Credit: David Alexander Arnold

“The pace of life will accelerate”—this was the subject line of an e-mail I received earlier today. My first response was, “will accelerate?” Because I can’t imagine my life getting any faster, I drilled down online and uncovered a 2012 MIT study comparing the relative number of mobile phone calls made in urban and nonurban areas in two European countries. As you might expect, the research showed that city dwellers are vastly more connected than those who live outside cities, but, beyond this, the exponential expansion of the networks of contacts and interactions these phone calls represent was seen as material proof that urban life is getting faster and faster all the time.

So what does this have to do with travel? A lot. Take Rome, for instance, the cover subject of this month’s issue, where a contemporary art museum, MAXXI, by Zaha Hadid, and an “über-cool” updated pizzeria called Rosti serving pastrami panini sit atop the latest layer of timeless civilizations in a rapidly growing accretion of 21st-century innovations. In Hamburg, the gracious northern German city laced with canals (“The New Old Hamburg,” by Gini Alhadeff), the formerly gritty port zone has been transformed into HafenCity, a spawning ground for a new urban cultural scene, which will eventually include Herzog & de Meuron’s Elbe Philharmonic Hall. Transformation is an abiding theme of Travel + Leisure’s annual Design Awards, and among the winners we celebrate this year are Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, on Roosevelt Island in New York City, a posthumously completed project of the architect Louis Kahn; the Palace Hotel, in Tokyo; and a diesel-hybrid iteration of London’s red double-decker bus. For more evidence that the world is moving ever faster and an instant social network of locals is just a click or tap away, no matter where you are, see Aimee Lee Ball’s report on the new trend of peer-to-peer travel (“Be My Guest”).

Is it any wonder, then, that a far-flung refuge like Kamalaya, on the Thai island of Koh Samui, may be just what the doctor ordered to cure a nagging case of insomnia (“Chasing Sleep,” by Henry Alford)? That is, if the accelerating pace of life will allow us any time to sleep at all.

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Twitter: @TLNancy