Our Editor at Large Reveals Her Can't-Miss Places to Stay in 2019
Welcome to the Upgrade, seasoned travel writer Cynthia Rosenfeld's authoritative take on travel. This week she tells us what hotel openings are on her radar, whether they made the ubiquitous 2019 travel lists or not.
Don’t get me wrong. I am as excited as anyone for the not yet open but already much-hyped Flying Farm House at Six Senses Bhutan, even more as a longtime admirer of Thailand’s under-the-radar Habita Architects and having played a minor role in luring their just-arrived general manager Sally Baughen from Aman. However, I feel the need to decry the internet’s current infatuation. Sadly similar, desk-written ‘New Hotels for 2019’ listicles are nothing more than an annual ooh-ing and aah-ing over touched-up photographs and full of details gleaned from press releases.
Another darling of these copycat roundups, Rosewood Hong Kong, will surely hit all the requisite luxury notes when it opens mid-March inside the latest sky-chasing 65-story tower along Victoria Harbor, this one from Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. The cushy Tony Chi interiors will make anyone, myself included, who has already slept around at the local outposts of Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Shangri-La, or Grand Hyatt feel at home. I fell utterly in love with the suddenly prolific hotel brand last summer at the Bill Bensley–designed Rosewood Luang Prabang yet I can’t help but chuckle when office-bound editors gush about Rosewood H.K.’s naturopathic doctor, alternative therapies, and DNA analysis on their “revolutionary” spa menu. Who heads to Hong Kong to unwind?
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Watch for what Rosewood CEO Sonia Cheng’s big brother Adrian has brewing next door at K11 ARTUS, opening this summer with 287 neutral-hued nests designed by hometown talent Andre Fu. I expect these artist residences with their harbor facing balconies will be the retreats from which design driven nomads will want to explore Victoria Dockside, the city’s emergent art and design zone on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. It borders the West Kowloon Cultural District where the long-awaited M+ museum by Herzog & de Meuron is scheduled for completion later this year.
Views from the Kowloon side are decidedly more jaw-dropping, looking as they do upon the famously barren rock that became Hong Kong. Yet not to be overlooked is Fu’s other 2019 opening, the St. Regis Hong Kong, across the harbor in Wan Chai, the now buzzing Central-adjacent neighborhood made infamous by Suzie Wong. The bowels of this sexy twist of a high-rise by Dutch firm Mulderblauw belong entirely to the homegrown Zen master, reason enough to take a fresh look at the venerable hotel brand.
Fu’s brushed-metal meets gray-rainbow interiors will look familiar to those who have stayed at Château La Coste, Irish property magnate Paddy McKillen’s celebrated contemporary art park in the south of France, where Fu’s calming touch pops up in the spa and bar. Sure, Manuela and Iwan Wirth may lure this minimalism acolyte to the Scottish Highlands this year for The Fife Arms, their heavy-on-the-tartan escape omnipresent on the hot hotel chronicles. However, one peek inside last month was all it took for me to book a return flight to Marseille, in March, when Jean Prouvé’s 1944 Demountable House becomes available for sleepovers at La Coste. Updated with bijou bathroom and compact kitchen by Richard Rogers, this World War II homeless shelter turned arts collaboration with Galerie Patrick Seguin should be on every cultural traveler’s to-do list.
Spring should also be the right time, finally, to check in to the Hotel Lutetia in Paris. Jean-Michel Wilmotte’s thoughtful, meticulous renovation to the singular 1910 art deco palais on the Left Bank made for ravishing eye candy online when it reopened last summer. However, after an unexpected spell trapped in the all-glass elevator around Thanksgiving, I can attest that maybe 2018 proved too early to actually overnight there. The hotel’s beckoning oversize marble tubs have afforded me a short memory.
Assuming President Macron calms his unhappy masses by next summer, I will be back to check out two urban addresses from EVOK hotels (the nascent brand behind Le Nolinski). First up will be Tristan Auer’s cathedral-like spaces at the 43-room Sinner, perfectly located to discover the latest Haut Marais incarnation of the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson. I also have mon oeil on Cour des Vosges, EVOK’s twelve private apartments housed within one of the 17th-century pink brick structures of Place des Vosges, the oldest and to my mind most timelessly beautiful square in Paris. Do I recommend you follow suit and book a stay? Check back with me in August.