Story by Nicholas DeRenzo | Hemispheres May 2017
For Road Warriors
21c Museum Hotel, Oklahoma City
In a city where converted car dealerships and tire shops account for an outsize portion of the revitalized downtown (see the upscale Automobile Alley district), it's fitting that the Oklahoma capital's newest boutique hotel would occupy an iconic auto industry edifice: the onetime Fred Jones Assembly Plant, where Ford Model Ts were built. Opened last June in the 101-year-old Albert Kahn–designed building, the 21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City shows off its heritage in ways big and small, from the original water tower on the roof to the 135 guest rooms' generous casement windows to the massive concrete columns still marked with codes denoting their positions on the factory floor. Like other properties in the 21c Museum Hotels mini-chain, the property's claim to fame is its renowned contemporary art collection. A standout here is James Clar's continually rolling, assembly line–inspired acrylic piece River of Time, at the entrance to Mary Eddy's Kitchen x Lounge, which occupies the former automobile showroom.
For Rock Stars
Sir Adam Hotel, Amsterdam
Sir Adam Hotel
As the home to the local offices of Gibson guitars and Sony, plus a real-life school of rock for kids, the imposing A'DAM Tower is something like Amsterdam's answer to LA's Capitol Records Tower. This January, the tower welcomed the Sir Adam Hotel, a member of the rapidly expanding Sir boutique chain, which also includes the Sir Albert, housed in a former diamond factory across town, and new or in-the-works properties in Berlin, Hamburg, and Ibiza. Complete with Bluetooth-enabled Crosley Cruiser turntables, Gibson electric guitars, and a curated vinyl collection, the 108 industrial-chic guest rooms (expect lots of raw concrete) are decked out with concert posters and mirrors etched with classic lyrics—the ideal crash pads for jet-lagged rockers on their big stadium tour.
For Summer Campers
The Suttle Lodge & Boathouse, Sisters, Oregon
Earn your merit badges—in kayaking, fishing, Nordic skiing, and arts and crafts—at the lakeside Suttle Lodge & Boathouse, which opened last August in central Oregon's Deschutes National Forest. The Mighty Union, the hospitality team behind Portland's trendsetting Ace Hotel, created a Moonrise Kingdom for millennials, complete with Pendleton blankets and toiletries by OLO Fragrance in scents inspired by the surrounding Cascade Range. Because it wouldn't be Oregon without a love for all things locavore, the owners have also brought along another Portlander to create the menu, chef Joshua McFadden of the award-winning Ava Gene's. Despite McFadden's James Beard nominations and inclusion on Bon Appétit's best new restaurants list, don't expect anything fussy: It's all about the potato-chip-crusted trout sandwich, salmon-and-trout chowder, and Oregon-made beers, wines, and ciders.
For Beach Bums
The Asbury, Asbury Park, New Jersey
Opened last Memorial Day just a guitar-pick toss from Bruce Springsteen's beloved Stone Pony, The Asbury is this Jersey Shore resort town's first new hotel in decades, taking over a long-disused Salvation Army building. Conceived by Anda Andrei, Ian Schrager's former head of design, the airy, bungalow-inspired rooms pair blond wood furnishings and crisp white linens with black-and-white vintage photos of beach and boardwalk scenes. In keeping with the breezy seaside decor and fun-loving spirit of this summer playground, the space is brimming with whimsical amenities, such as a carless rooftop “drive-in" theater, pinball machines in the lobby, and a curated library of VHS tapes, audio cassettes, and vinyl records.
The Warehouse Hotel, Singapore
The Warehouse Hotel's Singapore Sazerac
The Lo & Behold Group hospitality firm's first hotel venture opened this January in an 1895 godown (warehouse) on the banks of the Singapore River. Though the surrounding Robertson Quay is now rather well-heeled, the area was once a red light district known for its underground distilleries and opium dens. The 37-room hotel cleverly nods to this seedy past with its Minibar of Vices, which is divided into gluttony (salted egg yolk chips), vanity (Alexiares & Ani Mattifying Sunscreen), and lust (take a guess). For more indulgence, head to the on-site restaurant, Pó, which features chef Willin Low's “Mod Sin" menu and cocktails that play on the area's spice trade past, such as the Singapore Sazerac with pandan leaf bitters and the chamomile-whiskey-based High Tea.
