The new hotel top 20
Story by Nicholas DeRenzo | Hemispheres, May 2018
To compile our annual list of the best new hotels in the world, Hemispheres went everywhere, from the beaches of Tulum to the glaciers of Alaska to the palaces of India. We have a tough job, we know, but we managed to narrow it down to our 20 favorites, and no matter what kind of traveler you are, we're sure you'll find a must-stay destination. Bon voyage.
For the solitude seeker
Sheldon Chalet, Alaska
The Sheldon Chalet is definitively this year's coolest new hotel. The five-bedroom family-run luxury lodge opened this February on a rugged nunatak (an exposed rocky point surrounded by ice) 5,800 feet above sea level, surrounded by the remote, 6 million–acre Denali National Park. That location—in an area appropriately called the Don Sheldon Amphitheater—means views of North America's tallest peak and near-perfect conditions for seeing the aurora borealis. Guests arrive by air on a “flightseeing" helicopter tour over the glacier fields and, perhaps to quell any fears that this place qualifies as “roughing it," are met with a glass of Champagne and a selection of fresh Alaskan seafood, such as halibut and king crab, prepared by the chalet's private chef.
For the military history buff
Alila Fort Bishangarh, India
This architectural icon, a 230-year-old blush-pink fortress atop a granite hill in Rajasthan's Aravalli Range, lay in a state of ruin for decades, taken over by bats, snakes, and monkeys. Now, after nearly a decade of work, the Alila Fort Bishangarh is once again fit for a king, with design touches recalling the Mughal and British eras, such as jali lattice window screens, Thikri mirror mosaics, and petal-shaped arches. The 59-suite hotel makes clever use of the fort's many nooks and crannies: You can sleep in the royal residences or the barracks, relax in the library lounge in the former war room, and drink cognac in the turret cigar bar, where soldiers once poured boiling oil on their enemies through the musket slots in the 10-foot-thick walls. And the spa? It's in the old dungeon.
For the New England nostalgic
Sound View; Greenport, New York
Long Island's North Fork is more casually cool than its glitzy neighbor to the south—home of Montauk and the Hamptons—and last August, the 19th-century whaling village of Greenport got a fittingly laid-back yet luxe lodging. In-demand Brooklyn designers Studio Tack kitted out the appropriately named Sound View—the hotel overlooks Long Island Sound—in a spare Modernist New England style that pairs cedar shiplap walls with cork and rubber floors meant to evoke a sandy beach. At James Beard Award–winning chef Galen Zamarra's on-site restaurant, The Halyard, dig into fresh seafood (fluke tacos, roasted scallops) paired with North Fork wines and beers.
For the eco-friendly skier
Valsana Hotel & Appartements Arosa, Switzerland
Skiing is surprisingly tough on nature, but the Valsana, which opened in December in the resort village of Arosa, has found clever ways to combat environmental degradation. The 40-room, nine-suite hotel is nearly carbon-neutral thanks to fair trade–certified toiletries, sustainable building materials, and a state-of-the-art energy recovery system called an “ice battery" (ask a physicist). Playing off this progressive outlook, the Valsana eschews Alpine clichés for millennial-approved thrift-shop design touches, such as vintage turntables and secondhand books in guest rooms and hammocks on balconies. For an updated take on après-ski, hit the lobby's self-service wine dispensers, which are often stocked with vintages from the surrounding Graubünden region.
For the art collector
21C Museum Hotel Nashville, Tennessee
Last May saw the opening of the seventh member of the 21c Museum Hotel chain, which together forms one of the nation's largest multivenue contemporary art institutions. The Nashville location occupies the historic Gray & Dudley Building, which opened in 1900 and lends its name to chef Levon Wallace's lobby restaurant, where diners come face to face with Beth Cavener Stichter's evocative stoneware animal sculptures. In addition to the public gallery spaces, the hotel offers three Artist Suites, curated by painter Sebastiaan Bremer, composer Josephine Wiggs, actor Adrian Grenier, and artist Yung Jake. The chain's most famous pieces, however, remain Cracking Art's army of 4-foot-tall plastic penguins, which come in a different color at each location (Nashville's is teal) and which staffers move around the hotel throughout the day. Pick up a miniature ceramic version at the gift shop.
For the adventurous oenophile
Mitchelton Hotel and Day Spa, Australia
The Mitchelton Wine Estate, set among apple orchards and horse farms about 80 miles north of Melbourne, has produced award-winning rieslings and shirazes for five decades. It never ascended to the ranks of destination winery, however, until December, when it opened a design hotel and day spa. The warm, masculine space mixes natural materials both hard (blackened steel, copper) and soft (merino wool, buttery Italian leather). Sample the estate's wines while taking in vineyard views from one of the 58 rooms and suites—or, better yet, from the 180-foot-high observation tower.
