Check into one of these properties on your next getaway
It’s hard to imagine a more challenging time to open a hotel than the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but over the past year hundreds of new properties swung their doors open. While it was anything but business as usual, these places offered oases for stressed-out parents, quarantining family members, and overloaded essential workers. Now, as we look optimistically forward, they’re providing vacation-planning inspiration for all kinds of travelers. From a renovated Swedish lighthouse to a Sonoran Desert stargazing hub, these 21 hotels await your arrival with open arms.
For Rainforest Explorers
Six Senses Botanique
Campos do Jordão, Brazil
The first Six Senses resort in the Americas can be found a two-and-a-half-hour drive or one-hour helicopter flight from São Paulo, in the Mantiqueira range, which so teems with springs and rivers that it’s often called “the mountains that weep.” The hotel embraces its tropical surroundings, using indigenous materials such as jacaranda wood, chocolate slate, and enormous river boulders. Guests can simply admire rainforest views from one of seven suites and 11 villas, but it’s by riding horses through the forest while watching for toucans or by going foraging with the restaurant’s sous chef that they’ll see how this place truly shines.
From $498, including breakfast, sixsenses.com
For Michael Jordan Stans
Graduate Chapel Hill
If bingeing The Last Dance was the high point of your 2020, plan a pilgrimage to the place where Air Jordan took off. Opened last August near the UNC campus, the college-themed hotel chain’s 23rd property (get it?) is brimming with references to the Tar Heel legend: backboard-inspired headboards, a lobby painting of MJ’s student ID, even a front desk modeled to look like the scoreboard when he sank the game-winning shot against Georgetown in the 1982 NCAA Championship game. While you can’t stay in Room 23, be sure to get a tour, as it’s an exact replica of Jordan’s Granville Towers dorm room, right down to the posters on the wall and the records on the shelf.
From $169, graduatehotels.com
For Wellness Warriors
If we’ve learned anything from this past year, it’s that self-care is not optional. Miraval has known this for a while—the brand’s logo looks like the letter “I” for a reason— and the wellness resort’s third outpost, which opened in July on 380 acres in the Berkshire Hills, is a godsend for those in need of a little me time. Available activities are alternately contemplative (sound bath meditation) and adventurous (a high-flying challenge course), and the spa is an oasis of calm offering treatments such as the full-body Hara Soother. Indoor pathways connect the 100 rooms and suites to everything, meaning you can wear your robe all day—even to dinner. The meals are included and manage to be indulgent and guilt-free at the same time. After all, guilt is strictly forbidden here. You deserve this.
From $669, miravalberkshires.com
For Happy Campers
Camp Sarika by Amangiri
Canyon Point, Utah
Glamping has become a buzzword for high-style outdoors experiences, but the English language needs a new portmanteau to describe the 10 penthouse-caliber tents at Amangiri’s sister property, a short drive or hike away from the original lodge in the Utah desert. (Penting? Luxploring?) When you’re not lounging inside your pavilion (the canvas top is made from upcycled plastic bottles), next to your firepit, or in your heated plunge pool, explore the surrounding 600 acres of slot canyons and mesas on foot, on horseback, or from the basket of a hot-air balloon.
From $3,500 including meals, aman.com
For Up-and-Coming Art Collectors
Newport, Rhode Island
Originally a stronghold of Gilded Age American royalty, the sailing-mad summer resort town of Newport gets a new kind of accommodation with this breezy, budget-friendly design hotel. Done up in a beachy palette of sandy beiges and cool Atlantic blues, the 197-room property is brimming with local art: Catherine Druken’s boldly colored paintings ring the lobby seating area; Mea Duke’s retro-inspired paintings of convertibles, tanlines, and beach chairs line the walls of the Nomi Park restaurant; and Sean W. Spellman’s hieroglyph-like squiggles crawl up the pool deck walls.
From $99, thewayfinderhotel.com
For Gardening Gourmets
The Pig at Harlyn Bay
Padstow, United Kingdom
Don’t let the elegant 15th-century manor house at the center of this Cornwall countryside retreat fool you: This is very much a come-as-you-are, muddy-boots-welcome, working farm. The spoils of that ethos are evident at the hotel restaurant, which utilizes its dozen acres of microseasonally planted gardens and its proximity to other fertile coastal farms to create the 25-Mile Menu, which includes such unexpected locally grown finds as chilis, tea, and saffron. Those who want to truly live the simple life can book one of four cozy garden wagons, standalone shepherds’ huts with outdoor showers.
