Elisabeth King does the hard yards to find 10 of the world’s most luxurious new hotels.
More than 700 hotels have opened around the world, so selecting the pick of the bunch has been tougher than usual. But Men’s Style has bitten the decision-making bullet for a short list filled with adventure, high design, ultimate luxury and re-tweaked heritage.
London’s newest five star bolthole is in Holborn, not Mayfair. Used as a backdrop for the Val Kilmer version of The Saint and an episode of Dr Who, this neo-classical 1914 pile has listed status. The historic interior has been re-jigged by New York designer Tony Chi (Park Hyatt Moscow, Ritz-Carlton Singapore, etc) and antiques fill the public spaces and 242 rooms and 44 suites. Toiletries by Czech & Speake and retro-vintage bartenders sporting moustaches in Scarfes Bar add a pukka clubland feel. The Holborn Dining Room lures city suits for posh paddock-to-plate grub.
ION Luxury Adventure Hotel, Selfoss, Iceland
Icelandair and easyJet offer cheap airfares to Reykjavik from several UK cities. A small price to pay for spectacular natural scenery and the chance to mingle with great-looking people named Thor and Sif. A magnet for outdoorsmen, this eco-luxe hotel is a sleekly modern base for day trips to trout-filled rivers, hot springs, active volcanic areas, riding trails and Lake Pingvallavatn – to dive the continental seam where the tectonic plates of Eurasia and North America meet. Located specifically for viewing the Aurora Borealis from the Northern Lights bar and deck, organic toiletries, small touches like local craft beer and neon-bright sheepskin throws complete a totally Nordic experience.
Andaz Maui at Wailea
Inexpensive flights and a strong dollar have made Hawaii the new Bali. To get away from the madding crowd, head to this head-turner in Maui. Star designers Rockwell Group have re-configured the former Renaissance hotel with an Ambrato stone bridge entry, a wood-filled spa, an open air lobby with a sand pit and three infinity pools. Powdery Mokapu Beach and farm-to-table Hawaiian food deliver a fantasy island vacation.
Mira Moon Hotel, Hong Kong
Dutch design maestro Marcel Wanders considered every detail in this stunning Wanchai hotel inspired by the Chinese Moon Festival fairytale. Backlit jade rabbits, crystal-cut mirrors and staff dressed in hand-stitched Chinoiserie costumes mix and match for maximum eye appeal. The king rooms have freestanding tubs with views of the Hong Kong skyline, the mini bar is free and the Supergiant restaurant offers Chinese/Spanish fusion tapas.
Cheval Blanc Randheli, The Maldives
Fancy a spa located on its own island or a romantic dinner on a floating pontoon? Owned by LVMH, this sister hotel to the luxury goods group’s debut hotel in Courchevel also has its own cigar room. The 45 palatial villas (all with butlers), moonlight yoga classes and in-villa spa treatments offer the sort of simple decadence favoured by Russian oligarchs. Insider tip: book an over-water villa for Instagram images to make a saint die of envy.
L’Apogee, Courchevel, France
In 1891, Dr August Oetker discovered something more valuable than gold – baking powder. Today the German multinational that bears his name turns over $15.5 billion a year and owns the world’s most prestigious hotel group, The Oetker Collection, including Le Bristol in Paris and L’Apogee. Built at a cost of $143 million, the plush premises only operate during the ski season. The hotel’s skis are custom-made, the boutique sells watches costing half a million dollars and a conveyor belt brings guests back from the slopes. Discreet extravagance is the keynote and room rates begin at $1,285 per double.
Ace Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles
Some neighbourhoods have been poised on the cusp of next-hot-thing for so long you could die waiting. But downtown LA has finally made the grade with the opening of this spanking hotel in the Spanish Gothic 1920s-era United Artists Theater. The revamped performance space is as breathtaking as when silent star Mary Pickford trod the boards. Think Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Hipness begins with a record player in every room, vinyl records on the wall behind the check-in and original artworks by Mike Mills in the 183 high-ceilinged suites. Enjoy a craft brew or cocktail in the rooftop bar with views across the city of angels’ skyscrapers.
The Marlton, New York
A steal by NYC standards (from US$150 a night), this Greenwich Village baby grand fills the site of Marlton House where Jack Kerouac once spent nights carousing. The retro romance remains with wood-panelled walls, roaring fires, cosy rooms and attentive service. Owned by Sean MacPherson of BD Hotels (The Ludlow, The Jane etc), the Margaux restaurant lures non-guests with its spiffy Mediterranean menu. A block’s walk from Washington Square Park, it’s the whole SoHo box and dice with today’s gentrified vibe.
Point Yamu by COMO, Phuket
Total serenity in Phuket? Yes. Perched on the tip of Point Yamu overlooking Phang Nga Bay on the island’s much less developed east coast, this latest addition to the luxe COMO group has staff dressed in Calvin Klein uniforms, a Shambala retreat spa and a 100-metre pool. Aussie chef Dan Moran helms the kitchen at Nahmyaa restaurant and the hotel’s long-tail boat whisks you to a private club on Rang Yai island when the beach beckons. The 79 sleekly designed rooms all have tranquil sea views and spa bathrooms. Impeccable service and no loud bars or shops within walking distance.
Richard Branson’s Mahali Mzuri in Kenya has hogged the publicity. But this super-luxury camp overlooking the Luangwa River in Zambia is the most luxurious new camp in Africa. Designed by starchitects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, the six villas replace a barebones camp founded by conservationist Norman Carr. A swimming pool, plush bar and sophisticated menus elevate bush pampering to a new level. Watch hippos, elephants and more from the deep comfort of your own verandah in between game drives.