8 Extraordinary Hotels to Visit This Year

Looking for travel inspiration, we turned to Lia Batkin, the co-founder of bespoke travel service In the Know Experiences, to pick her favourite new five-star hotels. Spanning the globe, her list has us ready to pack our bags and begin a life of peripatetic luxury. _header1
_thumb1 Located in a century-old Edwardian estate that recently underwent a $130M renovation, this stylish take on a classic British hotel boasts an interior courtyard and sweeping neo-Renaissance grand Pavonazzo marble staircase. "The interiors of the 262 guest rooms and 44 suites are equally lavish, fitted out with Cuban mahogany and seven types of marble," says Batkin. "For people needing some more space they have eight Signature Suites and the Grand Manor House Wing which includes six bedrooms totaling a whopping 6,295 square feet! It has a private entrance from High Holborn Street, a private lift, and its own postcode." With interiors outfitted by Tony Chi and Martin Brudnizki, the hotel's bar is a selling point for any design-savvy traveller. "Oh the bar," Batkin sighs. "It's one of our favourite aspects of the hotel. It hosts a cocktail menu (plus 200 single malts), a thousand antique books, and velvet armchairs that you can lounge in for days!"
_thumb2 In its first foray into Vietnam, Aman Resorts hits the mark with a breathtaking hilltop retreat. "Settled into the lush green landscape at the edge of a white sandy beach on Vinh Hy Bay, Amanoi holds a modern elegance, attention to detail, and overall sumptuousness that is the standard of an Aman," says Batkin. "The soaring, open central pavilion dominates its cliff-top position and houses the restaurant, bar and terrace, an extensive library, and a boutique. There is an adjoining cliff-top pool, with a second at the Beach Club below. The Spa, set beside a lotus-filled lake, also boasts a gym, and pilates and yoga studios. The 31 pavilions and five villas, dotted across the hillside, afford beyond stunning views and a to-die-for level of style."
_thumb3 At D.O.M, Renaissance Rome meets 21st century Italy. "This brand new luxury hotel, set in a 17th century aristocratic palace is perfectly located for the busy traveller," Batkin says. "Its location in Via Giulia, one of the most iconic streets of the city center, is very convenient between Piazza Navona, Piazza Farnese, and Trastevere e San Pietro." With a cosy cocktail bar reminiscent of an American speakeasy and important works of art including originals from Andy Warhol's Ladies and Gentlemen series, "the hotel gives off the atmosphere of an aristocratic household, a unique combination of sacredness and luxury," Batkin shares. "The 24 rooms and suites of the D.O.M Hotel, all overlooking Via Giulia, feature a sophisticated décor and a contemporary style, with beautiful decorative touches and pieces of fine art that match well with the original elements of the building." With interior design featuring neutral shades of shades of white, dove and tobacco, oak floors, and oversized mirrors, "the intimate and relaxing atmosphere allows you to feel like you are in a noble's house," Batkin adds.
_thumb4 Located inside a historic 1920's Spanish Colonial building that is steps from the popular outdoor shopping destination, Third Street Promenade, this new hotel is bringing a bit of old Hollywood glamour to Santa Monica. "Built with Spanish tiles, a stone fireplace, original blown glass doors, and wood-beam ceilings, the hotel injects modern sensibilities with fun (and impeccably-designed) Palihouse touches," Batkin says. "The apartment-style studios, one- and two-bedroom units each have a kitchen including a breakfast nook, blender, toaster and full-size fridge--to fill with fresh farmers market produce." Because of its proximity to the beach, you'll find sea-centric décor elements like bespoke maritime-themed wallpaper, and easy access to the boardwalk by way of rentable Linus bikes. To maximise the fun in the sun, be sure to check out the Mediterranean-style outdoor patio which comes complete with a bocce ball court.
_thumb5 "Sister property to the contemporary classic Cheval Blanc in Courchevel, France, Cheval Blanc Randheli caters to a similar audience of high-flyers with an innate appreciation of the finer things in life," says Batkin of the hotel, which is located in the same aqua blue Noonu Atoll waters as another major Maldives development, Velaa Private Island. The resort was designed by architect Jean-Michel Gathy in a modern vein. "Each villa --some with 40-foot-long private pools-- features a pair of huge 23-foot-tall doors leading the eye through the elegant interiors decorated with contemporary furnishings and modern art," Batkin says. "The resort staff, known as the 'Maison's Alchemist Team' are constantly on hand to assist in planning experiences such as diving or snorkelling trips and dinners in your villa's private garden or aboard a romantic dhoni sailing boat. They're not just mere private butlers at Cheval Blanc Randheli, this is a team of ambassadors dedicated to making your stay as blissful as possible!"
_thumb6 "Ever wondered what it would be like to vacation in a Hemingway novel?" Batkin asks. "Well, [this hotel], in the heart of the beautiful French province region, could be as close as you'll get. With its elegantly restored 18th century guest house, Domaine de la Baume--the third Maison & Hotels Sibuet property--offers up the relaxed feel of the French Riviera, where the most of your worries will be whether you should go for a tour of the grounds (on horseback or by foot) before or after you take a wine break overlooking the gorgeous 99-acre property." Once the former home of French painter Bernard Buffet, the hotel now boasts an orangery, rivers and waterfalls, and an olive grove where hotel chef, François Martin, sources all of his olive oil. The location is also a good launching point for day trips to Cannes or Marseille. "It's got Provence's inimitable style, but be warned, it's also got its incomparable price tag," Batkin adds.
_thumb7 "Recently opened in the heart of Tel Aviv and one of the most talked about hotels in the city, the Alma immediately established a new standard in luxury boutique hospitality in Tel Aviv and in Israel," Batkin says. "Boasting eclectic and historical architecture with a vibrant interior design, the hotel is filled with personal touches which give it a warm and welcoming atmosphere." The building was designed and built in the 1920's as part of the city's Modern Movement and the Bauhaus-style exterior remains just as stunning as ever today. "Each of the 15 rooms offers something different in terms of furnishing and decoration, with a bohemian [vibe] running throughout the design," Batkin says. The hotel's three restaurants are renowned throughout the city, and guests can enjoy the Catalonian style cuisine of Tapas 1 Ha'am, the bohemian chic flair of the Alma Lounge, or the fine dining innovation of Herbert Samuel, the jewel in the Alma's crown.


_thumb8 "A five-star luxury ski resort that just opened in the French Alps, this resort boasts some of the finest views and access to the Three Valleys ski area," Batkin says. "Located at the very top of the former Olympic ski jump, the 55-bedroom L'Apogée comes complete with a four-bedroom penthouse covering the entire top floor of the hotel, a spectacular restaurant, and two bars by two-star Michelin chef Yannick Franques including a fromagerie as well as a ham ageing cellar." In addition to lavishly decorated guest rooms that feature a mix of traditional ski-lodge furnishings peppered with colourful accents, the hotel has plenty of unexpected, luxurious perks. "Top-of-the-line services include a Sisley spa, a caviar bar, and a VIP kids' club with an igloo at the centrepiece," says Batkin.
Do you have any must-see boutique hotels on your list? Let us know where you're taking your next trip, and where you'll stay, in the comments below. _header

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