It List: 45 Best New Hotels of 2010
Great value and new features define the 45 most exciting new hotels to open this year.
We rode on horseback across 6,600 acres at the Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana. We slept in a former monastery set within historic caves at Argos in Cappadocia. We inhaled views of Germany’s Upper Rhine Valley at Heidelberg Suites.
And we did it to find—for the fifth year running—the absolute best new hotels to open around the world this year. Our goal wasn’t to unearth the most luxurious properties or the hippest hangouts. Instead, it was to discover how the best new hotels—from the Amangiri resort in Utah to the PuLi Hotel & Spa in Shanghai—are reshaping their destinations. And each of this year’s 45 handpicked It List hotels delivers an authentic sense of place.
Thanks to prerecession plans, hundreds of hotels opened their doors in 2010. But no matter how splashy the opening, not every hotel makes a true impact in the eyes of a travel expert. The properties that stand apart connect us to their destinations, says Shane Mitchell, T+L’s special correspondent and hotel expert. “A hotel that offers a sensual experience and introduces guests to a place is exciting now,” she says. “At Philippe Starck’s Palazzina Grassi in Italy, guests can ride on a vintage mahogany Celli water taxi through Venice’s back canals into the lagoon at sunset.”
Now that travel is finally recovering—according to Smith Travel Research, hotel occupancy is already up 9.1 percent over last year—hoteliers are looking for unique ways to stand apart. At the new Crosby Street Hotel, in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, all 86 rooms have moved away from the now-ubiquitous minimalism in exchange for color, texture, and original artworks. To further differentiate itself from the competition, the property, which was created by London-based Firmdale Hotels, also offers weekly film nights in its 100-seat movie theater for $25 per person, including cocktails and a bar plate.
Travelers will also find great value at some of the new hotels. If you’re heading to London, Dean Street Townhouse offers rooms from $244 a night—a great deal for stylish accommodations in a Neo-Georgian building in the city’s West End. For affordable options closer to home, Grupo Habita’s newest property in Mexico, Hotel Boca Chica in Acapulco, has oceanfront rooms for only $95 a night.
Not surprisingly, the hotel expansion in Asia continues unabated. In Hong Kong, the Upper House (from Swire Hotels, the group behind Opposite House in Beijing) is a 117-room property that’s gaining buzz for its notable contemporary design. For a truly regional—and rustic—experience, Amanfayun, in Hangzhou, takes travelers to an ancient tea-growing village, where designer Jaya Ibrahim transformed traditional courtyard dwellings into 42 memorable villa suites. “We never try to clone a property but instead create it to respond to each unique surrounding,” says Adrian Zecha, founder of Amanresorts.
Whether it’s the sandy oasis of Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara in Abu Dhabi or a stylish rooftop lounge overlooking Barcelona’s Passeig de Gràcia at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, you’re bound to find that perfect escape among our favorite hotels in 2010.
—Jennifer Flowers and Sarah Kantrowitz
Great Value: Denotes a hotel with a rack rate of $250 or less.
Crosby Street Hotel, New York City
No need for a trip across the pond for a dose of London chic. At Crosby Street Hotel, on a cobblestoned block in SoHo, Anglophiles find British design doyenne Kit Kemp’s signature tongue-in-cheek flourishes, from an oversize white steel Jaume Plensa sculpture in the lobby to portraits of local dogs in the elevators. But it’s the service that will win you over: an umbrella at the ready for impending rain, coffee and a newspaper delivered within minutes of your request, and a proper hot toddy at the bar. Doubles from $495.
Banyan Tree Cabo Marqués, Acapulco, Mexico
Acapulco’s scene is located along its coastal stretch, and the new Banyan Tree will turn savvy travelers’ attention farther south along San Marqués cape. Asian-inspired rooms are accented with Mexican artisan details (framed handwoven textiles from Oaxaca; honey-colored onyx lamps). Attentive staff whisk guests from cliff-top villas to the holistic spa, but at this secluded sanctuary, why rush? Perhaps to dine at Saffron, the resort’s signature Thai restaurant, whose chefs just arrived from Banyan Tree Phuket. Doubles from $520.
