On The Road
Eight Hot New Hotels
A treehouse, a brewery, a former furniture store… MR PORTER picks the best places to rest your head in 2016
The grand lobby at Hotel Emma, Texas. Photograph by Ms Nicole Franzen
What are the necessary ingredients for a world-class hotel? Contemporary design, feather-soft beds and the kind of service that second-guesses you before you’ve even formulated your first guess? Certainly. But add to that mix everything from location to pool to bar to restaurant (to be explored in that order) and you’re starting to get there. Even then, that elite cadre encompasses a sweeping scope from beach to city, cosy to grand, boutique to ostentatious – and every combination thereof. With scores of new contenders opening their revolving doors in 2016, there are plenty that will be more spin than substance. But don’t worry, MR PORTER has done the hard work for you. Whether you’re after rest and relaxation or energy and excess, we’ve got you covered. Sit back, put your feet up and read on as we introduce you to your future comfort zones.
THE OLD CLARE HOTEL, SYDNEY
Read the morning papers by the rooftop pool; retire to the C.U.B. Suite at The Old Clare, Sydney
Fêted for its spectacular rooftop bar and pool, The Old Clare Hotel has plenty to recommend it beneath the surface, too – namely three incredible restaurants. As if Mr Jason Atherton’s first Australian venue, the Kensington Street Social, wasn’t enough, there’s also ex-Momofuku chef Mr Clayton Wells’ first solo offering, Automata, with its dynamic, locally sourced dishes. But the one that’s got Sydneysiders really drooling is the 17-course tasting menu at Silvereye, concocted by Noma’s former executive sous chef Mr Sam Miller. And all of this before we’ve even got to the wonderful industrial-chic design of this remarkable boutique hotel – already an oasis of unrivalled luxury in downtown Sydney.
Book This Room: The C.U.B. Suite – this was the boardroom in the building’s former life as Carlton & United Breweries. Today it feels like checking into an episode of Mad Men, with plenty of original touches, including the original (and still working) gentlemen’s washroom.
Who To Know: Mr Martin Bray, the hotel’s head concierge, is your fast-track to all things tasteful in Sydney, from the newest exhibitions and hippest cocktail bars to the best gigs in town.
What to wear
ACE HOTEL, NEW ORLEANS
Go for a Corner King room when staying at the Ace Hotel in New Orleans. Photographs by Mr Simon Watson
Opening its doors on 14 March, this is the ninth Ace in the pack but the first in the Deep South and is an art-deco treat in NOLA’s earthy Warehouse District. There are nods to Dadaism and cubism throughout the nine-storey former furniture store, which is surrounded by museums and art galleries, but just a short walk from the bright lights and dark bars of Bourbon and Frenchmen Streets. Each of the 234 rooms has a full-sized Smeg fridge in a custom colour, packed with the fresh ingredients necessary for muddling your own cocktails – including chopping boards and mixing guides. Yet another winning hand.
Book This Room: The split-level Ace Suites are the obvious choice, but we prefer the distinctive Corner King rooms. Each one comes with its own turntable, custom cotton matelassé quilt and comfy window seat – the perfect set-up for watching The Big Easy go by while sipping DIY cocktails.
Who To Know: James Beard Award-nominated chefs Messrs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman are the star turns at the hotel’s restaurant, Josephine Estelle, serving their innovative blend of Italian cuisine with a Southern twist.
What to wear
Clockwise from left: Bird’s Nest Pool Villa exterior; Keemala Pods; Tree Pool Houses at Keemala, Phuket
If there was a luxury property on the Forest Moon of Endor, it would look rather like this. A member of the excellent Small Luxury Hotels Of The World, Keemala is a truly unique 38-room property, all outdoor bathtubs and monsoon showers to echo the streams and waterfalls running through the resort. Each of the rooms has been designed to reflect a different aspect of traditional Phuket culture, based on the island’s indigenous tribes. Guests can choose between the Clay Pool Cottages, inspired by the Pa-Ta-Pea “Earth” Clan; glass-fronted Tent Pool Villas (the Khon-Jorn “Wanderer” Clan); luxurious Tree Pool Villas (the We-ha “Sky” Clan), and opulent Bird’s Nest Pool Villas (the Run- Nok “Nest” Clan). Further assimilation with the Eden-esque environment is encouraged via bespoke massage and meditation, while the “healthy living cuisine” on the menu is rooted in the vegetables, fruit and herbs grown in the resort’s Enchanted Garden.
Book This Room: Number 707 – the largest Bird’s Nest Villa, it has a tree actually growing through its structure. Not to mention more space for outdoor dining and sunbathing than the other rooms, and a larger pool.
Who To Know: The spa manager, Ms On, is undoubtedly one of the most pleasant people on the planet, and can set you up with personalised wellbeing services from holistic therapies by world-renowned practitioners to healing retreats for complete rejuvenation to private Thai-boxing training with the in-house Muay Thai veteran.
