Here at Condé Nast Traveler, we're obsessed with hotels—that's why we're thrilled to unveil the 2013 Hot List, the buzz-making list of our favorite new hotels that have opened in the past year.
The entire list of 154 properties spans the globe, from a tiny one-suite find in Chiang Mai to a luxe safari camp in Tanzania—but to get you started, here's a glimpse at some of the new hotels in the U.S.
A total makeover of the first Mandarin Oriental property in the United States (opened in 1987), with 158 redesigned rooms and lobby, a brand-new spa, and a reimagined restaurant in the Financial District. The theme is tastefully corporate (befitting the neighborhood) and minimalist in a serene palette of blue and beige. The design puts the focus where it belongs: on views that stretch for miles.
A grungy Melrose Avenue youth hostel reborn as a 32-room hipster hot spot, complete with a too-cool-for-reservations restaurant run by a tattooed chef (serving highfalutin comfort food, natch) and a spa dedicated solely to Thai massage. Conspicuously, sweetly ironic.
The rough-wood facade makes the two-story building look like an oversized log cabin plunked down in the middle of L.A.’s Fairfax district. The lobby seems filled with items salvaged from Grandma’s attic (pink floral sofas, prize ribbons from a county fair, oil portraits of people no one seems to know), while the guest quarters embrace the schoolhouse-chic trend, with skinny writing desks and stacks of old hardcovers. Rooms are unusually Spartan—no phones, no closets—but dark-teal walls and carpets cozy them up considerably.
A revamped 245-room desert resort on the quiet southern side of Palm Springs, it’s a 60s-era revival channeling David Hockney. Daring New York design firm Stamberg Aferiat turned a drab three-story motel in the Coachella Valley into a hip retreat with the help of psychedelic colors inspired by desert wildflowers and sixties pop art—deep purple carpets and saffron umbrellas, lime-colored sofas and magenta walls. The central courtyard is dominated by palms and a pool. For a backdrop, the jagged San Jacintos rise straight up from the valley floor only a mile away.
Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
Forty-nine suites and villas set amid the polo fields and horse ranches of the San Dieguito Valley, 25 miles north of downtown San Diego. It’s the return of Zorro-hacienda architecture, revamped to the tune of $30 million, with unfinished wood floors and ceilings, Mexican-style tiles, and wrought iron chandeliers.
James Royal Palm
A 393-room revamped Art Deco tower with two pool areas, an ocean-view restaurant, and a nice stretch of sand on South Beach. Mad Men–style 60s nostalgia, from the sprawling lobby furnished in palm-printed Bauhaus-era chairs to the guest rooms’ bubble lamps, built-in love seats, and potted succulents.
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A converted turn-of-the-century factory with 72 rooms, a rooftop bar, and a standout restaurant. The hotel is one block from the Brooklyn waterfront in Williamsburg, a once-industrial neighborhood transformed by artists, entrepreneurs, and a new wave of immigrants. Poured concrete floors, exposed brick, custom toile wallpaper, and subway-tiled bathrooms. Skyline views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens steal the show.
Nantucket Hotel & Resort
A completely renovated grand hotel (the original opened in 1891) within walking distance of Nantucket town’s attractions. The 36 rooms and suites, some with common decks, sleep from 2 to 12 people, making this—the island’s only year-round place to stay—an ideal full-service base for family vacations. A classic four-story New England pile spanned by a front porch strewn with Adirondack chairs. Inside, the overriding impression is of simple, light-filled, contemporary comfort.
Inn at the Presidio
A renovated 22-room Georgian Revival barracks house in the heart of the Presidio—a former Army base (now a national park) 15 minutes from downtown. Yuppie chic, like a Pottery Barn catalog come to life.
The beautifully restored three-story building is drenched in sunlight and has an airy lobby in subdued neutrals, with dark-leather sofas, polished-wood floors, a fireplace, and antique accents; the wall of brass bugels is a nod to the inn’s former life as an officers’ quarters. Wooden rockers line the porch, which spans the white-columned redbrick exterior.
SLS Hotel South Beach
An Art Deco diva on South Beach with 140 rooms and two happening restaurants. Sweet 1950s photos, a long worn-wood table at check-in, and other vintage touches jibe with classic Deco details—peach marble bar, black-and-white-tiled floors. Philippe Starck saved his signature trompe l’oeil for the rooms, where linen wall hangings feature sketches of fancily ornamented walls. Rooms are seriously tiny but have clever space savers like a metal wardrobe/minibar.
St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort
A 243-room beach resort 30 minutes from Miami International Airport but far above Floridian norms, with a Jean-Georges restaurant and a sublime spa. This hotspot is utterly glamorous, from a high-ceilinged lobby lined with faceted mirrors to a check-in area with marble floors and ceilings (and a glass of cava as a welcome drink). The massive rooms have mother-of-pearl-inlaid tables in the foyers, walk-in closets, and ocean-view balconies—the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely room-service meal.
See the complete list of the best new hotels in the world.