For the cocktail connoisseur
Henrietta Hotel, London
The Paris-based Experimental Group is shaking up the hospitality scene with its growing roster of slinky bars and buzzy boltholes. The past year saw the opening of both its second lodge in Paris (Hotel des Grands Boulevards) and its first in London, the 18-room Henrietta Hotel, which debuted last May in side-by-side Victorian townhouses in Covent Garden. Dorothée Meilichzon's understated interiors—all brass accents, mirrored surfaces, and soft curves—call to mind an Art Deco bar cart. Confirm the bed-and-beverage's boozy bona fides in chef Ollie Dabbous's French-accented restaurant, where the cocktail menu was put together by a pair of drink historians, or in your room, which is outfitted with a bedside Experimental Cocktail Club recipe book and a minibar arsenal of 50 ml bottles of craft spirits.
For the au courant countess
Verride Palácio Santa Catarina, Lisbon
If the words “palace hotel" conjure oppressive dark woods and heavy fabrics, the Verride Palácio Santa Catarina—opened in October across from Lisbon's Pharmacy Museum—is just what the doctor ordered. Occupying a hilltop 1750 townhouse once owned by a count, the 19-room hotel is studded with historic touches, including blue and white azulejo tiles, Rococo molding, and hand-painted silk wallpaper. The space transcends Baroque weightiness by employing a palette of crisp white tones—from Celso de Lemos organic cotton linens to Carrara marble accents—bathed in the city's greatest asset: the intense Iberian sunshine.
For the introverted island-hopper
Myconian Kyma; Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos is Greece's undisputed party island (Lindsay Lohan celebrated her 30th here), but the 81-room Myconian Kyma provides a welcome respite for guests who would rather spend time under the Aegean sun than nightclub strobe lights. Opened last May on a rocky hilltop less than 10 minutes on foot from the ouzo-fueled downtown, the stark, whitewashed space is replete with shadowy alcoves for midday napping, as well as a double-level infinity pool that overlooks the sea. Many of the suites come with their own plunge pools or hot tubs, but for the best chance at relaxation, head to the Satori Thalasso Spa, which uses mineral-enriched seawater in many of its treatments.
For the midwestern modernist
Ace Hotel Chicago, Illinois
The ultra-hip Pacific Northwest–born Ace brand made its Third Coast debut in August in a former cheese factory—très Midwestern—in Chicago's burgeoning West Loop district. The building's aesthetic draws on the sleek industrial style of architect László Moholy-Nagy, who founded the New Bauhaus school here in 1937, with visual references to luminaries like Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Josef and Anni Albers. Rooms feature a host of Midwestern-made goods, including blankets from Iowa's Amana Woolen Mill, football-inspired details from Chicago's Horween Leather, and original works by students at the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Don't miss the rooftop bar, Waydown, which takes its name from a song by John Prine, the bard of Maywood, Illinois.
For the stuffed-to-the-gills gourmand
Hotel Akelarre; San Sebastián, Spain
San Sebastián's culinary reputation precedes it: Basque Country boasts the highest concentration of Michelin stars per capita on the planet. One of the city's trio of three-starred restaurants, Pedro Subijana's Akelarre, opened a 22-room inn this March—the perfect spot for foodies to tuck in after a marathon eight-course tasting menu (with dishes like this squid risotto with butter flower) and a few too many glasses of wine from the 650-label cellar. Done up in a crisp minimalist palette of cream, gray stone, and warm oak slats, the hotel features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Bay of Biscay. Enjoy that view over a room-service breakfast of tortilla española, chorizo, and local charcuterie from the world-class kitchen.
For the hollywood elite
NoMad Los Angeles, California
New York's NoMad Hotel and its Michelin-starred restaurant brought a touch of European elegance to an unloved stretch of Broadway, and now the brand is hoping to recreate that magic in Downtown LA. The Sydell Group filled the 1923 Neoclassical former Bank of Italy headquarters—the lobby bathroom is inside the old vault—with lush, tactile details that would fit right in at the estate of an Old Hollywood mogul: jewel-toned velvet, coffered ceilings, potted palms, even the odd stuffed peacock. Naturally, the on-site restaurants are from chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara, the team behind the original NoMad and Eleven Madison Park, which was named the World's Best Restaurant in 2017.
