It List: The Best New Hotels 2014
Introducing the 70 coolest new hotels that are changing the travel landscape, from Aruba to Zambia.
If the sun rises over the misty Umbrian hills and there’s nobody there to Facebook it, do the birds still tweet? You bet. And it’s a revelation. By deftly turning the ascetic tradition (monk-size single rooms, no Wi-Fi or TVs) into something decadent through fine linens and fine wines, the postcard-perfect Italian newcomer Eremito Hotelito del Alma is a cozy European hideaway that made us take note—by hand, of course.
Vetting the top contenders for the definitive roster of the world’s best new hotels saw us not just surrendering our phones, but logging thousands of miles from Patagonia to Palm Springs, CA. Researching Travel + Leisure’s ninth-annual It List isn’t a task we take lightly.
At the far-flung Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland—a 1,750-mile plane-car-ferry from Toronto—we discovered Modernist craftsmanship and a tight-knit community in a remote, art-filled outpost. While we crossed the world between Hotel Escondido’s pared-down Mexican palapas to the Cheval Blanc Rendheli’s over-the-top (overwater) Maldivian villas, a sophisticated clutch of new-wave beach resorts turned our heads.
Getting the details right separated exceptional hotels from merely excellent ones, like New York City’s The Quin, an urban trendsetter that has Bergdorf Goodman on speed-dial, and Tel Aviv’s Alma Hotel, a new design haven that crafted deer-head wall sculptures out of local seashells. Reflexology sessions at Vivanta by Taj–Gurgaon in New Delhi epitomize the playful perks of a next-gen business hotel.
Top hotels also changed the game this year, be it putting a new neighborhood on the map, like Mama Shelter Istanbul in Beyoglu, to reimagining the safari lodge. Richard Branson injected space-age whimsy into the tent design of his Mahali Mzuri camp on the Masai Mara in East Africa.
Our favorite new hotels didn’t skimp on scene either, whether that meant creating Chateau Marmont–level cool in Santa Monica, CA or après-ski glamour in the Swiss Alps. When it came to historical landmarks reborn, standouts included a 300-year-old Neoclassical palace in St. Petersburg, Russia that went so far as to include heated terraces off the suites.
Read on to find the 70 properties that are changing the travel landscape. —Justin Ocean
Hotel Pricing Key
$ Less than $200
$$ $200 to $350
$$$ $350 to $500
$$$$ $500 to $1,000
$$$$$ More than $1,000
Edited by Jennifer Flowers, Jacqueline Gifford, and Nikki Ekstein.
Reported by Christine Ajudua, Bahar Akıncı, Tom Austin, Aimee Lee Ball, Vinita Bharadwaj, Amy Brownlee, Aric Chen, Jay Cheshes, Fiona Donnelly, Stephen Drucker, Amy Farley, Ozgur Gezer, Sarah Gilbert, Adrien Glover, Adam Graham, Darrell Hartman, Jimmy Im, David A. Keeps, Stirling Kelso, Rebecca Kleinman, Peter Jon Lindberg, Naomi Lindt, Alexandra Marshall, J.J. Martin, Mario R. Mercado, Sarah Miller, Shane Mitchell, Reggie Nadelson, Sheila Pierce, Kathryn O’Shea-Evans, Caroline Phillips, Brooke Porter, Kathy Roberson, Sophy Roberts, Bruce Schoenfeld, Clara O. Sedlak, Andrew Sessa, Patrick Sheehan, Gail Simmons, Samai Singh, Emma Sloley, Aatish Taseer, Laura Teusink, and Penny Watson.
