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The Hottest New Hotel Openings of Summer 2019

Condé Nast Traveler logo Condé Nast Traveler 7/9/2019 Erin Florio, Rebecca Misner
a bench in a park © Courtesy Lily of the Valley

The right hotel can inspire us to book entire trips. All year long, we keep tabs on what's opening where, and from the hundreds on our radar, there are always a very special group of game-changing properties or upcoming debuts from brands that nail the design and food every time. Here are some of the hotels opening before the end of September that we simply can't wait to check in to—and yes, we're vacation planning well before some of room keys are even cut.

a herd of sheep standing on a rocky beach: Sonop is located on the southern part of the Namibian desert. © Courtesy Zannier Hotels Sonop is located on the southern part of the Namibian desert.

Sonop, Namibia

Sophisticated French hoteliers Zannier are a rare breed—they can create safari lodges as easily as they build European urban retreats, while always maintaining a sense of the brand. For their second opening in Namibia, they ditched the earthen huts that helped land Omaanda on our Hot List this year, and went for a more traditional safari style. Inside the 10 one- and two-bedroom canvas tents, guests will find telescopes (perfect for spying onyxes by day and gazing into the vast, inky skies at night), and aside from the standard drives to spot hyena and desert-adapted lions, there’s morning yoga, an open-air cinema and hot air balloon rides over the valleys of arid Sossuvlei. In other words, though it may look the part, Sonop won’t be your typical game drive-style safari, but the engineer of a new breed of trip and access to this part of the world, from a hotel group confident enough to rewrite the rules.

a large white bed sitting in a room: A room at Experimental Cocktail Club's new hotel in Venice © Karel Balas A room at Experimental Cocktail Club's new hotel in Venice

Il Palazzo Experimentale, Venice

Venice is not the hippest city in Europe, but the arrival of trendy Parisian hospitality brand the Experimental Cocktail Club definitely adds some cachet. Il Palazzo Experimentale is in part inspired by the city’s legendary cocktail scene (Harry’s Bar, along the Grand Canal, is where the bellini was created). The marble-strewn cocktail lounge at Il Palazzo will have a creative menu that goes beyond spritzes, as well as a secret garden bar. The 32 rooms, each overlooking the Giudecca Canal in the city’s Dorsodoro sestiere, have a teal and merlot palette that manages to feel both classic and contemporary. Rooms also have ECC’s trademark mini bars, stocked with the group’s own pre-made cocktails. The hotel is a breath of fresh air for a city that tends to stay firmly planted in the traditional. And, who knows, it could encourage other urban cool kids like Ace and Hoxton to take over palazzi of their own in the future.

a bedroom with a desk and chair in a room: Paris' new J.K. Rive Gauche © Kristen Pelou Paris' new J.K. Rive Gauche

J.K. Place Rive Gauche, Paris

When this boutique Italian brand decided to open their first hotel on foreign soil, they took their time to find the perfect location. A five-year search ended with the takeover of an old European Consulate overlooking Paris' Seine, and is set to inject some necessary cool over on the Left Bank. Designer Michele Bonan is outfitting the 30 polished rooms with antiques from Marché des Puces de Saint Ouen in the north of the city. J.K. is paying homage to its new location by opening Paris’s only spa by French beauty maison Sisley, too. The food, however, will be strictly Italian, helmed by global supper club super stars Casa Tua. Like its older siblings in Rome, Capri, and Florence, J.K. Place Rive Gauche will be intimate enough to feel like you’re staying in the pied a terre of an elegant rich friend (a discreet gate is the only sign that you’ve arrived), though expect to mingle in the downstairs bar with the fashion set, already loyalists of the other properties, who are sure to turn this into the place to stay every September.

Hotel Bairro Alto, Lisbon

In the two years that this pastel-colored 19th-century palace has been closed for renovation, its hometown has exploded as the darling of the European weekend break circuit. Its fortuitous location between the trendy Bairro Alto and Chiado neighborhood means it’ll be as much of a hit with this new generation of visitors as it was with those before. Not to mention it’ll be home to the first-ever restaurant in Lisbon from Portuguese superchef Nuno Mendez, one of the pioneers to turn London into one of the globe’s top culinary destinations with his Viajante, followed by his spot inside Andres Balazs’s Chiltern Street Firehouse. For his first restaurant in his hometown, Mendez will focus on reinventing typical local dishes. And if you are headed here just for dinner (which is a must), be sure to come an hour early for cocktails on the terrace, overlooking Luis de Cameos Square and out to the sea.

