Hotel junkie Ianthe Butt picks the best hotel openings in April
From a zen-inducing property in Lake Como to a hip guest house in New Orleans and a tropical Australian island getaway, these are the most interesting hotels opening in April 2019.
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Shaking things up on the shoreline at Lake Como, Mandarin Oriental has taken over and transformed the CastaDiva resort in the pretty village of Blevio, just an hour from Milan airport. Nine historic villas – including 19th-century Villa Roccabruna, the former residence of Italian soprano Giuditta Pasta – house 73 rooms, alongside two standalone villas, surrounded by gardens thick with rhododendrons and magnolias. Other chill-out spaces include a floating sundeck on the lake, a pool, a spa with water-inspired treatments, and airy bedrooms smartened up by designer Eric Egan.
Garden and lake views set a tranquil tone, complemented by cream and warm grey colour palettes, while design fuses Italian (contemporary furniture by Milanese hit designer Marta Sala) and Japanese cotton paper wall artwork. For cocktails and seasonal Mediterranean fare there’s the CO.MO Bar & Bistrot (bag a terrace table for cocktails) as well as fine dining restaurant L’Aria. Sailing, kayaking and kitesurfing are on the doorstep, and Como city is just a 10-minute drive away.
Rooms from £467 on a B&B basis
The Hoxton Chicago, USA
Hot on the heels of instant-hit stateside openings in Williamsburg and Portland, flashpacker favourite The Hoxton breezes into the windy city’s Fulton Market District in April. Its 182 rooms (in snug, cosy or roomy sizes) are full-on industrial-cool with concrete ceilings, large warehouse-look windows, books selected by in-the-know locals and mid-century furniture. Design smarts in communal areas come courtesy of firm AvroKO, while bars and restaurants have been masterminded by the popular Boka restaurant group.
Foodies will be in heaven: not only does the area thrum with eateries and independent bars, there’s contemporary Mediterranean restaurant Cire on-site and a slinky basement piano bar for nightcaps and jazz. Alongside the brand’s familiar zippy lobby, there will also be firsts: a wellness studio and yet-to-open coworking space. When it opens this summer, a rooftop pool will no doubt be the place to spot Chicago’s creatives sipping pisco sours and nibbling ceviche from al-fresco Peruvian restaurant Cabra, overseen by acclaimed chef Stephanie Izard.
Rooms from £97, on a room only basis
Lekkerwater Beach Lodge, South Africa
Last year, there was much obsession over Natural Selection’s new Namibian properties: a remote tented camp in the rugged Hoanib Valley, and the “just-washed-ashore” architecture of Shipwreck Lodge. Set to cause just as much of a stir is the eco-focused brand’s first South African property. This new seven-room lodge is a three-and-a-half hour drive from Cape Town (where design hotel Gorgeous George opens this month too) or an hour’s flight on a Cessna plane. Seven rooms, kitted out with handwoven baskets and in marine colour palettes, have sliding glass doors for uninterrupted views of a 6km deserted stretch of beach in the eastern part of the De Hoop Nature Reserve.
Sometimes pods of dolphins can be spotted offshore, and between July and November the reserve is one of the world’s best places for land-based whale-watching when southern right whales arrive from Antarctica in their thousands. Unusually, bookings are restricted to two-night-only stays at Lekkerwater. Guests are encouraged to share experiences such as caving, birdwatching (there’s a colony of cape vultures at the nearby Potberg mountains) as well as walks through the fynbos shrubland and sand dunes. Keeping things environmentally friendly, the lodge has been built on ground previously used as a retreat by former South African president FW De Klerk. Energy is solar and wind-powered, there’s zero single-use plastic on-site, while food (think Knysa oysters and East Cost soles) and wine is all sourced within a 30-mile radius.
Rooms from £155pp a night on an all-inclusive basis with activities too
Daydream Island Resort, Whitsundays, Australia
Daydream Island in the Whitsundays – which sit between Queensland’s mainland and the Great Barrier Reef – was hit hard by Cyclone Debbie in 2017. Fast forward two years and mix in a £57.5million investment and the result is a reincarnated 277-room wonder moments from the ocean. The resort is wrapped by a free-form living coral lagoon with an underwater observatory and education centre where in-house marine biologists reveal the wonders of the deep.
A rainforest walkway, open-air cinema, touch tanks in the living reef, as well as scores of water-based activities (snorkelling, sailing and diving) will keep families busy for days. Bedrooms in sky and sea shades have eco-friendly toiletries by cult Aussie brand Biology and views which include pool, ocean or Whitsunday islands (none are a hardship). Dining highlights include seafood and steak at Inkstone and Asian fusion cuisine at Infinity, where there’s a private teppanyaki room with a feature wall made from recycled plastic.
Rooms from £210 per night on a B&B basis
Maison de la Luz, New Orleans, USA
Home to a rip-roaring live music scene, feasts of bananas foster, beignets and crawfish, plus one of the biggest parties on the planet, Mardi Gras, it’s hard to make the birthplace of jazz any more cool than it already is. But then along comes a new guesthouse from Atelier Ace to make things even more appealing. Moments from famous Lafayette Square, in the Arts Warehouse District, Maison de la Luz channels old-school southern glamour, with 67 rooms designed in partnership with LA-based Studio Shamshiri.
Elegant touches abound: coloured marble floors, silk-tasselled keys, hand-embroidered linen, a grand staircase and marble bathrooms. A guest-only entrance leads to the Library Bar, a craft cocktail joint inside the City Hall’s historic library, which has walls hung with oil paintings, a mischievous spirit and excellent range of actual spirits. It’s run by Quixotic Projects, the folks behind Parisian hit Candelaria and Le Mary Celeste bars. Guests also get priority access to just-over-the-road Ace Hotel’s restaurants and facilities including rooftop bar Alta.
Rooms from £295 on a B&B basis
Grand Park Hotel Rovinj, Istria, Croatia
With Game of Thrones about to hit TV screens again, the Croatian city Dubrovnik (where much of the show was filmed) is about to get an added boost of attention from set-jetters. In-the-know travellers are casting their eyes northwest to the heart-shaped peninsula of Istria and its pretty coastal towns, however.
Grand Park Rovinj – located about 40 minutes from Pula airport – is the latest opening from the Maistra Collection. It has a cascading steppe-like structure, designed by 3LHD Architects, and has wonderful views of Rovinj Old Town and the Adriatic Sea. Corridors lined with illustration, photography and artwork from the likes of Veronica Gaido and Roberta Patalani have an art gallery vibe, and guests are given a travel journal and instant camera on arrival, to encourage creativity during a stay. Natural materials, such as stone and wood, feature in minimalist earthy-hued bedrooms where chandeliers add a touch of sparkle. Six restaurants include Viva Eufemia for champagne (choose from Croatia’s largest selection) and seafood, and Katarina’s Patisserie for sweet treats. There’s also a large spa with three outdoor pools and treatments that harness local Istrian ingredients such as marine muds and sea salts. Foodies should chat to the concierge who can organise wine and olive oil tasting classes, as well as truffle hunting trips.
Rooms from £155 on a B&B basis