This is the life. How often have you said that in the past two years? A few times, maybe. Possibly not once. Makes sense, because, well, it’s been the past two years. But there is an antidote to our collective anxiety and dread: getting the hell out of town. We said it on a cross-country road trip when we hit the otherworldliness of South Dakota’s Badlands. We felt it in Mexico when we ate tacos and drank Champagne on the beach. And we definitely uttered it aloud to whoever was with us in that thermal pool in Telluride overlooking the mountains. Hot tubs are very conducive to optimism.
Travel offers the opportunity to reset. A way to escape and be welcomed. To feel the intoxication of leaving a place and the thrill of arriving. To make fast friends at that secret wine bar or to cultivate deeper relationships with family and old pals. You can even find meaning in packing: You confront what truly matters (nope, don’t need a second blazer) and, perhaps, how you really want to show up to the world (yes, bring the crazy pants). The following pages are devoted to these undercurrents of joy and discovery that define travel, kicking off with an essential part of the wanderlust experience: a great hotel.
This is more than a cloudlike bed and a TV hidden in the bathroom mirror (but you’ve got to admit that trick never gets old). The very best provide restoration and inspiration, and each hotel’s staff has worked harder than ever to do so. That’s why we created our first-ever Best New Hotels list: to celebrate such hospitality and the fact that you deserve a vacation.
There’s an old adage that hotels should feel like home. But when home has morphed into an office, a daycare, and a mediocre 24-hour diner, a hotel should feel better than home. There are the classic ways the best properties provide a reset: handing you a cold towel on a humid day, serving you a welcome cocktail after a long flight, tidying up your room after your suitcase explodes. But the ones we’ve fallen in love with have given us fresh outlooks. They’ve taught us how to farm or helped us discover a love of archery; they’ve exposed us to impeccable design that made us think, I need better bookcases.
We traveled via plane, helicopter, car, boat, and horse (!) to select this inaugural class of Best New Hotels. We defined new to include places that have opened or gone through significant changes since early 2020. All of them are guaranteed to put you in that “This is the life” mindset long after you’ve checked out of your suite.
See you at the lobby bar. And maybe the hot tub?
It was worth the wait. Long delayed and highly anticipated, the Four Seasons finally opened late last year as an ultraluxe base for the northern, less visited yet more interesting part of Napa Valley. And you don’t even have to leave to indulge in a tasting—it’s on a working vineyard. Waking up early, walking among the vines, plucking grapes covered in dew, and then swimming invigorating laps in one of the enormous pools beneath the surrounding mountains are truly special moments for the core travel memory bank. Rooms from $1,200 —K. S.
When you ascend the road to Montage Healdsburg, you know you are still squarely in northern California: No Tuscany pretense here, as can be the norm in these parts. The modern glass- wood-and-steel bungalows, featuring cantilevered balconies equipped with fire pits, are situated among mossy oaks, eucalyptus trees, and, of course, grapevines. While Healdsburg has some of the best bars and restaurants in Sonoma, you might find it hard to leave the property, between the zero-edge pool, the archery range, and the restaurant’s own lively bar, where locals mingle with guests. There’s fun to be had, yet the rejuvenating serenity is inescapable at the end of the day. Rooms from $1,200 —K. S.
Maybe it’s the 4000 foot elevation. Maybe it’s the sparse, alien landscape. Maybe it’s the inherent weirdness of the high desert. Whatever the reason, the newest chapter of boutique hotel company AutoCamp just hits different than its other five locations. Roughly a ten minute drive from the national park entrance, this trippy assembly of modernized Airstreams has the feel of a summer camp. (Or Burning Man but with running water.) A beautiful quonset hut decorated with mid-century flourishes and locally sourced artwork pulls double duty as the lobby and lounge where you can stretch out after a day of hiking. Admittedly the desert heat can become brutish in the summer (the average temperature in July is 101 °F) but the newly installed pool can cool you off even as the mercury rises to absurd levels. When the sun sets and the temperature drops, there’s also a fire pit to gather around, an outdoor bar to order cocktails from, and live music to listen to. Is it easy to rent a private home in Joshua Tree? Absolutely. But it’s isolating. This is the spot where you can crack an IPA, roast a marshmallow, and captivate new friends with stories of a grumpy western diamondback you encountered on your morning run. Airstreams from $129—Daniel Dumas
Every Proper Hotel is design-forward, but vastly different from one another. While the San Francisco property features mid-century modern vibes from floor to ceiling, the latest location in Downtown Los Angeles feels as if you’re stepping into the home of your very cool, very stylish, very well-traveled, aunt. That might be because the decorated designer Kelly Wearstler is behind it all, preserving the walls within the tall 1920s brick-building landmark with murals commissioned by local artists and sourcing vintage furniture and rugs from all over the world, from Mexico to Morocco, Spain and Portugal, too. On the food front, Proper tapped local legend Suzanne Goin to lean into the latter half of these global influences with the ground floor restaurant Caldo Verde, but the Cara Cara rooftop bar is not to be missed—it’s covered with plenty of plants, a garden paradise in the sky, where you can feast on Piri Piri fried chicken and sip on Porto Tónicos with views to match. Rooms from $296—Omar Mamoon
Nestled on the Pacific Coast Highway, this collection of bungalows began life in 1949 as the Malibu Riviera Motel. After a 2019 overhaul, the original spirit of the Riviera was left intact, but many of the details have been upgraded. Luxurious amenities abound: Aesop products in the bathroom, hammocks on most of the private patios, morning coffee and muffins in the lobby. There’s even a heated pool and deck, a rarity for development-phobic Malibu. But the real draw here is the atmosphere. The June is an ideal mix of unfussy and posh, an escape where you can de-stress and decompress. Is it any wonder that Bob Dylan holed up in bungalow number 13 in 1974 to write Blood on the Tracks? Bungalows from $570 —D. D.
