Royal Malewane best hotels 2019
A poolhouse at the Royal Malewane in South Africa's Kruger National Park

If you’re looking to get away from it all without sacrificing the comforts of home, the first six months of 2019 have served you well.

A galaxy’s worth of five-star hotels have opened around the globe, from a private island within a private resort on the already-quite-private Maldives to seven villas on an oceanside bluff in South Africa.

Whatever your heart’s desire, one of these hotels — the 20 best of this half year, in our humble opinion — was built to fulfill it.

We’ve got 10 on U.S. shores and 10 abroad. Pick your fancy, book your stay and then make the most of what the world’s finest hoteliers have to offer.  

The 10 Best Hotels in the US

Woodlark

Opened: December 2018
Where: Portland, OR
In brief: A cool new addition to Portland’s downtown hotel scene, with a ground-floor lounge that distinguishes itself as a prefab photoshoot for Monocle: stylish, erudite, and exceptionally photogenic.
Suitable for: Single travelers looking to make friends in said lounge
Hashtag it: #pdxnow
Pack: A big enough bag to transport home all your new books from the iconic Powell’s, a five-minute walk
Book: The height of summer, when the sun (might) shine

The Wauwinet

Opened: April 2019
Where: Nantucket, MA
In brief: Low-key luxe at a Nantucket inn, offering super-private cottages and access to the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge next door.
Suitable for: Fans of Nantucket who want the privacy of their own mansion but also room service and a concierge
Hashtag it: #nantucketmoment
Pack: A pair of Firmstrongs
Book: In early September, when the weather’s warm and the crowds thin 

Shinola

Opened: January 2019
Where: Detroit, MI
In brief: A next-level branding experiment sees the accessories brand go full lifestyle, with this luxe-basic hotel: As you’d expect, the design elements are superb (like a Shinola Runwell turntable), but there’s no spa.
Suitable for: High rollers looking to figure out a way to exploit the Detroit legacy for personal gain
Hashtag it: #myshinola
Pack: Your Shinola Runwell Automatic 45mm, obvs
Book: Quite possibly to coincide with Taco Showdown Detroit 2019 

Shou Sugi Ban House

Opened: April 2019
Where: Water Mill, NY
In brief: The Hamptons for people who need a break from their own house in the Hamptons — and want a tony wellness experience with the opportunity to “gather around a fire circle in ceremony.”
Suitable for: People who think a lot about Jack Dorsey’s meditation trips to Myanmar
Hashtag it: #zenlifestyle
Pack: Your Erès activewear
Book: When you’re at the end of your rope

Palihotel Westwood Village

Opened: May 2019
Where: Los Angeles, CA
In brief: A low-key boutique hotel on the side of Westwood Village’s oldest hotel (er, dating all the way back to 1939), with a distinct lack of attitude, stylish-but-not-irritatingly-so design elements, and ready access to UCLA.
Suitable for: When you’re LA-bound but taking a miss on the Hollywood attitude
Hashtag it: #uclabound
Pack: A cashmere UCLA hoodie
Book: On your next biz trip to L.A.

TWA Hotel

Opened: May 2019
Where: JFK Airport, Queens, NY
In brief: Eero Saarinen’s genre-defining landmark is the centerpoint of this splashy opening, next to the JetBlue terminal at New York’s JFK airport. Early guests have awarded it an A+ for form but a C- for function (including a thunderstorm-induced power outage, ill-prepared staff and broken toilets). Consider it the hotel version of Lane Pryce’s tetchy Jaguar.
Suitable for: Mad Men obsessives, monied plane-spotters
Hashtag it: #mcmforever
Pack: Mid Century Modern by Bradley Quinn
Book: The next time you have an early flight out on JetBlue

Maison de la Luz

Opened: May 2019
Where: New Orleans, LA
In brief: A new project from the team at Ace, this higher-end offering peddles a more refined stay (fewer, bigger rooms) with an aggressively eclectic, on-point design scheme. Make time for Marilou, the exceptional on-site bar.
Suitable for: When you want a just-buzzy-enough New Orleans experience
Hashtag it: #nouveauorleans
Pack: A cashmere UCLA hoodie
Book: For an autumn long weekend

Proper Hotel, Santa Monica

Opened: June 2019
Where: Santa Monica, CA
In brief: With 271 rooms, this is not an intimate experience, but the Proper brand does a terrific job of providing each of its properties with a unique, hand-wrought design sense — here, one that marries coastal California vibes with Eastern Zen©.
Suitable for: A luxe beachside break
Hashtag it: #thesuitelife
Pack: Your Fendi swim shorts for the pool
Book: After November, when the spa opens

Blackberry Mountain, Tennessee

Opened: February 2019
Where: Walland, TN
In brief: Already an influencer favorite, Blackberry Mountain offers 1,200-square-foot-plus Stone Cottages, with private outdoor patios, soaking tubs, and fireplaces — but mostly you’ll want to spend your time traipsing across the resorts 5200 acres, mountain biking, fly fishing, or rock climbing.
Suitable for: A family vacation par excellence
Hashtag it: #bmtn
Pack: Danner boots for exploring the surrounding Great Smoky Mountains
Book: All seasons, depending on your outdoor sport of choice

The Lodge at Blue Sky

Opened: May 2019
Where: Park City, UT
In brief: Ride along dusty trails, go fly-fishing in the mountains, visit the on-site distillery or just soak in the 7,400-square-foot spa at this new resort in the Wasatch Mountains. Or, best of all, trek (by mountain bike, horse, foot, or skis) to the Tavern at Blue Sky, a 19th-century remade as an alpine saloon.
Suitable for: Anyone dreaming of the Wild (Five-Star) West
Hashtag it: #ranchlife
Pack: Some COSRX sunscreen for sunny trail days — whether on skis or horseback
Book: Winter — who’s up for some heli-skiing?

