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Luxury hotels to visit in 2021: andBeyond Punakha River Lodge, Airelles Château de Versailles, Aman New York, Azumi Setoda and more

The Ritz-Carlton Maldives

New hotels to visit in 2021 once travel borders reopen

While the travel industry – and much of the world – was on pause for most of 2020, the upside is that 2021 is bursting with new luxury hotel openings. From Aman’s newest urban bolthole in New York City to a swanky aerie perched among soaring canyons and palm groves in Saudi Arabia’s desert, we have pulled together this year’s hottest, must-visit hotel opening across the globe. So dust off your passports and pull your suitcases out of storage, because 2021 is looking bigger and brighter than ever.

andBeyond Punakha River Lodge, Bhutan

Bravely joining brands like Six Senses and Aman, who have pretty much cornered the market in Bhutan, andBeyond is raising the bar even further with the hotly-anticipated opening of andBeyond Punakha River Lodge. With just six tents, one honeymoon suite and one two-bedroom villa, this intimate lodge stays true to the safari specialist’s sustainable, low volume, environmentally aware spirit. Expect plush interiors by Johannesburg-based Fox Browne Creative, alongside experiential diversions – from white river rafting to paddy field lunches – which take in the region’s lush, rolling emerald-green landscape.

Robb tip: Beat the crowds and take advantage of the lodge’s early morning access to the Khamsum Yulley Temple.

andBeyond Punakha River Lodge
Punakha

Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle, France

Live like a king and bed down at this majestic property, set within the grounds of the Château de Versailles. Set over three historic piles originally built in 1681 and restored to their original splendour by architect Christophe Tollemer, the hotel has just 14 rooms and suites, a restaurant by Alain Ducasse and an indoor pool. When not floating around your opulent confines, make the most of having secluded access to the palace grounds.

Robb tip: For incredible views of the Orangery, book the Madame de Staël suite and jump into a bubble bath with a glass of Champagne.

Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle
Château de Versailles
Place d’Armes
78000 Versailles, France

Aman New York, The US

Joining the brand’s growing urban collection, the hotly-anticipated Aman New York is finally set to open its doors next year. Taking up residence in Manhattan’s iconic Crown Building, overlooking Central Park, the 83-room hotel is also home to 22 residences – the group’s first urban Aman Residences. Both feature sumptuously understated interiors by architect Jean-Michel Gathy and a handful of its signature restaurants. It’s the spa though, that gets top points: expanding over three storeys – and only open to hotel guests, residence owners and Club Members – there will be an Integrative Clinic, a 20-metre indoor swimming pool, salon and sprawling 280-square-metre fitness studio kitted out with state-of-the-art equipment. 

Robb Tip: Book one of the Spa Houses where you can while away the day in complete privacy with your own treatment room, sauna, steam room, hot and cold plunge pools and outdoor terrace.

Aman New York
The Crown Building
730 5th Ave
New York
NY 10019, United States
Tel: +1 212-201-8888

Azumi Setoda, Japan

The newest undertaking from Adrian Zecha, the mastermind behind the Aman hotels, this eagerly-awaited bolthole is the first opening from the newly launched Azumi group. Perched on Ikuchijima, a postage stamp of an island in the Seto Inland Sea, the 18-suite retreat occupies the former 140-year-old home of one of Setouchi’s most dynamic salt farming and shipping families. Meticulously restored with the finest craftsmanship and designed as a modern-day ryokan, the property will serve fresh seafood and dishes using local ingredients in a communal dining space, while the bathhouse – open also to the public – will be located across the street.

Robb tip: Azumi Setoda has three private dining rooms to lay low in.

Azumi Setoda
269 Setoda, Setoda-cho
Onomichi-shi
Hiroshima 722-2411
Japan
Tel: +81-845-23-7911

Bvlgari Paris, France

In a prime location, right on Avenue George V, Bvlgari Paris has set the bar high. The seventh addition to the brand’s blossoming hotel portfolio, this 76-room property’s façade, lined with decorative balconies, is the work of Parisian architects, Valode & Pistre, who took its cues from Paris’ 19th century Haussmanian style. Inside, the interiors have once again been outfitted by Italian firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel, whose upscale aesthetic unfolds over the brand’s usual superlative offerings including a spa with a 25-metre pool and a Bvlgari restaurant and bar opening to a charming courtyard garden.

