- 1 The NoMad Los Angeles
- 2 The Siren Hotel, Detroit
- 3 Fontenay Hamburg, Germany
- 4 The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland
- 5 The Middle House, Shanghai
- 6 Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island
- 7 Freehand New York
- 8 LINE Austin
- 9 The Retreat by Heaven, Rwanda
- 10 Arctic Bath Sweden
- 11 Shipwreck Lodge, Namibia
11 Hot Hotels We’re Still Obsessing Over
From Rwanda's first-ever luxury boutique to a remote wellness escape in Iceland, this is where to book your next vacation.
The NoMad Los Angeles
It took nearly three years for chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara—the genius duo behind New York’s Eleven Madison Park and the NoMad Hotel—to make the jump to the opposite coast. The wait, however, has proven to be well worth it. The renaissance of once-derelict downtown L.A. has been confirmed by the opening of the NoMad Los Angeles, inside a landmark 1922 former bank. Remnants of the past remain (Corinthian columns and a blue-and-gold coffered ceiling in the neoclassical lobby, for example) but the 241 guest rooms are all new, courtesy of maximalist designer Jacques Garcia, who added Fortuny lamps and velvet upholstery. Expect the food offerings to be on par with its Manhattan counterpart: along with an atmospheric library, there are two fine dining restaurants, an all-day café, and a rooftop pool and bar—all of which share bathrooms housed in the original bank vault.
The Siren Hotel, Detroit
Yet another sign of Detroit’s reemergence: The Siren Hotel, which has given the formerly abandoned 1920s Wurlitzer building a second chance at life. If you loved what Brooklyn design firm ASH NYC did for The Dean, in Providence, you’ll love their second venture: 106 guest rooms combine the city’s industrial past with its stylish present (think timber floors, original terra cotta signs, and angular retro furniture), while six separate food and drink outlets signal this is a more than just your average hotel—it’s a rarefied meeting point. Along with a florist and barber shop, you’ll find a 14th-floor rooftop bar with views of Canada and the Detroit River, a cocktail lounge serving stiff drinks, and an eight-seat counter whose tasting menu was put together by James Beard-nominated chef Garrett Lipar. Not enough distraction to get you through check-out? Woodward Avenue’s shops and Comerica Park (home of the Tigers) are just steps away.
Fontenay Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg, a hip port city in northern Germany, has recently become something of an architectural playground. On the shores of Lake Alster, local architect Jan Störmer conceived the Fontenay, a 130-room hotel whose unique undulating façade opens into an 89-foot-tall atrium that's meant to evoke the fluidness of water and its surrounding parkland. Interiors also bring the outdoors in: floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lake let in tons of natural light and soothing palettes of blue, turquoise, and beige are offset by luxurious details like House of the Tai Ping rugs and original paintings by Peruvian artist Antonio Maro. After dropping your bags, head to the spa for a rejuvenating treatment in the Finnish sauna, then tuck into classic German fare at chef Stefan Wilke’s Parkview restaurant before concluding with drinks on the bar terrace.
The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland
It seems like an eternity since it was first announced, but Iceland’s greatest attraction can finally call itself home to the country's most luxurious hotel. The ethereal wellness escape that is The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland embodies everything we love about its home country. Its 62 suites are as Scandinavian and tranquil as they come, with sleek Nordic furniture and wood-paneled walls. The views from the floor-to-ceiling windows and terraces of the bluer-than-blue lagoon and surrounding 800-year-old lava field are staggering. And, if you book the right room, you’ll have direct access to your own private section of the water. For the full experience, book a treatment at the subterranean Retreat Spa (where silica and algae are key ingredients), followed by the seven-course dinner at Moss Restaurant where Icelandic cuisine is the star.
The Middle House, Shanghai
Swire Hotels has added another “House” to its repertoire, this time in urban Shanghai. Like sister properties The Temple House in Chengdu and The Opposite House in Beijing, The Middle House is a vision of contemporary-meets-locally-inspired design. For Italian architect Piero Lissoni, that meant adding Shanghainese details (translucent screens, silk panels, original Chinese art) to his signature aesthetic (muted hues, streamlined furniture, white linens). Yet, despite being within spitting distance of the skyscraper-filled financial district Jing’an, the hotel feels worlds away. The Lab Mixun Spa includes a yoga studio, juice bar, and indoor heated pool; Café Gray Deluxe serves up Euro-Asian cuisine on a garden terrace; and the surrounding neighborhood, Dazhongli, is like a time machine, home to some of Shanghai’s last-surviving shikumen (lanehouses).
