From a luxe Paris hôtel particulier with intimate pieds-à-terre to a sustainable private island off Mozambique with suites made from 3D-printed sand
The preeminent design hotel of 2020 is difficult to describe in just one word or phrase. Architect Lord Norman Foster (who designed the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center that made our 2019 list) describes the hotels of the future as places that are all about lifestyles—inviting the community to become a part of the property.
“Previously, hotels were more static, fortress-like, and off-putting,” Lord Foster tells, adding that unique vantage points are what make hotels exciting these days.
“You need architecture that is calming, not shouting at you.” Stacy Fischer-Rosenthal, president of Fischer Travel Enterprises, whose clients always look for something special, says that affluent travelers are seeking hotels and destinations with purpose and meaning, where lifelong memories can be created. “Luxury is the absence of worry, knowing you are in good hands”.
Herewith, our favorite properties opening in 2020, with exceptional design, sense of place, and style.
Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôl, Versailles, France
Many people have dreamed of staying at the Palace of Versailles; soon, you can. Airelles, the luxury brand of LOV Group, debuts a 14-room hotel in the spring of 2020—every bit as palatial as you can imagine.
Spread across two buildings and three floors, the hotel is set within the perimeter of the palace grounds and designed in the 18th-century style. “It’s a historic building; our design inspiration came from it being the home of Marie Antoinette,” notes architect and designer Christophe Tollemer, who renovated a portion of the palace that dates back to 1788.
With period furniture sourced from antique vendors, each of the suites is distinct. “We respected the layout of rooms across the floors,” he says, noting that during Louis XIV’s time, the first-floor rooms were reserved for aristocracy because of their proximity to the king.
The basement will have a world-class spa, and all the mirrored rooms have cotton upholstery designed by Pierre Frey that was inspired by 18th-century wallpaper patterns. airelles.com
Xigera, Botswana, Africa
What does it mean to experience the African bush? Xigera, a Red Carnation hotel that is the brainchild of Toni Tollman, Philip Fourie, and Anton de Kock, opens in June in the Okavango Delta with the mind-set of giving guests a truly authentic experience.
Each of the only 12 suites hidden in a canopy of trees is filled with work made by local artisans. “We took the architectural inspiration from birds in flight,” says De Kock.
“It sounds crazy, but if you take a body and two wings that outstretch, that was the main inspiration for the building.”
Totally disconnected from anywhere else in Botwana, Xigera has a sense of remoteness: Access is by dirt roads (or a half-hour flight from Maun).
Gorgeous details abound: Carved bronze lilies adorn the bathroom, and exteriors are comprised of scorched wood, which makes the lodge camouflage seamlessly with its surroundings. “Every piece of furniture has been done by an individual artist; anything you see here, you can’t really buy anywhere else,” says Tollman.
Villas face the pristine pool, and 95 percent of the property will be solar-powered. xigera.com
Kisawa Sanctuary, Benguerra Island, Mozambique
Situated on a 750-acre stretch of forest, beach, and sand dunes on an island off the coast of Mozambique is a sanctuary that sets a new standard in sustainable design. Intimate—with only 12 bungalows and a residence that each has a one-acre plot—Kisawa opens the summer of 2020.
A spa that specializes in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda is the wellness heartbeat of the place, housed in a thatched building inspired by island design.
Founder Nina Flohr wanted something truly special and luxurious: The resort boasts accommodations built using 3D-printed local sand.
Naturalists will feel at home here, since the island is home to more than 145 bird species. kisawasanctuary.com
Hôtel Particulier Villeroy, Paris
Once the mansion of the Villeroy & Boch family in Paris, this colonial edifice was fully transformed into luxurious pieds-à-terre in December 2019.
Part of the Collection group of resorts, Hôtel Particulier Villeroy is the first urban foray for the brand.
Guests feel as though they are in a residence, not a hotel, with three floors of suites. “Most of the furniture and upholstery come from small craftsmen,” says chief executive officer Jacques Oudinot.
The restaurant and bar are only open to guests, and textures include marble imported from Turkey. “It’s possible to rent out the entire place that will have only 22 guests,” says Oudinot.
