A hotel isn't just a place to rest between dinner reservations and sightseeing. The right accommodations can make or break your vacation, especially when they have luxurious amenities (or even just a really good mattress). Facing competition from Airbnb and an increasing demand for unique experiences over same-in-every-city consistency, the best new hotels of 2017 have embraced the character of their locations through decor and dining. Here are just some of the openings that have caught our eye this year, from boutique to high-end hotels.
(San Francisco, CA)
Located in a circa-1904 flatiron building and next to the new Twitter HQ, Proper is the new kid on the block in the city's tech hub. The hotel opened in August, with a rooftop lounge to debut this fall. Rooms have more intimate dimensions than bigger chains, especially in the bunk rooms, but the eclectic French-meets-Italian decor by glam interior designer Kelly Wearstler makes every nook feel special.
(New Orleans, LA)
Named for the building's former life as New Orleans Public Service Inc., this pet-friendly hotel boasts the biggest bathroom showers in the city. You also don't have to go far for a great meal, thanks to Public Service, the hotel's unpretentious restaurant located next door in a vintage building with a two-story glass facade. There, you'll find a seafood-focused menu by chef Dustin Brien, the former executive chef of the much-missed, local favorite Mediterranean bistro Salú.
This boutique hotel features unconventional art- and science-themed decor—from the 19th-century zoetrope machina that invites guests to crank its handle and create a moving image to surrealist art-inspired murals throughout—and its rooms offer WetLabs (large, glass-enclosed spa-style showers). The restaurant, The Albert—as in Einstein, of course—puts an emphasis on local ingredients in a menu by chef Brandon Brumback, whose career highlights include The French Laundry and Bouchon Bistro. (Bonus: Hotel EMC2 commits a minimum of $90,000 annually from direct bookings to support Project SYNCERE, a program introducing high school students to engineering.)
(Beverly Hills, CA)
Everything about this hotel, which opened in June, screams luxury, from the opulent Art Deco interiors by Paris-based designer Pierre-Yves Rochon to the oversize private balconies off each guest room to the Diptyque toiletries in the marble bathrooms. Jean-Georges Vongerichten's on-site restaurants and bars— Jean-Georges Beverly Hills, The Rooftop by JG and Jean-Georges Beverly Hills Bar—mark the chef's foray into Los Angeles.
Though the exterior of the 21c Museum Hotel looks pretty much the same as it did when the building opened in 1900, the interior is anything but old-fashioned. The hotel doubles as a public museum dedicated to 21st-century art with rotating exhibitions. The guest rooms have a similar "white box" gallery look and feature original artwork, while the animal-human sculptures of Beth Cavener Stichte can be viewed in Gray & Dudley, the hotel's comfort food-focused restaurant helmed by Levon Wallace.
(New York, NY)
Though the nearby vicinity used to be devoid of interesting restaurants and hotels in favor of tourist-centric shops, that's changed in recent years. The 98-room Life Hotel is the latest boutique addition to this NoMad renaissance, whose name comes from the building's past life as the headquarters/bachelor pads of Life magazine (you can see evidence in the double-L monograms that dot the facade). Yet, it doesn't feel staid, thanks to the design efforts of a veritable all-star team of David Mitchell (Soho Beach House), Stephen Henson (The James Hotel) and Tara Oxley (Bunker Club). The guest rooms are all white with high ceilings, creating a bright and airy setting for decor that juxtaposes modern light fixtures with wrought-iron beds.
Though most Ace Hotel outposts reside in historic buildings that usually have a "quirky" feel, the Chicago Ace Hotel is housed in a sleek New Bauhaus-inspired concrete-and-glass building. The interior has an industrial feel that continues through the building's 159 rooms, which feature huge windows, steel bed frames, exposed wood-grain finishes and the occasional cement column. Its restaurant, City Mouse, opened in July to acclaim for its seasonal menu, but it's the strong and inventive cocktails by Food & Wine Best New Mixologist winner Caitlin Laman served up on the rooftop bar, Waydown, that shine.
Perched on a pier in Fells Point, Sagamore Pendry Baltimore is a stylish alternative to the more corporate hotels that dominate the Inner Harbor. The 128-room property opened in March in a 1914 building, which got a fresh, modern face-lift from Baltimore-based interior designer Patrick Sutton. On the ground floor, Andrew Carmellini's Rec Pier Chop House is a standout as well.
Brie Dyas is a contributing writer for Tasting Table and an avid collector of your grandmother's fine china. You can find her occasionally sharing photos on Instagram at @briedyas.
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