When the Waldorf Hotel first opened in LA’s Venice neighborhood in 1915 it quickly became a favorite of Hollywood royalty with stars like Charlie Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle. In the 60s it was popular with artists and musicians including The Doors. By the 70s it was a funky (yet falling apart) icon frequented by Dogtown skaters. Today, after a lengthy renovation by Lambert Investments and Relativity Architects, the site of the old Waldorf is now reborn as the Hotel V, a bohemian beachfront property that still retains its early 20th century glam but also doesn’t forget those freewheeling mid century years. The 30+ rooms are comfy and calm with ocean views, Aesop products, and Apple TVs. This is the kind of place where you could seal yourself off from the world and work on a novel or a screenplay for a few months. But it’s also pretty easy to step out. The V rents out bikes, umbrellas, and loungers if you want to head to the beach and soak up some sun and while there’s no onsite restaurant or bar (yet) you are walking distance to some of the best joints on LA’s westside in Venice and Abbot Kinney. It’s true that Venice can get a little raucous at night and the V has included soundproof glass in each of its rooms. Our advice? Keep the windows open and let the energetic sounds of the boardwalk — people chattering, skaters skating, surf crashing — lull you to sleep at night. Rooms from $289—D.D.
Many come to ski. I was enchanted by the hot tubs. There are two, fairly sized, that flank a vast outdoor heated pool, and in the winter and cooler spring evenings, they are a sublime way to take in the crisp, clean, sky-high air and the awe-inspiring jagged mountains. (They don’t call it Hell-U-Ride for nothing.) And while the Auberge Resorts Collection hotel could have easily rested on its prime ski-in, ski-out location and detail- oriented service, it recently went through a vibrant classic-Alps-meets-Colorado-chic renovation. Hot tub not relaxing enough? Check into the Recovery Ski Lounge for some post-workout therapies that will get you back on the slopes. Rooms from $1,500 —K. S
So much has changed, and we are filled with nostalgia. Nostalgia for a simpler time and place, with the ordinary rituals of life. Here is the good news: There is such a place. A place where those rituals, which seemed such trouble then, have taken on the tone of ceremony. I am talking, of course, about airport security.
Come travel with me, and share that old-timey feeling of removing your shoes, your belt, your watch in a sweet Bush-era striptease! Has it changed? As someone who has traveled extensively during the pandemic, I can report: It has not. While some terminals have “simplified” the process—with upgraded lines—smaller airports still offer the “classic” service. The best part is, you never know which one! San Francisco? Big boots, no problem. Frankfurt? Get ready to unlace. Missoula? Wear your flip-flops. (Extra tip: No airport lets you carry a diet Fanta.) I have, however, learned some tips. First, I always dress like a James Bond villain. I know most of you wear sweatpants for international travel (I know because I see you), but I think this gets you swabbed for bomb material. It’s just too friendly. I find if I dress in black stretch leather and sunglasses, they let me slip right through, even though I look precisely like someone to swab for bomb material. I don’t know quite what it is, but they take one look at me and wave me ahead of the fumbling grandpa with the diet Fanta. Maybe they think I have to hurry to my lair to set up the lasers.
But sometimes you want to get the most out of the experience. If I’m feeling frisky, I like to bring a lot of travel-size creams and layer them all through my carry-on in a kind of lasagna. That way, when they make me unpack it, everything falls on the floor! Wearing two watches is a neat trick because it lets you go through the metal detector at least twice. Make sure to leave some wires coiled somewhere; I don’t know why, but it fouls everything up. And if you don’t have time to prepare, you can always go with the classic: Carry a diet Fanta.
