6 New Buzz-Worthy Hotels


Like the search for world peace or a palatable enchilada in Alberta, the quest for the perfect hotel room remains one of life’s most elusive pursuits, best savored for the adventure and not the attainment. As Paul Simon once observed, “The nearer your destination, the more you’re slip sliding away.”

That said, every year of late, a handful of haute hostelries have opened wide their doors, hoping to attract the attention, nee loyalty, of a discriminating new generation while earning the respect of seasoned meeting planners and business travelers for whom travel is too often travail.

Of this year’s crop of wannabes, here are six you gotta see.

Park Hyatt Zanzibar, Tanzania
Park Hyatt celebrates Zanzibar’s rich history as a nineteenth-century crossroads for the spice trade in its 67 guest rooms and 11 suites spread over two buildings that mix the old with the new.  The seventeenth-century Mambo Msiige with its peaceful courtyard offers oceanfront rooms with a historic feel, while the new Zamani Residence blends traditional and contemporary design.

After a day exploring the labyrinthine alleys of Stone Town, Forodhani Gardens and the Old Fort, guest relax in the infinity pool overlooking Dhow harbors and the Indian Ocean, recharge at the Anantara Spa and fitness center, and dine at a selection of elegant restaurants within the Zamani Residence.

mama-shelter-los-angeles-restaurant-1-2Mama Shelter, Los Angeles
Last year, the ultra-hip, French-based trendsetters at Mama Shelter transformed this 1923 central Hollywood hotel, once favored by the likes of Ava Gardner and Jimi Hendrix, into an equally eclectic 70-room millennial boutique, thanks to the fearless beginner’s luck of designer Thierry Gaugain.

The nuevo-boho décor of Mama Shelter’s minimalist, iMac-equipped guest quarters and 1930s Spanish-style lobby echo Gaugain’s previous works on yachts and retail stores, as well as his former position as head of design under hip-hotel guru Philippe Starck.

From rooftop gym and bar to kitschy retro coffee shop, Mama Shelter L.A. offers nomads and scenesters alike the opportunity to stand down, plug in and snag a celebrity selfie to go.

The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi, Malaysia
Located on its own private cove and beach overlooking the Andaman Sea, The Ritz-Carlton Langkawi features 132 guest rooms and 42 villas surrounded by one of the most spectacular rain forests on Earth.

For family fun, it’s hard to beat Langkawi’s pristine beach, three swimming pools and crystal-clear offshore dive sites. There’s even a Ritz Kids Club on site. Sedentary epicureans however will hasten to the spa and Turkish-style hammam, then recharge with a dazzling array of international dining options that include Malay, Chinese, Thai, Indian and French cuisine.

SLS Park Avenue, New York
Situated in New York’s trending NoMad district, just two blocks from Central Park and the Museum of Modern Art, the vibrant new edition to the SLS portfolio opens this year, joining its well-received SLS predecessors in Beverly Hills, South Beach and Las Vegas.

These 190 guest rooms and suites combine the glamorous, slyly whimsical interiors of uber-designer Philippe Starck with the requisite assortment of restaurants and bars from lobby to rooftop that one expects of Park Avenue’s new contenders.

Lofoten Opera Hotel, Norway
The impending opening of the stunning, sinuous, spectacular Lofoten Opera Hotel, which hugs a mountain range on a remote island of Lofoten in the Norway Archipelago, will be met with delight by world travelers and architects who have long had this Snohetta wonder on their bucket list.

While the decidedly futuristic, low-rise project has universal appeal, encircling as it does 2.7 acres with apartments, a spa and an amphitheater the mountain-to-sea splendor that surrounds it is equally operatic.

Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, South Korea
Should Heaven turn out to be a hotel, it might look something like the warm and welcoming Four Seasons Hotel Seoul. South Korea’s first Four Seasons is located in a new 25-story glass tower in the CBD of Jong-gu, steps from Gwanghwamun, the main gate of Gyeongbok Palace and the historic districts of Jong-ro and Isadong.

The largest luxury hotel in Seoul, with 317 guest rooms and 43 suites, features majestic floor-to-ceiling windows throughout to welcome in natural light and impressive views of the palace, Cheonggyecheon Stream and surrounding mountains. Amenities include a saltwater pool, spa, four international restaurants, two bars, a gourmet grocer and Confections by Four Seasons.

In short, heavenly!

Photos: Courtesy of Lofoten Opera Hotel, Norway; above, Four Seasons Seoul; Mama Shelter, Los Angeles.

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald is an award-winning journalist, author and blogger who incorporates humor and human interest into a broad range of topics. Follow him on Twitter @omnisaurus

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