“There is no other hotel in Paris that does this.” the-c.com
Ambiente, a Landscape Hotel, Sedona, Arizona
Opening in late 2020, this game-changing hotel is among a handful of landscape hotels in the world that focus on sustainable materials.
With 40 cube-shaped guest atriums elevated above the ground using steel piers and constructed using floor-to-ceiling bronze-tinted glass and metal, Ambiente is all about allowing guests to appreciate nature and the surroundings.
Developed, owned, and managed by Two Sister Bosses, a local family-owned and -operated company, the hotel is surrounded by the protected Coconino National Forest. ambientesedona.com
Riggs Washington DC (Washington, D.C.)
The historic building that was once home to Riggs National Bank (known as the Bank of Presidents) is being transformed into a hotel, opened in early 2020.
The 19th-century architectural marvel is a nod to the golden age of banking. Designed by Jacu Strauss, the creative director of Lore Group, Riggs plays on the line between public and private spaces and what happens in them.
Strauss and his team designed most of the furniture and sourced crystal-bulb table lamps from Lee Broom, Josephine armchairs from Munna Design, and exclusive wallpaper by Voutsa.
The grand public areas are light and airy, with chalky white ceilings and walls, moiré grey fabric wall panels, and accents of light blue, plum red, and ochre yellow, notes Strauss.
The bar, Silver Lyan, is in a space that used to be the bank’s underground vault and was designed to be cozier, with rich oak-clad columns and walls. “We did not want to restore the building so that it lost all of its wrinkles; instead we wanted to preserve them to celebrate the age and history of the building,” the designer notes. riggsdc.com
The brainchild of Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa and actor Robert De Niro, the brand’s 115-room newest hotel, in Chicago’s West Loop, opens early in 2020 with a distinct Japanese aesthetic. “Inspired by the weathered beauty of Japan’s oldest buildings, natural materials in varying patinas are left intentionally imperfect as if they’ve been stopped in the middle of the aging process,” says a representative from design firm Studio K.
The rooms specifically blend sandy tones with accents of indigo, which hints at the Japanese practice of dying linens.
Darker, raw accents come through with the use of blackened steel, which ties back to the industrial history of the West Loop.
A local purveyor, Anita’s Upholstery, was used for the restaurant banquettes.
A combination of sisal and wool with indigo plaster walls in the bathroom gives a sense of zen. chicago.nobuhotels.com
Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection, Austin, Texas
Opened in March 2020 is a treasured historic landmark reborn with a resort-style sensibility in an idyllic section of the Texas city.
Located in the neighborhood of Hancock Park, this traditional property that dates back to 1927 has only 42 rooms and 12 suites, complete with a chapel and gardens. Designed by Ken Fulk, the resort boasts a varied history: It housed several private schools as well as a convent.
Rooms echo the history of the place (cheeky names like the Maid’s Room help guests relive a bit of the period vibe). commodoreperry.com
Camp Sarika by Amangiri, Canyon Point, Utah
Sarika debuts in April in the high desert surrounded by mesas and the raw wilderness of the Utah landscape.
Homi Vazifdar, chief executive officer of the Canyon Group, which developed the resort, describes the experience as “the highest form of luxury in a tented environment: It is a tent, but it is not really a tent.”
The tents are manufactured in South Africa by Luxury Frontiers and designed for the harsh environment: very cold winters, very hot summers, and strong winds in May.
With only 34 keys and private plunge pools, Sarika (which is a five-minute drive away from the main Amangiri resort) emphasizes roominess and privacy; accommodations are furnished from 30 different vendors.
Palace Elisabeth, Hvar Island, Croatia
A slice of royalty comes to Hvar Island in Croatia in the summer, when the former duke’s palace (dating to the 13th century), formally reopens its doors.
Forty-five rooms and suites with Venetian and Austrian elements offer views of the Adriatic Sea; each room has murals hand-painted by the designer Oto Blaha—a rare touch. In 1899, the edifice was rebuilt for Empress Elisabeth, “Sisi.”
Urban Cowboy Lodge, Catskills, New York
A reimagined alpine inn on the side of a mountain in the Catskill Forest Preserve is set to debut under seasoned hotel developer Phil Hospod and owner Lyon Porter as a luxury lodge and spa set on 68 acres. Opened in January, the 28-room resort (with a freestanding cabin and chalet) is a 10-minute drive to Belleayre Mountain, popular with skiers.
