UNIVERSITY ARMS, CAMBRIDGE
Opening in August, this is the hotel that this studious town has been crying out for. Built in 1834, the Victorian original has been completely transformed by classical architect John Simpson (favoured by the Royal family) and maximalist interior designer Martin Brudnizki (New York’s The Beekman; the new Annabel’s in London). As well as 192 rooms and suites, there will be Sunday lunches served from the roast-beef trolley in restaurant and bar Parker’s Tavern, inspired by college dining halls. Or pick up a packed picnic to sprawl with on the grass on nearby Parker’s Piece.
BEYOND VIRA VIRA, CHILE
This smarty pants safari operator is one of the most respected in Africa, known as much for its slick lodges as its deep-rooted conservation and community involvement. Now they’ve set their sights across the Atlantic to South America, and this, in Chile’s Lake District, is their first lodge in what they hope will become a circuit across the continent. The former Hacienda Hotel Vira Vira Chile re-opens in its new guise this September with farm-to-table food inspired by local Mapuche recipes, thoughtful design featuring textiles, ceramics and sculptures from local artists and artisans, and activities from horse riding and hiking to white water rafting and skiiing.
SISTER CITY, NEW YORK CITY
When Alex Calderwood opened his first Ace Hotel in Seattle in 1999, little could he know how copied, emulated and disseminated the hallmarks of the hipster hotel would become. In the new sharing economy of footloose creatives, the Nineties lobby as party scene became the Noughties lobby as co-working space with bearded millennials tapping on Macbooks surrounded by flat whites. But now Ace – through its Atelier Ace offshoot – is flipping the concept again. With its new Sister City, opening in New York in the autumn, no longer will the model be that of hotel as buzzy neighbourhood hangout, but more as a stripped back retreat, an escape from the city outside the front door. Naturally, the marketing spiel is still stuffed with zeitgeisty reference points (‘Finnish saunas, Japanese bento boxes, John Cage’s ‘4’33”’) but the simple message is ‘less is more’, and that applies to the price point too: from about £185 a night in Manhattan is positively a bargain.
SIX SENSES BHUTAN
Eco-pioneers Six Senses are on fire this year with new hotels opened or opening in Fiji, Bali, Turkey and Cambodia, as well as a network of five lodges in the kingdom of happiness, Bhutan. The first three open in November: on a hillside between apple orchards and pine forest just south of the capital Thimphu; amid the rice fields of the Punakha Valley; and within 12th-century ruins above the National Museum of Bhutan in the gobsmackingly pretty Paro Valley. Early next year, the final and perhaps most impressively located two lodges complete the circuit: in Gangtey, where the surrounding valley is the winter hideout for endangered black-necked cranes; and deep in a pine grove at Bumthang.
SHINTA MANI WILD, CAMBODIA
When Four Seasons Tented Camp opened in 2006 in the northern tip of Thailand, The Golden Triangle, it was a radical departure for Asian hotels: a remote, ultra-luxe camp you’d more likely expect to see on safari in Africa. It was designed by one Bill Bensley, an American designer based in Bangkok who has created some of the continent’s most sensational places to stay. Now he has his very own line of hotels (the first was in Siem Reap) and his most radical project yet, Shinta Mani Wild, opens this November in Cambodia’s Southern Cardamom National Park – he says it will make his original ‘look like white bread’. It will bring 16 OTT tents to a relatively unexplored part of the country, each elevated on stilts and cantilevered out over 1.5km of river and waterfalls. On arrival, guests will zip-line in, to be greeted with a large gin and tonic. Cambodia is further in the spotlight this year with Six Senses and Alila also making impressive debuts on islands off the country’s south coast.
BELMOND CADOGAN HOTEL, LONDON
Once home to Lillie Langtry, mistress of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), and pied-à-terre of Oscar Wilde (who was arrested in room 118), the Cadogan Hotel has been the scene of quite a few adventures. Its latest chapter will begin this winter, after a four-year renovation, when it opens as part of the Belmond group, which also runs such classics as the Cipriani in Venice and Rio’s Copacabana Palace, as well as the Venice-Simplon Orient-Express. Here on Sloane Street, this 19th-century dame still has the capacity to shake things up, for example, appointing young, tattooed Scottish chef Adam Handling to oversee the food and featuring the designs of graduates as part of the new-look interiors.
THE FIFE ARMS, BRAEMAR, SCOTLAND
When art-world power couple Iwan and Manuela Wirth chose the Somerset farming town of Bruton for their outpost of the Hauser & Wirth gallery in 2014, they transformed this sleepy West Country corner into an unlikely cultural hotspot. Will Braemar be the Scottish Bruton? The Swiss duo open their latest project here deep in the Cairngorms National Park this winter. Like Somerset, where the couple have their family home, Braemar is close to the Wirth’s heart. They have a Scottish base nearby, not far from the Royals’ Highland getaway Balmoral, and even asked Paul Smith to design a Wirth family tartan inspired by their love of Scotland.
The Fife Arms was once a 19th-century hunting lodge for the Duke of Fife, but in its latest guise the 46 rooms will be designed by interiors maestro Russell Sage (The Zetter Townhouse, The Goring). Interiors will be peppered with world-class art, naturally, ranging from new commissions to museum displays and a collection of paintings, drawings and objects telling the story of the hotel, Braemar and Scotland. On the ground floor is a restaurant celebrating Scottish produce, as well as a cocktail bar and a spa, all set around a pretty courtyard planted with a heather roof.
There are certain hotels that are synonymous with a city: Ritz in Paris, the Plaza in New York, the Peninsula in Hong Kong. In Singapore, it can only be Raffles: birthplace of the Singapore Sling, host of royality and literary high society, national monument. But even icons need a refresh and the 130-year-old colonial hotel re-opens its doors – a little nipped, tucked and enhanced – at the end of this year. There are new suites, a new lounge for Afternoon Tea in the Grand Lobby and a host of new experiences from Singapore Sling masterclasses to yoga in the gardens and a heritage trail with resident historian, who might just tell you of the time the tiger came to tea.
ARTIST RESIDENCE BRISTOL
In the decade since Justin Salisbury and then girlfriend now wife Charlotte – both aged just 20 at the time – opened their first hotel in Brighton, the Artist Residence has become one of the UK’s most exciting brands. They now have four hotels (they’ve since added ones in Penzance, London’s Pimlico and Oxfordshire), all of which are cool, quirky and packed with personality. At the end of this year, they are due to open their fifth and most ambitious yet in a Grade I-listed former boot factory in Bristol. It will have 27 bedrooms, a café, bar and event space, all decorated in their signature bold, bohemian style, and – true to the name – dotted with contemporary art.
EXPERIMENTAL CHALET, VERBIER
Parisian cocktail-kings-turned-hoteliers Experimental Group add to their burgeoning empire this December with this ski lodge in chi-chi Verbier, which is set to be the coolest thing to hit the slopes this season. The group’s latest place to stay will follow the blueprint of the Grand Pigalle and Hotel des Grand Boulevards in Paris and London’s Henrietta Hotel. The playfully retro styling by Paris-based Italian architect and designer Fabrizio Casiraghi can be seen in the 39 bedrooms, the restaurant, spa and, of course, cocktail bar – the guaranteed après-ski epicentre, which will carry on into its club, Nineties Sloane hangout, The Farm.