Andaz Wall Street, New York City
Perhaps a sign that things are looking up on Wall Street: Hyatt’s bullish move to open the tech-savvy, David Rockwell–designed Andaz. Hosts carry handheld PC’s used to make key cards on the spot, and at Bar Seven Five, located at the top of an undulating staircase, a bartender will prepare Manhattans tableside from a Pullman-style caddy. The 253 guest rooms feature seven-foot-high windows, which means that the bleached wood interiors (complete with soaking tubs) are flooded with natural light. Doubles from $275.
Las Alcobas, Mexico City
Though we packed our noise-canceling headphones when we heard that Yabu Pushelberg’s glossy Las Alcobas was located on the Polanco neighborhood’s busy Avenida Masaryk, walls with soundproofing technology allowed us to cocoon in an earthy guest room (one of 35) detailed with embroidered linens and rosewood furnishings. More reasons to stay put? Chef and cookbook author Marta Ortiz’s contemporary Mexican menus for Barroco and Dulce Patria restaurants, and Mayan- and Aztec-inspired treatments at the intimate Aurora Spa. Doubles from $405.
Amangiri, Canyon Point, Utah
Encircled by dramatic, dun-colored rock formations, Amanresorts’ second North American property is hidden away on 600 acres of Utah wilderness alongside eroded hoodoos and 5,000-year-old petroglyphs. Its squat cement buildings, each dyed as many as 10 times to match the subtleties of the landscape, house 34 suites that frame breathtaking views of the sculpted sandstone. At night, after a dinner of roasted elk with cherry sauce, the intense stillness seems almost musical, a soundless evocation of the American West. Doubles from $950.
Waldorf Astoria Park City, Utah
It’s almost a pity that Waldorf Astoria’s first ski-in, ski-out property at the Canyons resort in Park City is so inviting. The 175 guest rooms and suites, many with fireplaces, balconies, and mountain views, tempt you to stay put. But for those who do venture out, the end-of-day rewards are plenty: après-ski hot chocolate, a warm-stone massage at the 16,000-square-foot Golden Door Spa, and a hearty dinner of elk and roasted potatoes at Spruce restaurant, one of Utah’s best. Doubles from $350.
Bardessono, Yountville, California
This 62-room Napa Valley newcomer is upping the ante on green design: built almost exclusively from salvaged stone and reclaimed wood, it’s the world’s second LEED-certified Platinum hotel. But the modern, California-clean aesthetic (concrete floors; custom-designed couches) delivers a breath of fresh air amid Yountville’s faux French and Tuscan styles. Almost everything at the hotel, from the Coyuchi cotton bed linens to the seasonal menu at the restaurant, is organic, sourced from within a 100-mile radius. Doubles from $550, including breakfast.
Hotel Boca Chica, Acapulco, Mexico
Great Value Hotel Boca Chica, the latest from Grupo Habita, captures that cool 1950’s vibe (the original property was featured in Elvis’s Fun in Acapulco) and makes it stylish and new. There are 36 rooms, most with bay or ocean views, all with white, beachy décor: jalousie doors, ceiling fans, and a bed you hate to leave. Start your day with chilaquiles under the restaurant’s large-scale open-air palapa, then take the hotel’s boat to nearby La Roqueta island, an ecological reserve perfect for snorkeling, or stay poolside with an Acabrown, the hotel’s addictive tamarind- and-mescal cocktail. Doubles from $95.
Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, Montana
What’s the greatest asset of Montana’s new lodge? It’s not the four-lane bowling alley, the cowhide rugs of the cosseting nine-room country retreat, or the eight canvas-walled cabins, cozy with birch beds. It’s not the 6,600 sprawling acres encompassing hiking and horseback riding trails and a trout-filled river, all just 90 minutes from Missoula. No, it’s the crackerjack staff of expert wranglers, fishermen, and ranchers. Their personally tailored itineraries—complete with horseback riding, fly-fishing, hunting, archery, and photography safaris—even have us city slickers feeling home on the range. From $800, all-inclusive.