Robb tip: Book the Bvlgari Suite, which has a private rooftop terrace and heart-stopping views of the Eiffel Tower.

Bvlgari Paris
30 Avenue George V
75008, Paris, France

Capella Hanoi, Vietnam

Following the overwhelming success of its Balinese property, the Capella group has once again tapped the whimsical touch of designer Bill Bensley for its latest property in Hanoi. Perched on a quiet street in the city’s Hoàn Kiếm quarter – just steps away from the Hanoi Opera House – the intimate 47-room hotel takes its cues from the halcyon days of opera, designed as what would have been rendezvous spot for the operatic stage team after the final curtain call. Expect Bensley’s fanciful humour to come to life through a blend of memorabilia, photographs, set displays and vibrant portraiture art inspired by 1920s décor.

Robb tip: The indoor pool is worth a visit, designed to resemble a haven for opera singers to rest their voices.

Capella Hanoi
11 Le Phung Hieu
Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Vietnam
Tel: +84 24 3987 8888

 

Capella, Patina and The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands

The much-anticipated opening of the trio of resorts has set a new standard among the Maldives’ collection of ultra-luxury hotels, not least by tapping Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan for Patina’s design. Set on Fari Islands – a new archipelago that also includes a Capella property, an offering from The Ritz-Carlton, a Marina Village and a Beach Club – Patina includes 90 beach and water pool villas, 20 studios, while The Ritz-Carlton comes with 100 beach and overwater villas, a dreamy spa and no less than seven restaurants.

Robb tip: The Fari Marina is a must-visit, filled with a collection of luxury shops, restaurants and entertainment. 

The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands
North Malé Atoll, 20095
The Republic of Maldives

Cheval Blanc Paris, France

With properties in Courchevel, St Barts, St Tropez and the Maldives, LVMH’s Maisons Cheval Blanc brand has returned home with a newly launched flagship property – its first city location – in the heart of the French capital. Taking up residence inside the former La Samaritaine department store on the banks of the River Seine, the grand art deco bones of the 72-room property have been dressed by interior designer, Peter Marino, who has created a refined home-away-from-home with plush, tactile natural materials in neutral hues and an exceptional collection of art from sculptures by Philippe Anthonioz, canvases by Vik Muniz, and pieces by Laurence Montano.

Robb tip: For sweeping views of Paris from Montmartre to the Eiffel Tower, head to the rooftop on the seventh floor.

Cheval Blanc Paris
8 Quai du Louvre
75001 Paris
France

Habitas Bacalar, Mexico

Swiftly following its Tulum and Namibian openings, the eco-conscious Habitas brand has not one, but two launches in Mexico this year. First up is Habitas Bacalar, an eight-acre tented property perched on the aqua blue waters of Lake Bacalar on the Yucatán Peninsula. Given its serene location, it’s not surprising that diversions here are all about restorative wellness. After a morning spent doing paddleboard yoga, floating meditation, or kayaking, retreat to your lagoon-facing tent before emerging for supper at the onsite restaurant with its laid-back open-air kitchen.

Robb tip: Reserve a whole afternoon at the spa where you can indulge in all sorts of treatments using melipona bee honey, which has been used by the Mayan culture for generations, and is made in-house, at the spa’s Melipona Honey Hut.

Habitas Bacalar
Carretera Federal 307 Xul Ha
 77963 Bacalar, Mexico
Tel: +52 984 182 3124

InterContinental Khao Yai Swan Lake Resort
The resort sits on the UNESCO-protected Khao Yai National Park

InterContinental Khao Yai National Park, Thailand

With 29 hotels already scattered throughout Thailand, The InterContinental Hotel Group has cemented its presence in the country even further with this soon-to-launch property on the outskirts of Khao Yai National Park, just two-and-a-half hours from Bangkok. Its winning card? Tapping designer Bill Bensley for the interiors, who took his cues from the area’s railway history and layered his off-beat whimsical aesthetic to the 61-rooms and public spaces, including the 16 repurposed heritage train-car suites. 