Nekupe Sporting Resort & Retreat, Nandaime, Nicaragua
The view from the Nekupe Sporting Resort & Retreat
It's not surprising that Nicaragua's first luxury mountain resort takes its name from the indigenous Chorotega word for “heaven." Creating a slice of Paradise was precisely the goal of Theresita and Alfredo Pellas Jr., who constructed this 1,300-acre nature reserve by building greenhouses, installing solar panels, planting organic farms, and reforesting with more than 14,000 trees. Located 30 minutes from colonial Granada, in the shadow of a dormant volcano, the resort is an old-school sporting getaway, perfect for skeet shooting, horseback riding, ziplining, or communing with sloths, howler monkeys, and 73 species of bird.
For Architecture Buffs
The Poli House, Tel Aviv
An eclectic staircase at The Poli House
Tel Aviv's White City district is home to an eclectic collection of more than 4,000 Bauhaus and other structures, built in the 1930s by German-Jewish architects escaping persecution. Nitza Szmuk, the conservation architect who helped the district achieve UNESCO World Heritage status in 2003, next turned her attention to the restoration of the Polishuk House, a curvy 1934 beauty by Swiss architect Shlomo Liaskowski that has since housed offices, shops, and even a secret political printing press. Last October, it reopened as the 40-room Poli House, which designer Karim Rashid has filled with witty decor flourishes such as egg-shaped chairs upholstered with yolk-yellow fabrics, a pink neon “HELLO" sign, and Op Art floors that might make you a little woozy after a cocktail at the rooftop pool bar. Keep an eye out for a particularly meta touch: a landmark Bauhaus stairway with a mural based on Oskar Schlemmer's 1932 painting Bauhaus Stairway.
Explora Valle Sagrado, Urquillos, Urubamba, Peru
Opened last July in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, between Cusco and Machu Picchu, the 50-room Explora Valle Sagrado consists of a series of low-slung wooden structures that seem to melt into the surrounding ancient cornfields. (A nearby colonial mansion once owned by War of Independence revolutionary Mateo Pumacahua houses the spa.) While the lodge is filled with smart references to Andean culture, such as alpaca-wool blankets, it's best to think of it more as a base camp for Explora's 26 guided tours to off-the-beaten-path spots, including Incan archaeological sites, salt mines, indigenous Quechua communities, and llama-filled pastures.
Explora Valle Sagrado
For Social Butterflies
The Robey, Chicago
You've always hung out in Chicago's Wicker Park, but now you can finally sleep there. The Robey, a sleek and masculine boutique property from Grupo Habita—a Mexico City–based hotel chain known for promoting a young, communal vibe—opened in November at the epicenter of the city's coolest 'hood, in the 1929 Art Deco Northwest Tower, the only skyscraper in the area (a sister hotel, The Hollander, occupies the 1905 warehouse next door). The well-appointed rooms (Woolrich blankets, marble accents) may be short on square footage, but high ceilings and uninterrupted views of downtown make them feel airy. Think of the hotel's four restaurants and lounges as your extended living room: Meet friends for breakfast at the first-floor Café Robey, make new friends over cappuccinos in the spacious second-floor lounge, and then join all of them for martinis at Up & Up, the sexy rooftop cocktail bar, where you can toast to not having to cab anywhere.
For Seafood Lovers
Thompson Seattle, Seattle
The views from the Thompson Seattle
You can practically see the salmon-tossing fishmongers of Pike Place Market from your bed at the Thompson Seattle, which opened two blocks from the historic venue last June. The glass-and-steel design by award-winning area firm Olson Kundig Architects is all about transparency, meaning the 158 guestrooms can often feel like the world's chicest fishbowls. Twelve stories up, at The Nest rooftop cocktail lounge, take in views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. And back down on solid ground, at Scout PNW—which is kitted out with Douglas fir furnishings and Northwest-appropriate plaid upholstery—sample the bounty of these surroundings, including smoked trout tartine; maple-cured crudo with raw beets, yuzu, and pickled berries; and a killer chowder made with mussels, clams, and Dungeness crab.
For Design Heads
Il Sereno Lago di Como, Torno, Italy
Unlike the Neoclassical grande dames that dominate nearby stretches of George Clooney's favorite lake in the foothills of the Italian Alps, this minimalist all-suite hotel, which opened last August in the tiny village of Torno, would look more at home an hour's drive south, in fashion-forward Milan. That's very much by design. Spanish-born, Milan-based designer Patricia Urquiola—twice named designer of the year by Wallpaper—had a hand in creating almost every aspect of the property, from the bespoke furnishings to the floating walnut lobby staircase to the silk scarves worn by the staff (a nod to Como's long history as the silk capital of the world). Urquiola is even responsible for the interiors of the hotel's Vaporina del Lago boat, custom-made at the family-run Ernesto Riva boatyard, which has operated across the lake in Laglio (home to La Casa di Clooney) since 1771.
