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It List 2016


Our annual list of the year's buzziest hotels highlights all-stars with a refreshing take on service and design, an uncharted location, or enough glitz and glamour to make a classic destination feel fresh again.

Published on Dec 7, 2016

 

1. THE SCENE MAKER l SOHO HOUSE
ISTANBUL

Hotels have been opening in Istanbul at quite a clip lately. But none captures the energy of the city quite like the Soho House in Beyoğlu, set in a cluster of buildings that includes the former American Embassy. The inlaid wood and gilded interiors had been hiding under drywall and white paint; now, they embellish a private club for members and hotel guests, with three restaurants, a speakeasystyle bar and a rooftop pool, where a glittering crowd smokes and airkisses into the night. The rooms, in a new structure across a pretty courtyard, impress on their own: warm, tactile cocoons of dark wood layered with beautiful textiles. Think of them as a necessary respite from the formidable chic next door, so close and yet so far. sohohouseistanbul.com; doubles from US$272.

Soho House
Tom Parker.

 

2. THE ZEN MASTER l PHUM BAITANG
SIEM REAP

Angkor Wat tops many a bucket list, but the crowds can make seeing the temple a frenetic experience. Siem Reap's latest resort, with 45 villas on stilts amid lemongrass fields and rice paddies, puts a serene, five-star spin on the area's traditional wooden farmhouses: each suite has an indoor and an outdoor sitting area, a deep soaking tub and panoramic forest views. Continue your cultural immersion with a coconut-milk massage at the sevenroom spa, modeled on the area's unesco-designated temples, or a crash course on Khmer cuisine at restaurant Bay Phsar. phumbaitang.com; doubles from US $463.

Phum Baitang
Courtesy of Phum Baitang.

 

3. THE INDIE DARLING l HOTEL EMMA
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

Some are calling San Antonio Texas's next capital of cool—and Hotel Emma is at the center of it all. A brewery turned hotel sounds like a hipster cliché, but this showstopper advances the industrial-chic aesthetic. Its 146 character-packed rooms have original stonework and vaulted ceilings, along with an urban edge (exposed steel window frames). The Emma also fits in with its epicurean neighbors: the on-site larder stocks breads from nearby Bakery Lorraine, the restaurant draws from the biweekly farmers' market and throwback iceboxes in each room hold the fixings for margaritas. Be sure to hit the bar Sternewirth—the former watering hole for brewery workers, which dates to 1883—where old fermentation tanks double as banquette seats. thehotelemma.com; doubles from US$276.

Hotel Emma
By Nicole Franzen.

 

4. THE DESIGN STAR l CASA FAYETTE
GUADAL AJARA, MEXICO

Grupo Habita, Casa Fayette's owner, has a knack for creating buzz around Mexican destinations. This time, the company has anointed Guadalajara the next "it" city—specifically Colonia Americana, a bougainvillea-covered neighborhood of galleries and restaurants. Housed in a 1940s Art Deco mansion, the 37-room property has been given an avant-garde remodel by local firm Estudio5. The interiors mix serious design pieces with whimsical, retro touches. Chairs in the bar are upholstered in a palm-tree print and are dripping in gold tassels; the bathrooms are wall-to-wall marble lit by Midcentury fixtures. Come Saturday night, a who's who stops by the dramatically lit bar. casafayette.com; doubles from US $195.

Casa Fayette
By Undine Pröhl.

 

5. THE CULTURE MAGNET l FAENA
MIAMI BEACH

Developer Alan Faena tasked Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin with helping him reimagine the historic Saxony Hotel, the anchor of his six-block-long cultural district. The result? A surreal mash-up evocative of late-period Gianni Versace and the Moulin Rouge. The lobby has eight Juan Gatti murals, including neo-Baroque images of skulls and horses. In the garden is Damien Hirst's Gone But Not Forgotten, a giant 24-karat-gold-gilded woolly-mammoth skeleton. Los Fuegos, Francis Mallmann's first U.S. project, serves a rib eye with chimichurri that transcends the hype. And the guest rooms are over the top, with red velvet armchairs and turquoise carpeting. Up next is an arts center by Rem Koolhaas/OMA. Brace yourself, America: the FaenaLand invasion has begun. faena.com; doubles from US$899.