I leave you with my favorite airport-security experience. On my way to Hawaii, I sent my ukulele through the X-ray, only to have the officer say, “Sir, we need you to play it for us.” I thought of how many ukulele concerts the man must have enjoyed over the years. But he insisted: “Can you play for security reasons?” I smiled. I said I didn’t know it, but if he could hum a few bars. . . .
If you ever wanted to live out a bucolic English country-side fantasy without hopping the Atlantic, head to Auberge’s Mayflower Inn. Stroll around the property and you’ll come across the occasional fire pit with deck chairs, manicured gardens, and wooded trails where you may spot an albino deer. The Well has revamped the spa here, creating a place to lounge for a long day, bouncing between the jungle-like hot tub, to the indoor pool, to a cavernous relaxation room where you can dig into that novel you’ve been meaning to finish. The rooms, recently renovated by designer Celerie Kemble in tastefully maximalist style gives the resort a fun, vibrant energy. The main building has an eclectic collection of used books for purchase, a selection of wine throughout the day, a jewel box of a gift shop, and the perfect little English pub for that nightcap. Rooms from $639—K.S.
The architect Addison Mizner was a bon vivant, and his masterpiece, the Cloister at the Boca Raton, is proof. Open since 1926 and revitalized this past year, the Mediterranean-revival building is the heart of the resort, now home to a beach club, bungalows, and a yacht club. It’s a fabulous old-school haunt where you wander through hidden gardens, spot folks partying in a retro dining club, and grab a Gibson at the lobby bar with soaring beamed ceilings before making your way to the Flamingo Grill. There, pink-jacketed waiters make you believe you’re a power player even though you’re just on spring break. For all its history, the Boca Raton feels alive–a museum it is not. Rooms from $799 —K. S.
Española Way has had a touristy rep for quite some time, but the Esmé is almost singlehandedly trying to shake that off by tapping into the area’s roots as a bohemian artists enclave. The suites are all different, rich with a breezy, art-deco-slash- Mediterranean aesthetic, and the eating and drinking options here make the block a veritable destination. The innovative El Salón bar blends all of its spirits to produce some next-level classics, and Tropezón will make you feel that a good gin and tonic and a tortilla Española are what Miami Beach has been missing. Rooms from $495 —K. S.
This article appeared in the APRIL/MAY 2022 issue of Esquire
It’s about the details at this intimate hotel. No generic art here. Everything from the lobby to what’s hanging in the water closets are originals. The heart of the building is the U-Shaped courtyard where there’s a small pool and a bar /restaurant Lola 41 keeps the drinks and snacks flowing throughout the day. The 1924 building has a soul to it, lovingly renovated to be the first White Elephant outpost outside of Nantucket. It’s like you’ce been invited to a low key party at a chic residence. The rooms are large and there’s only 32 of them, so the service has a very personable feel. While it’s not on the beach, the staff are at the ready to whisk you the two blocks in one of the hotel’s BMW 7 Series to set you up with umbrellas and chairs. Rooms from $270—K.S.
The tiny original port a cochère is intimate, small scale, elegant. You feel like perhaps you are in the wrong place. This couldn’t be a Four Seasons like you’ve been to in countless cities. It’s more like something in the Riviera. But you see the sign and the kind bellman and you know this is real. That grandeur gets bigger once you step up the coral steps and are hit with a beamed lobby and a tower where Hemingway rested his head. These are the original bits of the Surf Club from back in the day, where rum runners kept the bar hopping and Sinatra honeymooned. It is the heart of the operation…you eat at Lido, newly helmed by Michael White (luscious pastas, impeccable seafood) or at the Surf Club Restaurant from Thomas Keller (old-school grandeur). You drink at the majestic Lido bar, a breezy, see-and-be seen, Mediterranean style lounge with deft cocktails. The socializing here feels analog, a throwback. Brought back to life in 2017, they knew not to mess too much with a good thing. The rooms and the pools, however, are gloriously, elegantly modern. Clean, classic lines by architect Richard Meier. Warm yet minimalist interiors by Joseph Dierand. You can live out your high-rise living fantasies and your beach cabana ones at the same time. The Surf Club straddles the best of two eras simultaneously. It is not the glitzy, contemporary Miami you may be used to, and that is a good thing. You come here not to be in Miami, necessarily, but to be at the Surf Club…it’s a vibe, as they say. Rooms from $1,600—K.S.
The first thing most people ask upon hearing that I worked for a guidebook company is “Where?”—reasonably assuming that travel guides are written by people who go places. And I answer: “Absolutely nowhere.” In the spring of my freshman year of college, I worked for Let’s Go, the bible for the traveler on a budget. I sat in an air-conditioned office all summer and dicked around with Adobe FrameMaker. No one ever remembers that travel guides must be edited (and painstakingly typeset), but that’s what I did.