Huus Hotel, Gstaad, Switzerland
Gstaad's newest hotel, opened in December, trades in the posh town's usual ostentatious glamour for a homier aesthetic—hence the name, Swiss German for “house." The 136 lumberjack-chic rooms incorporate mismatched plaids, polished pebbles from the River Saane, and, yes, cuckoo clocks, plus Mammut backpacks and Zeiss binoculars to explore the craggy peaks and green valleys of the Bernese Alps. After all that skiing and snowshoeing (or summertime rafting and rappelling), refuel with fondue and raclette at Chalet Hüüsli, the cozy garden restaurant.
Coombeshead Farm, Cornwall, U.K.
The morning spread at Coombeshead Farm
British chefs Tom Adams (who brought American-style barbecue to London at Pitt Cue) and April Bloomfield (who earned a Michelin star for New York's The Spotted Pig) teamed up last July to open this five-room inn in a 1748 Georgian farmhouse on 66 acres in Cornwall. At the communal table, guests dine on locally grown, cured, and foraged fare, such as mutton from the farm's flock of Hebridean sheep and honey from Cornish black bee hives. And befitting two pig lovers (Bloomfield wrote a book called A Girl and Her Pig), it's only natural that their prize possession is a herd of rare, woolly Mangalitsa pigs, whose ruby-red, marbled meat is often called the Kobe beef of pork.
For Boat Enthusiasts
Off Paris Seine, Paris
The pool at Off Paris Seine
Ernest Hemingway dubbed Paris a moveable feast, but chances are he never imagined that the City of Light would someday welcome a moveable boutique hotel. Opened last June, the Off Paris Seine is built on a custom-made catamaran that was constructed in Normandy and towed more than 200 miles upriver to its current home on the Left Bank near the Gare d'Austerlitz railway station. The interiors of the 58-room floating hotel—the largest vessel moored in the Seine—play off the boat's aquatic surroundings; a salvaged-wood check-in desk evokes driftwood, while 8,800 metal panels on the lounge's ceiling reflect the glimmering river surface. Speaking of glitter, while the city's old-guard hotels aren't above a little gilding, the gold accents here are just a bit more playful, taking the form of an inflatable swan in the pool that runs down the boat's center and oversize Fatboy beanbag chairs on the deck.
For Mid-Century Modernists
The Dwell Hotel, Chattanooga, Tennessee
The Dwell Hotel's leafy lobby
Hoteliers the world over are smitten with the timeless lines of 1950s Modernist furnishings, but few have taken full advantage of that other mid-century design staple: deliriously bold patterns and colors. Built in the shell of a 1909 hotel on the site of a Civil War–era stone fort, this city's first luxury boutique property, which debuted its new incarnation last spring, is brimming with authentic period trappings that owner Seija Ojanpera sourced from estate sales, thrift stores, and eBay. Expect velvet chairs, lucite tables, brass wall hangings, and shaggy textile art, all in a palette of poppy oranges and canary yellows and jade greens. But the true showstoppers in the Dwell Hotel's 16 bespoke rooms are the retro patterned wallpapers—bees and flamingos, dandelions and banana leaves—which would have looked right at home in the Draper family house.
The Pendry, San Diego
Just in time for the Gaslamp Quarter's 150th birthday, San Diego welcomes an amenity it has been sorely lacking: a modern luxury boutique hotel. Enter the Pendry, the flagship in Montage Hotels' new design-driven lifestyle brand (a Baltimore property is set to follow this year). Think of this place as an urban take on the resort model—multiple dining outlets, a spa, a pool, and a club, all neatly tucked into one city block. You could spend an entire vacation stuffing yourself without leaving the premises: avocado toast at Provisional, a café and curated boutique; brats and microbrews at Nason's Beer Hall; oysters and nigiri at Lionfish; cocktails at Fifth & Rose—and then another two or three at Oxford Social Club, the basement lounge.
For Fish Out of Water
Palafitos Overwater Bungalows at El Dorado Maroma, Riviera Maya, Mexico
The bungalows at El Dorado Maroma
You don't need to fly to Tahiti or Bora Bora to stay in an overwater bungalow anymore, thanks to last September's opening of this first-of-its-kind-in-Mexico collection of 30 standalone suites within an existing Karisma Hotel resort. Each 800-square-foot palafito (stilt house) boasts glass floor panels so you can spot passing needlefish from the comfort of your bed, as well as snorkeling gear for rent when you're ready to dip a toe in. Design inspiration comes from the ancient Aztec homes built over Lake Texcoco (now buried beneath modern Mexico City), with palapa-style thatch roofs and furnishings made with local zapote wood—plus more modern amenities, such as outdoor and indoor showers and private infinity pools.