Faena
Courtesy of Faena Hotel Miami Beach.

 

6. THE NEW GRANDE DAME l COTTON HOUSE HOTEL
BARCELONA

If a city hotel could ever mimic the why-bother-going-out feeling of a resort, it would be the Cotton House. Set in a 19th-century Neoclassical landmark—once the Cotton Producers Guild—the 83-room gem from Autograph Collection has been deftly reinvented by designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán. His preservation of many original features, like the spiral staircase, tiled floors and intricately carved ceilings, gives the lobby a sense of history. The location by the boutiques of Passeig de Gràcia is another plus. Nonetheless, we saw guests content to stay on-property, lounging by the rooftop pool and reading in the library. hotelcottonhouse.com; doubles from €260.

Cotton House Hotel
Courtesy of Cotton House Hotel.

 

7. THE BEACH BABE l ONE&ONLY OCEAN CLUB
PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS

When A&P heir Huntington Hartford II conceived his Bahamian retreat a half-century ago, it's unlikely that he could have pictured guests arriving in Bentleys with Wi-Fi. But times have changed—and so has this property, following a partial but impactful face-lift. The most exciting addition is the oceanfront infinity pool, where couples sip elderflower martinis from butler-serviced chaises. The 52 rooms in the original Hartford Wing were also enlarged and redone; the colonial-style décor was swapped out for clean-lined furnishings and blue-andcream hues. Hartford would definitely have approved. oneandonlyresorts.com; doubles from US $1,035.

One&Only Ocean Club
Courtesy of One&Only Ocean Club.

 

8. THE SECRET ESCAPE l BARBUDA BELLE
BARBUDA

There are no planes in the sky, no big boats on the horizon and no sounds but wind and waves at the remote paradise of Barbuda Belle. You arrive by boat to Antigua's under-the-radar sister island, where six bamboo bungalows are splayed out along a pristine beach. After a few days spent kayaking among the mangroves, bird-watching at the nearby frigate sanctuary and lying on the pink sands, you'll realize exactly what you've found: perhaps the most untouched hiding place among the increasingly developed Caribbean islands. barbudabelle.com; doubles from US $1,190.

Barbuda Belle
J. Rainey/Courtesy of Barbuda Belle.

 

9. THE TROPICAL FANTASY l ANDBEYOND BENGUERRA ISLAND
MOZAMBIQUE

Luxury resorts have been moving in to the Bazaruto Archipelago—a 1,400-square-kilometer protected marine park off the coast of Mozambique—and after a yearlong overhaul, andBeyond Benguerra Island has emerged as the best of the bunch. The 13 stand-alone, thatched-roof suites, which sit by the water's edge, stylishly pay homage to the area's Afro-Arabic-Portuguese roots with mahogany four-poster beds and hand-painted tiles depicting animal scenes. Order a private picnic or go diving at Two-Mile Reef. Just sitting with a cocktail at the beach bar—a converted dhow—is also perfectly acceptable. andbeyond.com/benguerra-island; doubles from US$1,530, all-inclusive.

andBeyond Benguerra Island
Courtesy of andBeyond.

 

10. THE INSIDER HANGOUT l HALCYON HOUSE
CABARITA BEACH, AUSTRALIA

How did a surf center of 3,000 people become the Hamptons of Australia? Ask Elisha and Siobhan Bickle, whose 21-room inn has fueled a boomtown roughly one hour north of Sydney. Each room has details like salvaged hardware, handpicked antiques and walls upholstered in blue-and-white-patterned textiles. They also have Frette robes, champagne in the minibars and, in many cases, deep soaking tubs. Bonus: guests get VIP access to Paper Daisy, the seafood restaurant, whose chef hails from Noma. halcyonhouse.com.au; doubles from A$550.

