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The Best Designed Hotels of 2017

We look back at the year of openings to isolate the most standout new properties around the world, from a five-room boutique in the countryside outside Cape Town to an audacious 250-plus key stay in London, and beyond.

2017 was the year the wallpaper craze took hold in hotels as unencumbered designers turned to bolder prints and braver palettes, clashing be damned. Nowhere was that trend on display more than at Kelly Wearstler’s flagship Proper Hotel in San Francisco, where a salmagundi of period florals and geometric motifs were deployed—often in the same room. Speaking of colors, the resurgence of pastels has filled our imaginations with vignettes of 1980s-era Miami; it’s even reached the far end of the pond, where a Georgian retreat has taken on the feel of a Millennial Pinterest board in traditionally gray-scale Edinburgh. The resurrection of disused motels and progressive interpretations of stuffy wine retreats have also registered on our radar, as has South Africa, which made noise thanks to three heavyweight debuts, including one with an on-site chapel that resembles a billowing wave. Read on for a look back at the most eye-catching design hotels that opened this year.


See the rest of our Best of 2017 lists »

Proper Hotel, San Francisco

Designer Kelly Wearstler converted a turn-of-the-20th-century Beaux-Arts building into an all-out feast for the eyes, pairing custom-print wallpapers (which you can also download for your phone) with a range of colorful textiles, and rich textures with striking shapes. It’s all the glamour of Hollywood Regency style—fit for the Instagram era. Read more »

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Anvil Hotel, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

For this soulful ski town spot, Brooklyn-based design firm Studio Tack combines three former motel buildings into a subtle distillation of local culture with a warm, no-fuss, yet sophisticated environment. Read more »

Casa Flora, Venice

Design-Apart’s Diego Paccagnella tapped Italian craftsmen to lend provincial credibility to this modern boutique stay that remains true to the centuries-old cultural heritage of the area. Read more »

Warehouse Hotel, Singapore

This 37-key stay housed in a 19th-century warehouse captures the essence of the city’s creative class, balancing inspiration from the ur-indie-kid film Metropolis and a sense of place by way of local collaborations. Read more »

Bosjes, Breede Valley, South Africa

Located about 90 minutes from Cape Town, this modern farmhouse with five contemporary suites stuns, but it’s the unexpected chapel—from U.K.-based architect Coetzee Steyn—rising out of 2,500 acres of verdant rolling landscape that leaves a lasting impression. Read more »

The Ned, London

Soho House and Sydell Group’s collaboration sees the city’s most over-the-top hotel opening in years—a glorious transformation of 320,000 square feet of heritage-listed space fit for a modern-day Gatsby. Read more »

Silo Hotel, Cape Town

Thomas Heatherwick’s design for converting a 1924 grain silo into a multipurpose complex and art museum left a stark architectural outline for hotelier and designer Liz Biden to color in. She took the challenge and ran with it, designing 28 guest rooms with lively, individually decorated interiors. We were so blown away by the results that the Cape Town property took the honor of Best Small Hotel in Surface’s inaugural Travel Awards this year. Read more »

Las Alcobas Napa Valley

Yabu Pushelberg imbued this stay abutting Beringer Estate vines—Napa’s only hotel with direct access to a winery—with a sophisticated farmhouse vibe, using earthy materials like oak, woven jute, linen, and marble. Read more »

21c Nashville

The “Museum Hotel” brand continues its American expansion with an outpost in Music City, complete with a hit restaurant from local chef Levon Wallace, three suites designed by artists (including actor Adrian Grenier, Sebastiaan Bremer, and Josephine Wiggs), and as always, an incredible collection of contemporary art on display. Read more »

Eden Locke, Edinburgh

To create this effortlessly cool apartment hotel, New York’s Grzywinski+Pons took its cues from the city’s rosy light and tropical vegetation, capturing both Scottish heritage and the millennial zeitgeist with a soothing pastel palette. Read more »

Jackalope, Mornington Peninsula, Australia

Melbourne’s Carr Design Group brings a hotelier’s idea of alchemy to life with this arresting 46-room wine country stay (a 2017 Surface Travel Awards finalist), with striking architecture, dramatic design objects, and locally designed furniture. Read more »

Hôtel National des Arts & Métiers, Paris

Inside two conjoined Haussmannian buildings, Israeli designer Raphael Navot selected bâtons rompus parquet floors and Moroso furniture for the 70 rooms, while head bartender Oscar Quagliarini uses 52 different herbs, flowers, and spices in his olfactory-driven cocktails at the bar. Read on for other notable openings in France this year »

Nobis, Copenhagen

The Royal Danish Conservatory of Music has been transformed into this 77-room property by famed Swedish architect Gert Wingårdh, with a Nordic restaurant helmed by award-winning Danish chef Jeppe Folder located inside a 1960 house next door. Read on for other cutting-edge hotels new to Copenhagen this year »

1 Hotel, Brooklyn

The third outpost in the luxury hotel chain takes the brand’s strong expression of personality regarding nature and sustainability toward its darker side, raising an awareness through architecture and interior design of humans’ impact on Earth. Read more »

Hallmark House, Johannesburg

The industrial-mod Hallmark House, a former diamond-polishing center turned boutique hotel, by architect David Adjaye and interior designer Aimee Henning, is one of the most anticipated openings to arrive in Joburg in years. The rooftop restaurant is the place to go for karoo lamb and Rooibos malva pudding before retiring to one of the minimalist rooms outfitted with colorful African headboards and secluded balconies. Read more »

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