What I am never quite certain of is the extent to which anyone who recognizes the Let’s Go brand is aware of its connection to Harvard: I am sorry to tell you that the guides are entirely staffed, researched, written, and edited by Harvard students, mostly undergrads. The work had to take place during the part of the year when we weren’t all living in campus squalor and eating our meals off trays, a fact that is, on its face, preposterous. Who, after all, would trust a bunch of smart asses whose brains hadn’t fully congealed to run a publishing business, much less to give advice on where to stay in Liguria?
The truth is that the whole thing was aspirational: We produced the guidebooks we wished to use in the world. Sure, you could buy Lonely Planet or the Michelin Guides, but you might fall asleep on the Eurostar reading them. Let’s Go, on the other hand, was for us; therefore it was for you. We didn’t entirely know what the hell we were doing, but that was the point. Let’s Go convinced its readers they could pack a bag (take half the clothes and twice the cash), hop on a plane, land in the middle of a foreign country, and figure it out.
People go to Hawaii for a lot of different reasons. Some want to surf. Some want to learn how to scuba dive. Some want to marvel at the natural beauty of the islands, climb an extinct volcano, and see constellations from a dark sky site. Some want to go to luas and eat freshly caught fish after playing golf all day. And some just want to lie down on the beach, sip a Mai Tai, and hope their kids don’t bother them for a few precious hours. While there are indeed SOME places in Hawaii you can go to get a few of these things, the recently redesigned Ritz Carlton in Kapalua Maui is one of the few spots where you can experience pretty much all of them. Located on the western portion of the island, just a few miles north of Lahaina, the resort sits amid 54 acres of lush terrain with views of the Pacific Ocean and the neighboring island of Molokai. In the early spring humpback whales can often be seen on their migration routes to cooler waters in Alaska. The grounds, which have been experiencing refresh years in the making, feature a newly redesigned 10,000-square foot pool deck, a fresh lobby lanai, and updated fire pit rooms. Practically any activity is available: sunrise yoga, scuba, and surf lessons, horseback riding, and golf are easily accessible. The hotel is also one of six Ritz Carlton properties that features the Ambassadors of the Environment, a hands-on program developed by Jean-Michel Cousteau to teach young people about sustainability and the natural world. And in the event you run out of things to do on property, the Ritz is the ideal jumping off point for a day trip on the road to Hana or up the Haleakala observatory where, yep, you can experience the stars at a dark sky site. Rooms from $1,859—D.D.
The first thing you notice after strolling into the serene, minimalist lobby of Nobu’s Midwest outpost is the scent: an aroma of light yuzu lemon and ginger that delivers a Zen-like sense of calm even if there happens to be a category-four blizzard raging outside. The 115 rooms have the vibe of a luxury onsen with light-wood furnishings, heated floors, teak bathtubs (in select rooms), and gigantic windows that look out on Chi-Town’s West Loop neighborhood. Besides the sprawling namesake restaurant on the ground floor, there’s a rooftop bar, a sushi counter tucked into the mezzanine, and a forty-foot tranquility pool with a steam room. Doubles from $375 —D. D.
To truly appreciate the Pendry in Downtown Chicago, one needs to first view it from the outside: the massive 37-story landmark Art Deco style building stands out, even in a city renown for its architecture. Head to Chateau Carbide for a closer look at the tower up top–Bold gold leaf trim, polished black granite, and dark green terracotta tones could signal opulence or indulgence (it’s said the building was designed to resemble a champagne bottle when it was built back in 1929). The insides echo similarly: from the black and white marbled lobby floor to the intricately designed elevator doors, the Pendry in Chicago feels classy and polished. Bonus: it’s located within walking distance to The Bean, which if you’ve never been is obligatory, at least for the good ‘ole ‘gram. Rooms from $275. —O.M.
Yes, there’s the French Quarter. But to experience a more laid-back, less touristy, as-slow-as-a-Sazerac New Orleans among old oak trees, genuine dive bars, and new indie shops, head to the Lower Garden District and make Saint Vincent your home base. The stately brick building, a former nineteenth-century orphanage, has been reimagined as a destination with the type of venues—Austin transplant Elizabeth Street Café, the compact yet splashy Italian Riviera–esque bar and restaurant duo San Lorenzo and Paradise Lounge—that are see-and-be-seen destinations in and of themselves. But really, get a room. Each is an inspired blend of psychedelic and art-deco decor—you don’t see that every day—plus guests get access to the nook-heavy Chapel Bar. Rooms from $329 —K. S.
Rome shimmers in the July heat. You are fifty- three—a father since you were nineteen. Some friends have toddlers; yours are off to grad school.
For thirty years you dreamed of this trip but had neither the money nor the time. And now? Four countries in two weeks have you wrung out. The Berlin airlift was easier than getting your wife, three kids, and a son-in-law to Europe. Tonight, the family plops down at a sidewalk six-top outside a busy trattoria. Baskets of hot bread appear, chilled Primitivo. Toasts are made, and when you glance at your pretty Italian American wife, she is weeping.