็Halcyon House
Courtesy of Halcyon House.

 

11. THE RUSTIC CHARMER l THE HOUSE HOTEL
CAPPADOCIA, TURKEY

The first thing that distinguishes The House Hotel is its location in Ortahisar, a picturesque village off Cappadocia's main tourist track. Gone is the stuffy, museum-like quality found in many of the region's properties: the 29 understated guestrooms deftly blend past and present, with frescoes and fifth-century natural stone walls alongside rain showers and heated Turkish-marble floors. The designers know you're going to be outside exploring the iconic fairy chimneys—and yes, you should take one of those now-ubiquitous hot-air-balloon rides—which is why many of the rooms have fireplaces and tubs to take off the chill. At check-in, ask for a crisp glass of white wine made from Emir, a grape native to the region. thehousehotel.com; doubles from €169.

The House Hotel
Courtesy of The House Hotel Cappadocia.

 

12. THE NEW KID ON THE RIVER l MANDAPA
UBUD

With an entrance perched 100 meters above the Ayung River, this addition to the Ubud resort landscape is definitely set apart from the increasingly busy and buzzy town. At river level, guests are made to feel like they're in their own Balinese village—the rice terraces and flowing water make that a certainty. The resort's villas and suites aim to further that sense of seclusion. One-bedroom villas—whether on the rice fields, the river or next to the lush, green forest that surrounds Mandapa—all come with 30-square-meter private pools. Practice yoga, ride a bike, read a book or explore what it's like to live in this Balinese village, you're never short of diversions in this scenic sweep of Ubud. ritzcarlton.com; doubles from Rp5,850,000.

Mandapa, Ubud
Courtesy of Mandapa.

 

13. THE MOUNTAIN HIGH l INKATERRA HACIENDA URUBAMBA
SACRED VALLEY, PERU

The Sacred Valley, with its lush panoramas and impressive ruins, has typically played third fiddle to Cuzco and Machu Picchu, in part because there have been few luxe places to stay. But Inkaterra provides a reason to stop and linger awhile. Its 36 rooms are an homage to Andean craftsmanship, with exposed eucalyptus beams and handmade furniture. When you're not lying in bed, staring agape at the forested countryside and surrounding mountains, you can tour nearby ruins like Ollantaytambo or visit the property's four-hectare farm, where lima beans and medicinal herbs are grown for use in the restaurant. A standout on the excellent menu is the pastel de choclo: corn cakes with guinea-pig ragù. inkaterra.com; doubles from US $838.

Inkaterra
Courtesy of Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba.

 

14. THE URBAN OASIA l MANDARIN ORIENTAL
MARRAKESH, MOROCCO

In a city associated with sensory overload, the Mandarin Oriental—set amid 20 hectares of olive trees, roses and palms—is a breath of fresh air. Instead of zellige tiles and gilded accents, the 54 villas have riad-inspired courtyards with all-white furniture and heated plunge pools. But they still feel Moroccan. Inside, you'll find Berber rugs, silver tea sets and steam showers. The nine suites have Atlas Mountain views, and even the smallest clock in at 135 square meters. Elsewhere on site, there's an organic garden that supplies 94 (yes, 94!) varieties of tomatoes and assorted vegetables to three restaurants. If all else fails to soothe your senses, order a nightcap and stargaze outside your villa as the scent of jasmine wafts by on the breeze. mandarinoriental.com/marrakech; doubles from €750.

Mandarin Oriental
Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental.