W Santiago, Chile
The ever-expanding W empire has grown exponentially this year (Washington, D.C., Barcelona, and most recently Vieques, Puerto Rico), but the hotel company’s first South American outpost, W Santiago, deserves the spotlight for its cheeky homage to Chile’s natural landscape. Aquamarine on the corridor ceilings is an ode to the country’s lengthy coastline and sheepskin walls in the lobby channel Patagonia. Unparalleled views of the chiseled Andes are a given; the best panoramas are seen from the rooftop lounge and pool. For even more local flavor, head to the hotel’s NoSo restaurant and order its fuente de mariscos, a platter of sea urchins, oysters, clams, shrimp, and ceviche, paired, of course, with a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. Doubles from $299.
One&Only Cape Town, South Africa
The knockout first impression as you walk in the door is the hotel’s 40-foot-tall picture window framing Table Mountain. But then outsize luxury is trumpeted everywhere here, from the 5,000-bottle-strong wine tower in the restaurant Maze by Gordon Ramsay to the spa’s French manicure clinic by Bastien Gonzalez. The cream-colored, Adam D. Tihany–designed rooms are slick and vast; baths have a wow factor, too, though with a notable style-over-substance lapse (the freestanding tubs are huge, beautiful—and a bit uncomfortable). Doubles from $830.
Dean Street Townhouse, London
The Soho House Group has the corner on private clubs in London, New York, Berlin, Los Angeles, and Miami Beach (coming in September). Now the company’s understated-chic style returns to the West End with a full-service hotel that’s welcomed nonmembers since day one. The Georgian building has 39 rooms, ranging in designation from Broom Cupboard—it is tiny; you’ll turn sideways to get between the bed and one wall—to Bigger, with Victorian sofas upholstered in burlap and tubs on pedestals next to pillow-topped beds. The restaurant became absurdly popular the day it opened; make reservations early, and consider the twice-baked haddock. Doubles from $244.
InterContinental Paris Avenue Marceau
For all its refinement and pedigree, the latest hotel to arrive on the Avenue Marceau, in the Eighth Arrondissement, is not at all uptight. Take the restaurant, helmed by a former number-two chef at the Georges V, which forgoes the swarming, obsequious waiters of other posh properties and focuses on food that is simple, subtly flavored, and comforting (try the club sandwich with black truffles). Housed in the former residence of a Parisian count, the hotel has a contemporary feel that will put design lovers in the mood: offsetting the lobby’s Baccarat table and Murano chandeliers is a Cubist painting by Raymond Moretti in vivid red. The 55 sunny, whisper-quiet rooms are furnished with Le Corbusier, Isamu Noguchi, and Philippe Starck pieces. Doubles from $600.
Le Gray, Beirut, Lebanon
The surest sign that Beirut is welcoming travelers back with open arms: Gordon Campbell Gray’s sleek and smart Le Gray. In the 87 understated guest rooms, expansive windows overlook Martyrs’ Square, Hariri mosque, and St. George’s cathedral (a vista that encapsulates the city’s complex history). The vibrant modern art collection, rooftop infinity pool, in-room Jura espresso machines, and expert concierge service trumpet the glamorous Mediterranean city’s renaissance. Doubles from $495.
PuLi Hotel & Spa, Shanghai
A 26-story property in the heart of China’s busiest metropolis doesn’t normally bring to mind tranquillity, but PuLi’s black tile-floored lobby offers instant serenity—as do the 229 rooms and suites in gray Shanghainese brick and tables topped with slate-colored inkstone. The coup de grâce is the 5,380-square-foot Anantara spa, with a lap pool overlooking the city’s landscaped Jing An Park. Doubles from $494.
Taj Cape Town, South Africa
Housed in the former South African Reserve Bank headquarters, Taj Cape Town checks all the right boxes. Heritage rooms (on the first five floors) are spacious and richly colorful in ice-blue and pistachio, with original mullioned windows. Tower rooms feel more compact, but every inch is put to clever use (note the cubbies in the marble bath walls, where plush towels are artfully rolled and toiletries displayed). The whole of Cape Town is clamoring for a table at Bombay Brasserie, and the bang-on central location—steps from parliament and five blocks from the convention center—make it the luxe business hotel to book. Doubles from $483.