Expect some glamping-chic design with patterned wallpaper reflective of the area’s Native American heritage, 200-year-old ceiling wood, copper and brass bathtubs, and sweeping views of the surrounding greenery.
Each suite is hand-papered by Clint van Gemert, who has worked on other Cowboy properties.
The Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi
With orange timber panels framing the entrance, the new 193-room Four Seasons Tokyo at Otemachi is all about focusing on Japanese elements and style.
Designed by Jean-Michel Gathy, principal owner of Denniston, the property “evokes glimpses of Japan while immersing guests in tranquility,” he says.
The property is adjacent to the Imperial Palace in the heart of the frenetic and hypermodern city; in this sense, it is an oasis of calm.
The lobby has artwork by contemporary Japanese painters with design nods to the Japanese garden.
Expect a soothing color palette and the use of shōji (sliding doors) in some rooms. fourseasons.com
Miraval Berkshires, Lenox, Massachusetts
The brand’s third resort—like the others, dedicated to wellness and well-being—opens in May on top of 380 protected acres in Lenox, Massachusetts.
Designed by New York City–based Clodagh, a fierce advocate of minimalism and the belief that design is fundamental to well-being, this resort set in the heart of Berkshire Country has 148 rooms with a light and airy color palette and pops of color.
Guests can also partake in equine programming.
Rosewood São Paulo
With a stellar group of architects and designers leading the charge—Pritzker Prize–winning architect Jean Nouvel and designer Philippe Starck, as well as Brazilian artists Vik Muniz and Saint Clair Cemin—the Rosewood property in Brazil marks the brand’s first South American venture.
Occupying a former 1904 hospital in the heart of Cidade Matarazzo—a “city within a city” that is a group of buildings from the 20th century—the property has unexpected touches: 151 guest rooms and 122 owners’ suites, all in a vertical “park” designed by Nouvel.
Fairmont San Jose (California)
Redesigned by Greg Keffer of Rockwell Group, the 22-story Fairmont is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in the downtown area, completed in 1987.
The redesign debuts in early 2020, with a color palette inspired by the valley’s mountainous topography, and by the city’s Spanish-influenced architecture, including arched loggias, windows, and doorways. “We pulled this language of arches throughout the property, and added eclectic, crafted tactile and residential touches.
Lighting is jewelry-like, contrasting with the monumental architecture,” says Keffer. Reception desks are made of wood and glass, and guest rooms are swathed in soft Ultrasuede fabric.
The West Hollywood Edition (California)
With panoramic views of Los Angeles, the new Edition in West Hollywood that opened in November is designed by Ian Schrager with 140 guest rooms, 48 suites, and two penthouses.
Schrager saw a vacant piece of property on Sunset Boulevard that “many tried to make work,” he says, but he went about the project differently. “We saw the first luxury hotel in West Hollywood,” he adds.
Rooms and living spaces have plush details and a sophisticated, refined design.
The hotel also has a basement club, a rooftop pool, and a spa. Ardor, the hotel restaurant, brings California cuisine to guests under Chef John Fraser. editionhotels.com
The HALL Arts Hotel, Dallas
The first hotel to open in the Dallas Arts District, HALL Arts Hotel is surrounded by Pritzker Prize–winning architecture and filled with artwork.
With 183 guest rooms and 19 suites, the property has a contemporary art collection featuring work by Scottish painter Alison Watt, Spencer Finch, and Vietnamese-American Antonius-Tin Bui.
Images of work in the hotel are featured and compiled into a bespoke coffee-table book,Through the Lens: Dallas Arts District.
Six Senses New York
n one square block, two travertine and bronze-clad skyscrapers that are the tallest buildings in West Chelsea comprise The XI, (The Eleventh), designed by AD100 architect Bjarke Ingels right next to the High Line in Chelsea.
Slated to open in late 2020 in this building is Six Senses’ first North American property. Also featuring 236 condominiums, the hotel has natural tones of wood, ceramic, and stone with the occasional burst of color.
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