From $216, thepighotel.com
For SoCal Sunbathers
Five minutes from the beach and LAX, this bargain-priced offshoot of the luxury Proper Hotels brand occupies a 1960s Mid-Century Modern landmark originally designed by Welton Becket, the architect behind the Capitol Records Building. Guest rooms have a Santorini-meets-Baja vibe, with whitewashed walls, potted cacti, and sisal carpets. Hungry? Enjoy sustainable seafood (think Santa Barbara uni tostadas and line-caught local rockfish ceviche) and agave-based cocktails on the Caravan Swim Club Restaurant terrace or on one of the teak loungers lining the pool.
From $179, thehoteljune.com
If you swooned over the crisp black-and-white cinematography in Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, you’ll love the work of one of Mexico’s most renowned photographers, Manuel Álvarez Bravo. The Centro Histórico house where Álvarez Bravo was born and spent his childhood has been remade into a boutique hotel by the Grupo Habita chain. Standing in stark contrast to the Baroque excess of its neighbor, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the 25-room hotel is a study in restraint, with Shaker-inspired furnishings and natural-toned Oaxacan textiles. Guests will find Álvarez Bravo’s photographs throughout, including the famous El ensueño (The Day Dream), which he shot in this building’s interior courtyard in 1931.
From $177, circulomexicano.com
For Rock ’n’ Rollers
Kimpton Armory Hotel
Built in 1941 to house National Guard members, Bozeman’s hulking Art Deco armory was reborn last August as a 122-room hotel, complete with a new nine-story tower that’s the city’s tallest building. The basement space where the military band practiced now hosts Tune Up, a whiskey bar serving rock-inspired cocktails (like the Rebel Yell and Edge of Seventeen), while the former stage is now the Armory Music Hall concert venue. Those who wish to jam on their own can take advantage of Kimpton’s Gibson partnership and borrow an acoustic guitar.
From $299, armoryhotelbzn.com
For Eco Adventurers
Paradero Todos Santos
Los Cabos, Mexico
About an hour’s drive from Los Cabos International Airport, this surf town eco-resort is blessed with a backyard so environmentally diverse it’s been named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Guests at the 35-suite all-inclusive resort can learn to surf or garden, go mountain biking along the bluffs above the Pacific, and even take a taco-tasting tour—all for one flat rate. When you’re not actively exploring, relax at the palm-shaded Ojo de Agua Spa or in the 100,000-square-foot botanical garden, which is filled with 80 endemic desert species.
From $550, paraderohotels.com
For Forest Bathers
Les Sources de Cheverny
Loire Valley, France
Grand Loire Valley estates tend toward the opulent, but this new escape, set in an 18th-century château surrounded by ancient forests that once served as royal hunting grounds, is rugged in all the best ways. Guest rooms and suites take up old farm buildings or wooden cabins done up in Scandinavian-inspired farmhouse furnishings and flea-market finds. The real treats, though, are the 110-acre grounds—grab a loaner bike or a pair of French-made Aigle rubber boots to go exploring—and the spa, which uses winemaking byproducts, such as grape seeds and stems, in its treatments.
From $537, two nights, double occupancy, sources-cheverny.com
For Design Enthusiasts
Casa Na Terra
Think of this underground retreat in Portugal’s burgeoning Alentejo region as a Modernist Hobbit hole. The brainchild of architect Manuel Aires Mateus sits underneath a verdant hillside 115 miles east of Lisbon, near the Spanish border, within walking distance of both the village of Monsaraz and Western Europe’s largest artificial lake. The cave-like concrete of the three bedrooms and common areas showcase the property’s chic design elements: lighting by Flos, chairs by Branca Lisboa, and a theatrical skylight that calls to mind the art of James Turrell.
From $425, silentliving.pt
“Nightlife” takes on a different meaning at the first Autograph Collection resort to be located within a Dark Sky Community. Hidden away in the Sonoran Desert, with views of the Four Peaks and McDowell Mountain Range, the 177-room property hosts nightly stargazing parties to take advantage of its lack of light pollution. With the help of high-definition telescopes, you’ll be able to see deep into the galaxy. If you catch a shooting star, celebrate at the restaurant Cielo (Spanish for “sky”) with a Dark Sky cocktail, made with jalapeño tequila, lime, peach liqueur, prickly pear, and cucumber.
From $239, aderoscottsdale.com
For Architecture Geeks
Ace Hotel Kyoto
The first Asian outpost of the U.S.-based hipster favorite combines the works of two seminal Japanese architects. The hotel combines Tetsuro Yoshida’s 1926 Modernist Kyoto Central Telephone Office and a fresh building from Kengo Kuma, the man behind Tokyo’s new Olympic stadium. Throughout the interior, you’ll find playful nods to traditional design, including oversize paper lanterns, kimono-style robes, and timber ceilings reminiscent of Kyoto’s ancient temples. The property is also home to a taco spot, a wood-fired pizzeria, Japan’s first Stumptown Coffee, and a courtyard garden lined with boutiques and sculptures.