Tcherassi Hotel & Spa, Cartagena, Colombia
Colombian designer Silvia Tcherassi converted a Spanish-colonial mansion in the Old City into a white-on-white urban escape that pops with funky decorative accents (“chandeliers” of interlocking plastic rings; tasseled bedspreads) reminiscent of the texture-intensive accessories from her collections. The seven rooms are named after fabrics, and like Tcherassi’s detailed handiwork, service at the hotel is subtle and impeccable. Start your day, as we did, with a five-course breakfast of fresh fruit and fried carnes in the courtyard, adjacent to a small-scale swimming pool and a three-story vertical garden. Doubles from $360, including breakfast.
Upper House, Hong Kong
More pied-à-terre than hotel, this contemporary-style 117-room property in a Central tower is all about subtle details. Although the look is minimalist, there’s nothing pared-down about the quality of the materials or the size of the rooms—the smallest is 730 square feet. There are limestone-covered bathrooms (beware of the toe-trapping floating steps leading up to the tub), shoji glass, glistening pale wood surfaces, and lacquered paper panels. All this, and a restaurant by star chef Gray Kunz, formerly of the St. Regis and Café Gray in New York. Doubles from $386.
Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia
Bali’s most seductive new hideaway has one foot in the air (an impossibly cantilevered pavilion seems to float skyward over a cliff) and the other firmly planted in the earth. Built in accordance with Green Globe principles—all materials were locally sourced—the Alila sits on the southern coast of the Bukit Peninsula, a quiet corner known for fabulous surfing and even more fabulous temples; the resort’s knowledgeable guides lead tours. In each of the 84 villas, the bedroom’s fourth wall opens onto a frangipani-shaded pool and pavilion, with the Indian Ocean glittering in the distance. The highlight: Warung, the Alila’s Indonesian restaurant, which serves authentic dishes such as grilled red snapper scented with lime, shallots, and lemongrass. Doubles from $750.
Gansevoort Turks & Caicos, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
The Gansevoort, steps from the prized white sand of Grace Bay beach, exudes a confident sense of cool: guests recline on extra-wide chaise longues or on one of the “floating islands” that punctuate the infinity-edged blue-tiled pool, all to the sound track of Caribbean-inspired lounge music. The 91 rooms are South Beach mod (low-slung platform beds; glass-walled showers built for two), but vacationing urbanites usually prefer to spend time at the hotel’s outdoor bar, which fills with locals on weekends. Doubles from $575.
Viceroy Anguilla, Barnes Bay, Anguilla
Kelly Wearstler sheds Hollywood Regency for monochrome Caribbean on a coral bluff above Anguilla’s Barnes and Meads Bays. Surprising nontropical textures (horsehair; gray marble) and abstract art lend real star quality to this modern property sandwiched between two white-sand beaches. Most of the 166 guest rooms have their own sundeck and plunge pool, while linen-covered sofas in the Sunset Lounge are positioned to catch the last rays during cocktail hour. Doubles from $695.
Langham Place Samui at Lamai Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand
Great Value Aimed at travelers who prefer Wi-Fi with their R&R, the 77-room Langham Place Samui promises you can stay plugged-in even from your villa’s rustic-chic canopy bed or on the sugar-sand beach. But that’s not to say this sleek newcomer doesn’t inspire relaxation. Each night after sunset, the lights are dimmed, lounge music permeates the frangipani-scented air, and Thai paper lanterns are released into the night sky. Doubles from $231.
St. Regis Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii
When St. Regis announced its takeover of the Princeville Resort—and its plan to transform the 25-year-old property, redesigning the pool and adding a spa—we hoped that the cliff-top hotel would retain more than just its prime position overlooking Hanalei Bay. The resort doesn’t disappoint: 400 staffers (some with more than 25 years at the hotel) are still the best on the island, and now Jean-Georges Vongerichten has taken over the already popular Kauai Grill. Our favorite in-room amenity in the 252 plush rooms is the bathtub set next to floor-to-ceiling windows; the flick of a switch turns the glass opaque for privacy. Doubles from $435.
