Livingetc’s guide to the latest hotels lighting up our design radar
Fancy a sneaky New Year getaway or some winter sun? From old world opulence and alpine glamour to beautiful beach hideaways and city escapes, there’s a host of new hotels out there that deliver design as well as luxury.
The lowdown A former farmstead turner luxury lodge
Best for Those who want to reconnect with nature in comfort and style
Even the most seasoned of travellers, with fully ticked-off bucket lists, will find a thrill at Lon Retreat. This sleepy hideaway on the Bellarine Peninsula, just a 90 minute drive from Melbourne, has just seven simply designed suites spread throughout the farmstead-style sandstone lodge.
Each of them offers a calm sanctuary from which to discover the real attraction, 200 acres of family-owned conservation-grade Australian landscape.
Come here to swim, snorkel, fish or surf at the secluded private beach, drink local wines and foraged platters by a roaring firepit, and walk, hike and cycle spectacular coastal paths and local trails.
A visit here is an antidotal pause from life’s stresses and worries: a true retreat in every sense of the word.
The lowdown A converted baptist church becomes a temple to opulent, daring design.
Best for Glamoristas and loved-up couples.
The grand master of indulgent interiors, Jacques Garcia has undertaken his first London project. He brings the same luxuriant excess of the renowned Hôtel Costes in Paris to this dazzling new venture.
Based in Holborn, the 39-bedroom property occupies a previously abandoned architectural gem, re-imagined as a marvel of modern baroque. The design is best summed up as El Dorado meets Willy Wonka – so expect a riotous palette of glittering gold and Cadbury purple.
A quote by L’oscar’s key inspiration, Oscar Wilde, serves as the hotel’s motto: ‘Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future’, in reference to the former church’s decadent new start in life.
Tony Fleming, who held a Michelin star at his previous kitchen, oversees the hotel’s main restaurant, Baptist Grill. While Café L’oscar, inspired by Parisian cafes, is perfect for more intimate, informal tête-à-têtes. After merrymaking downstairs, retire to one of the seductive, velvet-adorned bedrooms for a night of beauty sleep.
Book it Double rooms from £390
SOHO HOUSE AMSTERDAM
The lowdown The latest venture from the lifestyle group conquering the world.
Best for Culture buffs keen to explore Amsterdam from its hottest new hang-out.
The onward march of Soho House continues with its first Dutch opening, and it’s one of the best yet. Touching down at the Bungehuis, a monumental Thirties architectural landmark, the hotel and members’ club promises to be a cultural hub worthy of the artistically cultivated city it now calls home. Most fabulous of all the facilities is the soigné rooftop, a brand signature that includes an elongated swimming pool and voguish bar overlooking Amsterdam’s charming skyline.
Two restaurants, Cecconi’s and House Kitchen, will keep visitors well fed and watered on fine Italian cuisine and classic clubhouse fare. Other amenities include a state-of-the-art gym with a view of the canal, a cosy screening room and, of course, the exclusive members’ spaces, which guests are free to roam at their will. And if all that wasn’t enough, the hotel’s location knocks it out of the park. Sitting canalside in the idyllic Negen Straatjes (Nine Streets) quarter, there’s chic boutique shopping on the doorstep and major galleries such as the Stedelijk and Van Gogh Museum are just a short walk away.
Book it Double rooms from approx £150
The lowdown A £440 million renovation has made this Swiss resort the destination on everyone’s lips.
Best for Cool-seekers and ski families looking for the alpine resort du jour.
This historic retreat has once again become the hottest address in chilly Switzerland. From its origins in the 19th century to its heyday in the Sixties as a celebrity hang-out frequented by the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren, Bürgenstock Resort has continually reinvented itself to remain at the peak of alpine hospitality. Today the resort is made up of four distinctly different hotels. At the top of the pile is the ultra-contemporary Bürgenstock Hotel, a wonderful example of cutting-edge architecture and design. Not far behind is the Palace Hotel, a belle époque mountain masterwork. Striking a more modest note are the discreetly elegant Waldhotel and Taverne 1897, a rustic chalet offering a slice of the trad Swiss experience.
The most anticipated element of the resort’s renewal is its Alpine Spa, a monumental shrine to tranquillity complete with an infinity pool that overlooks the snow-covered landscape. After a day in the sauna or on the slopes, you’ll return to no less than 12 dining options. From the Asian delicacies of Sharq, a restaurant that hangs precariously from the edge of the crag, to the French fine dining of RitzCoffier, all tastes are taken care of. With its world-class facilities and glamorous reputation, there are few better places to see or be seen.
Book it Double rooms from approx £250
The lowdown Exciting design-led resort overlooking the azure Indian Ocean.
Best for Those longing for blissed-out relaxation in beach-shack-luxe surrounds.
Ever wondered what paradise looks like? Probably a lot like the silky white shores of Unguja, Zanzibar’s idyllic spice island and home to brand-new resort Zuri Zanzibar. The design of this 13-acre estate has been carefully overseen by Jestico + Whiles, the talented team behind projects such as One Aldwych in London and Switzerland’s Villa Honegg. They’ve delivered a series of striking interiors that incorporate regional materials and traditional craftsmanship, elevating the typical Indian Ocean resort to stylish new heights.
There are 55 bungalows, villas and suites, all boasting expansive terraces and outdoor showers, with the best allowing direct access down to the waterfront. Guests will thank the heavens for Zuri’s private beach – think warm turquoise water set against a dramatic cliff backdrop. Oasis-like gardens packed with baobabs, ylang-ylang and fruit trees provide welcome respite from the hot African sun, while those who prefer to bask poolside will fall head over heels for the 32-metre infinity pool and its dedicated cocktail bar. There are several food and drink possibilities, from Upendo, the hotel’s main restaurant that showcases an eclectic mix of African and Indian dishes, to the Dining by Design concept that creates bespoke experiences highlighting the resort’s natural beauty. Nirvana, just a plane ride away…
Book it Double rooms from £331
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL
The lowdown A bastion of contemporary elegance in an exquisite neoclassical mansion.
Best for Serenity after days in Brazil’s busiest metropolis.
Once the private home of a playboy billionaire’s wife, Palácio Tangará is now better known as São Paulo’s most exclusive hotel. The impressive mansion sits in a luscious, rainforest-adjacent landscaped estate moments from Morumbi, the smartest residential district in town. An elegant grande dame shielded from the relentless buzz of the city, guests flock there for its sense of subtle, old-school glamour. Whether reclining by the pool, taking tea in the lounge or relaxing in the Sisley spa, this is the place for weary travellers to chill. The jewel in the hotel’s already well-adorned crown is its Jean-George Vongerichten restaurant, recently awarded a Michelin star. The light, Asian-inspired food incorporates a touch of local Brazilian cuisine and is proving a hit with international foodies.
Supremely comfortable bedrooms are decorated in a palette of neutrals – our favourites are the Prestige rooms, all of which have glorious, balustrade-lined terraces ideal for gazing out over the gardens beyond.
Book it Deluxe double rooms from £183