IN THE SPOTLIGHT
TOP TEN PLUS HOTELS OF THE WEEK
MAY 4, 2020
MAY 4, 2020
From the same family that brought you the Pavillon de la Reine, here’s another pavillon entirely, the Pavillon des Lettres. This one, in the 8th arrondissement, is styled as a literary hotel, each of its twenty-six rooms named for a well-known author, from Baudelaire to Zola, Ibsen to Kafka. But though its luxuries may be subtle, it’s by no means only a hotel for bookish types.
The Hôtel du Petit Moulin may take some determination to find — the sign on this listed 17th-century building still reads “Boulangerie” — but those who persevere are in for a treat. Hidden behind this century-old facade is a vibrant and contemporary environment designed from top to bottom by the fashion designer Christian Lacroix, an environment that is remarkable for the fact that it’s equally opposed both to the 19th-century antique look on display in most Parisian hotels and to the minimalist style that’s the default option for modern boutique hotels the world over.
From American blue jeans to French pastry to Italian coffee — increasingly, Tokyo is where other countries go to see their local arts and crafts practiced at the highest possible level. The youth-oriented, high-design, hyper-social boutique hotel certainly didn’t originate in Japan, but again, it just might be in Tokyo that it finds its most perfect expression. TRUNK Hotel is the local version of something like the Ace Hotel Shoreditch or the Wythe in Williamsburg, but it’s no mere copy — as is so often the case in Japan, what sets it apart is the sheer quality of its execution, which is in turn the product of a fanatical attention to detail.
New York is always evolving. Not all that many years ago, Hudson Square was a bit of a non-place, a nameless district bordering SoHo, Tribeca, and the West Village. But give people a reason to visit, and a neighborhood is born. Arlo Soho got in early, before the rush of development, and the frugality of its developers enables it to offer modern boutique style at a price that would normally get you — well, we don’t even want to think about what, but certainly not that.
It’s often said that Pennsylvania is a microcosm of all of America — one big city on each end, and three hundred miles of farms, mountains and small towns in between. To look at the exterior of the Hotel Fauchère, in Milford, which looks straight out of American Gothic, you’d think you’d found the Platonic form of the rustic Pennsylvania farmhouse. But venture in and you’ll find a boutique hotel that’s a lot more contemporary and cosmopolitan than you’d expect, defying any concept of rural America as a somehow backwards “flyover country.”
For a while now Austin has been one of the United States’ best-kept secrets: a little enclave of progressive thought, high-tech savvy, and hipster culture, cleverly hidden in Texas, which is not the first place you’d look — and it’s disguised as the state capital, no less. But until recently its hotel situation lagged a bit behind the times — one new and notable exception being the Hotel Saint Cecilia.
It may sound like some kind of all-inclusive Caribbean resort, but Pillows Luxury Boutique Hotel Anna Van Den Vondel Amsterdam is located just to the southwest of Amsterdam’s city center, far from any beach, in a row of beautifully restored 19th-century buildings. All the same, it’s not exactly the grittiest version of urban living. With the verdant Vondelpark just steps away, and with views of its own private garden — not to mention rooms and suites that are piled high with luxe comforts — it’s more than deserving of its exceedingly soothing name.
There are a few ways to do Bali. The most common involves the southern settlements, the villages and towns along the more populous south coast, and a close second is Ubud, the inland artists’ colony. But it’s hard not to see the appeal of the alternative version offered by Menjangan Resort, on a very isolated stretch of beach in the West Bali National Park, on the far northwestern corner of the island. The holy grail, for beach resorts, is the desert-island experience, and Menjangan comes awfully close.
The idea of a minimalist, modernist luxury resort in some idyllic Asian coastal locale isn’t a new one. But the success of a hotel like the Balé Phnom Penh depends less on the element of surprise and more on pure execution. And on that score this one, like its older sister in Bali, is just about faultless; the design achieves the Zen simplicity it’s aiming for, and the physical comforts of the place ensure that you’re never shaken out of the blissful state that the architecture has induced.
Not everything worth knowing about in England has to happen in London. The Berkshire town of Reading might not have as many stylish, functionally modern luxury boutique hotels as the capital, but it’s got the Roseate, which is all of the above, and a listed landmark building as well, right on the edge of Forbury Gardens, in the town center. (Which, incidentally, is only 23 minutes from the capital by train — and 40 minutes from Highclere Castle, for you Downton Abbey fanatics.)