In general, the higher you go in the luxury-hotel world, the more stylistically conservative the clientele, so that at the very top end, you find hotels that make Downton Abbey look like avant-garde modern Dutch. It’s by no means a universal rule, however — here, in the way of exception, are five top-flight luxury hotels that aren’t afraid to show off a keen contemporary design sense.
Tokyo, Japan — We’ll admit it: our first thought when we heard whispers of an Aman Tokyo was that they might just have lost the plot. Why would these purveyors of resort perfection bother with the city? And why this particular city, whose high-end hotels are already as close to flawless as any we’ve seen? Well, we were fools to wonder. There might be no challenge that Aman resorts isn’t up to — certainly not Tokyo, where they’ve created something that the rest of the world’s luxury hoteliers will be chasing for a decade or more.
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New York, New York — Can there really have not been a Park Hyatt in New York before? The first proper top-shelf luxury hotel to open in Manhattan in over a decade makes its home on the billionaires’ row that is West 57th Street, occupying the lower twenty-five floors of the One57 residential skyscraper, right across the street from Carnegie Hall. There’s a lot riding on the Park Hyatt New York, at least for Hyatt — is it worth the wait? Is it a truly flagship-worthy entry in this most demanding of cities? Not to worry; if there’s one thing the Park Hyatt name stands for, it’s faultless execution, every time.
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Paris, France — The day the newly renovated Le Royal Monceau opened its doors was the day we had to stop saying most of the things we’ve been saying about Parisian palace hotels all these years. No longer is it sensible to say that Paris, when it comes to luxury hotels, is entirely a conservative town. Here, seemingly unconstrained by budgetary concerns, Philippe Starck’s imagination runs wild. And underneath all his trademark drama is an impeccably crafted and luxurious five-star hotel, with all the trappings, from the Clarins spa right down to the desserts by Pierre Hermé.
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Florence, Italy — Fashion hotels can be a mixed bag, but not the Lungarno Collection; each one of the Ferragamo fashion brand’s boutique hotels is impeccably stylish, faultlessly luxurious, as perfectly measured and finely crafted as a pair of Ferragamo loafers. In fact, if you’ve stayed in one (a Lungarno hotel, that is — there’s no room to sleep in a Ferragamo loafer), you’ll recognize that Portrait Firenze is absolutely true to form, its thirty-six rooms and suites designed by the celebrated Michele Bönan, here inspired by the haute couture of the Fifties, as well as Florence’s aristocratic history.
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London, England — t’s housed in a new building designed by Foster + Partners, and located at one end of the Strand’s central Aldwych Crescent, an iconic location if ever there was one. And it’s as big a deal as you’d expect from a new-build Norman Foster luxury hotel in the heart of London. Big, sweeping architectural statements are made, especially in the nine-story pyramid-shaped atrium, while private revelations abound — the top-floor terraces have unrivaled views, and the suite in the corner tower boasts a 360-degree exposure. The interiors are crisp and modern, the rooms and suites reinforcing contemporary London’s international character, and the fixtures and finishes are state-of-the-art, from the integrated electronics to the massively decadent bathrooms.
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