Suddenly, it’s all worth it. And not just the trip.
This reverie repeats every day at cocktail hour: Aperol spritzes in front of misting fans in the boiling Piazza di Santa Maria; martinis after your wife is “slut shamed” for going sleeveless at the Vatican; negronis in a bar built into the Janiculum Hill, where you play foosball (goooaaaal!) and your earnest son seeks drinking advice from his older sisters. (He leans limoncello.)
On the last night, it is a wistful bottle of Barolo on the rooftop of the old convent where you’re staying. Rome spills out before you: bell towers and tile roofs, terra-cotta walls. When the moon rises, no one speaks. The silence is exquisite.
Maybe they’re wrong, the evolutionary biologists who insist we procreate to ensure the survival of our DNA. Maybe it’s this: to grow the people you most want to have a drink with, the ones who know to be quiet for this wine-soaked moment of joy.
Yearning for a spot far from the madding crowd where you can indulge in the great outdoors, sleep on 160-GSM sheets, and enjoy a Michelin- worthy meal? There’s no better bet than the Green O. Each of the dozen modern units (dubbed “hauses”) features a massive floor plan, Sonos sound system, gas fireplace, and private hot tub. The nucleus of the hotel is the Social Haus, a sort of restaurant-slash-gathering- place where executive chef Brandon Cunningham whips up intensely creative seasonal fare. (Opt in on the tasting menu.) In winter months, you might snowshoe, go horseback riding, or learn the basics of dogsledding. Warmer weather might have you fly-fishing, mountain biking, or shooting skeet. Thankfully, the spa is open all year round. Units from $2,005 —D.D.
One of the best parts of staying at the Aria’s newly redesigned Sky Suites begins before you check in. Upon arriving at Harry Reid International Airport (or maybe North Las Vegas Airport if you flew private) a driver scoops you up at baggage claim and brings you to the hotel in a Cadillac limo. Now before you gag at the idea of the words “limo” and “Vegas” realize these are classy rides that are more presidential motorcade than woo-woo bachelorette party. After rolling in via a private entrance you’re checked in by a concierge dedicated exclusively to Sky Suite guests and then ushered into one of the 420 (heh) suites that are massive – even for Vegas standards — with sizes typically ranging between 1000 and 1630 square feet. The mid century inspired rooms are all tastefully decorated with neutral colors which is the perfect antidote to the neon glow sensory blitzkrieg that is every single casino, bar, restaurant and show in Vegas. Speaking of which, if you are interested in getting into a hot-as-hell bar, restaurant, show (or just sit at the high roller’s table) a quick call to the concierge can help make it happen. Our recommendation? Get a spa treatment set up ASAP. Vegas is a place that naturally defaults to excess, you have a good time but you feel thrashed, broke, and hungover afterwards. But a stay at the Sky Suites pulls off a truly jaw dropping magic trick: it leaves you feeling more refreshed than when you arrived. Rooms from $1,000—D.D.
As with many Aces around the globe, the Brooklyn outpost is very much about building a cool community hangout the only way the Ace can. The purpose-built brutalist structure of concrete and wood is home to a lobby with a buzzing bar anchoring all of the loungy furniture, where folks Zoom on laptops by day and old-fashioneds are being stirred come nightfall. Each month features different DJs spinning soul, and the Atrium on the second floor often hosts poetry readings and film screenings. The woodshop-chic rooms aren’t bad, either. Doubles from $199 —O.M.
Website description: landscape hotel. Translation: You will be staring into the woods a lot from your modern, Scandi-style box-on-stilts cabin with floor-to-ceiling windows, your body wrapped in an unbleached cotton robe reminiscent of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s. How long can one stare into the woods, you might ask? Long enough to spot chipmunks or get a visit from an owl. You will ask yourself: Should I write a poem about the wind? Built on a former bluestone quarry that was once Mohican land, Piaule’s minimal yet warm design produces maximum calm. Your trip will be incomplete if you don’t shuffle in your slippers through the spa to a hot tub with one side open to the elements and the mountain across the valley below. When you are done gazing at the wilderness, venture upstairs to the restaurant/bar/lobby and switch to pondering the intricacies of a local gin. Cabins from $395 —K. S.
