Hottest New Hotels
Being a restless spirit does not mean I sleep poorly in a strange bed. On the contrary. I’ve slept well everywhere—whether a dirt-floored safari tent in Kenya’s northern frontier or the opulent Vera Wang Suite at Oahu’s Halekulani. Carefree outposts that don’t object if I arrive a little disheveled appeal just as much as palaces for hire, and I will always choose quirky style over copycat chic. What counts in my much-stamped passport? Smart details by inventive designers, authentic cultural leitmotifs, and real soul. In fact, I always hold my breath for a moment as the key slides into the door of my room—it’s the genuine anticipation of having expectations met when the next place I will spend the night is revealed. Here, my new obsessions.
It takes more than Wi-Fi and fresh paint for a classic hotel to stay au courant, but a few properties have recently been updated with panache. Closed for three years, La Mamounia (doubles from $760) glows again thanks to Jacques Garcia, known for gems like Paris’s Hôtel Costes. The maximalist designer chose a garnet tone as the Marrakesh palace’s signature color; it shines on the grand piano in the Majorelle Gallery and reappears on the fleet of Jaguars and Range Rovers parked outside. Every time I check in to the Connaught Hotel (doubles from $791), new surprises reaffirm it as my essential London address. On my last visit, the stodgy American Bar had been reincarnated as a lustrous cocktail lounge; the new Prince’s Lodge (Room 518), an apricot-hued snuggery, has a walnut four-poster bed carved by Afghani artisans.
When on the hunt for new boutique hotels in Europe, I call the impeccable Lulu Townsend of Chic Retreats. Her portfolio is devoted to independent properties that she personally vets, so I was thrilled when she tipped me off about the 11-room Maison Delaneau (doubles from $314), a minimalist “love shack” in the middle of Antwerp. Those Belgians sure are naughty: there are handcuffs in the mini-bar. On a recent search for a sunny hideaway in the French Riviera, I avoided traffic in St.-Tropez and instead dropped in on Design Hotels’ La Réserve Ramatuelle (doubles from $852). This grouping of cream beachfront villas and suites with restrained beige and ocher interiors near Pampelonne would please Coco Chanel. Il Salviatino (doubles from $1,062), the latest Tuscan villa turned hotel, features a curious element: its Affresco Suite, where Italian craftsmen restored a Bruschi fresco, is accessed by a secret passage through the library. Heading north, stony gray Edinburgh never struck me as fashionable, but that’s about to change. At the Hotel Missoni Edinburgh (doubles from $347), the colorful Rosita Missoni brings a wild palette (fuchsia and turquoise walls; patterned bed throws) to the Royal Mile.
Equally stylish is Hong Kong’s art-focused Upper House (price not available at press time) from Swire Hotels, a young company best known for last year’s cutting-edge Opposite House, in Beijing. In his positioning of large-scale works by top Asian sculptors, local designer Andre Fu reinterprets feng shui. In my opinion, the most compelling reason to come here is the view of the harbor from the 49th-floor Sky Lounge.
Then there’s reality-TV doyenne and hotel designer Kelly Wearstler, whose acid colors, layering of texture, and graphic effects appeal to connoisseurs of her retro Hollywood aesthetic. At the Viceroy Anguilla (doubles from $695), on an island I love for its barefoot elegance, Wearstler has found a subdued vocabulary, using tons (literally) of stonework—pink coral; Bardiglio marble—to offset driftwood light fixtures. Local designers are featured in the boutique, including jeweler Ilka Harrigan, who makes tropics-inspired bangles.
Hotelier Rafael Micha has wickedly good taste and throws the best parties south of the border. The sexy scenesters who fill his rooftop bar at Condesa DF, in Mexico City, will certainly follow him to Acapulco for the opening of Hotel Boca Chica ( doubles from $95). Micha commissioned artist Claudia Fernandez to scour estate sales for Modernist collectibles; she also picked up finds at La Lagunilla, my favorite flea market in Mexico. Reissues of Jean Prouvé’s Midcentury desk chair grace guest rooms, but the best seat in the house may be in the palapa bar, where Acapulco Sunrise cocktails are served.
There’s a preppier party happening on Florida’s Redneck Riviera at the Postcard Inn on the Beach (doubles from $119) by Steve Hanson, the restaurateur behind Dos Caminos and Wildwood Barbeque, in St. Petersburg, Florida. No doubt Hanson’s laid-back joint—surfboards in the rooms, a photo booth in the lobby—will be the playground for the yachting crowd that descends on St. Pete each winter. I’m packing my Top-Siders now.
William Ole Siara, multilingual Masai cultural ambassador and guide at Cottar’s 1920 Safari Camp, adjacent to Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. Doubles from $780 per person per night.