 

15. THE CITY SLICKER l THE HOXTON
AMSTERDAM

These days, everyone wants to cater to monied millennials. The Hoxton manages to do just that—without alienating anyone else—with its own youthful breed of hospitality. Want tickets to the Van Gogh Museum? A staffer will show you a hard-to-find website for VIP access. Want breakfast in bed? Hang a paper bag outside your door, and it'll be loaded up with fruit and yogurt by morning. And if you feel like the DIY spirit is incongruous with the stunning rooms—some with ornamented ceilings and canal views—think again. The Hoxton knows that those who march to their own tune can still appreciate a good Brunello. thehoxton.com; doubles from €199.

The Hoxton
Courtesy of Hoxton.

 

16. THE ICON REBORN l THE LANESBOROUGH
LONDON

After an 18-month renovation that cost a rumored £49 million, this Knightsbridge landmark is somehow more grand than before. Under the watch of Oetker Collection, the austere Regency building was practically gutted and filled back up with crystal chandeliers, parquet floors and antiques. The opulence extends to the 93 rooms, each with 18th-century paintings and mahogany writing desks. Afternoon tea at Céleste is an exercise in old-school finesse, where polished staff deliver warm scones and cucumber sandwiches on floral bone china. The only indication that you're in the year 2016 is that your butler can be summoned at any hour of the day—via iPad. lanesborough.com; doubles from £490.

The Lanesborough
By Simon Upton.

 

17. THE WILD ONE l ANGAMA MARA
MASAI MARA, KENYA

Perched on the edge of an escarpment overlooking the Masai Mara, the 30-suite Angama Mara has one of the world's most spectacular settings: it's where Out of Africa was filmed some 30 years ago. The place was designed so guests feel they are floating in air; you could easily spend all day in your beautifully appointed room—a modern take on adventure chic. But owners Nicky and Steve Fitzgerald, who helped plain below, where you can get up close and personal with the region's diverse wildlife. angama.com; US$825 per person, per night.

Angama Mara
Top left and Masai warriors: Courtesy of Angama Mara. Others in grid: by Ambroise Tézenas.

 

18. THE HISTORY BUFF l THE TEMPLE HOUSE
CHENGDU

Incorporating bamboo, timber, brick and stone, The Temple House aims to meld the area's rich culture with contemporary design. Several Chinese courtyards and a Qing dynasty building go a long way towards accomplishing that goal. Within this complex are 100 guestrooms, each with light oak interiors and fitted with custom-made furniture, including Chinese screens. Mi Xun is a spa that doubles as an urban oasis with its focus on holistic wellness treatments. Set in a former monastery, the spa's location is like nowhere else in Chengdu, and integral to its facilities is the Tea House at Mi Xun, with organic teas chosen to complement soothing spa treatments. thetemplehouse.com; doubles from RMB2,059.

The Temple House
Courtesy of Temple House.

 

19. THE RISK TAKER l PUMPHOUSE POINT
LAKE ST. CLAIR, TASMANIA

If you build it, they will come. So thought Tassie entrepreneur Simon Currant, who had the crazy idea to transform a derelict 1940s hydroelectric station, set deep in Cradle Mountain–Lake St. Clair National Park, into an 18-room hotel. Stay in the Midcentury-inspired Pumphouse—dramatically set at the edge of a 240-meter pier—or in the Art Deco–style Shorehouse. Most guests rise early to go trout fishing or to walk the trails in search of pygmy possums, wallabies and wombats. At night, everyone grabs glasses of local Pinot from one of the two honesty bars, and then swaps stories over celebratory communal feasts. pumphousepoint.com.au; doubles from A$280.

Pumphouse Point
By Stu Gibson/Courtesy of Pumphouse Point.

 

 

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Angama Mara, Masai Mara, Kenya. Ambroise Tézenas.
  • Phum Baitang, Siem Reap. Courtesy of Phum Baitang.
  • Phum Baitang, Siem Reap. Courtesy of Phum Baitang.
  • Pumphouse Point, Lake St. Clair, Tasmania. Stu Gibson/Courtesy of Pumphouse Point.
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