Welcome to la dolce vita, a place where Loro Piana cashmere lines the walls of your presidential suite, where custom scents fill the air, where fireplaces roar and Bellinis are handed out by waiters in white jackets. The first of several membership clubs/boutique hotels planned by Italian hospitality’s best-known ambassadors, Casa Cipriani—located on South Street in Lower Manhattan—has had glitzy New Yorkers jockeying for access ever since it opened last year. The pitch was a gamble (there’s a dress code, and prices are astronomical), but after two years of sweatpants and remote offices, it turns out that a lot of luxury feels just right. Doubles from $800 —Madison Vain
Beyond the modern extension of Penn Station, you’ll come across an undulating tower seemingly conjured out of nowhere in an area that was, just a few years ago, a kind of no-man’s-land. For the trek across Ninth Avenue, the Pendry epitomizes Cali-luxe: plush, earth-toned rooms where curved windows create nooks to dwell in and admire the new urban vista. Downstairs, it’s time for a mini bar crawl. Bar Pendry is a gold-leaf-adorned jewel box for a more clandestine drink, and Chez Zou is like a belle epoque garden complete with deft cocktails and a secret cheeseburger. Rooms from $725 —K. S.
Visiting an art museum belongs on most itineraries. Going to Barcelona? Hit up the Picasso museum. Pittsburgh? Andy Warhol. New York? Take your pick. Paris? Duh. Too frequently, however, you’ve only got a couple days in a city. Between the restaurants, bars, and shopping, who’s got time for an art museum—unless the art is right outside your hotel room door. During a 24-hour trip to Chicago, my wife and I stayed at the 21c Museum Hotel, which features seven galleries on two lobby floors. The purpose of the trip was to spend a night away from our kids, but on our way to dinner we spent 10 minutes perusing one of the galleries. The next morning, we took our coffee with a side of paintings and sculpture. Sure, we could’ve seen more art and spent more time away from our kids, but for such a quick trip, we left feeling very rejuvenated and a little cultured. The next time we visit Chicago we’ll take the kids to the Art Institute.
If any American city is truly exploding with new hotels, it’s Charleston. (You’ll find three on this list alone!) Emeline is the oldest of the bunch we feature, having opened in 2020, but the sheen hasn’t worn off. Unlike many of its neighbors, the rooms and lobby favor rich velvets and dark woods, and each area has its own distinct soundtrack. She is a noble lady, certainly, but there’s nothing stuffy about the 212-room property. Staying and relaxing, instead, are highly encourage—in Clerks Coffee Shop in the morning, the open-air courtyard all day, or the indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar, Frannie & the Fox all night. You never need to leave, and with surroundings such as these, you won’t want to. Rooms from $559—M.V.
If we lived in a perfect world, I would own a house with a foyer as bright and big and welcoming as the lobby of the Loutrel, a newly opened boutique hotel in downtown Charleston. A massive daybed-style porch swing right inside? Big clear windows? Amazing drapes? A custom scent wafting through the air? Absolutely all on my bingo card. The world, as it so loves to remind us, is not perfect, and such a home is almost certainly not in my future. This reality is placated only by the fact that I can—and will—return to 50-room property just a few blocks off buzzy King and Market. Rooms are airy and spacious, the bar buzzes, and an all day lounge with complimentary drinks and snacks seals the deal. Need more? Okay, fine, there’s also a rooftop lounge! From $429—M.V.
Charleston is a city with a great many great things. Lively oyster bars. Pastel- hued townhouses. Harbor views. If it ever lacked much at all, really, it was perhaps quirkiness. That changed in the spring of 2021, when the Ryder hotel opened its doors. Vibrant and eclectic—the ninety-one-room property takes its name from Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums hero, Japhy Ryder—this is no quiet, traditional southern outpost. Here the lobby is small but bright, the rooms spacious and welcoming, and the location unmatched. But Little Palm, the poolside bar and restaurant, is the main reason you come back. The indoor/outdoor craft-cocktail haven isn’t just hopping nightly—it’s the talk of the town. Doubles from $299 —M. V.
You know exactly what I’m talking about. You walk into a hotel lobby and take in the impressively high ceilings. You make some judgments about the decor, the mood. And then you spot the carafe of cucumber water. It’s not water with lemon wedges in it; that would be obvious. Lemon water is something your grandmother drank, and while you recognize its refreshing advantage, it’s a little hacky. Overdone. No, no, this is cucumber water.
The moment you see it is the moment everything changes. The bumpy flight, the taxi ride—none of that exists. The thrill of hotel luxury and aspirational living overcomes you. In nonhotel life, you can’t remember ever drinking cucumber water. Who among us has sliced cucumbers and placed them in water? Literally nobody. And yet: Your posture is a little straighter, your gait a little lighter as you approach the cucumber water like a scion of some now-defunct monarchy. Dissociated from regular life, with its shitty tap water, you act like—no, you feel like—a cucumber- water-drinking person.
If we were to re-envision society, Jay-Z would declare that after the show is the after-party, and after the after-party is the hotel lobby, because that’s where you get the CW and therefore sophistication. Opulence and flavonoids in equal measure! A full-scale transformation into a utopian, hydrated self!