For the boho beach bum
Habitas Tulum, Mexico
Guests checking in at Habitas Tulum are asked to burn a bit of copal, a tree resin known as much for its spiritual cleansing properties as for its (perhaps more useful) ability to ward off mosquitoes. Tucked away on a secluded beach not far from Mayan ruins, this off-the-grid retreat contains 32 air-conditioned canvas tents complete with palapa roofs, king-size beds, kilim rugs, and outdoor rain showers. You can follow the property's jungle walking trails, join an Ashtanga yoga class, or borrow a complimentary bike, but this place was really designed for doing nothing, artfully: You're never more than a few feet from hammocks hanging in palm thickets, poolfront beds, or the rope swings swaying in front of the bar.
For the bargain hunter
The Hoxton, Paris
The lodging scene in Paris is booming. Reopenings of historic grandes dames like the Hôtel de Crillon and the Hôtel Lutetia have grabbed all the headlines, but for our money the most exciting recent debut is The Hoxton, which burst onto the scene last summer in the startup-filled Second Arrondissement (sometimes called “Silicon Sentier"). Nightly rates start at a cool $120 (less than one-tenth of the Crillon's), but don't expect a no-frills hostel. After all, the 172-room hotel occupies the High Rococo 18th-century townhouse of Louis XV's diplomatic adviser. Even the self-effacingly named Shoebox rooms are decked out in sumptuous detailing, such as decorative molding and herringbone parquet floors. Use all those Euros you've saved at the Rivié all-day brasserie or the Moroccan-themed Jacques' Bar.
For the aspiring lumberjack
The Douglas Vancouver, British Columbia
You could see why the Parq Vancouver might have made locals nervous: With its 72,000 square feet of casino space, the $500 million urban resort had the makings of a Vegas-style intrusion. But the developers were savvy enough to build not just a sleek JW Marriott but also an eco-friendly Autograph Collection hotel, the Douglas. The property opened in October as an ode to its namesake, the Pacific Northwest's favorite conifer, which appears throughout public spaces (the check-in area has a 25-foot replica Douglas fir encased in glass) and in the rooms and suites (each of which contains a bottle of Douglas Fir gin from the nearby Yaletown Distillery). The best part is the 30,000-square-foot park that's perched on the resort's sixth floor and is home to 200 native pines and 15,000 local plants.
For the antiques collector
When the construction of a reservoir threatened a collection of Ming and Qing Dynasty structures in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangxi, native son Ma Dadong sprang into action. Over the course of 16 years, the entrepreneur rescued and reassembled historic villas and replanted more than 10,000 camphor trees about an hour southwest of Shanghai, creating the backbone of Aman's fourth Chinese property, Amanyangyun, which opened in January. Guest villas are decorated with centuries-old calligraphic carvings and reliefs, and the 30,500-square-foot spa employs traditional Chinese medicine in its treatments.
For the urban pioneer
Hotel 50 Bowery, New York City
The Bowery in Lower Manhattan was synonymous with crime and urban decay for more than a century, but two decades of revitalization have made the neighborhood ripe for stylish visitors—and a boutique hotel to serve them. Joie de Vivre's newest New York City outpost, 50 Bowery, opened last May in a 22-story glass tower designed by Hong Kong–born architect Peter Poon. The property, located just across the street from the ornate entrance to the Manhattan Bridge, fully embraces its Chinatown location in everything from its robes (emblazoned with red dragons) to its color scheme (blue and white, à la Chinese porcelain) to its pan-Asian restaurant, Rice & Gold, from Top Chef contestant Dale Talde. In fact, the designers literally mined the area for influences: The Museum of Chinese in America curated an on-site exhibit of the artifacts that were found while excavating the building plot, which was once home to vaudeville theaters, gaming dens, and a German beer hall.
For the Instagram influencer
The Drifter, New Orleans
Tulane Avenue, at the southern end of Route 61 (the Blues Highway), is home to some seedy motels, one of which has now been revived as the Big Easy's trendiest hotel. Set around a courtyard pool, the 20-room Drifter occupies a '50s motor lodge built in the Googie style, a mid-century look that borrowed shapes from car culture and the Space Race. Expect interiors decked out in Instagram-ready pinks, mint greens, and teals, with eye-catching design touches such as Oaxacan tiles, retro Formica tables, and a wall-size installation by Carlton Scott Sturgill that's covered in roses made from upcycled Ralph Lauren dress shirts. Happy filtering!
For the eager upcycler
Trunk (Hotel), Tokyo
Tokyo's lodging scene skews toward the glossy and corporate, but when the 15-room Trunk (Hotel) opened last May in the Harajuku/Jingumae district (a part of trendy Shibuya), it brought a refreshing dose of local craftiness. The space is filled with creatively eco-conscious details: Rooms are clad in reclaimed wood, staff aprons are made from salvaged deadstock denim, cushions on the terrace were once boat sails, and even the coat hangers are repurposed factory iron remnants. Speaking to its fast-paced, youth-oriented neighborhood, the Trunk also houses a kushiyaki grilled-meat stand and an elevated take on a konbini (convenience store) that sells grab-and-go snacks and gifts, including locally sourced honey.