Hotel Consolación, Teruel, Spain
Great Value In the remote Teruel province, a two-hour train ride from both Barcelona and Valencia, Spanish design firm Camprubí i Santacana Arquitectes transformed a former hillside hermitage into two stylish rooms, but Hotel Consolación’s 10 freestanding cubical suites are the real draw: each has a glass wall and a balcony with uninterrupted views across a valley of pine and olive trees. Inside, you’ll find creature comforts with a twist—slate soaking tubs and fireplaces suspended from the ceiling. Doubles from $213.
Maison Moschino, Milan
Italy’s style capital is buzzing with the news of its first hotel from a homegrown fashion house. In the busy Corso Como neighborhood, Maison Moschino is true to the label’s whimsical approach: 65 rooms in a 19th-century former train station are decorated with billowing dresses that double as headboards and tree-trunk beds that merge with trompe l’oeil forests. Although the smaller standard rooms sacrifice size for affordability, the look and pedigree quickly won us over. Doubles from $588.
Mamilla Hotel, Jerusalem
Israel found the perfect complement to its new architectural icons (the Santiago Calatrava–designed Jerusalem bridge; Ron Arad’s Design Museum, in Holon) in the angular, elegant Mamilla Hotel by Moshe Safdie. The hotel, just outside the Old City, is filled with furnishings from Herman Miller, Kartell, and Cassina, and all 194 rooms, set behind black metal doors, feature Jerusalem-stone walls and dark oak floors. The soon-to-open spa—which will debut this month—and in-house synagogue that opens at the end of the year promise to be as stylish as the surroundings. Doubles from $390.
Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona
Take the graceful service of a legendary Hong Kong hotel group and pair it with Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola’s pioneering interiors, and the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona is a multicultural triumph. On the stylish Passeig de Gràcia, an unassuming former bank building houses Urquiola’s 98 bright, cream-on-white rooms with tall windows and blond hardwood floors. Floating in the rooftop infinity pool, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of Barcelona’s picturesque skyline. Doubles from $727.
Capella Singapore, Sentosa Island
It’s no wonder that Capella chose the recently revitalized Sentosa for its Asian debut. The 30-acre island off Singapore’s southern coast already has six comfortable hotels, but none have this form of colonial grace (public spaces are set in sprawling 19th-century converted barracks) and modern accents (two Foster & Partners–designed wings made of glass and steel). Guest rooms feature teak-lined doors and windows and crisp white-on-white baths, with some surprising layouts: top-floor corner suites have semicircular bedrooms and balconies. The outdoor dining terraces look out over the bi-level infinity pools, which seem to slip into the South China Sea. Doubles from $644.
Evason Ma’In Hot Springs & Six Senses Spa, Ma’in, Jordan
Where else can travelers settle into a traditional Berber tented barbecue or opt for a cliff-top dinner in the Al Wadi desert? Only at this 97-room retreat, with a Six Senses spa and a waterfall-fed thermal pool. But the wellness focus doesn’t stop there: ancient 140-degree springs are found on site, and the location (a valley an hour southwest of Amman) is convenient for health-focused day trips—the Dead Sea, with its mineral-rich mud, is just 30 minutes away by car. Doubles from $318, including breakfast.
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, Mahé, Seychelles
Beachgoers who arrive at this 67-villa tree house–style getaway in the Indian Ocean come as much for the white-sand castaway beach as for the activities: diving, snorkeling, trimaran sailing, and introductions to the local island culture through Creole dance classes and shopping trips to the tiny capital, Victoria. But Four Seasons couldn’t resist making a design statement with its first Seychelles outpost. Set 262 feet above granite boulder-strewn forested slopes, French-colonial style meets Creole charm in ocean-view suites with 16-square-foot marble baths and walk-in rain showers that overlook jungles of indigenous palms and fruit trees. Bulgari bath products and four-poster beds are to be expected, but it’s the casual vibe, curated list of activities, and un-honeymoon aesthetic that makes this the new place to stay in the Seychelles. Doubles from $1,300.