It’s weird: When you get back home, never once will you say to yourself, “I think I’ll put cucumbers in water and see if it makes me feel luxurious.”
During the mid-twentieth century, the fifty-two-story First National Bank Tower in Dallas was home to sleazy tycoons. But by 2010, the tower was mostly empty. With a recent $450 million renovation, it was reborn, dazzling like Lazarus. Floors ten through twenty form the new, 219-room Thompson Dallas—the kind of place that has an outdoor pool with a neato window on the side to look into. The hotel is also home to one of the best bars in the state (Catbird). And this might be a small thing, but the toiletries are D. S.& Durgha’s Bowmakers, an impossible-to-get fragrance (I tried for months) that smells of a violin workshop and alone warrants the trip to Dallas. Rooms from $650 —Joshua David Stein
What was once the Riggs National Bank is now a hotel that has Romenesque Revival grandeur of high ceilings and Cornithian columns with the quirky details of a Wes Anderson set. The front desk resembles the original bank teller area with a wall of tasseled keys, rooms have mini bars that resemble ornate safes, and the entrance to the original bank vault is now the Silver Lyan, a dark, nook-filled bar with high-wire act cocktails. Many of the suites are inspired by first ladies and have their own distinct feel. To step further into history, just cross the street to the National Portrait Gallery. Rooms from $449—K.S.
You have to admire a place where the main architectural structure, a mini tower, artfully rusted, perforated with geometric shapes, is the resort’s tequila and mezcal bar. The goal here is not partying though; it’s appreciation for the beach, the land, the food and drink, and plenty of relaxation. The villas have floor to ceiling glass sliding walls that open everything to sound of crashing ocean waves and your own private pool. Dramatically set among the hills overlooking the sea, you realize how intimate the space is. A pool, a beach bar, a handful of restaurants, couches set up near the beach to watch the sunset. This is not one of those mega resorts. The spa has it’s own relaxing pool and should you get a massage, opt for the sound bath–it’s the perfect reset that will make you forget about any unanswered emails or delayed flights. Rooms from $1,289—K.S.
The pro move is to text your butler to fill up your tub when your entree arrives at dinner, I was told. A boat took me along the lagoon to my sprawling suite/mini villa. While my butler made me a mezcal cocktail, I went to check out the tub. It was not as big as the personal plunge pool outside but it definitely felt as though it was more pool than tub. I understood the advice. And from there you will discover that this Rosewood has a way of making you feel like you’ve entered this next stratosphere of vacationing, of life. This is a luxurious relaxation destination, where you can get around on bike, and there are wellness suites with dedicated meditation spaces, but it’s very much a culinary destination, which is a rarity for a resort of this scale. Zapote Bar has next level cocktails, you will get very proper tacos and grilled fish at Aqui mi Quedo. You will want to stay longer. You will want to rethink your priorities. Suites from $948—K.S.
A six-bedroom retreat in Mexico City, Octavia Casa takes the concept of boutique lodging and turns the dial up to 10. The space, located in the stylish Condesa neighborhood, is awash in neutrals and soft textiles, offering guests a highly-curated sense of calm in an otherwise electric city. Rooms are sizeable, and while the showers and sinks/toilets are curiously split between two sides of each room, the finishes are impressive. While very much a lodging that attracts a guest who gets up and gets out exploring, the communal roof is a pleasant place to meet the other guests for a morning coffee or afternoon drink. There’s no full service restaurant, but an honor system bar greets you in the lobby each afternoon—you just write down whatever you took—and a delightful breakfast spread breaks each day. Rooms from $300—M.V.
You just can’t beat the view, though the luxurious spa, sprawling art-deco- inspired bar and lounge, and stately Mediterranean-influenced restaurant certainly try. Soaring fifty-eight stories above Paseo de la Reforma, right where the high-end avenue forms a seam with the Bosque de Chapultepec (a green area twice the size of New York’s Central Park), one of the newest Ritz-Carlton properties is a towering visual achievement, revealed every morning as the curtains are pulled back on each suite’s floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s impressive but not anodyne—an immediately friendly staff and a nightly sunset toast with complimentary house drinks make sure of it. Doubles from $395 —M.V.
This is not the Cabo you think it is. Located down a dirt road past a farming village, Paradero is about an hour from the sprawling resorts this tip of Mexico has become known for, but out here, the vibe is a mix of desert, agrarian, surf, and well-being. The architecture is practically Martian, brutalist concrete buildings housing forty-one suites, some containing nets on the roof designed for a reclining star-gaze, and a shockingly great restaurant serving creative Mexican cuisine. But it’s all about the cultivated experiences–guided hikes, a taco tour, temescal healing rituals. You’ll leave feeling you’ve communed with this little patch of the planet. Rooms from $550 —K. S.
