The past year has been a banner one for hotel openings, with long-anticipated properties debuting at a dizzying clip around the world. Among 2014's highlights: an inaugural property in Thaa Atoll, Maldives; a luxury pioneer in Kyoto; towering high-rises in New York and London; and major hotel brands conquering new territory. We tracked them all, across the globe, to compile a list of the 20 best, from Nayara Springs, a luxe, unassuming boutique retreat in Costa Rica, to Paris’s long-awaited Peninsula. Here’s our take on the world's best new properties, which you'll want to check out while they still have that novel sheen.
Park Hyatt New York
As the hotel trend in New York City turns away from the boutique business and downtown locations, in comes the city’s first five-star property to open in over 10 years. Park Hyatt New York is where one learns how to be a billionaire—it occupies 25 floors of One57, Midtown’s towering new residential building where penthouses go for $90 million. In addition to finer things in life—like oversized accommodations; a high-end restaurant and bar; a 65-foot lap pool with underwater speakers piping in classical music; and a 13,000-square-foot spa, the hotel has a prime location near Carnegie Hall, Central Park, Fifth Avenue and Broadway theaters.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s New York City Travel Guide
The Peninsula Paris
The City of Light’s newest luxury stay is the Peninsula’s brand first ever in Europe. The Peninsula Paris feels like as much of a landmark as the nearby Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees, in its 1908 Haussmannian-style setting. Originally opened as The Hotel Majestic, where George Gershwin wrote “An American in Paris” while a guest in 1928, it also spent time as the country’s Ministry of Defense office during World War II. Today it is one of the city’s most luxurious stays, with 600 staff members for 200 rooms, a fleet of chauffeured cars at guests’ disposal, 360-degree views from a rooftop terrace and a penthouse that goes for $35,000 a night.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Paris Travel Guide
Mandarin Oriental Taipei
Bring a large suitcase—in fact, bring a few—to the Mandarin’s maiden property in Taiwan, as there are walk-in closets in every room. The Mandarin Oriental Taipei is boasting the city’s largest rooms, along with two lavish suites, each of which feature private spas and gyms. The hotel also houses Taipei’s new go-to event spaces, including the Chairman’s Residence, with various rooms, reception halls, outdoor terraces and a state-of-the-art tasting kitchen.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Taiwain Travel Guide
Soho House Chicago
The renowned international members club, Soho House, took on the Windy City with its largest property yet. The comfy clubhouse vibe follows the same model as the other popular hotel/clubs in London, New York, Berlin, et al., with three restaurants, a rooftop bar and pool area, a Cowshed spa and a screening room. Soho House Chicago, however, has something the others don’t: a 12,000-square-foot gym with a replica of Joe Frazier’s boxing ring.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Chicago Travel Guide
Delano Las Vegas
Replacing the all-suite THEhotel in the Mandalay Bay, Vegas adds yet another style of property to its portfolio: here comes the low-key, laid-back, desert-spiritual Delano Las Vegas. Have any doubts about its mission? Well, there’s a 126,000 pound, 150 million year-old boulder, straight from the Mojave, sitting right there in the entrance to remind you. No casino lights; no over-the-top variety shows; just a “lifestyle-oriented,” low-energy, LV stay.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Las Vegas Travel Guide
Mandarin Oriental Bodrum
The brand that is known for its city hotels chose Turkey’s famous yacht stop for its first European resort. The Mandarin Oriental Bodrum is set among sprawling olive groves and boasts two private beaches, vast sea views and a spa with a magnificent Turkish bath. In addition to the 59 rooms and 27 suites, many with outdoor pools and showers, 214 residences are available to rent. When not soaking up the sun, guests keep busy with local gulet tours, wreck diving, and on-site wellness seminars.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Guide to The Central and South Aegean Coast
The first luxury resort to land in the remote private island in the Maldives’ Thaa Atoll is an eco-friendly collection of 66 garden suites and overwater villas. Many rooms at the Como Maalifushi include private pools and sundecks with outdoor canopy beds. An upscale Maldivian restaurant, specializing in local fish, sits on property; guests can also book a neighboring deserted island for private beach picnics, too.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Maldives Travel Guide
Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles
The historic, cathedral-like building that is now the Ace Hotel Downtown is one of Los Angeles’s architectural gems: the Old United Artist theater building was founded by film legends Mary Pickford, D.W. Griffith, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin. While ornate on the outside, the rooms and common spaces are patently sleek and cool, with touches of the past, such as clawfoot tubs, within. At the centerpiece of it all: the revived theater, now the city’s hottest concert venue.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Guide to Los Angeles
Four Seasons Moscow
The 28,000-square-foot spa, which includes a swimming pool with a glass roof treated with anti-frost technology, is the focal point of the luxury at the Four Seasons Moscow, just off Red Square. You can also experience lavish Russian bathhouse treatments within the pampering palace. Floor-to-ceiling windows, many with balconies, mark the 180 guestrooms.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Moscow Travel Guide