Beach Resort 2.0: Amanoi, Vinh Hy Bay, Vietnam
Hidden in a bay in Nui Chua National Park, one of Vietnam’s largest nature reserves, the newest hotel from Amanresorts seduces with its off-the-radar feel and minimalist design. Vietnamese-style sloping rooftops peek out from the sea of forestry, with all 31 guest pavilions comfortably spread apart and equipped with outdoor decks. During the day, we made a beeline for the 20,000-square-foot-spa, set at the base of a lotus-filled lake, and The Beach Club, overlooking otherworldly granite cliffs. $$$$
Urban Trendsetters: Rosewood London
Set in a 1914 Belle Époque building, with 262 modern rooms and 44 suites, this Tony Chi–designed newcomer is poised to entice Mayfair regulars over to Holborn. From the glitzy bath amenities by Czech & Speake to the 1,000 books, handpicked by a Portobello antiques dealer, lining Scarfes Bar, the attention to detail is immaculate. And with just the right dash of playful whimsy (note the young, mustachioed bartenders shaking your martini), this is a refreshing turn for the brand. rosewoodhotels.com. $$$$
Safari Lodge Reimagined: Mara Toto, Kenya
One of the reasons we love this new camp from sustainability-minded Great Plains Conservation? Having access to Kenya’s game-rich Masai Mara reserve as well as Mara North, where visitor numbers are capped. Another? The five canvas tents, on a riverine bend, offer all the trappings of a high-end safari stay—Persian rugs, brass chandeliers, en suite bathrooms. All-inclusive. $$$$$
Neighborhood Game Changer: 21C Museum Hotel, Cincinnati
A decade of combined efforts has glammed up Cincy’s historic urban core; the 21c Museum Hotels Group did its part by turning a neglected 100-year-old downtown building into a hotel and contemporary art space with rotating exhibitions. Ever true to its mission, the brand’s founders, Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, preserved many of the original details—mosaic tile floors, large-scale arched windows—and filled each of the 156 modern rooms with original works. 21cmuseumhotels.com. $$
Next-Gen Business Hotel: Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai
In the Pudong financial center, where high rises seem to multiply by the minute, visiting bankers now have a posh place to stay—and play. Mandarin Oriental’s first Shanghai property gives the business hotel a sybaritic twist: the 362 guest rooms all have deep soaking tubs, and most have Huangpu River views; the 13-suite spa extends over 26,000 square feet; and even the club lounge offers a laid-back, residential feel, with its extensive breakfast menu (try the locally made yangmei jam on your toast). Downstairs, restaurants such as Yong Yi Ting, headed by Shanghai celebrity chef Tony Lu, are already drawing regulars. mandarinoriental.com. $$$
Landmark Reborn: D.O.M Hotel Roma
The prestigious Via Giulia, a leafy residential street for local aristocrats since the Renaissance, now has a hotel worthy of its pedigree. At the D.O.M Hotel, you feel both the past and present at once: a 17th-century former convent now houses a noirish, black-and-platinum lounge, a bistro-style restaurant with crystal chandeliers and Andy Warhol silkscreens, and 24 champagne-colored rooms that combine Art Deco and Midcentury Modern influences. Cross-vaulted corridors lead to a rooftop terrace bar, which serves up cutting-edge cocktails and charming rooftop views. domhotelroma.com. $$$$
Scene Maker: Topping Rose House, the Hamptons, New York
Though the first-floor restaurant of this hotel, run by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio, is packed with a who’s who of Manhattanites, the overall atmosphere is still refreshingly low-key. You can idle away in the saltwater lap pool or roam the property’s crab apple orchards. Stay in the 1842 Greek Revival main house, reimagined with a modern twist by design maven Champalimaud Design, or in one of the four sleek stand-alone cottages. toppingrosehouse.com. $$$$
Remote Outpost: Cresto Ranch, Colorado
The owners of Dunton Hot Springs, a once-abandoned mining town turned luxurious, high-altitude lodge, recently opened a permanent camp, just four miles down the trout-filled Dolores River. Eight sumptuous tents offer high-end touches while keeping the outdoors front and center, with gas stoves, full bathrooms, and handwoven Bolivian blankets. We spent our days hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and taking in valley views from the room’s private porch. All-inclusive. $$$$
Cozy European Hideaway: Alavya, Turkey