The Best Hotels Abroad

25 Hours

Opened: January 2019
Where: Paris, France
In brief: One of Europe’s favorite hotel brands opens up across from the Gare du Nord — handy if you’re heading to the U.K. via Eurostar. It’s also two steps from the myriad bars around the Canal St-Martin, one of the city’s favorite warm-weather after-work destinations.
Suitable for: Hip francophiles traveling on the cheap(ish) who want to sleep close to their alcohol
Hashtag it: #parisjetaime
Pack: Some Sandro aviators for managing the sunset glare on the water
Book: Whenever it’s warm enough to drink outside (May-September) 

Belmond Cadogan

Opened: March 2019
Where: London, UK
In brief: A gem even among London’s plentiful ranks of small, luxury hotels, with a distinguished history of former habitués (see below), a spectacular library, and rarest of rare, a private garden for guests and neighbors.
Suitable for: Those in the Venn overlap between luxury living and literary history
Hashtag it: #literarylondon
Pack: A copy of The Importance of Being Earnest — in tribute to past resident Oscar Wilde
Book: In the run-up to Christmas, for first-rate shopping and holiday lights

Farmstead at Royal Malewane

Opened: May 2019
Where: Kruger National Park, South African
In brief: Kruger has no shortage of five-star safari lodges — including the Royal Malewane itself. The Farmstead offers an even more exclusive take on this already exclusive getaway, with just three suites and one family-sized villa, all decked out in a smart mix of vintage pieces and contemporary paintings by artists like Joburg’s Kudzanai Chiurai.
Suitable for: Anyone who’s looking for the maximum safari experience
Hashtag it: #safarilife
Pack: Zeiss binoculars for spotting lions at the watering hole
Book: The dry season: May-September

August

Opened: April 2019
Where: Antwerp, Belgium
In brief: August is a worthy HQ for the city’s designers (and those visiting them). Schedule time to settle in at the bar, in a gorgeously restored 19th-century chapel.
Suitable for: Design aficionados who know that Antwerp is just as stylish as Copenhagen
Hashtag it: #thisisantwerp
Pack: Some Raf Simons X Adidas sneakers, a nod to Belgium’s most famous designer
Book: As part of a twofer trip with fellow Low Country style-capital Amsterdam

Katikies Garden

Opened: June 2019
Where: Santorini, Greece
In brief: You’ll want to spend as much time as possible outside here — ideally lazing in the private cabana offered by the Katikies Garden Pool Suite. Choose from a private pool or your own hot tub. (Definitely the former.)
Suitable for: Someone who wants a hot Euro vacay without the Riviera prices
Hashtag it: #santorinisunset
Pack: A style-y Polaroid for shooting all those blue and white landscapes
Book: The minute the August crowds die off — so Labor Day weekend. Or come October 1, when in-season rates drop by €200. 

Lekkerwater Beach Resort, South Africa

Opened: June 2019
Where: De Hoop Nature Reserve, South Africa
In brief: South Africa isn’t just about safaris: Here, visitors will find white-sand Indian Ocean beaches and just seven villas, all with views of the water — and migrating southern right whales. Inland, you might spot animals unique to this ecosystem, including Cape mountain zebras and elands.
Suitable for: Overwhelmed type-As who want to be forced to unplug
Hashtag it: #whalewednesday
Pack: Some lavender essential oil to amp up the relaxation vibes
Book: South African spring — October or November, which is right at the tail end of whale-watching season

Kachi Lodge

Opened: February 2019
Where: Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia
In brief: The Bolivian salt flats make an incredible setting for this severe but stunning hotel, with white dome lodges situated nearly over 11,000 feet up at the foot of the Tunupa volcano. Set off on excursions to “islands” on the salt plain and local villages.
Suitable for: Skywatchers and design lovers
Hashtag it: #uyuuni
Pack: Your handy stargarzing journal
Book: For a spectacular New Year’s party

Hotel Amparo

Opened: January 2019
Where: San Miguel de Allende
In brief: Our choice for an exceptionally festive winter destination, the Hotel Amparo is a refined retreat within the buzzy historic center of San Miguel.
Suitable for: Instagrammers plotting out their proposal campaigns
Hashtag it: #hotelhideaway
Pack: A Leica Q2, the influencers’ camera of choice
Book: For Martin Luther King Day weekend

Six Senses Maxwell

Opened: December 2018
Where: Singapore
In brief: Even in a city dedicated to maximalism, Six Senses Maxwell distinguishes itself with opulent dining spaces, a rooftop pool and chilled-out rooms — a must in this all-senses-on destination.
Suitable for: Jetsetters looking for a comfy place to land before further exploring southeast Asia
Hashtag it: #bookheaven
Pack: How about this Breguet?
Book: For a stopover en route to Bali

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi

Opened: July 2019
Where: Maldives
In brief: A private island within an already exceptionally exclusive resort, Ithaafushi offers a grand total of five bedrooms, and a pool for each. The main resort offers overwater villas on three islands with 11 dining options — including Terra, where diners eat à deux in private, open-air “nests” with views of the ocean.
Suitable for: “Only the best will do” travelers with lots of zeros at the end of the travel budget
Hashtag it: #maldives🌴
Pack: Your true love, because this is definitely a couples spot
Book: Dry season, from November-April