La Réserve Ramatuelle, Ramatuelle, France
In the land of billionaires and beautiful people, it’s easy to wilt trying to keep up. Fortunately there’s La Réserve Ramatuelle, a minimalist oasis with 23 white-and-beige rooms and an 11,000-square-foot spa hidden in the sleepy, pine-covered hills just outside St.-Tropez. Hoping to turn back time? An on-site specialist can help you with a host of rejuvenating, slimming, and energizing treatments, and a Crème de la Mer facial promises to make you feel better than ever. Serene by day, the hotel picks up at night, especially at the popular alfresco restaurant: we are, after all, on the French Riviera. Doubles from $1,310.
Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Krabi, Thailand
Expectations were stratospheric for the debut of Ritz-Carlton’s Reserve brand, and this resort in an unspoiled corner of southern Thailand more than delivers, thanks to savvy design, warm service, and splendid isolation. Lanna-style frescoes painted on mai yang wood decorate the 54 villas and suites, and enclosed gardens offer a welcome degree of privacy. Given the sweltering climate, we would have traded in our double-king-size bed for more efficient air-conditioning, but a late-night dip in our infinity pool overlooking the Andaman Sea cooled our jets. Doubles from $595.
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, Abu Dhabi
The company known for stocking Thai jungle lodges with fine wines and fitting Maldivian overwater bungalows with Egyptian-cotton sheets has set its sights on the Empty Quarter—an ocean of dunes across the planet’s largest uninter-rupted desert. At the princely desert fortress, stone walls are draped with jewel-toned textiles, and helipads accommodate visiting Emirati sheikhs. Guides lead intrepid travelers on camel treks through the Liwa Desert. Doubles from $354.
Shangri-La Boracay Resort & Spa, Boracay, Philippines
A longtime backpacker haven 200 miles south of Manila, Boracay finally has a five-star property worthy of its white-sand coastline. Situated in a sheltered cove alongside two private beaches, the 219 rooms and villas are decorated with indigenous touches (woven abaca rugs; capiz shells). Four hillside restaurants and the cliff-top Solana bar have panoramic views of the azure Sulu Sea. But for an especially memorable stay, you’ll want to snag the vertiginous Tree Top Villa, which has a whirlpool and some of the resort’s best vistas. Doubles from $428.
Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, Sciacca, Italy
Five hundred and seventy acres on Sicily’s southwestern coast have been shaped into a golf resort with the subtle, undeniable luxury we’ve come to expect from the Rocco Forte Collection. Every room has an unencumbered sea view (a non-putter might never know there are two 18-hole courses). Polished-concrete floors and white-canopied beds communicate a clean, chic aesthetic, while bursts of orange and yellow—and the local majolica and ironwork—add warmth. The 15th-century watchtower holds a pizzeria, gelateria, and Lady Forte’s expertly curated boutique. At the 40,000-square-foot spa, a massage with lemongrass- and zagara-infused olive oil hits all the right spots. Doubles from $747.
Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, Lithgow, Australia
A serious safari experience has finally arrived down under with Emirates airlines’ newest conservation-based resort, a three-hour drive west of Sydney. Here, freestanding 890-square-foot cottages (with indoor-outdoor plunge pools and verandas) offer views of Wolgan Valley’s rugged Grand Canyon–like setting, game drives go in search of kangaroos and wallabies, and five-course dinners are served in the central timbered homestead, constructed by local craftsmen. Doubles from $1,534, all-inclusive.
Amanfayun, Hangzhou, China
While we were swooning over Aman at Summer Palace, in Beijing, last year, hotelier Adrian Zecha was busy outdoing himself again, this time by transforming an ancient tea-growing village 20 minutes from Hangzhou’s city center into one of Asia’s most unique retreats. Designer Jaya Ibrahim used a light hand with the 42 villa suites: traditional brick-and-timber courtyard dwellings decorated with unvarnished elm furniture, lattice screens, and delicate rice-paper lanterns. Doubles from $580.
Argos in Cappadocia, Uchisar, Turkey
Great Value Over the past year we saw the advent of an unlikely trend: the luxury cave hotel. In the hillside village of Uchisar, the site of a thousand-year-old former monastery carved out of the region’s soft volcanic rock face encompasses 33 guest rooms with arched ceilings and hand-carved wall niches. We were thrilled to find an indoor plunge pool in our Splendid suite, and soaked in the 88-degree water before settling in front of our roaring fireplace with a book. In the evenings, classical, jazz, and Sufi music recitals are performed in the Bezirhane concert hall, known for its extraordinary acoustics and connected to an ancient network of underground cave dwellings. Doubles from $173.