It’s easy to see why Istanbul’s beautiful people are heading to Alavya, in Turkey’s summer playground of Alaçati. Located on the main drag of this coastal village, the 25-room retreat is in the heart of the action while managing to feel blissfully removed: each of the 25 rooms, housed in six stone mansions surrounding a shaded pool, is designed individually with contemporary regional art and handmade furnishings, and all feature stonework fireplaces and private patios. Don’t miss Mitu, a café-bar-bistro that also sells the eclectic clothing and accessories line of Turkish fashion editor Fatos Yalin. alavya.com.tr. $$$
Stylish Ski Resort: W Verbier, Switzerland
Starwood’s saucy-but-sophisticated W brand is perfect for laissez-faire Verbier, which previously had no five-star hotels, let alone a ski-in/ski-out resort at the base of this Swiss Alpine resort’s prime lift. The ultra-sportif destination also lacked chic après-ski offerings, butthis 123-room contemporary chalet-style spot has changed that, too. We loved the lighthearted décor by Dutch firm Concrete, the nightclub carved into the mountain, and the soothing spa—our go-to spot after a day on the slopes. wverbier.com. $$$$
High-Design Haven: Park Hyatt Siem Reap, Cambodia
Best known for high-style urban hotels, Park Hyatt is now dipping into the resort world with its first property in Cambodia. The brand asked Bangkok-based designer Bill Bensley to repolish one of his original works, the Hôtel de la Paix, adding two rooftop garden suites and contemporary Khmer-inspired art. From the soothing, open-plan guest rooms to the blissfully chill pool with an infinity edge, you’ll feel as if you’re staying in a hushed oasis—though Angkor Wat is just a 15-minute tuk-tuk ride away. $$
Beach Resort 2.0: Bedarra Island Resort, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Damaged in 2011 by Cyclone Yasi, this private island resort is back with an eco-conscious focus after a top-to-bottom makeover. The old diesel generator was replaced with solar power; the number of rainforest villas was reduced from 16 to seven—all with a more modern look—to cut down on energy consumption (and add to the castaway feel). Spend your days lounging on the daybed by your room’s infinity-edge pool, stand-up paddleboarding, and picnicking on deserted islands. All-inclusive. $$$$$
Urban Trendsetters: Ace Hotel London Shoreditch
In the heart of London’s booming East End, this edgy urban hotel—the first overseas property for the American brand—is drawing a cool tech crowd for work and play. The 250 rooms, which have a gray, navy, and black color scheme, are lightened up with fun diversions (Rega turntables, Penguin Classics hardcovers, and, in some, Martin & Co. guitars). Downstairs, the lobby is equally engaging, with a communal table, photo booth, and of-the-moment Modernist brasserie, Hoi Polloi. acehotel.com. $$
Safari Lodge Reimagined: Mahali Mzuri, Kenya
Strung along a ridgeline in the Masai Mara, the latest property from business magnate Richard Branson is a futuristic riff on the classic East African lodge. The 12 tents—which resemble spaceships—mix traditional details (canopied beds, claw-foot tubs, handmade Kenyan textiles) with playful elements (spiky, sea urchin–style lights, rubber duckies in Masai garb). Guests spot game from the cliff-edge infinity pool, while a central fire pit is a hub for swapping safari tales over sundowners. All-inclusive. $$$$$
Neighborhood Game Changer: Arts Boutique Hotel B, Lima, Peru
A gallery scene led by fashion photographer Mario Testino and his cultural space, MATE, is booming in Barranco, Lima’s former summer colony by the sea. Now you can stay in the neighborhood in style thanks to this 17-room jewel, which features major contemporary Latin American works in collaboration with the Lucía de la Puente Gallery next door. Curator Carlos Jiménez will arrange visits to all the area’s top art spaces. hotelb.pe. $$$
Next-Gen Business Hotel: Conrad Beijing
The distinctive, honeycomb-like exterior by Ma Yonsong of MAD Architects is a perfect antecedent to the streamlined interiors of this business-focused hotel in the Chaoyang district. The 289 rooms offer creature comforts such as leather Eames chairs at the writing desks and heated marble bathroom floors. Positioned above the lobby, the red-and-black Whisky Bridge bar has fast become an insider’s favorite for drinks. $$
Remote Outpost: Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel, Selfoss, Iceland
Day-trippers en route from Reykjavik to the Golden Circle—a trio of nearby natural attractions including the dramatic Gullfoss waterfall—finally have a place to stay the night. Design lovers will surely appreciate the concrete-and-glass structure at the lava-strewn base of the Hengill volcano: the 45 rooms feature neon sheepskin throws and local artwork; the geothermal spa is lined with blond wood; and the bar has floor-to-ceiling windows for views of the northern lights. ioniceland.is. $$
Cozy European Hideaway: Wild Rabbit, the Cotswolds, U.K.