With all due respect to the Bangles, Monday does not have to be manic. Capitalism decrees that weekends are meant to serve as our collective days of rest, but I’ve found that the real rest takes place when everyone else is crawling back to work. Not long ago, seeking refuge from twin toddlers and work-from-home monotony, I booked a room for a Monday night at the Rivertown Lodge in the Hudson Valley. As soon as I checked in and savored the afternoon stillness, I knew I’d made a good decision. I worked for several hours, then I blissed out during a solo dinner at the tavern. Chef Efrén Hernández makes a dish of shaved raw Brussels sprouts crowned with a thin sheet of foie gras. I slowed down and pondered each bite like a monk practicing mindful eating. Then I slept very deeply. I awoke feeling like a new man. Adios, Friday. With all due respect to the Cure, it’s Monday, I’m in love.
“Smell that? Barbecue and the sea—to me, that is the smell of Anguilla,” one of the super-kind staffers told me as we passed the wood-fired grill. The Aurora Anguilla takes food seriously; it has the island’s only hydroponic garden for its multiple restaurants, staffed by former members of the Eleven Madison Park team. But golf nuts come for the Greg Norman–designed eighteen-hole course. (A nine-hole course will be completed soon.) The newly renovated beach suites give off a luxe Santorini-meets-the-Caribbean vibe, and the massive villas come with private pools steps from the beach, with enough room that you might even want to invite the in-laws, too. Rooms from $1,000 —K. S.
One of the first hotels that helped put Anguilla on the luxury trail back in 1984, this gem of a property was purchased by California-based Auberge in 2014 and recently went through significant renovations. The location on a rocky cliff overlooking Meads Bay between two beaches with powdery perfect sand, and practically no people is awe inspiring. The rooms have a genuine Caribbean energy. You genuinely feel like you’re in Anguilla here and not some anonymous island resort that could be anywhere. The food here is surprisingly great—especially at Leon’s the beach shack. And should you be here for one of the chef takeovers–J.J. Johnson did one recently and Nina Compton is doing one soon—you’ll be in for a very good time.—K.S.
A luxury hotel that’s been the vacation destination for everyone from The Queen of England to US Presidents and even Jackie O has just completed a major renovation with the newly “Eclipse” section of the hotel. Each luxury suite looks towards the ocean and includes a huge terrace, a bathroom bigger than most bedrooms and a massive airy main room with killer views, populated with modern Jamaican art and plush furniture.
Dotted along the shoreline in front of the suites are individual private beaches. It’s a luxury playground for grownups with an incredible spa, an Olympic swimming pool, tennis courts, golf, yoga and horse-riding as well as a sizeable gym. Our favorite bar is the Cedar Bar at Founders Cove, the original part of the hotel, where you watch the sun set slowly with a perfect rum cocktail in hand as Kings and Queens have been doing since the hotel opened its doors. Rooms from $545—Dorenna Newton
If you ever find yourself with a terminal diagnosis and a 401(k) you need to spend down in a hurry, go to St. Barts and stay at the Rosewood. Ever since Hurricane Irma wiped out much of the island’s infrastructure in 2017, the famously over-the-top hotels have been on a frantic rebuilding mission, often with environmentally unfriendly results that the locals don’t love. But it’s impossible not to hand it to the Rosewood’s gorgeous renovation for its nods to traditional island architecture, a spa that features a quartz (!) massage table, and two private beaches. The Beach House restaurant serves up inventive Mediterranean dishes (don’t miss the sardines on toast) that will come as a welcome change from the sea of indistinguishable mahi-mahi preparations on offer everywhere else on the island. The pool is infinity, the “kids club” is luxe, and seemingly everything is made of teak. Doubles from $2,035 —Kelly Stout
To understand the mission of the 1 Hotel, you just need to look around. A local woodworking studio has transformed fallen Toronto trees into one-of-a-kind pieces throughout the hotel, engraved with their source location. There is a garden that supplies herbs and crops to the property’s restaurants, and even the coffee-machine instructions are printed on napkins. But it’s not all greenery and reflection—there is a stylish rooftop lounge and pool overlooking the city. The rooms are spacious, comfortable, and calming even when the popular lobby bar downstairs is at full tilt. Doubles from $360 —Lauren Kranc
The Drake is a Toronto institution. It is not owned by or affiliated with the rapper Drake, another hometown hero, and in fact, the hotel predated his fame. But what is new is its Modern Wing, which was opened in early 2022. With a bright, stylish design, stay here if you’re looking for a good time—The Drake is home to two bars, a restaurant, a rooftop lounge, and a basement club with live music, after all. This place skews hip and lively, so don’t come expecting a spa day. But if you’re looking to experience the best of Toronto’s art, culture, and food scene, The Drake’s location and energy can’t be beat. Rooms from $400—L.K.