Five of the Best New Hotels to Visit During the Travel Renaissance
In the earliest months of the pandemic, the international hotel industry hit a hard wall. Occupancy plummeted, layoffs ensued and only 53 per cent of all 2020 new hotel construction projects reached the finish line, with the rest deferred or outright abandoned by early 2021. The bright exception in the slow recovery is boutique properties. Profitability has largely bounced back for the luxe hospitality market. In the spring, U.S. boutique hotels had a 19 per cent increase in profits compared to 2019, and investors are being bullish about new luxury hotel builds, a trend that is projected to continue through to next year.
Of course, a boutique property is very much evaluated by its design bona fides. Several new upscale global hot spots have emerged in the past little while. We picked five—four hotels and one rather remarkable hotel bar—with a distinctly special offering, for business or leisure.
The Royal Hotel
Closest to home—and made for intimate executive retreats—is the The Royal Hotel in Picton, Ont. Originally built in 1879, the once derelict hotel reopened this year after a full gutting and Scandi-inspired remodel. The refined vibe is punctuated by eye-catching flourishes such as the ceiling of its farm-to-table restaurant: a circular arrangement of acoustic fins dotted with pendant lights. The light-oak aesthetic throughout the public spaces extends to the fully technified conference room, which seats 14.
The Fifth Avenue Hotel
Among the hotel builds of New York’s relentless boom is The Fifth Avenue Hotel, a luxurious revival of an original McKim, Mead & White-designed bank dating back to the Gilded Age. The 153-room NoMad property opens this fall after a decade-long restoration and update of its limestone and brick facade and 47 metres of terracotta cornices.
The Eden Nairobi
The Eden Nairobi is a one-and-a-half hectare property bordering a giraffe sanctuary on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital. Fashion designer Anna Trzebinski and her late husband, Tonio, designed and built the nine-bedroom residence as a family home before she converted it into an art-filled refuge for travellers. It’s brimming with one-of-a-kind artifacts and has a special artist-in-residence accommodation for creative types who want to languish in an inspired location. After all, inspiration is everything.
Every great hotel needs a sophisticated bar, and the design award in the category goes to the Red Room in Mayfair, London. The rakishly elegant wine lounge is hidden behind a velvet curtain in The Connaught hotel. It has a striking pink-onyx bar, a hand-cut-mosaic runway floor, a crimson-flecked marble fireplace and a gallery’s worth of conceptual art and photography, including paintings by Jenny Holzer, Louise Bourgeois, Tia-Thuy Nguyen and Trina McKillen.
Poolside lounging is—literally—elevated at the new Hotel Unuk in Seville. The hotel, a conversion of two former homes, is in the Andalusian city’s Soho neighbourhood, a cobblestoned cultural hub that’s just a short walk from the Moorish palace Real Alcázar de Sevilla. The saltwater pool is on the multilevel rooftop next to a sundeck with hammocks and a bar, and it comes with jaw-dropping views of centuries-old bell towers and Seville’s cathedral dome.