Well-heeled Cotswolds regulars are raving about this village pub from local tastemaker Lady Carole Bamford—which now has 12 compact but comfortable rooms for visitors in addition to its light-filled 30-seat restaurant. Each is named for a woodland animal and features limed oak floors and chestnut and elm furniture. We were pleased by free Wi-Fi and well-placed outlets; dog-lovers will be delighted that canines are welcome. thewildrabbit.co.uk. $
Landmark Reborn: The Langham, Chicago
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s 1972 IBM building is now a sumptuous hotel, featuring floor-to-ceiling views of the Chicago River or downtown from each of the spacious, high-tech rooms—and even some of the bathtubs. Expect detail-oriented service—everyone from the receptionist to the porter got to know us by name—and don’t forget to pack your bathing suit: the pool at the Chuan Spa is a welcome oasis in the Windy City. langhamhotels.com. $$$
Scene Maker: Palihouse, Santa Monica, CA
Hollywood types are championing this 1920s hotel, poised to be the new Chateau Marmont by the sea. The Mediterranean Revival building—two blocks from both the ocean and the Third Street promenade—maintains its storied charms, from stained glass windows to soaring beamed ceilings. The light-flooded lobby is equal parts workspace and hangout, and the loft-like rooms, with their Dean & DeLuca provisions and fully equipped kitchens, lend a decidedly residential feel. palihousesantamonica.com. $$
Beach Resort 2.0: Andaz Maui at Wailea
It’s hard to believe that this property off Mokapu Beach—a four-and-a-half-mile stretch of golden sand—lay shuttered for years. Enter Andaz, which has transformed the former Renaissance into a chic resort with 297 minimalist rooms, three infinity pools, and a well-run spa. The overall vibe feels refreshingly modern, from the hosts greeting you in the open-air lobby, iPads in hand, to the farm-to-table restaurant, Kaana Kitchen, which serves a hearty Kalua pork Benedict. maui.andaz.hyatt.com. $$$$
Remote Outpost: Gangtey Goenpa Lodge, Bhutan
It takes a six-hour drive on a bumpy road from Paro to reach Bhutan’s Phobjikha Valley, a land of black-necked cranes, leopards, and 17th-century monasteries. The payoff: full immersion into Bhutanese culture and geography, with this 12-room lodge as your base. The luxury wood-and-stone retreat, a traditional farmhouse with painted ceiling beams, will soon launch hot-air balloon rides—a first for Bhutan—delivering a bird’s-eye view of the glacial valley. gglbhutan.com. $$$$
Stylish Ski Resort: Chedi Andermatt, Switzerland
Switzerland’s rugged, lesser-explored Lepontine Alps, 70 miles south of Zürich, is home to a new ski resort that’s adding a much-needed dose of style to the former military town of Andermatt. The first European property for Singapore-based GHM Hotels blends Asian touches such as onsen-style baths with Modernist surfaces made of petrified wood and marble. Upstairs, the 104 enormous rooms each have window-through fireplaces, deep soaking tubs, and Hästens beds that make even the coldest nights feel inviting. thechedi-andermatt.com. $$$$
High-Design Haven: Mira Moon Hotel, Hong Kong
The one thing great designers know? It’s all in the details. At this 91-room hotel, Dutch interiors whiz Marcel Wanders considered every inch of space—in each corridor, tiny backlit silhouettes of rabbits channel the Chinese Moon Festival fairy tale. The service is attentive, yet discreet—fitting for a place that despite its over-the-top design (think overscale peonies, splashy chinoiserie, and crystal-cut mirrors galore) feels refreshingly relaxed. miramoonhotel.com. $$
Beach Resort 2.0: Cheval Blanc Randheli, the Maldives
Leave it to luxury-goods group LVMH to raise the bar in a destination already filled with high-profile retreats. Set on Noonu atoll, the brand’s second resort features 45 palatial villas designed by starchitect Jean-Michel Gathy: think 23-foot ceilings, private pools, and indoor-outdoor living rooms. Some are set over-the-water, and all come with butlers. Other decadent trappings: a spa on its own island and moonlit dinners set up on a floating pontoon. chevalblanc.com. $$$$$
Safari Lodge Reimagined: Chinzombo, Zambia