Robb tip: Speed up your journey to Khao Yai in 2022 and hop on the high-speed rail link directly from Bangkok.

King’s Mansion, India

In a first for Goa, this 17-suite retreat along the shores of the Arabian Sea takes wellness to the next level. Focusing on ayurvedic philosophies and holistic wellbeing, each programme is tailored to your needs, right down to the nutrition plan overseen by the executive chef. For further relaxation, ensconce yourself in your own private garden by day and at sunset, make your way to the beach restaurant for a glass of champagne against the sound of the crashing waves.

Robb tip: Fans of LED infusion therapy can enjoy an exclusive version using a patented compound that can only be found at King’s Mansion.

King’s Mansion
Dando Vaddo, Candolim
Goa 403515
India

Kisawa Sanctuary, Mozambique

Just off the coast of Mozambique, within a cluster of turquoise-ringed islands that give the Maldives a run for its money, this ultra-luxury retreat is set to spoil you. Unfolding over a 300-hectare stretch of forest, sand dunes and powdery white beaches, each of the 12 bungalows, plus the Kisawa Residence, is perched on its own one-acre plot. Spend sun-soaked days in the WWF National Marine Park snorkelling among manta rays and whale sharks before heading to the indulgent spa or one of the many dining venues. What’s more, using a special patented 3D technology, the property is built using an eco-friendly mortar made from the island’s sand and seawater.

Robb tip: Hop on the resort’s helicopter and head to nearby Tofinho or Barra Break and surf soaring eight-foot waves.

Kisawa Sanctuary
Benguerra Island
Inhambane 1304
Mozambique

Kruger Shalati, South Africa

Permanently perched on Selati Bridge, over the Sabie River, this restored vintage train is a nod to the early 1920s, when guests first visited this iconic game reserve. At the time, the train used to stop overnight in this exact spot, no doubt to take in the sprawling wildlife-rich vistas as the sun dipped behind the horizon. Today, this can be done directly from your glass-walled Carriage Room, preferably with a pre-prandial cocktail in hand. Follow this with dinner at the Bridge House, the outdoor terrace restaurant, against a soundtrack of grunting hippos.

Robb tip: Make sure to wallow in the overhanging pool with a glass of champagne, while viewing nature at its finest.

Kruger Shalati
Kruger National Park
Selati Bridge Precinct
Skukuza,1350
South Africa
Tel: +27 13 591 6000

Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul 

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has added a new luxury hotel to its portfolio on the shores of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, housing 100 luxuriously designed guest rooms and suites with breathtaking views over the Bosphorus and the city skyline. The hotel is slated to become one of the city’s best hotspots for dining and entertaining, introducing the globally renowned Novikov concepts to Istanbul with the main Novikov restaurant sitting directly on the shorefront. That, with a classic Novikov Lounge Bar, a Bosphorus Lounge with waterfront terrace and the Novikov Pool Bar in a garden oasis.

Robb tip: Decompress the right way with The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, which offers an extensive range of wellness and beauty therapies. Opt for the luxury hammam to have your treatment, we’d say. 

Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul
Kuruçeşme, 34345 Beşiktaş/İstanbul
Turkey
Tel: +90 212 349 8888

NoMad London, The UK

With properties in New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, NoMad has finally landed across the pond, turning up inside London’s former Bow Street Magistrates Court – a Grade II-listed building in Covent Garden, right opposite the Royal Opera House. The brand’s richly layered glamorous style has been reinterpreted by designers Roman and Williams and unfurls over 91 rooms and a series of drinking and dining options, including Side Hustle, a Mexican restaurant from executive chef Ian Coogan.

Robb tip: Take the time to peruse the hotel’s art programme, which celebrates the link between New York and London and comprises over 1,600 pieces.

NoMad London
28 Bow St
Covent Garden
London WC2E 7AW
Tel: +44 20 3906 1600

Pan Pacific London
City views from one of the residences in Bishopsgate Plaza

Pan Pacific London

Pan Pacific Hotels Group finally calls London its home in September 2021. The Singapore-headquartered hospitality company unveils its first European outpost in One Bishopsgate Plaza, a city landmark that sits near many entertainment hotspots such as high-end shopping malls in Spitalfields, the Barbican cultural hub, and the Shoreditch neighbourhood. A building symbolic of old and new London architecture, Bishopsgate Plaza is home to not only the 43-storey bronze tower of Pan Pacific London and private Sky Residence apartments, but also the 144-year old Devonshire House that houses designer shops, a destination restaurant and a contemporary cocktail bar.

