The Hotel Hot List: Four Places to Stay Right Now in 2022
Destinations we've personally visited, and can vouch for, from Atlanta to Madrid
Who doesn’t want to plan a vacation by throwing a dart at a map? Pure, unbridled spontaneity is great when you’re down for anything, but most of the time it’s helpful to get a nudge in the right direction. A single tip, a glowing recommendation from a friend or a little nugget of insight, like learning about a spectacular new hotel worth planning an entire trip around, can be the inspiration you need.
Welcome to the first edition of the Hotel Hot List. These are hotels we’ve recently stayed at and can vouch for. More than that, they’re relevant for you and your travel planning right now. That’s because the properties have either just made their debuts, or have otherwise been overhauled in a major way. Instead of spinning a globe with your blindfold on, consider this a bit more of a curated, dealer’s choice approach. When you’re looking for a great place to stay, from a weekender in the States to something farther afield, we’ve got you covered with some of our latest discoveries right here, handpicked just for you.
Sonesta Ocean Point
Maho Beach, Sint Maarten
A resort within a resort, Sonesta Ocean Point is a revamped five-star hotel in Dutch Sint Maarten in the Caribbean. Located alongside Maho Beach, not only is Sint Maarten’s airport a quick five-minute taxi away, but the hotel is positioned with direct views of its infamous runway, where massive jets land with what seems mere feet to spare above the crowds of beach revelers. Aviation geeks unite, as taking in a string of landings from the beach is a top to-do on the island. And fear not, there’s a finite midday window where the big planes come and go, so there aren’t any rude awakenings at night.
Sonesta Ocean Point is an adults-only offshoot within the larger grounds of the Sonesta Maho Beach, which has all the trappings of a family-friendly all-inclusive. While the food and drinks remain flowing as much as you’d like them to on the adult side, there you’ll also find a trio of new a la carte fine-dining restaurants. Each specializes in a different cuisine and takes advantage of stellar clifftop positioning for sensational sunset views.
These restaurants made their debut this spring, finishing off a larger overhaul of the property which was initially completed right before Hurricane Irma, and was then completed all over again after the devastation it wrought, only to sit idle for an extended period during the pandemic. After half a decade, Sonesta Ocean Point is finally fully armed and operational.
Choose from accommodation categories with tantalizing options such as ground-level rooms with swim-out pool access or rooftop suites with butler service. The on-call, dedicated staff members assigned to you can take care of all the little things, such as reserving a lounge chair in your favored position; the big things, such as stocking your in-room bar with full bottles of your favorite spirits (hello Johnnie Walker Black); and all the things in between.
In addition to the main resort’s pool, its swim-up bar and the beach, there’s also an adults-only rooftop pool, and hidden away in the back of the property is the Edge Pool, a beautiful man-made beach and lagoon area pouring serenity on tap. Across the street from the hotel is the Casino Royale, a popular destination for hitting the tables and enjoying nightly entertainment.
What You’ll Love the Most: Friendly butler service via WhatsApp daring you to keep them busy with unusual requests.
Whether you find yourself frequently passing through Atlanta with long layovers in between Delta international flights — raise your hand along with me if that’s you, too — or you want to check out ATL’s thriving food and drink scene for a weekend, Thompson Buckhead is a worthy jumping off point. Opened in December 2021, the hotel puts guests right amid Buckhead with its innumerable shops, restaurants and bars, and a neighborhood feel far removed from downtown, even if it’s only 15 minutes away.
Rooms showcase the Thompson brand’s signature style, with a boutique and local-centric approach mixed with a modern aesthetic and luxurious appointments. Elsewhere across the hotel, guests can find a rooftop pool and lounge, along with an excellent fitness center, while the lobby becomes a thriving late-night hotspot thanks to the buzzy Dirty Rascal bar and restaurant, known for its hearty Italian fare with a red sauce joint approach in terms of generous portion sizes and classic dishes.
But the real buzz is for rooftop hideaway Tesserae, a social club designed to cater to movers and shakers in the Atlanta arts community, across music, fashion and other creative realms. It’s a huge indoor-outdoor space including a bar, restaurant and lounge, and the good news is that guests staying in suites gain access to the otherwise behind-closed-doors festivities.
What You’ll Love the Most: Slipping into Tesserae to mix and mingle with Atlanta’s finest. Order the C’s, an all-in-one appetizer showcasing caviar, crab and champagne, or select from an excellent cocktail menu and strong spirits list.
The Madrid Edition
One of the swanky hotel group’s latest arrivals, The Madrid Edition hit the scene in spring 2022. Located right off Puerta del Sol, and a short walk from Plaza Mayor, the 200-room property has prime positioning which puts you right in the midst of Madrid’s major sites.
Guests are welcomed to the property via an extravagant white spiral staircase taking them from street level to the chic and art-filled environs of the lobby. That’s what The Madrid Edition perhaps does best: whisking guests away to different spaces that feel a world removed from where they were a moment prior. See for yourself by retreating to the rooftop pool and lounge to soak up that Spanish sol from a lavish, green perch above the city.
Room decor is all about contrasts. Largely white and off-white interiors appear vibrant when set against dark paneled hallways and entrances, and the king-size beds are adorned with faux furs. The huge showers are lined with marble tiles, and powerful rainfall showerheads offer an ideal way to clean up after a session at the well-equipped gym and spa.
Those neutral tones give way to the bright pops of color and imaginative flair displayed throughout the hotel’s culinary and beverage spaces. First there’s Jerónimo, a restaurant led by Enrique Olvera and Santiago Pérez of Pujol (Mexico City) and Cosme (New York) fame, which features Mexican dishes and ingredients meshing with Spain’s staples. Not to be outdone is Oroya, led by Chef Diego Muñoz, most well known for Lima’s vaunted Astrid y Gastón and offering the pisco and Peruvian fare to match, as well as an intimate, tucked away cocktail den, Punch Room, specializing in a dozen signature punches riffing on Spanish ingredients while serving up both small bites and big vibes.
What You’ll Love the Most: The sexy, sleek rooftop pool deck which transports you to the Mediterranean coast while keeping you right in the heart of Spain’s thriving capital.
With a spectacular location abutting the edge of Piazza di Santa Trinita alongside the Arno river, Il Tornabuoni is a recent entrant into the packed hotel scene in Florence, having opening its doors in fall 2021. However, it’s the way the property capitalizes on its past that makes it truly stand out.
Originally built in the 12th century as the Palazzo Minerbetti, Il Tornabuoni maintains that prestigious past with restored Renaissance-era frescoes adorning the ceilings and walls of certain rooms, along with eye-catching aesthetics such as the enormous staircase which served as the palazzo’s main artery. The five-star hotel, a member of Hyatt’s Unbound Collection, is grand in scale and heritage, but still feels a bit like an intimate palace with just 62 rooms.
Those accommodations showcase different color schemes depending on the floor, creating a playful feel across the property, with pops of bright artwork such as small, circular cartoon portraits of monkeys or butterflies working off features such as extra-tall ceilings, breathtaking city views and lavish furnishings. Due to the unique layout of the original building, there are a number of singular rooms which regular visitors will surely be requesting by number, whether due to their private terraces or those sensational frescoes.
Il Tornabuoni features two full-service restaurants, Il Magnifico and Lucie Gourmet, a rooftop terrace bar and lounge space, a wine cellar and a casual all-day cafe.
What You’ll Love the Most: The restored frescoes offer unbeatable old-world charm from the hotel’s picture-perfect locale in Florence.
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