Travel +Leisure It List 2017: The Best New Hotels in the World
February 15, 2017 2:27am
by Travel + Leisure Staff
At the end of every year, we at Travel + Leisure are busy taking stock of the past 12 months and putting together the It List, our annual collection of the best new hotels around the globe. This year, the competition was fiercer than ever. The 44 hotels and resorts ahead are making waves for different reasons—some for killer design, others for culinary bona fides or an unbeatable location—but all are inspiring the rest of the hospitality world to take note.
The 2017 It List covers 31 countries and six continents. It took us to dizzying new heights (the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar in Oman sits on a canyon rim a mile above sea level), pristine private islands (like Félicité, where Six Senses Zil Pasyon is nestled among hulking granite boulders), and even the back of an elephant (at Meghauli Serai, a Taj Safari Lodge in Nepal, that’s the transportation method of choice for rhino-spotting). There are several closer to home—11 standout properties are represented in the United States.
Despite the stellar field of competitors—or perhaps because of it—choosing the best of the best is no easy feat. It starts with our master list: more than 400 of the most exciting major hotel openings and renovations of 2016. Our team combs through it, debating the merits of each and selecting a (relatively) short list of about 100 places. Even then, the work’s not done until we’ve gotten a firsthand account of each property: Is the service up to snuff? The décor on point? The amenities so thoughtfully selected that a stay feels not just relaxing, but indulgent?
That’s not to say it’s just about luxury. Fancy soaps and 600-thread-count sheets are nice, but they’re not what make your stay memorable. What we’re looking for is that extra something special, that particular alchemy that happens when a carefully considered guest experience, a strong sense of place, and a distinct, even risk-taking brand identity meet. That’s why you’ll find budget-friendly upstarts—such as the design-forward Robey in Chicago, or the gallerylike Atix Hotel in La Paz, Bolivia—alongside ultra-luxe grande dames like the revamped Ritz Paris.
The list that follows is our definitive guide to the hotels that aren’t just gateways to a place, but destinations in their own right. To find your next vacation stay visit the slideshow at www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/it-list-the-best-new-hotels#intro, then share your favorites on social media using #TLItList.
The Asbury -Asbury Park, New Jersey
This colorful property is Jersey’s hot new gathering spot. There’s an inviting lobby café and bright-yellow pool chairs to lounge on during the day; at night, options include outdoor movies and a packed rooftop bar.
The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel - New York City
You could just have a drink in the restored atrium of the Beekman, but you should spend the night to appreciate this architectural wonder from all angles—and at all times of day.
The Dewberry - Charleston, South Carolina
Once a midcentury office building, the Dewberry is handsome and sleek, with a vintage edge. They’ve even improved upon Southern hospitality: squint at a menu and you’re offered reading glasses; ask for honey and they’ll fetch your preferred kind.
Four Seasons Resort Lanai - Lanai, Hawaii
Head to the Four Seasons for the away-from-it-all feel that Lanai does best, but with plenty of amenities—two pools, four restaurants, and an excellent spa. The interiors are clean-lined, putting the focus on the lush vegetation and ocean views.
Montage Palmetto Bluff - Bluffton, South Carolina
This renovated resort still has a gorgeous Lowcountry look and activities like horseback riding, clay shooting, and golf. But it got an upgrade last year: a new inn that serves as the hub, with guest rooms, a restaurant and bar, and a stellar spa.
The Pontchartrain - New Orleans
Amid a wave of fashionable openings, the Pontchartrain best captures NOLA’s spirit and history. The 1940s glamour of vintage keys and chandeliers juxtaposed with seemingly incongruent pieces, like a portrait of Lil Wayne, make it elegant and cool in equal measure.
The Robey - Chicago
You’d be hard-pressed to find another Windy City hotel to rival the Robey’s alchemy of great aesthetics, prime location, and thrumming atmosphere—all for a such a wallet-friendly price tag.
Single Thread Inn - Healdsburg, California
Acclaimed chef Kyle Connaughton transfers the Japanese approach of his kitchen to the hospitality at his luxury inn. The food is hyper-seasonal, and the rooms are outfitted with understated high-end amenities, like Ratio coffee-brewers and Zalto wineglasses.
Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club - Honolulu
Combine one of Oahu’s best retailers (Olive & Oliver), most exciting chefs (Ed Kenney), and a handful of top artists (like Matthew Tapia), and you’ve got a Waikiki first: a hotel that truly taps into the island’s creative spirit.
21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City - Oklahoma City
With more than 14,000 feet of exhibition space, this boutique hotel in the century-old Model T Ford plant has filled the city’s void for an artsy place to stay. And since the galleries, lounge, and restaurant have taken off with locals, it has an energy that doesn’t wane midweek.
Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills - Beverly Hills, California
This discreet gem has a fresh new palette, and the lounge has made way for a light-filled French bistro. But the real sell is the suites: with dressing rooms, cushy couches, and deep soaking tubs, they’re like an A-list home away from home.
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar - Nizwa, Oman
Skirting the rim of a canyon 6,562 feet above sea level, the Anantara is a dramatic departure from Oman’s beach-resort circuit. The locale makes even simple pursuits—vertiginous swims in the infinity pool or dinner on a glass platform cantilevered over the chasm—thrilling.
AndBeyond Matetsi River Lodge - Matetsi Private Reserve, Zimbabwe
At this renovated lodge on a 123,500-acre reserve, you’re in reach of all the activities offered on the Zambezi. But even if you never leave your room, the scenery—a watery landscape teeming with wildlife—will keep you enthralled.
Asilia the Highlands - Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
It’s the first camp near the northern gate of the Ngorongoro Crater, so while most visitors queue at the southern end in the early morning, Asilia guests can sleep in, then take a leisurely descent to the crater floor.
Leeu Estates - Franschhoek, South Africa
Analjit Singh’s latest property in South Africa’s wine country is a beautifully landscaped, 17-room gem with its own wine cellar (tastings are gratis for guests), a spa, and a farm-to-table restaurant.
Sanctuary Chief’s Camp - Okavango Delta, Botswana
Ultra-personal service is the star at this freshly overhauled safari camp. That, and the new Geoffrey Kent Luxury Suite, which comes with a private fire pit, lounge, and bar, plus a dedicated butler and guide.
Six Senses Zil Pasyon - Seychelles
On this eco-chic private isle, the mood is light: soft marine décor, swings by the tubs, vast pool decks. The pièce de résistance is the spa, shoehorned between the archipelago’s iconic black boulders, with a yoga pavilion so close to the water the sea spray cools you during poses.
Amanemu - Mie Prefecture, Japan
This new hot-spring resort near the Grand Shrines of Ise is opening up an area that’s previously been hard for foreigners to penetrate. It’s unique within the Aman family in that it offers a classic onsen experience, blending the traditional ryokan with Aman’s sense of space.
Canyon Ranch Kaplankaya - Kaplankaya, Turkey
The wellness brand’s first international outpost has panoramic views of the Aegean, a sleek design, and local flavors on display in the cuisine. Hammam treatments are authentic, with a cleansing scrub on a heated marble table followed by an olive-soap massage.
Katamama - Bali, Indonesia
The MO at Katamama skews more modern than the typical thatched-roof bungalow, but locally made details—lemongrass-infused gin, hand-dyed bathrobes—keep the look warm, not sterile. Private rooftop Jacuzzis and an adjoining beach club balance serenity with fun.
Oberoi Sukhvilas - Chandigarh, India
Oberoi’s newest addition is Mughal-inspired from top to bottom, with intricate hand-painted murals and gold leafing throughout. It sits on a former orange grove, so guests can pluck fruit from the trees as they wander the grounds.
Peninsula Beijing - Beijing
After a yearlong renovation, the Peninsula is a draw for more than just its location. Rooms now start at 646 square feet and have suitelike layouts, with décor that nods to both China’s storied past and its tech-forward present.
Santani - Sri Lanka
The first destination spa in Sri Lanka is all about wellness—and not the ascetic Western kind that’s all juicing and boot camps. Santani’s approach is more subtle, with ayurvedic spa treatments, meditation, and health food that includes goat-cheese tortellini and chai crème brûlée.
Soneva Jani - Maldives
If you’ve ever fantasized about staying in an overwater bungalow, add Soneva Jani to your bucket list. Twenty-four palatial villas jut into a gin-clear lagoon in the Maldives; all have private pools, and some even have waterslides!
St. Regis Vommuli - Maldives
You come here for two reasons. One, for the impeccable St. Regis service. And two, because the look of this private-island resort will leave you speechless. Gently sloped villa roofs are meant to evoke manta rays, while the Whale Bar, which serves small plates and cocktails, opens to panoramic sea views.
Meghauli Serai, a Taj Safari Lodge - Chitwan National Park, Nepal
Taj Safaris’ latest lodge has a prime location, so rhino-spotting excursions are relatively effortless. After a few hours astride an elephant, unwind with a private plunge pool, an alfresco massage, and a Tharu meal.
Helena Bay - North Island, New Zealand
The setting of this resort is immaculate, from the sheltered bay to the perfectly pruned gardens. The kind of conscientious care you’ll get is clear from the staff-to-guest ratio alone: 53 employees for a maximum of only 10 visitors.