For the contemporary kosher-keeper
Alvear Icon Hotel & Residences, Buenos Aires
Since 1932, the Alvear Palace Hotel has stood as one of the most luxurious grandes dames in the New World. The brand added a second property, the Alvear Art Hotel, in 2013, and now it has a third, with the debut last June of the Alvear Icon Hotel & Residences. Set in a jagged glass tower on the banks of the Río de la Plata in the upscale Puerto Madero neighborhood, the hotel features 159 rooms and suites with arabescato marble wall accents and French and Italian fabrics, as well as South America's first fine-dining glatt kosher restaurant, Glitter, and a kosher dairy bar, Milk & Co.
In the midst of mobilizing our cargo operations, our teams at New York/Newark (EWR) and Jacksonville (JAX) stepped in to assist Roche Diagnostics with transporting a vital component for an instrument being used for COVID-19 testing.
The component was stuck at EWR en route to the Mayo Clinic in Florida after another airline's flights were cancelled. A Roche employee contacted us asking for help and, within a few hours, our teams had the piece loaded onto a Jacksonville-bound aircraft, with arrangements in place to deliver it to the Mayo Clinic.
The item we shipped will allow the Mayo Clinic in Florida to process hundreds of COVID-19 tests per day. Mayo Clinic Laboratories has been on the front lines of increasing testing capacity to expedite caring for patients at this critical time and working to ease the burden being felt at test processing laboratories in a growing number of areas.
We are going above and beyond to find creative ways to transport fresh food and produce, as well as basic essentials from the U.S. mainland to military and their families in Guam/Micronesia. On Saturday, March 28, we operated an exclusive cargo-only B777-300 charter to transport nearly 100,000 pounds of food essentials to Guam to support our troops.
In addition, we move mail year-round all over the world. In response to COVID-19, and in support of the military members and their families overseas, we implemented a charter network, transporting military mail to Frankfurt, which is then transported all over Europe and the Middle East. Since March 20, we have flown 30,000+ pounds of military mail every day between Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and Frankfurt (FRA). On the return flight from Frankfurt to Chicago, we have carried an average of 35,000 pounds of mail to help families stay connected.
"Connecting products and mail to people around the world is the United Cargo mission," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "Keeping our military families connected with the goods they need, and keeping them connected with loved ones to feel a sense of home, is of critical importance. As a company that has long supported our military families and veterans, our teams are proud to mobilize to lend a hand."
On average, we ship more than 1 billion pounds of cargo every year on behalf of domestic and international customers. For more information, visit unitedcargo.com.
To our customers,
I hope this note finds you and your loved ones healthy and well.
It is safe to say these past weeks have been among some of the most tumultuous and emotional that any of us can remember in our lifetimes. The impact of the coronavirus outbreak has been felt by individuals and families, companies and communities, across the United States and around the world.
The response to this crisis has been extraordinary; as much for what it has required from our society as for what it has revealed of us as a people.
Far from causing division and discord, this crisis and the social distancing it has required, has allowed us to witness something profound and moving about ourselves: our fond and deeply felt wish to be connected with one another.
The role of connector is one we're privileged to play in the moments that matter most in your life – weddings and graduations, birthdays and business trips, events large and small – and it's that responsibility that motivates us most to get back to our regular service, as soon as possible.
That is why it is so important our government acted on a comprehensive relief act to ensure our airline – and our industry – are ready and able to serve you again when this crisis abates.
I want to relay to you, in as deeply personal a way I can, the heartfelt appreciation of my 100,000 United team members and their families for this vital public assistance to keep America and United flying for you.
This support will save jobs in our business and many others. And it allows us time to make decisions about the future of our airline to ensure that we can offer you the service you deserve and have come to expect as our customers.
While consumer demand has fallen, we have seen the need for our service and capabilities shifted. And, we've adapted to help meet those needs.
Right now, aircraft flying the United livery and insignia, flown by our aviation professionals, have been repurposed to deliver vital medical supplies and goods to some of the places that need it most. We're also using several of our idle widebody aircraft to use as dedicated charter cargo flights, at least 40 times per week, to transfer freight to and from U.S. locations as well as to key international business locations. At the same time, we are working in concert with the U.S. State Department to bring stranded Americans who are trying to return home back to their loved ones.
While much remains uncertain right now, one thing is for sure: this crisis will pass. Our nation and communities will recover and United will return to service you, our customers. When that happens, we want you to fly United with even greater pride because of the actions we took on behalf of our customers, our employees and everyone we serve.
Stay safe and be well,
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.