Dy­namic digs set for de­but

This year will see a range of exciting new ac­com­mo­da­tion

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - CHRISTINE McCABE

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

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