QT Melbourne - Melbourne, Australia
A refreshing irreverence makes QT Melbourne unique in the city. The lobby’s wingbacks and stuffed peacock set the tone; rooms are industrial-lite. Expect the unexpected—like saucy comments from the elevator voice—and exuberant service that verges on the theatrical.
Hamilton Princess & Beach Club - Bermuda
In addition to revamping the rooms during its renovation, this Fairmont property upped its cultural cred with a restaurant from Marcus Samuelsson and an eclectic art collection with works by Warhol, Nelson Mandela, and Banksy.
Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa - Grand Cayman
Catering to both couples and families, this property takes full advantage of its Seven Mile Beach location. Guest rooms—in colors inspired by flora on site—are all angled to face the sea, and the lobby has spectacular floor-to-ceiling windows.
Le Barthelémy Hotel & Spa - St. Bart’s, French West Indies
This Grand Cul-de-Sac newcomer is at once glamorous and unpretentious. An army of genial French staffers will stock a gourmet picnic basket for you, or tote rosé to your lounge chair overlooking the Caribbean.
The Shore Club - Turks and Caicos
This hotel is the first on Long Bay Beach, a more private alternative to popular Grace Bay. Come for a romantic escape (the ocean-inspired scheme is glamorous, not kitschy) or a group vacation (the 6,239-square-foot penthouse has a huge terrace and hot tub).
Coombeshead Farm - Cornwall, England
The five rooms at Coombeshead are simply decorated, because—let’s be honest—you’re here for the food. The 18th-century farmstead has just a single communal table, where chefs April Bloomfield and Tom Adams serve incredible dishes like pork cracklings in cider sauce. Guests can even take baking or butchery workshops.
Il Sereno Lago di Como - Lake Como, Italy
Il Sereno is a restrained antidote to Como’s gilded grandes dames. Designer Patricia Urquiola had everything from bathtubs to uniforms made with local materials like ceppo di gré stone and Como silk. The layout puts all eyes on the water, with a 450-foot shoreline and lakeview terraces in every room.
Park Hyatt Mallorca - Mallorca, Spain
The Park Hyatt may be the Balearics’ most stunning retreat yet. Its design was inspired by Mallorcan hamlets, and the pink stone buildings, serpentine pathways, and rows of colonnades have an ancient feel.
Pulitzer Amsterdam - Amsterdam, Netherlands
The update of the Pulitzer’s 25 landmarked town houses was not just a polishing of floors and some new cushions. The designer, Jacu Strauss, spent the night in every room to dream up a unique look for each. The result is colorful and whimsical, but tasteful.
Ritz Paris - Paris, France
It was all worth the wait. Four years after closing its doors for renovation, the new-and-improved Ritz has kept the Belle Époque glamour but added some modern necessities: speedy Wi-Fi, new plumbing, and a one-of-a-kind Chanel spa.
Ritz-Carlton, Budapest - Budapest, Hungary
Just two blocks from the Danube, the Ritz-Carlton captures Budapest’s blend of elegance and modernity. The club lounge has an exceptional beverage program: expect Hungarian wines and local pressed juices.
Soho House Barcelona - Barcelona, Spain
Catalan architecture cements the sense of place, but dedication to comfort makes this six-floor club a place you want to linger. Fluffy robes are a given; here they’ve upped the coziness ante with a heated towel rack, wool eye mask, and hot-water bottle under the covers.
Atix Hotel - La Paz, Bolivia
Contemporary and indigenous influences abound at Atix, like a façade of timber and Comanche stone and works by artist Gastón Ugalde. The restaurant, Ona, is among the city’s best, thanks to a staff recruited from Latin America’s top kitchens.
Chablé - Yucatán, Mexico
Just an hour from the coast, Chablé marries Méridan hacienda hospitality with beach-resort-style amenities (like the glamorous, palm-tree-lined pool that could’ve been plucked from Tulum).
Explora Valle Sagrado - Sacred Valley, Peru
Explora’s philosophy emphasizes nature, and their latest addition is designed accordingly: Wi-Fi, TV, and mini-bars are replaced with soothing spaces ideal for relaxing after a day spent exploring craggy peaks and Incan ruins.
Mar Adentro - Los Cabos, Mexico
A reflecting pool wraps around this striking seaside property, anchored by Nido, a restaurant ensconced within a woven-twig ovoid structure. The rooms are divvied among stark white cubes that appear to float along the edges of the pool.
Nekupe Sporting Resort & Retreat - Nicaragua
The service at Nekupe alone is first-class, as you’d expect at a luxury inn with just four villas and four suites. But consider the activities—trail rides, monkey-watching treks, skeet shooting, and more—and the unreal views, and it’s a singular way to experience the region.
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