Everybody loves a good list, and when it comes to travel, the best ones — the ones I respect, anyway — are those assembled by experts who have the background to be truly discerning.
Enter LTI-Luxury Travel Intelligence’s Best (and Worst) New Luxury Hotels list. The annual compilation is the result of a dozen experts covering the globe to research the most anticipated luxury properties opening each year. LTI is a global members-only organization providing the latest intel for “high net worth” travelers — covering not only hotels but restaurants, spas and nightlife. They don’t sell travel or carry advertising.
I’m sharing their list not just because it’s a peek into accommodations many of us couldn’t afford to actually sleep in, but it’s also kind of fun to read about the one that blew it, luxury-wise. A reminder that price is not always commensurate with quality.
This year, LTI experts visited 74 new hotels; 14 merited inclusion on the Best list, while two were bad enough to make it to The Worst.
Here are their picks, in the (slightly condensed) words of Michael Crompton, LTI cofounder.
14. The Whitby, NYC
A NYC slam-dunk for London based Firmdale Hotels, which rarely puts a foot wrong. Ideally located, The Whitby features an eye-catching design and contemporary art. There are 86 individually styled room and suites (go for one with a private terrace), plus a Firmdale touch – the guests-only drawing room and terrace.
13. The Silo, Cape Town
A brilliant new addition to Cape Town’s luxury hotel scene. It’s in the perfect location (overlooking the V&A Waterfront), with a wonderful design and just 28 impressive rooms and suites, all etched out of what used to be a concrete grain silo. The glass-framed rooftop pool and terrace are a big plus.
12. Palacio Tangara, Sao Paulo
This new and impressive urban resort has 141 spacious rooms and suites with refined contemporary decor, a Sisley spa, restaurants overseen by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and two stylish pools (outside/inside). Be sure to visit the glass-walled wine cellar with sommelier Gabriele Frizon.
11. Jackalope, Victoria, Australia
We picked up on this under-the-radar opening in May, and are impressed with what we found. Located in the heart of its boutique vineyard with just 46 spacious and well-thought-out ‘dens.’ two restaurants (the food is exceptional) and a great cocktail lounge, this property is everything you could wish for in a relaxing urban escape. More Jackalope properties are in the pipeline for Melbourne, Shanghai and Los Angeles.
10. Four Seasons Surf Club, Miami
Our new favorite resort-style property in Miami, this is classic Four Seasons. It has just 77 stylish rooms and 28 residences (go for an Ocean View Cabana Studio) and is also home to Le Sirenuse restaurant, the first outpost of the famed Amalfi coast icon.
9. Kokomo Island, Fiji
A true paradise, this exclusive private island resort has just 21 spacious Fijian-style beachside villas (each with its own private pool), prime white sandy beaches and relaxed but expert service. Take one of chef Daniel Johnson’s exceptional picnics on an island excursion.
8. Hotel Eden, Rome
After an 18-month renovation, the Eden is now our top choice in Rome. Although we loved the location before, the property was looking a little tired. Now, with the revamping of rooms and suites (from 121 to 98), they are spacious and full of natural light, with impressive marble bathrooms and all the latest technology.
7. Nobu Ryoken, Malibu
This delightful property epitomizes everything a Nobu hotel should be (unlike some of Nobu’s earlier offerings). It has just 16 rooms – 11 of them have ocean views and terraces – and all guests have access to the Nobu restaurant next door (a real hot ticket). We particularly love the minimalist style, teak soaking tubs and beachside location.
6. Burgenstock Hotel, Lucerne
The hugely anticipated Burgenstock Resort, perched 2,800 feet above Lake Lucerne, opened in August after nine years of planning and construction – and $500 million. Of the four hotels at the resort, the contemporary Burgenstock Hotel is LTI’s favorite, with 102 rooms and suites (all with fireplaces), a restaurant, alpine spa, lobby bar, wine cellar and cigar lounge. The famous Burgenstock funicular railway brings you directly to the hotel entrance.
5. Chable Resort, Yucatan
The stunning design, cave-like spa, laid-back vibe, contemporary Maya cuisine and 750 acres of private grounds are just a few of the wows here. And the world’s largest tequila collection seals the deal. There are 38 spacious casita-stylee rooms and two expansive suites, situated in lush tranquil gardens, and with great views.
4. Hotel de Crillon, Paris
With a four-year, $200-million renovation, 124 exceptional rooms and suites, a perfect location at Place de la Concorde, a new subterranean spa and swimming pool, this is our new top choice in Paris. Book one of the Karl Lagerfeld-designed Grand Apartments (specifically, the one with the stunning black marble bathroom).
3. Villa La Coste, Provence
This unique property feels like a private home, with just 28 spacious and contemporary villa suites, each with a private terrace and views over the Luberon. It also has an impressive array of art and sculpture on display, 600 acres of woodland, vineyards and olive groves, three restaurants overseen by Gérald Passédat, and open-flame dining from Francis Mallmann.
2. The Ned, London
You cannot help but be impressed when you walk into the 3,000-square-meter lobby, with its 92 versite columns, restored walnut banking counters and eight restaurants and bars. It’s big, bold and brave. Beyond this, hotel guests have exclusive access to Ned’s Club, with its own late night bar, gym, spa (with a beautiful basement pool) and rooftop facilities, including a pool area, restaurant, bar and superb 360-degree London views. An exceptional and exciting hotel.
1, The Bulgari, Dubai
This sensational property – which opened Dec. 5 – impressed us so much it became LTI’s last-minute top pick. Just four floors, private and understated, it is everything most Dubai hotels are not. We also love its striking architecture. It’s an ultra-exclusive Mediterranean style resort, spread over 13 hectares, and has a private beach club, a 50-berth marina, excellent spa and an impressive Italian restaurant with chef Niko Romito at the helm. Go for a Beach Villa.
This property is far removed from the classic elegance of its sister property, Dukes Hotel in London — its design, service, style and location simply bear no resemblance. The heavy discounting of room rates is always a sure sign that things are not as they should be, and on our two recent visits we found poor service standards, excessive noise and disturbance from the surrounding construction, and sub-standard in-room technology and fittings.
Five (originally Viceroy), Dubai
After a shaky start, this property – fairly impressive overall – seemed to be recovering nicely, when Viceroy management were removed from the property overnight and a new name hung over the door (ironically a V, meant to represent Five, but confusingly similar to the Viceroy brand). The resulting legal battle appears to be far from resolved. To LTI, airing this dispute in public has a long-term effect on a property.
BTW, if you would like to join up, membership is by invitation only. Here’s your invitation — go to the LTI website, click “Become a member” and use the invitation code INVITE 300, which gets you in and gets you a $300 discount on the $700 membership.
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