One&Only Gorilla's Nest, Rwanda

Virunga may be the oldest National Park in Africa, but it is only in recent years that it has landed on the radar of international travelers. New lodges open within eyeshot of its verdant-covered volcanoes seemingly every month, in order to keep up with demand to see the mountain gorillas, but few have caught our attention like this one, the second from luxury resort brand One&Only. From the windows of the nature-inspired rooms, guests will be able to observe lions, elephants, and the coveted mountain gorillas. The real fun, of course, comes from leaving your room to trek through the mud and jungle, and happening upon the animals in their own environment and observing them for hours at a time.

a room that has a clock on the side of a building: Tokyo's new Trunk House is opening in August. © Tomooki Kengaku/Courtesy Trunk House Hotel Tokyo's new Trunk House is opening in August.

Trunk House, Tokyo

In 2017, when the 15-room Trunk Hotel opened in the heart of Shibuya, Tokyo, it shook up the capital city’s hotel scene. Finally, a truly boutique option (read: organic in-room snacks, pour-over coffee, and bespoke whiskey cocktails at the lobby bar) in a city known for its sleek, high-rise hotels and, on the other end of the spectrum, its low-fi traditional ryokans. The same team is behind the new Trunk House, a mid-century former geisha house in Tokyo’s Kagurazaka neighborhood (dubbed Little Kyoto for its ancient shrines, temples, and parks) that's been turned into a small hotel set to open this August. The goal is to recreate a more residential experience for guests while nodding to the building’s commercial past, with a living room and private garden, a small tearoom with an irori fireplace (a traditional Japanese sunken hearth), a tiny disco with a state-of-the-art karaoke machine, and a bath area with a cypress soaking tub surrounded by shunga (Japanese-style adult artwork) printed onto white tiles. It sounds like just the right mix of old and new, racy and staid.

Huntington Lodge, Bend, Oregon

Bend is one of the Pacific Northwest’s best-kept secrets. It's a sort of sleepier Boulder or Tahoe with excellent (and shockingly uncrowded) skiing at nearby Mount Bachelor in the winter; rafting and fly fishing on the Deschutes River; hiking, mountain biking, and trail running in the summer; and a robust craft beer and budding restaurant scene year-round. The default way to tap into this high desert wonderland has always been to rent a vacation house in the nearby resort community of Sunriver, or to stay at one of the (kind of corporate) hotels in town. This is why the opening of Huntington Lodge, a 104-room retreat on 640 acres in the world’s second largest juniper forest, is such a big deal for the area. Rooms have the perks of a rental home—fireplaces, kitchens, and terraces with views of the surrounding Cascade Mountains—but you also get access to the resort’s restaurants and its wellness teepee, where you can do a sage workshops, yoga classes, or a crystal sound meditation session.

Lily of the Valley, Côte d'Azur, France

The Côte d'Azur has long been synonymous with old-school glamour, attracting a certain type of guest (often by yacht) to its grand dame hotels and storied beaches. But a handful of stylish boutique properties, like Saint-Raphaël’s Hôtel Les Roches Rouges, which debuted a few years ago, and the just-opened Lily of the Valley overlooking Gigaro Beach, about 20 minutes from St. Tropez, are ushering in a fresh energy to the French Riviera. The newcomer, the 44-room Lily of the Valley, was designed by Phillipe Starck to blend into the surrounding nature—no building is taller than the nearby trees; rooms are done in a sand palette with lots of rattan and light wood. There’s a chic saltwater pool with striped chaise lounges and white sun umbrellas and a charming jasmine-lined foot path that leads to a sandy stretch of beach, but what’s revolutionary for this pocket of sun-kissed indulgence is the hotel’s emphasis on wellness. There’s a huge wellness center offering services like energy-moving massages and naturopathy consultations (and the more novel postural coaching and adult swim lessons), as well as two restaurants spotlighting organic food with plenty of vegan options.

a bedroom with a bed and a chair in a room: A bedroom at the Proper Santa Monica © The Ingalls A bedroom at the Proper Santa Monica

Proper Santa Monica

Proper Hotel Group crashed into the hospitality game with its first property, the Kelly Wearstler-designed San Francisco Proper, in 2017, bringing some much-needed cool to that city’s hotel portfolio and quickly establishing itself as a brand to watch. Fast forward to 2019, and the group has three hotels debuting this year: soon-to-open properties in Downtown Los Angeles and Austin, and a just-opened Santa Monica outpost. The 271-room Santa Monica property has a rooftop bar (surprisingly the only one on the west side) and breezy but stylish decor (organic tones, textured linen bedding, local ceramics, statement upholstered headboards). The location is stellar—it’s an easy walk to the beach and the Third Street pedestrian promenade—but what we’re most excited about (in addition to Surya, a sprawling ayurvedic spa that the hotel opened in partnership with Martha Soffer, a leading ayurvedic doctor, chef, and herbalist) is its ground floor restaurant Onda, a collaboration between two of our favorite chefs, Los Angeles native Jessica Koslow of Sqirl and Gabriela Cámara of Contramar in Mexico City.

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