We're relentless in our search for the best hotels, and we're religious about keeping our selection up to date. Below you'll find this week's crop of hotels that have managed to survive the rigorous vetting process. We've done our part, and now it's your reviews that decide whether they stay or go.
A standard hotel room is organized around a singular piece of furniture: the bed. At Zoku Amsterdam, located in the Eastern Canal District, a kitchen table is the central feature. It’s a welcome admission of a basic fact that most travelers already know — that a hotel room, particularly in an urban location, should be more than a place to sleep. This is Amsterdam. You’re not unplugging your devices, you’re not on a getaway to a tropical island. You have work to finish up, e-mails to answer. Maybe you’d like to make your own coffee, maybe you’d rather grab a few pastries from the corner bakery than go out for breakfast.
First, a disclaimer: the Shoreline Hotel Waikiki is not, strictly speaking, located on the shoreline, but a few minutes’ stroll from the beach. What you get in return for that quick stroll is a hotel with an indie vibe and a relatively small scale. This is Waikiki, home of massive resorts, chain restaurants and discount clothing shops. By local standards, a hotel with 125 rooms is practically a bed-and-breakfast. And the place is run by Joie de Vivre, the California-born boutique hotel group that’s known for its small collection of stylish and eco-conscious hotels.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
The concept of the art hotel is familiar by now: we’ve come a long way since the days when standard hotel room decoration featured generic watercolor seascapes or framed reproductions of iconic artworks. But rarely does a hotel commit to the concept so thoroughly as the new Art Mai Gallery Nimman Hotel in Chiang Mai.
Tulum, Riveria Maya, Mexico
Somewhere between glamorous excess and spartan backpackers’ minimalism is the Mayan Riviera town of Tulum. More concretely, it’s just down the coast from Playa del Carmen, on the less developed end of the Riviera Maya. And while the coastal hotel zone is where most of the hotels are — you’ve got to admire the clarity of that logic — the western edge of the town center, two miles inland from the beach, is where you’ll find the low-key, affordable, and charmingly mid-century modernist Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum.
Politicians and noblemen have a funny way of snapping up the best real estate for their own personal use. So it’s no surprise that one of Albania’s great national heroes, George Castriot — that’s Scanderbeg (1405-1468) to you — didn’t care to settle for some kind of ordinary apartment during his frequent stays in Rome. Even in the fifteenth century, it seems, location, location, location was a thing: his palazzo is mere steps from the Trevi Fountain. The building has been through a number of phases since then, including a recent stint as a museum dedicated to pasta...
Taormina, Sicily, Italy
In a region with such a long and rich history as Sicily — the Greeks settled on the island in the 8th century B.C.E. — a hundred-year-old villa is practically brand new. It’s true that the hilltop Villa Mon Repos is not one of the older buildings around. But it’s certainly one of its more glamorous. Marlene Dietrich was a guest even before the the Art Nouveau-style structure was turned into Taormina’s first casino in the early sixties, and it went on to attract the likes of Cary Grant and Gregory Peck along with stars of the Italian cinema.
It’s an authentic antique building, to be sure, but the Dewberry, in its current incarnation as a boutique hotel, is new. The downtown Charleston landmark formerly known as the Mendel L. Rivers Federal Building now bears the name of John Dewberry, the Atlanta developer who spent the better part of a decade transforming the structure. He didn’t just reimagine the building’s plain red brick facade, he commissioned local artisans to apply a custom-made gray limewash to the exterior...
Baron, Provence, France
The Provençal garrigue may be the finest scrubland in this or any world, its lime-rich soil supporting signature Mediterranean flora from oak shrubs to lavender and thyme. This sort of trivia becomes quite meaningful when you’re staying at a fortified, luxe-rustic, 16th-century farmhouse like La Maison d’Ulysse — the views, the cuisine, and the architecture are all perfectly adapted to that picturesque backdrop. Apps and screens hold no power here. When you come to the south of France, you adapt to the rustic rhythm of life, not the other way round.