Every hotel that reopened during the pandemic deserves to be praised. These hotels were given the highest praise by Tablet guests.
Consistency is crucial at a hotel. You expect it, so do they. To provide the best possible service, hotels rely on systems, on schedules, and on a complex network of shared data. So when the consistency is interrupted — when a deadly pandemic threatens to shut down and reshape the entire travel industry — the appropriate response is not necessarily hardwired into the hotel’s DNA.
Hotel staff are trained to handle a variety of emergencies. But a pandemic was something completely new for most of the industry. Shutting down operations is foreign enough, restarting them with COVID still out there is a couple galaxies away from standard procedure.
When things got real back in 2020, hotels needed to be nimble. They needed to create new structures on the spot and commit to them unflinchingly. We watched so many amazing Tablet hotels make that commitment, adjusting and adapting in extraordinary ways. According to you, the hotels below understood the assignment. They are the highest-rated hotels since the pandemic began, based on actual feedback from verified Tablet guests.
#10: Eaton DC
This isn’t just the hippest hotel in Washington, but one of the most impressive new boutique hotels in America, and it’s thanks in large part to the fact that its founder, Katharine Lo, isn’t given to half-measures. She’s the Hong Kong–born, Yale-educated daughter of the chairman of the Langham group, so the basics of high-end hospitality are second nature. What makes the Eaton special is everything else, particularly its unapologetically outspoken social-justice ethos — a rarity for D.C., this is a hotel that feels free to wear its politics on its sleeve.
#9: Sinner Paris
Sinner’s designer and architect Tristan Auer was given free rein to create a truly immersive experience, one marked by dramatic public spaces, opulent guest quarters, and a dash of the carefree optimism of the Seventies. The result is colorful, eclectic, and though tightly composed, far from minimal — less “urban zen” than invigorating sensory overload. It’s vibrant and incredibly dramatic, but elegant all the same, and as plush as can be, in keeping with its hedonistic mission.
#8. Urso Hotel & Spa
Madrid’s got luxe old grand hotels and it’s got striking modern boutique hotels. Urso is a bit of both. Set in a stately early 20th-century palace, Urso’s neo-classical architecture complements the modernist oak and marble interiors by Antonio Obrador, the celebrated Spanish designer. At the center of the city, sandwiched between the residential neighborhood Chamberi and the trendy Chueca district, URSO is surrounded by embassy buildings, local cafés, upscale boutiques, and the Barceló food market, which delivers the hotel’s fresh Iberico ham daily.
#7. Holiday House Palm Springs
Palm Springs, California
Holiday House has been around for decades. The hotel first opened its doors in 1951, during the resort town’s golden age — original amenities included a shuffleboard court and English bicycles for guests. Much of its midcentury character remains. But now, thanks to the design overhaul, it caters to the whims of modern travelers. Cozy communal spaces where you can catch up on work, check. A cool tile-lined bar serving classic cocktails all day, check. Bright and cheerful rooms, with original artwork, bath hardware by Waterworks, and custom textiles by Mark D. Sikes.
#6: Palazzo Albricci Peregrini
Palazzo Albricci Peregrini is an exceedingly private place, tucked safely away from prying eyes, but the experience it offers is no less extraordinary than that of its more ostentatious Lake Como neighbors. It’s owned by a family, still in residence, who’ve sectioned off a part of this centuries-old house and transformed it into a modern boutique hotel in that perfectly Italian style, which blends weathered stone and antique architectural details with the latest in contemporary luxury design, as well as eclectic vintage objects and contemporary artworks.
#5: Home House London
Home House lies on Portman Square, just off of Oxford Street, around the corner from Selfridge’s and mere streets from Hyde Park. It’s essentially hiding in plain sight, a discreet trio of Georgian townhouses, and you’ll immediately notice the old-world approach to service. The style remains true, for the most part, to the club’s Georgian-era roots, with some dramatically contemporary exceptions: the reception and bar feature furnishings by Zaha Hadid that look like something beamed in from an advanced interstellar civilization.
#4: The Whitby Hotel
New York City, New York
The Whitby Hotel brings the warmth and coziness of English hospitality to a neighborhood that’s already got plenty of American-style luxury hotels, and proves that Firmdale can compete with anyone in the world on comfort, while looking just that much more stylish and charming while they’re at it. Here, as usual, owner-designer Kit Kemp puts her stamp on things, with trademark bold colors tuned to complement Midtown’s slightly muted palette, and the usual exquisite taste in details, from the artwork to the bathroom fixtures to those steel Crittall windows.
#3: Hotel Sanders
The London-based design team Lind + Almond transformed this 1869 building into something that’s both cozy and modernist, both contemporary and nostalgic, blending lush comforts with moody atmospherics and everywhere embellishing the impeccably stylish spaces with little visual surprises. Hotel Sanders is as mature a hospitality debut as we’ve seen in a long time — these rooms are the equal of any high-end boutique hotel, not just in Copenhagen but in London or New York, which is all the more impressive for the fact that the Sanders is a one-off.
#2: The Dewberry
Charleston, South Carolina
Southern charm and grandeur with a clean, contemporary finish: that’s The Dewberry in a nutshell. Practically every surface throughout the lobby, living areas, and guest rooms is made of smooth stone or hard wood — cherry, oak, walnut, mahogany, travertine, Danby marble — while the furnishings are either vintage or bespoke and hand-crafted. Guest rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, many with views over the Charleston Harbor, as well as original artwork and seasonal minibars curated by the hotel’s executive chef. At this hotel, it’s all about the finer things.
North Adams, Massachusetts
Tourists is a Sixties motor lodge reborn as a very modern, very hip little country boutique hotel. Its name was inspired by an old “Tourists Welcome” sign, and the aim is to remove some of the stigma around the term — we can’t be locals everywhere. The vibe is pared-down but stylish, with a modernist simplicity but a rustic edge, studiously avoiding urban opulence and mid-century modernist kitsch. And while there’s plenty of rural tranquility to be had, it’s balanced by a sort of summer-camp conviviality.
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