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island
As if the original Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, a swath of villas and residences on a forested hillside overlooking a public beach on Mahé, wasn't beautiful enough, the brand decided to debut a paradise far more intimate on its own island. Just 40 breezy open-plan beach bungalows line the sands of remote Desroches, each with their own private plunge pools, indoor-outdoor showers, and uninhibited access to beaches, coconut groves, an offshore reef, and sandy trails that guests have all to themselves. There are two onsite restaurants—one serving French-Italian fare; the other seafood—as well as a spa and water sports like scuba diving and kayaking. Still interested in a change of scenery? The sister property is just a 35-minute flight away.
Freehand New York
Style, substance, and affordability (you heard us!) are the calling cards of New York's Freehand Hotel, whose flexible room layouts (including standard queens and “Three’s Company” rooms with an added bunk) mean every kind of traveler will find their niche. Original building details like terrazzo floors and millwork in the lobby add a dose of nostalgia, while other design touches are more “modern” (framed vintage editions of The New Yorker; original wall and ceiling murals by Bard College students; green-tiled bathrooms with Asian-esque wood paneling). There’s also a mezzanine-level lounge that’s fast become a neighborhood hangout, the already-acclaimed restaurant Simon & The Whale, and up on the roof, The Broken Shaker—one of the hottest bars in town.
Austin continues to welcome a wave of new hotels, but none so stylish as the Line Austin, a quick follow-up to the Line DC. A top-to-toe redo of the 1965 mid-century landmark formerly known as the Crest Inn included expanding guest rooms, which all feature views of the city or Lady Bird Lake and bring the outside in with their topographical headboards and Texas history books. The restaurant, run by Top Chef winner Kristen Kish, dishes out ingredient-driven dishes inspired by her childhood and travels (burrata in a cucumber and olive oil broth; crispy chicken with rice porridge and maitake mushroom) and craft cocktails. Also not to miss: the hotel’s rooftop bar and live music shows, lobby pool, and monthly yoga in the ballroom.
The Retreat by Heaven, Rwanda
One&Only’s much-anticipated Nyungwe House and Gorilla’s Nest (two luxurious follow-ups to Wilderness Safaris’ Bisate Lodge) continue to up the luxury quotient of one of Africa’s most prized safari experiences—a gorilla trek through the rainforests of Rwanda. Guests must fly into the capital of Kigali first, however, where the only sensible lodging option for decades was the four-star Hôtel des Mille Collines. All that's changed thanks to The Retreat by Heaven, the city’s first-ever luxury boutique hotel built by American expats Josh and Alissa Ruxin (who also happen to run acclaimed international restaurant Heaven right next door). Each of the 11 rooms has been stylishly designed with stacked stone walls and peaked roofs and comes with an indoor and outdoor shower and private terrace. There’s also a gym, salt-water pool, spa, small farm-to-table restaurant, and a team dedicated to arranging whatever cultural immersion you desire, be it a craft workshop or on-site dance performance.
Arctic Bath Sweden
The minds behind Sweden’s now-famous Treehotel are at it again—except this time, they’ve traded the woods for a river. Arctic Bath, in Harads, Lapland, is unlike any hotel we’ve seen yet: local felled tree trunks are haphazardly arranged around a free-floating barge, which houses six cabins and a full-service spa (including four saunas, an outdoor bath, and dressing rooms). Come winter, the property freezes into place with the ice—which, frankly, might be the best time to visit anyway, when the sky becomes aglow with the northern lights.
Shipwreck Lodge, Namibia
As far as safari bragging rights go, it doesn't get more unique—or isolated—than northwestern Namibia's Skeleton Coast, whose harsh terrain of shifting dunes broken up by jagged granite mountains is home to desert-adapted lions, elephants, zebra, giraffe, and black rhino. There's lots to love about Natural Selection’s Hoanib Valley Camp, but we can't help but swoon over its adjacent Shipwreck Lodge, one of the most architecturally (and aesthetically) interesting hotels in Africa. Standalone cabins built from recycled wood resemble beached ships and are decked out with faux fur blankets, wood-burning stoves, and original Namibian artwork, though its those pristine views of the Atlantic Ocean from across the dunes you'll be committing to memory most. After 4x4 excursions to river deltas, dune climbs, and the nearby Mowe Bay seal colony, guests return for sundowners and dinner at the on-site restaurant's wraparound terrace.
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