The newly added hotels we’re most excited about to start the year. They might not be perfect, but nothing ever is.
The picture above, from the Solo Palacio hotel in Spain, might not be the best hero image for a travel story. It’s dark, it’s a bit stormy. For a certain type of traveler, it might not provide any inspiration. For others, myself included, it’s a reminder that not everything needs to be perfect, it just needs to be true. The hotel itself, luxurious to be sure, endorses the Japanese idea of wabi-sabi, and taking pleasure in the imperfect. They ask guests to “focus on the blessings hiding in daily life” and to “celebrate the way things are.” Celebrate imperfection. Celebrate truth.
It’s a good reminder as we look forward to the new year and think about where we might like to travel next. Heck, it’s a good reminder even as you sit at home reading this, wishing your interior design looked like what you’re always seeing in magazines and social media. Or wishing you lived in a different neighborhood, or had more space, or fancier appliances. Or when you’re upset about something that happened at work. Every once in a while just look around and celebrate the way things are. It’s not so bad. You’re doing great.
With that, here are the hotels we’re most excited about at the start of 2024. The list has a little bit of everything, with a range of styles, locations, personalities, prices, and imperfections. Whoever you are, there’s something for you. An appropriate summation of the Tablet selection.
New York City, NY, USA
Their first city hotel in the Americas, Aman New York is another chapter in the evolution of this top-tier hospitality brand: a self-contained world of luxury right in the heart of Manhattan, discreetly tucked away inside the upper floors of a Beaux-Arts skyscraper from 1921, a quietly elegant setting that compares favorably with some of its gaudier neighbors.
Another Aman, of a sort. Janu is Aman’s slightly more attainable, more youth-oriented sister brand. The first installment is within Tokyo’s mixed-use Azabudai Hills skyscraper complex. Luxurious though it is, Janu Tokyo is less a self-contained, Aman-style urban resort and more the sort of sociable boutique hotel that engages directly with its setting.
Mexico City, Mexico
The Texas-based Bunkhouse group has ventured over the border once before, with Baja’s Hotel San Cristobal. Now the boutique hotel legends are making moves in Mexico City. The San Fernando keeps the name of the building it calls home, a distinctive 1947 apartment building in Condesa, while its interiors have been thoroughly reimagined by Bunkhouse and local firm Reurbano.
If you’ve got some facility with the Italian language you’ll have recognized that I Borghi dell’Eremo is plural. This is not a single farmhouse hotel, but three distinct “villages,” something we’re always suckers for. Each village serves a different purpose, but all are constructed in a similar contemporary-classic style — and all have the same stunning views of the Umbrian countryside.
The house that contains Monument is late 19th-century work by Ernst Ziller, a man whose architectural fingerprints are all over modern Greece. After a substantial but sensitive restoration, it’s a small and chic boutique hotel that aims to preserve an important piece of local culture even as it updates it with contemporary design and luxury comforts.
St. David’s, Grenada
For their first resort in the Americas, the Six Senses brand chose the Caribbean island of Grenada, not far off the coast of Venezuela. The 38-acre property occupies a headland on the quiet south coast, and its low-profile structures are nestled into the rises and falls of the land in a way that affords La Sagesse an extraordinary sense of privacy and seclusion.
Outside of Miami, Florida doesn’t exactly have a deep bench of tasteful and interesting boutique hotels. Tampa’s Palihouse Hyde Park Village goes a long way toward changing that characterization. The Pali group’s colorful, eclectic, California-born, European-influenced style looks perfectly at home on the Gulf Coast.
Solo Palacio is unusual. The building is a 16th-century palace — more rustic than the word might suggest — but the concept is wabi-sabi, the Japanese idea of taking pleasure in imperfection and impermanence. Accordingly, the estate has been restored, but not to perfection. The experience is a luxurious one, but everything feels unpretentiously rough-edged and charmingly handmade.
You won’t find televisions or telephones in the rooms at L’Eldorado, a rarity for a city hotel, but an approach that many guests find refreshing. You also won’t find any minimalism or modernism. With their ornately patterned wallpapers and textiles, the rooms have personality in spades. The eclectic interiors span a multitude of eras, though it all adds up to a remarkably unified aesthetic.
Though its anonymous name betrays none of its character, Riad No. 37 is one of the most unusual riad hotels in the Marrakech medina. Like its neighbors, it wraps around an inner courtyard that’s invisible from the street. But unlike the vast majority of riad hotels, No. 37 is visibly Scandinavian in its design inspiration.
The Namibian hotel industry is growing almost as quickly as the Habitas roster of hotels. The brand’s Namibian outpost, its first safari lodge, is something of a break from the traditions of the genre — less formal, less structured, and ideally more focused on communal living and human connection than the classic safari-lodge experience.
We started with two hotels from the Aman group, we finish with two from the Habitas group. Like Namibia, Bacalar is a burgeoning tourist destination, labeled “the next Tulum” by many. At the Habitas in Bacalar, the spectacularly colorful lagoon is the main natural attraction, overlooked by a row of luxurious tented A-frames that are, appropriately, extraordinarily environmentally friendly.