El Blok Vieques
At Puerto Rico’s most stylish green hotel, the LEED Gold-certified El Blok, rainwater is collected for reuse on the roof deck, which also includes a bioluminescent Jacuzzi tub, a design feature that brilliantly echoes the glowing waters of Vieques’s Mosquito Bay. That’s just one example of how function meets form in the 22-room inn. The in-house restaurant by San Juan superstar chef Jose Enrique Montes is another prime draw.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Puerto Rico Travel Guide
Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem
A lobby clock perfectly reflects the cultural cross-section of the city outside: the timepiece includes four faces with Arabic, Hebrew, Roman and European numerals. It’s one of the many alluring design elements of the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem. The exterior of the hotel retains its 1929 façade, which is rooted in classical Turkish design. The interior is brand new, adorned with $2 million of crystal chandeliers and high-tech amenities such as iPads in each room. The spa holds two indoor lap pools, along with a retractable glass ceiling. And while set in modern environs, the Old City and Jaffa gate are within walking distance.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Jerusalem Travel Guide
Things in Colombia’s capital just got a little hipper with the arrival of the W’s third South American opening. At the W Bogotá, all of the brand’s trappings translate, from the signature lobby W Lounge, complete with DJ, to Au Room, the requisite nightlife venue, to the trendiest dining in town. The real sparkle lies in the indoor lagoon pool, which glitters with gold dust.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Bogotá Travel Guide
Thompson Miami Beach
Mad Men meets Miami in this paean to all things mid-century modern set in SoBe. South Florida’s first Thompson resides in a structure straight out of the 1950s, with modern amenities including two pools with cabana service, an open-air spa, and Seagrape, a restaurant from local chef/heroine Michelle Bernstein. There’s also a speakeasy bar on site, pre-dating the vibe by 20 years: 1930 House is a small-plates eatery and craft cocktail destination.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Miami Travel Guide
Shangri La at the Shard London
Western Europe’s tallest building is a Renzo Piano-designed spectacle, including the 202 rooms of the brand-new Shangri-La Hotel. Though each room features floor-to-ceiling windows, and accompanying city views that are stunning, there’s no cookie-cutter design involved here: each room has a unique layout. London’s highest bar, Gong, is perched on level 52, as are the gym and infinity pool (also London’s highest).
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s London Travel Guide
Located in the shadow of the Arenal volcano and hidden among lush, tropical gardens are the 16 villas of Nayara Springs. Each is serviced by butlers and includes open-air showers and plunge pools filled with thermal spring water. The hotel grounds also encompass a yoga pavilion, sumptuous spa, vast pool area and even a piano bar. It all amounts to the ultimate, up-market “pura vida” relaxation.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Costa Rica Travel Guide
One&Only Hayman Island
The super-secluded One&Only Hayman Island resort, just off the Great Barrier Reef, recently completed a multi-million dollar make-over, in the most tasteful, understated way that money can buy. That includes a Diane von Furstenberg-designed penthouse; on-property wildlife experts and marine biologists who guide guests through the surrounding habitats, on land and in the water; and miles of deserted beaches at every turn.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Great Barrier Reef Travel Guide
Until this opening, Kyoto was without a full-service Western-style five-star hotel option. Sure, there are plenty of ryokans that offer every indulgence imaginable. But the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto is the forerunner in Japan’s Imperial City, ahead of the curve that the Four Seasons and Aman will soon follow. Still, there is plenty of Eastern influence here. It is designed with a Japanese aesthetic in mind and its surroundings, the banks of the Kamogawa River and views of the Higashiyama Mountains, remind visitors exactly where they are.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Kyoto Travel Guide
This sprawling Scottish castle, 45 minutes outside of Glasgow, is under the lordship of Wimbledon champ Andy Murray, providing the most stately grounds for archery, clay pigeon shooting and tennis, of course. Cromlix's on-site restaurant, Chez Roux, comes from the legendary Michelin-starred chef Albert Roux.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Glasgow Travel Guide
As the third leg of the Zorlu Center, the performance venue, high-end shopping destination and, now, five-star accommodations, the Raffles Istanbul is a $250 million stay that is the proud new home of three Turkish hammams, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and Arola, a restaurant from two-Michelin-starred chef Sergei Arola.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Istanbul Travel Guide
It looks out upon the 7th-century Potala Palace, the Dalai Lama’s winter residence. In fact, there’s a large terrace that invites viewing. If that sight happens to take the breath away, no worries—the Shangri-La Lhasa’s Chi Spa has an oxygen lounge for acclimatization. The hotel also features the largest ballroom in the city. Fitting, after all, for a stay that names itself after the Buddhist idea of “nirvana.”
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Tibet Travel Guide