Lime Wood, Hampshire, England
Spending a weekend in wellies never felt more stylish than at Hampshire’s handsome new Lime Wood. Although it’s not the first property to reinvent the English country house, the red-brick Regency building strikes an admirable balance between heritage and design: Robin Hutson, ex-Soho House Group director, joined forces with David Collins of London’s Blue Bar, who created the 29 cream-and-eau-de-nile–hued rooms, which come with large marble-and-nickel bathrooms and views out over manicured lawns. Doubles from $300.
Serai Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer, India
Madonna’s visit in 2007 helped cement Rajasthan’s place on the global style scene, but the new Serai Jaisalmer has just increased the vogue factor. The region’s most lavish tented camp to date is set on 30 acres in the Thar Desert: twenty-one 1,400-square-foot canvas guest rooms rest on smooth Jaisalmer stone foundations and have spacious covered verandas (five have private plunge pools). Guests can opt for a dizzying array of excursions, from a guided tour of the nearby Jaisalmer Fort to a wildlife camel safari in search of blackbuck antelope and chikara deer. Doubles from $561.
Heidelberg Suites, Germany
Castle ruins and medieval squares have lured poets and composers to this Upper Rhine Valley city for centuries. Now it’s a magnet for design-conscious travelers, thanks to Heidelberg Suites. Florentine architect Michele Bönan, who wowed us with J.K. Place Capri two years ago, helped turn this former residence into 25 guest rooms and a lounge area replete with vintage books and art magazines. Though few hotels can claim front-and-center views of Heidelberg’s Old Town, we found ourselves admiring the interiors, a study of Neoclassical-inspired décor (weathered mirrors and Roman busts) with cool gray walls and handsome wine-colored settees. Doubles from $340.
Il Salviatino, Fiesole, Italy
Villa San Michele—the international set’s palazzo of choice in the Florentine hills—has finally met its match with the arrival of Il Salviatino. Hidden among ancient cypress trees in Fiesole, the handsome 15th-century estate presents a secluded and peaceful haven with meticulously restored grounds. The relaxed residential ambience seamlessly blends Old World with New—from the stately wood-paneled library and the 17th-century oil paintings in the guest rooms to the white leather chesterfields, positioned on the terrace for admiring panoramic views of the Duomo. Doubles from $680.
Palazzina Grassi, Venice
In a city known for its rich heritage (and time-honored hotels to match), Philippe Starck has created glittering, romantically dark interiors at the intimate Palazzina Grassi, steps away from the Campo Santo Stefano. The mahogany-paneled restaurant, where a collection of rare Murano-glass objets d’art is subtly lit by handblown table chandeliers, serves a rich squid-ink risotto fit for a merchant prince. Twenty-six mirrored guest rooms have scratchy linen sheets (request cotton) and some overlook the Grand Canal. Don’t miss a tour in the hotel’s vintage water taxi. Doubles from $563.
The Bund, home to some of Asia’s most storied hotels, has a new symbol of Art Deco opulence. Architect David Beer and interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon delivered gleaming brass-and-mahogany elevators and 235 guest rooms that combine embossed glass lamps and black-lacquer screens with 21st-century amenities. All come with VoIP phones, portable master control panels, and spa tubs with music and light settings. But your most valuable asset here is savvy chief concierge Simon Huang, who may very well be the best in town. Doubles from $294.
Raas, Jodhpur, India
Great Value The alleyways of Jodhpur’s ancient walled city are too narrow for cars. But guests at the Raas need not fret: a vintage-style tuk-tuk awaits to take you through ancient streets and bustling bazaars to the hotel’s grand stone archway. Inside, a cool, shaded courtyard leads to 39 sandstone-walled guest rooms that mix traditional elements (latticed chandeliers) with sleek modern touches (black terrazzo floors). Moghul-style gardens and dazzling views of the 15th-century Mehrangarh desert fort—a stone’s throw away—make the Raas fit for a maharajah. Doubles from $225.