From $400, acehotel.com/kyoto
For History Buffs
Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa
Sticking out like a cherry atop a mound of whipped cream, the red-brick Palazzo Rosso has always been a head-turner in Puglia’s “white city” of Ostuni, a hilltop labyrinth of whitewashed facades and sun-bleached alleyways. This 17th-century palace was the home of the city’s first mayor, Don Paolo Tanzarella, who served as a major force in Italy’s unification efforts. Today, its cathedral-ceilinged rooms and suites contain a diverse collection of contemporary furnishings and period frescoes, while the property’s ancient cistern now houses a subterranean spa.
From $363, including breakfast, paragon700.com
Sonoma County, California
The latest Montage resort boasts all sorts of attractions—an 11,500-square-foot spa, hiking trails that connect to the Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve, a fine-dining restaurant, Hazel Hill, that flawlessly executes French-influenced California cuisine— but in vino veritas: You came to Sonoma County for the wine. To that end, the property worked with Jesse Katz, the rising star winemaker at nearby Aperture Cellars, to plant 15.5 acres of vineyard across the rolling hills of the property. Eventually, Katz will use the Bordeaux varietal grapes from those vines to make a private label wine that will be available to guests and residents. Until then, ask the concierge to set up a private tasting session at Aperture.
From $995, montagehotels.com
For Seclusion Seekers
The waters around the windswept Swedish island of Hamneskär are so treacherous that they often inspired sailors to say the Lord’s Prayer—which lent its name to the 1868 Pater Noster lighthouse, a beacon that guided boats to safety. Last year, Swedish design firm Stylt converted the lighthouse keepers’ quarters into a nine-room retreat. After arriving by boat or helicopter from Marstrand or Gothenburg, guests can partake in nautical activities such as deep-sea fishing, sailing, kayaking, and scuba diving.
From $600 per person, not including transportation, paternoster.se
For Urban Aesthetes
Four Seasons Madrid
It’s not often that a European capital gets a new grande dame hotel, but last September Madrid welcomed this five-star stunner, which occupies seven historic buildings on a flatiron-shaped block that calls to mind a wedge of tortilla española. Despite its elaborate period touches—carved elephant heads, green marble pillars, stained glass— the property exudes contemporary cool, thanks to more than 2,500 paintings, photographs, and sculptures by established and emerging Spanish artists. Also making art here is three-Michelin-starred chef Dani García, whose rooftop restaurant is an ode to Andalusian cuisine, serving dishes such as razor clams rice, suckling lamb shoulder, and Iberian pork skirt steak.
From $433, fourseasons.com
For Wannabe Gatsbys
Commodore Perry Estate
Built in 1928 by cotton broker Edgar Perry, this Italian Renaissance Revival mansion proved to be too much of a good thing: Perry sold the estate in 1944, calling it “a great place to throw a party, but too big to live in.” Last fall, Auberge Resorts Collection added a 49-room inn to the existing five-suite mansion, recapturing its Jazz Age conviviality with elaborate frescoes, 1920s-inspired bar carts, and decorations from the Round Top Antiques Fair. While this all may be reminiscent of The Great Gatsby, don’t be scared of the pool: Surrounded by carpet-like lawns and canary-yellow umbrellas, it’s a beauty.
From $583, aubergeresorts.com
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Back in the 1920s, in the early days of Kruger National Park, passenger trains would park overnight on the Selati Bridge, so that guests could awaken to a sunrise over the Sabie River the next morning. A century later, hoteliers permanently stationed a string of 1950s rail cars on the decommissioned bridge, transforming them into a luxury safari lodge that opened in December. While your all-inclusive stay comes with two game drives, you don’t have to go far to see wildlife: From a safe perch in the pool, you can often spot crocodiles, hippos, and elephants in the river 50 feet below.
From $550, including meals, beverages, and game drives, krugershalati.com
For Big-City Beach Bums
The Rockaway Hotel
Queens, New York
As the Ramones told us in 1977, Rockaway Beach is not far to reach—which is why it’s always been a great day-trip option for New Yorkers. But with the opening of the hipster-luxe Rockaway Hotel in September, there’s no reason to rush back to Manhattan. Just one block from the boardwalk and two from the ferry, this 53-room property seamlessly straddles the line between chic urban stay and laid-back beach escape, with a rooftop bar that’s prime for whale watching (seriously) while downing a Shark Bite cocktail, and a heated pool for when the Atlantic is too fierce. The space is imbued with NYC flavor, from the local art on the walls to a partnership with Locals Surf School to, yes, the Ramones photo books in the rooms.
From $300, therockawayhotel.com
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Next Up: Loire Valley Lodges’ Modern Treehouse Hotel Updates the French Country Retreat