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HOTEL EMMA, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
Clockwise from top left: The impressive library; sip a cocktail by the pool; take a soak in a free-standing clawfoot tub at Hotel Emma, Texas. Photographs by Ms Nicole Franzen
Who says Texas is all about Austin? Down the road in San Antonio, the boutique Hotel Emma is currently the hottest booking in the Lone Star State. Promising an experience akin to “staying at the well-appointed home of extremely interesting friends”, the Emma is full of surprises – from a 3,700-volume library to a rooftop pool boasting Loire-esque views down the adjacent San Antonio River. Housed in a former 19th-century brewhouse, the property has 146 character-packed rooms, blending the building’s industrial ethic with old-world extravagance (think vaulted ceilings, original stonework and luxurious seersucker robes). Make sure you check out Sternewirth, the bar and clubroom – a former watering hole for brewery workers in the 1800s – where the old fermentation tanks now double as seats.
Book This Room: Tucked away on the seventh floor, The Garret includes a romantic seating area tucked under a hidden corner cupola, plus a luxurious bathroom complete with a free-standing clawfoot tub.
Who To Know: Mr Hugh Daschbach, the hotel’s “culinary concierge”, can help you with everything from arranging a guest chef-led dinner in a private suite to where to find the best local pop-up restaurants.
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MAR ADENTRO HOTEL AND RESIDENCES, SAN JOSÉ DEL CABO, MEXICO
Clockwise from top left: view of the Mar Adentro Hotel and Residences; cool down with a drink in the Roca Bar; the understated interior of the Junior Ocean Suite, San José Del Cabo, Mexico
Half sitting, half hovering between the desert and the Sea of Cortez, Mar Adentro Hotel and Residences is an ultra-modern take on high-end luxury, bordering on science fiction. Each of the 198 guest rooms appears to be suspended over water, forming a “micro cosmos” to inspire peace and relaxation. But if your own little world becomes a little too much, there’s also an oceanfront pool to plunge into, a state-of-the-art lounge cinema and an extensive holistic spa. The whole property, all angular blocks and optical illusions, feels not so much like being on another planet, as being on the colony ship taking you there.
Book This Room: Some of the most breathtaking views of the Sea of Cortez are to be enjoyed from the balcony of the Junior Ocean Suite, ideally from its hot tub.
Who To Know: Larger-than-life chef Mr Raul Lucido, who dazzles with his “Vernacular Mexican Cousine” at the hotel’s Origen restaurant.
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At Katamama in Bali, will you go for an elegant Garden Suite (left and bottom right) or The Katamama Suite (top right) with views of the Indian Ocean
The latest property from the vaunted Preferred Hotels & Resorts Legend Collection, the Katamama is a 58-room boutique hotel nestled on the southern shores of Bali. Conveniently close to the airport, it’s also a wonderfully refreshing, serene break from the usual hubbub of the Seminyak scene. The creation of celebrated Indonesian architect Mr Andra Martin, its design is all about minimalism and understated luxury, seasoned with carefully chosen Indonesian art and craftwork. The rooms are among the biggest you’ll find anywhere in Bali, with many featuring their own secluded gardens or individual pools – and all boasting views of the Indian Ocean. Best of all, the management has taken the decision to eschew traditional mini-bars in favour of stylish “maxi-bars” throughout.
Book This Room: The Katamama Suite. The hotel’s flagship rooftop suite features floor-to-ceiling windows with sweeping views over the Indian Ocean as well as a private rooftop garden complete with daybed, entertaining space and Jacuzzi.
Who To Know: Managing director Mr Andrew Steele is a font of Balinese knowledge and advice, and prides himself on personally greeting all the guests.
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THE ARTS CLUB, LONDON
We recommend staying in Suite 17 at The Arts Club, London. Photographs The Arts Club
This famous private members’ club isn’t new – it was opened by Mr Charles Dickens in 1863. What is new, however, is the unveiling of 16 beautifully appointed bedrooms on the upper floors of its Dover Street townhouse this spring. Bookable via members and their guests, each room has been decorated in the glamour and elegance of early 20th- century Europe, and comes complete with 24-hour butler service. During your visit, be sure to check out the Club’s legendary private art collection (containing work from world-renowned names such as Mr Nobuyoshi Araki and Ms Sam Taylor-Johnson) as well as its lively music, cultural and arts events programme, which has featured recent speakers from Ms Diane von Fürstenberg to Mr Yinka Shonibare.
Book This Room: Suite 17 for plenty of natural light, a terrace, large kitchen and oodles of space.
Who To Know: General manager Mr Simone Moretti used to be director of special services at Claridge’s, has a Google-esque understanding of London and manages to combine Italian charm with an uncanny resemblance to Mr Daniel Craig.
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MASSERIA TRAPANÀ, PUGLIA
Be sure to book the Trapanà North Suite; Masseria Trapanà’s pool garden surrounded by plum trees
Set in 60 hectares of picturesque olive groves near the Adriatic Coast, this lovingly renovated country house is a little slice of Puglian paradise. Each of the nine suites contains original 16th-century features, including authentic fireplaces and frescoes – as well as a custom-built iron bed, private courtyard and outdoor bathtub. Guests can relax by the large communal pool or hop into a hammock in a shady corner of one of its six tranquil gardens, amid orange, lemon and walnut trees. With regular transfers to the local beach clubs or the nearby city of Lecce (“The Florence of the South”), this ticks pretty much every holiday box with baroque flourish.
Book This Room: The Trapanà Suite has a huge original fireplace in its sitting room, access to a private roof terrace and an external bathtub with commanding views over the surrounding countryside.
Who To Know: The charismatic Australian-born owner Mr Rob Potter-Saunders spent two years renovating the property and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the local area. If you’re lucky, he’ll bring out the home-made limoncello after dinner, too.