In an area of Zambia famously dense with hippos, Chinzombo stands out not only for its location along the Luangwa River, but also for its stylish austerity: sawhorse tables and white campaign chairs lend an upscale military feel to the main lodge, where you’ll see vintage photos of safari legend Norman Carr. The true gem, though, is Abraham Banda, the head guide, who led us to unforgettable wildlife encounters. All-inclusive. normancarrsafaris.com. $$$$$
Remote Outpost: Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland
It takes some legwork to get here: multiple flights, a drive, a ferry, perhaps even an overnight in tiny St. John. But Fogo Island Inn is worth the effort. Set on a remote island in the North Atlantic, the 29-room hotel—a pair of modern white rectangles on stilts by Newfoundland native Todd Saunders—is filled with locally crafted furnishings made in collaboration with international designers. No detail is overlooked, from the cozy wood-burning stoves to the pro binoculars for spotting breaching humpbacks, but Fogo’s heart and soul comes courtesy of its community hosts, each equipped to unlock the rich traditions of this tight-knit fishing town. $$$$
Neighborhood Game Changer: InterContinental Marseille–Hotel Dieu, France
Marseilles’s emerging art hub, Le Panier can also lay claim to the city’s first real grande dame of a luxury hotel. A three-year renovation of a landmark 12th-century hospital, the InterContinental has a splendid location, with sight lines to the Vieux Port and across the water to the cathedral, known locally as La Bonne Mère. Everyone in town gathers for craft cocktails on the 8,000-square-foot terrace, with somewhere to be seen at last. ihg.com. $$
Urban Trendsetters: ME London
Foster + Partners’ first hotel in the U.K. is a fabulously futuristic addition to the area around Covent Garden. For the lobby of this triangular building, once the Gaiety Theatre, the architectural firm created a phenomenal nine-story, white marble–lined pyramid atrium. All 157 of the modern rooms are flooded with light, and the rooftop bar, Radio, commands sweeping city views, from Nelson’s Column to the Shard. melia.com. $$$$
Next-Gen Business Hotel: Vivanta by Taj–Gurgaon, NCR, India
Business hotels today are just as much about fun as they are about work, and this newcomer to New Delhi’s suburban business district, from Taj Hotels & Resorts’ lifestyle brand, is no exception. The 208 light-filled guest rooms, punctuated with local details such as intricate jaali wood screens, are a welcome respite for weary travelers. Guests with spare time between meetings can recharge with a reflexology session at Jiva Spa, schedule a free workout with a personal trainer, or have the concierge arrange a number of experiences—a guided street-food tour, access to private art collections, or even a lesson in the esteemed art of kabootar bazi (pigeon flying). $
Scene Maker: Redbury Hotel South Beach, Miami Beach
The latest entry from the SBE Group lures the gliteratti thanks to its sexy, Rat Pack–does–SoBe vibe. The visionary behind the glamorous look: photographer and music video director Matthew Rolston, who filled the rooms with 1960s Fillmore theater concert posters and vintage record players (yes, old-school albums are included). Though the hotel isn’t on the beach, guests have access to a massive rooftop pool deck and sister hotel the Raleigh’s happening oceanfront club, just a short stroll away. theredbury.com. $$$
Landmark Reborn: Aman Canal Grande, Venice
Palazzo Papadopoli, the longtime residence of a noble family from Bergamo, now doubles as an exclusive, 24-suite retreat with original frescoes, intuitive service, and a waterfront entrance off the Grand Canal. And if the newly redone interiors bear more than a hint of history, there’s good reason: a staff of 100 spent a good 18 months restoring all the original furnishings, Murano chandeliers, and intricate crown moldings. Spend afternoons sipping wine in the waterfront garden—it’s the epitome of Venetian exclusivity. amanresorts.com. $$$$$
Remote Outpost: Outlook Lodge, Colorado Springs, CO
Set off a dirt road nearly 8,000 feet up in the Rocky Mountains, this six-room inn in a converted parish house has the feel of an Eisenhower-era residence in suburban Chicago—only the Modigliani print is missing. A local host will greet you on property, but other than that, you’re on your own. After a day spent hiking the area trails, head back to lounge by the outdoor fire pit, sit on the wraparound porch, and prepare dinner in the shiny communal kitchen. outlookgmf.com. $