Robb tip: Each of the hotel’s five restaurants will serve up unique elements of modern Singapore fare, going through the hands of renowned chefs like Lorraine Sinclair and pastry chef Cherish Finden. The team is partnering closely with British producers Nurtured in Norfolk to grow their own high quality Asian ingredients, as well as sourcing local produce in a bid to minimise carbon footprint.

Pan Pacific London
80 Houndsditch
London EC3A 7AB
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 20 7118 6888

Rosewood Sāo Paulo
Rosewood Sāo Paulo is masterminded by Jean Nouvel and Philippe Starck

Rosewood Sāo Paulo, Brazil

Never one to do anything by half measures, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts debuts in South America with a bang. Occupying a landmark former maternity hospital and a newly designed vertical garden in Cidade Matarazzo, the hotel has been masterminded by architect Jean Nouvel and designer Philippe Starck. Two swimming pools – with one on the roof and the other set amongst the landscaped grounds – a spa and fitness area, and two restaurants including a caviar lounge service the 180 rooms. To lure you out, there is also an adjoining music studio, screening room and a clutch of luxury retail stores set within the complex.

Robb tip: Getting married? The listed wedding chapel with its original architecture and newly commissioned stained glass windows should provide the ideal spot.

Rosewood Sāo Paulo
Alameda Rio Claro
190 Bela Vista
São Paulo
SP 01332-010 Brazil
Tel: +1 888 767 3966

Six Senses Shaharut, Israel

For its Israel debut, the Six Senses brand has landed in the Negev Desert with 60 suites that slot right into their weathered landscape and take their cues from the nomadic structures of the Nabataean community which occupied the area over 2000 years ago. In between dips in your own private pool, visits to the spa, or sampling the homegrown food at the resort’s restaurants, make the most of the desert location with activities from desert picnics to off-the-beaten-path hikes and camel treks, visits to the nearby kibbutz, or late-night stargazing sessions.

Robb tip: Mix your own blend of all-natural botanicals at the spa’s Alchemy Bar.

Six Senses Shaharut
Shaharut
8886500, Israel
Tel: +972 55 972 7763

W Osaka

Osaka has reached a new pinnacle of chic with Japan’s first W hotel. And while barrier-breaking contemporary architects are a dime a dozen in the city, few to none bring to the table what Tadao Ando is able to – coming up with larger-than-life designs imbued with inimitable nuances of personality and style. With W Osaka, Ando is doing just that. You won’t find the brand’s signature, soft neon glow on the exterior. Instead, the new 337-key hotel bears a minimalist, jet-black monolith facade, a nod to the prudishness of the Edo era. But with that said, W Osaka is still as fun, bright and lively as its counterparts. Take a step in and you’ll experience a different world altogether; one that’s filled with origami-inspired design motifs, vivid feature walls and Kawaii Kokeshi wooden dolls.

Robb tip: Take note of the arrival tunnel that leads guests to the lobby; it’s adorned with 3,000 laser-cut circles that draw design cues from cherry blossoms and origami. Integrated lightings allow the feature tunnel to change its colour, depending on the season and time of the day.

W Osaka
4-1-3 Minami Semba
Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0081
Japan
Tel: +81 6-6484-5355

Xigera, Botswana

Wildlife meets art at this intimate safari lodge on the western fringe of the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta. The latest passion project from the family-owned Red Carnation Hotel group, the 12-suite retreat sits elevated under a canopy of ancient trees, with sprawling wildlife-strewn views of the floodplains. When not on game drives, tucking into the endless array of food, or gazing at the wildlife from the pool pavilion, admire the extraordinary collection of specially commissioned art, to include some of Africa’s biggest names from Adam Birch to Porky Hefer.

Robb tip: Sleep under the stars at Xigera’s three-storey baobab hideaway, a remote, off-grid escape located one-kilometre from the main lodge.

Xigera
Moremi Game Reserve NG28
Botswana