Dynamic digs set for debut
This year will see a range of exciting new accommodation
It’s an exciting year on the hotel front with the debut of striking new builds and all manner of historic buildings being transformed into five-star lodgings, from the former Midlands Bank HQ in London to a warrior fort in Rajasthan and a transplanted village in China. Here’s where to be seen in 2017.
THE WHITBY, NEW YORK: Top pick for actors, artists and designers, Firmdale Hotels opens a second property in New York on March 1, in the heart of upper mid-town Manhattan surrounded by swank stores and only a couple of blocks from Central Park. The Whitby features 86 guestrooms and suites over 16 floors fitted out by company co-founder Kit Kemp in her inimitable style, each with its own colour scheme and a sophisticated combo of pattern, texture, commissioned art works and unexpected but always spot-on objets d’art. Expect luxury marble bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows and private terraces in some rooms. There’s also a bar, restaurant, orangery and private 130-seat cinema, a Firmdale trademark. More: firmdalehotels.com.
THE STRAND, YANGON: The famous bar at The Strand has propped up a long list of stylish travellers from Kipling to Coward and, following a six-month hotel refurbishment, has been renamed for the hotel’s famous founders, the Sarkies brothers. Elsewhere local artisans have restored the teak wood panelling, marble flooring and traditional lacquer work, but the 31 new-look suites now have up-to-date air-conditioning and 21st-century technology. There’s a new chef in the kitchen, Christian Martena, who’s spent several months visiting remote farming communities to familiarise himself with regional cuisines for the grand dining room and more casual cafe. And there’s a new cocktail list; let’s hope they’ve not abandoned the delicious Bagan Breeze. More: hotelthestrand.com.
HOTEL EDEN, ROME: Dating from 1889 and situated a short stroll from the Spanish Steps, the famous Eden officially reopens on April 1 following a 16-month top-totoe renovation that brings the elegant interiors up to date and reduces the guestroom inventory to 98, offering more space and even better views of the Eternal City. There’s a new day spa stocked with products from the centuries-old Florence-based Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, and the glamorous restaurant on the sixth floor with stunning views of the dome of St Peter’s has been restored. More: dorchestercollection.com. ALILA FORT BISHANGARH, RAJASTHAN: This splendid warrior fortress-turned-hotel stands proud on a granite hill, one hour’s drive from Jaipur, commanding 360 degree views of the countryside from small windows punched into the 2m-thick stone walls of the soaring turrets. In a painstaking seven-year restoration the original fort has been left intact and 59 suites built around it, all affording strategic views from large, opening windows. Alila plans to deliver the full Rajput Monty, from a “cigar and cognac turret” to a day spa in the dungeon. Even kids can get into the act by signing up to the Play Soldiers Club. Opening February. More: alilahotels.com.
QT MELBOURNE: QT generally makes a bit of a scene when it comes to town and Melbourne is no exception, with queues forming in the lobby of the Russell Street hotel to access the large rooftop bar with its fab downtown outlook. Togged-up “directors of chaos” (or door folk) manage the queues snaking through the funky lobby with its purple carpeted staircase and wall of discarded paperbacks, while upstairs a sexy bar and restaurant have a lush French vibe, courtesy of a cheeky toile wallpaper and rather Marie Antoinette glass-walled pastry kitchen. The unfussy guestrooms have oak floors, leather chairs and graffiti-tagged rugs by local artist James Beattie. More: qtmelbourne.com.au.
THE HIGHLANDS, ASILIA, TANZANIA: Glamping has been ratcheted up to the nth degree across Africa but when it comes to camping cool The Highlands has it. Eight eco-smart canvas domes are dotted about the forest in remotest Ngorongoro. Groovy interiors, featuring Maasai fabrics and large perspex windows looking out on the Serengeti, offer loads of cosy comfort. But there’s also some Bear Grylls cred: the camp’s hard to get to and cold at nights (the domes sit at 2590m), with only wood fires for warmth. Long hikes into the crater to commune with flamingoes are the norm. More: asiliaafrica.com.
THE NED, LONDON: London claims more than its fair share of notable hotel openings in 2017, but none quite as imposing as The Ned, occupying the former Midlands Bank HQ designed by Sir Edwin (Ned) Lutyens and set to feature a rooftop pool and terrace with views over St Paul’s Cathedral, a bar in the vaults and eight restaurants in the enormous banking hall. Grade 1 heritage list-
A room at The Highlands, Asilia, Tanzania
Alila Fort Bishangarh, Rajasthan, top; room at Macq01 Hotel, Hobart, above