Jeweler Alexis Bittar’s Lucite hibiscus brooch, exclusively for Kauai’s new St. Regis Princeville Resort. Some of the proceeds benefit a local preserve. Brooch $345.
The turndown gherkin left on the pillow at Design Hotels’ Lux 11, in Berlin. Doubles from $206.
Hotel Fasano São Paulo’s key-card booklet with a built-in walking map of the city. Doubles from $640.
The Spice Market, a Jack Daniels whiskey cocktail infused with cardamom at the Blvd, the bar at the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel. Drinks for two from $34.
Cottar's 1920 Safari Camp
Kelly Wearstler-designed interiors set the stage for this secludedescape along 3,200 feet of pristine white-sand beachfront; amenitiesinclude private oceanview pools, gourmet kitchens, a two-story spa,three restaurants, and Viceroy's renowned hospitality and pampering. Wearstler has found a subdued vocabulary, using tons (literally) of stonework—pink coral; Bardiglio marble—to offset driftwood light fixtures. 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. Local designers are featured in the boutique, including jeweler Ilka Harrigan, who makes tropics-inspired bangles.
Upper House, Melbourne
In the heart of the buzzing Mitte neighborhood, Lux 11 is the latest creation from a dynamic minimalist duo, Claudio Silvestrin and his wife, Giuliana Salmaso. The 72 rooms (20 more are slated to open in early 2006), each a monolithic space, have open bathrooms finished in concrete and honey-colored wood. An Aveda spa occupies the ground floor, and a micro–department store, run by the former buyer for Quartier 206, one of Berlin’s poshest fashion emporiums, is adjacent to the lobby.
Closed for three years between 2006 and 2009, the hotel glows again thanks to Jacques Garcia, known for gems like Paris’s Hôtel Costes. The 1923 property has been completely restored and modernized, a three-year project that included cleaning and repairing countless mosaics, moldings, and paintings and adding new furniture, fabrics, and woodwork, much of it made by local artisans. Garcia chose a garnet tone as the Marrakesh palace’s signature color; it shines on the grand piano in the Majorelle Gallery and reappears on the fleet of Jaguars and Range Rovers parked outside. The gardens have been enlarged, as has the pool, now the size of a small lake.
Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills (A Four Seasons Hotel)
It should come as no surprise that everyone from Elvis Presley to John Lennon and the British royal family have stayed at this over-the-top luxurious property that’s just across the street from Rodeo Drive. It’s every bit as posh as the neighborhood requires, from its oversize chandelier-adorned lobby to the stylish, Michelin-starred steakhouse by Wolfgang Puck serving up some of the cities best cuts. Exceptionalism continues at the spa, which offers facials and body treatments worthy of its discerning clientele.
Brazilian innovators Isay Weinfeld and Marcio Kogan designed this sexy retreat with clubby leather armchairs and Brazilian modern art. Downstairs, there’s the see-and-be-seen Italian restaurant, where São Paulo’s creative set gathers. Best for Sophisticates and fashion gurus.
Check out the 11-room minimalist “love shack” in the middle of Antwerp. Those Belgians sure are naughty: there are handcuffs in the mini-bar.
La Réserve Ramatuelle
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.
In the 14th century, the noble Florentine Salviati family built a sumptuous country villa on Florence's northeastern outskirts. In 2010, after two years of renovations that revealed long-lost frescoes on the ceilings and hidden pathways twisting through the gardens, Marcello Pigozzo re-opened the villa as a hotel. The 45 accommodations are exquisitely appointed with Tuscan linens, original art, and timeless modern furnishings designed not to detract from the Renaissance surroundings. Il Salviatino manages to be away from it all—rising just high enough up the foothills climbing toward Fiesole to enjoy a skyline view—yet convenient to the sights downtown (via a short taxi ride or brief stroll to a city bus stop). The property also features a split-level pool, two restaurants serving classic Tuscan cuisine, and Italy's only Devarana spa.
Hotel Missoni Edinburgh
The colorful Rosita Missoni brings a wild palette (fuchsia and turquoise walls; patterned bed throws) to the Royal Mile.
St. Regis Princeville Resort
Unveiled in September 2009 after its conversion from a Starwood Luxury Collection property, this resort on Kauai’s North Shore borders two of Hawaii’s most famous golf courses (the Makai Golf Club and the Prince Course, which were both designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.). In its new incarnation, however, the property now also offers enough amenities to tempt even the links-averse—including an 11,000-square-foot spa doling out taro-clay wraps and maile-oil massages; Kauai Grill, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant; a 5,000-square-foot infinity pool; and a sheltered beach good for snorkeling and for families. The 251 rooms—some of the largest on Kauai—are all gleamingly new and done up in pale blue and warm wood tones; Premium Ocean View rooms and suites overlook Hanalei Bay to Mt. Namolokama and, in the distance, Mt. Makana (famously depicted as Bali Hai in the South Pacific film).