave it to a rock star to build Bangkok’s next great resort. Thai-American musician Krissada Sukosol Clapp spent seven years obsessing over the details of his dream hotel on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. He hired renowned architect and designer of hotels Bill Bensley to channel Old Siam in the rooms and public spaces, acquired traditional Thai teakwood houses for the restaurant and spa, and combed through markets in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the United States for eye-catching objets (18th-century Chinese ceramics salvaged from shipwrecks; vintage Pan Am posters of Thailand). And while this retreat is bound to impress design aficionados, it also has the sybarite in mind: the 39 suites and villas, which start at 860 square feet, offer an escape from the city with deep soaking tubs, bamboo-shaded gardens, and enormous beds with nap-all-morning appeal. $$$$

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City: Palace Hotel Tokyo

It List - The Best New Hotels: Palace Hotel Tokyo
Shinichi Ito/Monocle

Set apart from the city’s skyscrapers, its trillion lights twinkling in the distance like some futuristic fever dream, the 290-room Palace Hotel Tokyo stands out not with blatant bling but whispered serenity. With a reported 10-figure investment, the new 23-story building has replaced the historic Palace Hotel on the banks of the Wadakura-bori moat, which surrounds the Imperial Palace grounds. And it is, in its considered details, the most Japanese of the city’s luxury hotels: the wall of gray aji stones in the entrance, meant to inspire calm; the balletic formality of the service; the understated plushness of the rooms; the lovely green calm of the Imperial Gardens just beyond your hotel window. $$$$

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Rustic: Segera Retreat, Laikipia Plateau, Kenya

It List - The Best New Hotels: Segera Retreat
Mike Myers/Courtesy of Segera Retreat

In central Kenya’s Laikipia Plateau—an untrammeled alternative to the Masai Mara—the lush Segera was born out of a partnership between former Puma CEO and environmentalist Jochen Zeitz and the Wilderness Collection of African lodges (also behind Congo’s Odzala Camps, another It List 2013 winner). The property takes its community engagement seriously, offering guests the opportunity to help with reforestation efforts or to monitor the area’s population of endangered patas monkeys and Grevy’s zebras. All these hands-on activities come without compromising luxury, as evidenced in the expert-led game drives around the 50,000 acres of privately owned savanna and the eight thatched-roof villas, with their ebony interiors and contemporary African art. $$$$$

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Design: SLS South Beach, Miami

It List - The Best New Hotels: SLS South Beach
Skott Snider/Courtesy of SLS Hotel South Beach

A 1939 Art Deco landmark has been reborn thanks to nightlife mogul Sam Nazarian and design ace Philippe Starck—the duo behind SLS’s sleek Beverly Hills flagship. Here, the cabana-lined pool has become the city’s prime bronzed-bodied playground; inside, chef José Andrés’s Bazaar restaurant does double duty as both foodie and after-hours haven. Guest rooms have a gauzy white palette with Louis XV–inspired flourishes (pink-and-gray trompe l’oeil drapery and carpets inspired by French tapestries), while the penthouse, with its masculine leather sofas and wraparound terrace, was designed by Lenny Kravitz. Our favorite spot? Hyde Beach, a laid-back, surf-shack-inspired outdoor lounge with bottle service and guest DJ’s. This is Miami, after all. $$$

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City: Palacio Nazarenas, Cuzco, Peru

It List - The Best New Hotels: Palacio Nazarenas
Courtesy of Palacio Nazarenas

Luxury in Cuzco—the gateway to Machu Picchu—comes in the form of extra oxygen (to battle the altitude), lengthy massages (to soothe post-trek muscles), and rooms with heated marble floors (to take the edge off those cold Andean nights). Palacio Nazarenas, housed in a 16th-century former Carmelite convent, offers all that and more. But the forte of this 55-suite retreat is the attentive young staff who will cater to your every whim: our offhand query about local jams and chiles yielded a lavish variety of options, while scoring last-minute tickets to a popular soccer match required only a single call from our deep soaking tub. $$$$

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Rustic: Singita Mara River Tented Camp, Lamai, Tanzania

It List - The Best New Hotels: Singita Mara River Tented Camp
Courtesy of Singita

The standard-bearer for over-the-top safaris, Singita is once again redefining in-the-bush experiences with the debut of its first camp in the unspoiled northwestern corner of the Serengeti. Six sunrise-facing tents, designed by renowned Cape Town–based Cécile & Boyd’s, showcase local accents, such as decorative baskets reminiscent of grain-sorting containers and throw blankets with Masai-inspired patterns. Days begin with predawn game drives and end with sundowners on the plains. We could have happily lingered all day on our private patio, where a cup of English Breakfast and a pair of high-powered binoculars aided our wildlife viewing over the Mara River. Since the property runs entirely on solar energy, guests can rest assured that the only footprints left behind will be those of elephants, hippos—and, if you go in late summer—thousands of migrating wildebeests. $$$$$

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Design: 21c, Bentonville, AR

It List - The Best New Hotels: 21c, Bentonville
Photo Rett Peek Courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

In 2011, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art put sleepy Bentonville, Arkansas, on the world art map. And the opening of the 21c, part of a growing brand of hotels known for their contemporary art collections in second-tier cities (Louisville; Cincinnati), is reinforcing that position. A two-story-tall metal tree with basketball hoops for branches stands in the lobby courtyard; in the gym, a Batman sculpture hovers over the treadmills. The 104 light-filled rooms have their own cheeky touches—pillows silkscreened with animal portraits; a rubber duck in the bath—all courtesy of avant-garde designer Deborah Berke. And if the stylish guests mingling with locals in the lobby gallery and Hive restaurant are any indication, the allure of Bentonville as a hip weekend getaway is spreading quickly. $$

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City: Park Hyatt, Hyderabad, India

It List - The Best New Hotels: Park Hyatt Hyderabad
Courtesy Park Hyatt Hyderabad

The Indian home base for Facebook and Google, Hyderabad draws a legion of global execs—and the latest high-tech, high-style is retreat destined to become a draw for them all. With a central location in upscale Banjara Hills, the hotel offers all the amenities a business traveler could hope for (seamless in-room check-in; round-the-clock concierge service; safes that fit your laptop). The 209 rooms all have hand-laid walnut floors and stand-alone tubs, while the 14,500-square-foot spa includes a Swarovski-crystal steam room. Stuck inside during one of the city’s notorious summer monsoons? Check out the lush indoor garden that seems to hover over the soaring lobby. $

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