Hotel junkie Ianthe Butt picks the best new hotels to put a spring in your step
From a private island in the Cambodian Riviera to an arty crashpad in Oslo, these are March’s best new hotels.
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Six Senses Krabey Island, Cambodia
Thailand used to be the go-to southeast Asian escape, but of late heads are being turned by a new wave of Cambodian openings, including the glossy Rosewood Phnom Penh and luxe tented camp Shinta Mani Wild. The most talked about this year is the Cambodian Riviera, where Alila Koh Russey arrived in 2018, and this month another private island escape – Six Senses Krabey Island – throws open its doors. The 30-acre volcanic island, with boulder-lined beach and swathes of jungle, has been sensitively developed by the luxe spa-focussed brand.
There are just 40 villas, each with a sundeck, soaking tub and pool, which have tropi-cool interiors featuring volcanic stone, local timber and hanging light pendants inspired by the golden romdoul flower. Foodie flashpoints include contemporary Khmer cuisine at Tree – think pumpkin and prawn soup and crab amok served with Battambang jasmine rice, and flavoured scoops such as basil or pandan leaf at a chic ice cream parlour. There is, of course, a cracking Six Senses spa with a regular box of bliss-out treatments, as well as newbies inspired by ancient Cambodian healing traditions. Diving and kayaking trips will keep adrenaline junkies happy, while for astro-geeks there’s an observatory with a telescope and expert talks on the marvels of the universe.
Rooms from £411 a night on a B&B basis
Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel, Athens, Greece
Also making waves is the Athenian Rivieria, where Four Seasons has chosen a glamorous seaside spot for its first opening in the country. The Astir Palace resort quickly became a magnet for the great and the good after opening in the 1950s, attracting everyone from Brigitte Bardot and Frank Sinatra to Lady Gaga and Barack Obama prior to its closure in 2016. Now it’s set to reignite tourism along the pine-clad peninsula, offering around 300 sea view retro-chic rooms with earthy-toned furniture, lashings of woods and white marble.
Art, courtesy of the Benaki Museum, will be displayed, as well as pieces by British artist Sir Antony Gormley. A tennis academy and water-based activities at three private beaches will keep sports nuts busy, and there are seven restaurants to sate food enthusiasts. Highlights include Greek mezze platters at beachfront Taverna 37 and seafood at the Martin Brudnizki-designed Pelagos. It’s a good choice for weekend breakers who want a seaside jaunt and ancient history fix, as both the Acropolis and the Temple of Poseidon are half an hour away.
Rooms from £471 on a B&B basis
Roseate Ganges, Rishikesh, India
Opening in hippie haven Rishikesh, in the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayas, is the latest property from the Roseate Group, best known for its calming hotel in hectic Delhi. Ideal for zen-seekers, the hotel has 16 cottages with jaw-dropping views of the Ganges and the surrounding valley. Saurabh Dakshini, of Delhi’s Studio Organon, has used hardwoods, granite and marble to create a gritty, minimal-luxe environment where nature takes centre stage.
Given Rishikesh is the yoga capital of the world, wellness is a focus, with meditation and yoga classes as well as multi-day programmes at the Aheli spa to tackle stress, detoxing and weight management. On the menu at restaurant Chidya Ghar are all things nourishing: think beetroot falafel, homemade clove cottage cheese and an array of curries. There’s an 18m infinity pool to dip into, and trips to Rajaji National Wildlife Park to spot elephants and barking deer can be arranged. Other unmissable experiences include attending Ganga Aarti, the evening ritual where thousands gather at the holy riverbanks to light oil lamps and pray, and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the ashram where The Beatles learnt transcendental meditation.
Rooms from £360 on a half board basis
Amerikalinjen, Oslo, Norway
While Copenhagen might be the obvious Scandi weekend of choice, those who cast their eyes to the Norwegian capital will find an exciting development. Housed in a historic neo-baroque building in Jernbanetorget Square, and designed by Andreas Bjercke and Georg Eliassen a century ago, is 122-room Amerikalinjen.
Design is contemporary-cool but riffs on the property’s maritime heritage as the former HQ of cruise ship company Norwegian America Line where potential emigrants would catch ships to America. Inside are grand staircases, vaulted ceilings and bedrooms with paned windows where original framed maps and dining menus from the liners rub up against reproduction mid-century Torbjørn Bekken armchairs and glass-blown pendant lamps by Hadeland. Design fiends familiar with ultra-hip art-packed sister property The Thief hotel will be delighted by Amerikalinjen’s art collection, which includes work by Shepard Fairey and Julian Opie. The hotel’s ground floor is set to become a neighbourhood hotspot, housing all-day brasserie Atlas, serving European classics such as moules-frites, as well as a leafy open-air courtyard Haven, where a waffle trolley pootles around mid-afternoon. For mean bourbon and whisky-infused Old Fashioneds, there’s dimly-lit Pier 42, plus a NYC-inspired basement jazz club named Gustav, and a Finnish sauna.
Rooms from £230 on a B&B basis
Sister City, New York City, US
Ace Hotel redefined what made a hotel hip when it arrived on the scene in the late 1990s, so it’s no wonder Sister City, a new concept from Atelier Ace, has got people hot under the collar. The 200-room Sister City, in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, takes its design cues from “Japanese philosophy and Scandinavian architecture” – the result being calming rooms in natural hues with foldable desks, Italian cherry wood beds (where luggage can be tucked underneath), white linens, leafy touches and no unnecessary fuss.
The aesthetic is practical yet chic – somewhere to retreat to after a day’s sightseeing. At reception there’s a library as well as a curated travel essentials marketplace, while a rooftop bar serves up cocktails and 360-degree city views. Rather than the jam-packed schedule of artsy events Ace fans will be familiar with, there will be a yet-to-be-revealed monthly collaboration with local partners. At the Joe Ogrodnek-helmed Floret restaurant, dishes packed with seasonal vegetables which fuse Mediterranean, north African and east Asian influences will be served.
Rooms from £150 on a room-only basis
Rosewood Hong Kong, China
Of late, all Hong Kong’s arts and culture lovers are Kowloon-obsessed. Not only will the vast visual culture-focused M+ museum open next year in the West Kowloon Cultural District (alongside scores of galleries and a theatre), but just a few miles east is the springing-into-life Victoria Dockside – a new arts and design district in Tsim Sha Tsui.
The hotel jewel in its crown is Rosewood Hong Kong, a 322-room ultra-luxe affair spread across 43 floors of a swanky new Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates-designed building, which resembles a dramatic, metallic lipstick mid-twizzle and is housed on the waterfront. Once the site of Holt’s Wharf, and later the New World Centre (a hub during the manufacturing heyday of the 1970-80s), the new build houses spacious rooms with contemporary art deco nods, starting from 53 sq m – large in space-squeezed Hong Kong. Eighty per cent of rooms have harbour views, making them a prime spot for junk boat and Star Ferry-watching. As well as leafy garden pockets and a split-level spa and fitness centre, eight different dining options will arrive. Most exciting are Chinese teahouse Holt’s Cafe, The Legacy House for Cantonese cuisine, and creative cocktails at DarkSide bar, a sultry spot hidden behind green velvet drapes.
Rooms from £515 on a room-only basis