The best new hotels of 2019

WT Writer
Sep 3, 2019
This year has seen a bumper crop of brilliant new hotels. From tropical island retreats to city hotspots, here are 30 of the buzziest new openings from all corners of the globe.

The Middle East & Africa


JA Lake View Hotel, UAE

Opening on 22 September, JA Lake View Hotel completes the trio of properties that comprise the sprawling JA The Resort in Jebel Ali. There are 348 rooms and suites, each with a sunny glass balcony, along with three pools and four culinary concepts, including an Indian restaurant helmed by Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna. The best part? You can use all the facilities of the wider resort, which means you’ll have 25 restaurants and bars, as well as a mind-boggling menu of activities to choose from. Turn to page 36 for more.

Inspired to go? Click here to book a stay


Lepogo Lodges, South Africa

High on a clifftop overlooking the 48,000-hectare Lapalala Wilderness Reserve, Noka Camp is the first of two new properties at Lepogo Lodges. All five villas have glass fronts, heated infinity pools and outdoor ‘sky beds’ with glass floors, providing sensational views of the ravine. The décor, meanwhile, is sleek and subtle, with light wood and sunken baths. With luck, you’ll likely spot the Big Five during game drives, water safaris and luxury sleep-outs, while yoga and spa treatments round off your stay. 


Singita Kwitonda Lodge, Rwanda 

Fans of Singita’s luxury safari lodges can now add gorilla-trekking to their East African itinerary, with the opening of its latest lodge in the spectacular Volcanoes National Park. Treading lightly on 72 hectares of wetlands and meadows, Kwitonda’s eight suites and one villa have fireplaces and heated plunge pools and incorporate local volcanic rock, river stone and handmade tiles. Besides gorillas, you can also visit Nyungwe National Park which is home to a dozen primate species, including chimpanzees and colobus monkeys. 

Wilderness Safari, Jao Camp


Wilderness Safaris Jao Camp, Botswana  

After undergoing a total transformation, Wilderness Safaris’ new camp in the Okavango Delta mixes style and sustainability to stellar effect. Run entirely on solar power, the camp has five tented suites with private plunge pools, outdoor showers and evaporative cooling systems instead of AC, while two villas also come with a private guide, chef and butler. Morning and evening game drives provide fantastic opportunities to spot the Big Five, ideally interspersed with glass-bottomed canoe trips and pampering spa treatments. 

Lekkerwater Beach Lodge


Lekkerwater Beach Lodge, South Africa 

On fragrant fynbos-covered cliffs above the Indian Ocean, this eco-conscious lodge in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, 240km east of Cape Town, offers solitude in spades. There are seven rooms decorated in earthy tones and marine blues, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a long stretch of deserted beach. You can go hiking and caving, watch dolphins frolic and spot Cape vultures and caracals. But the highlight is shore-based whale-watching; from July to November, you’ll see hundreds of Southern Right whales and their calves. 


Waldorf Astoria, DIFC, UAE

Although a few big-name hotel brands now have a home within Dubai’s International Financial Centre, none are as grand as Waldorf Astoria’s — a soaring, lavishly decorated homage to city titans Rome and New York
of the ’60s, a golden age of travel when the term jet-set was born. Aimed very much at the jetsetters of today, beyond the obligatory steakhouse for dealmakers, there’s more than enough to gratify leisure guests too, including a sky-high, private-access spa and made-for-Instagram rooftop lounge. 

Inspired to go? Click here to book a stay

Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah, Dubai


Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE

This beachfront resort marked the welcome arrival of Mandarin Oriental in the region. The 256 rooms, most with private balconies and terraces, are decorated in muted tones and accents of turquoise or orange. Relax by the pool — there are six to choose from — and stroll to the low-lit spa, which boasts a hammam, indoor vitality pools, dry saunas and steam rooms. In the evening, choose from a half-dozen places to eat and drink, including a warayaki-style (straw-smoked) Japanese steakhouse. 

Inspired to go? Click here to book a stay

Indian Ocean


Anantara Mauritius Resort, Mauritius 

Anantara makes its Mauritius debut next month near Blue Bay, a largely undeveloped spot with a vibrant coral reef and some of the island’s best snorkelling and diving. Design-wise, the 164-room resort is set among tropical gardens and makes use of natural elements such as volcanic stone and driftwood, while a 30-metre chlorine-free swimming pool wraps around the low-rise property. Multiple restaurants will make use of the incredible local bounty, while the signature spa will include indigenous therapies. 

Inspired to go? Click here to book a stay


Baglioni Resort Maldives

At first glance, this private island resort in the Dhaalu Atoll looks like your traditional Maldivian paradise: turquoise waters, powdery sands, thatched villas. But Baglioni’s subtle Italian style — Frette linens, sunset aperitivi, top-notch Italian cuisine — adds a touch of cosmopolitan flair. There are 96 villas, some over water, others lining the beach or tucked among swaying palm trees, with secluded decks and outdoor showers. Once you’ve settled in, hit the dive centre or try a couples’ massage in the open-air spa. 

Inspired to go? Click here to book a stay

InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort


InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort 

This newcomer is set within the Maldives’ largest natural lagoon in the Raa Atoll, a unique marine sanctuary teeming with manta rays. When you’re not snorkelling alongside these gentle giants, there’s an overwater spa with a resident Chinese medicine practitioner to complement the menu of facials and massages, and six restaurants ranging from tapas to teppanyaki. Meanwhile, the 81 beach, lagoon or overwater villas all come with ocean views, terraces, pools and complimentary daily perks including breakfast, afternoon tea and obligatory sundowners. 


Raffles Maldives Meradhoo, Maldives

In the remote Gaafu Alifu Atoll, close to the equator, Raffles has opened its first resort in the Maldives — and it was worth the wait. The enormous, thatched-roof villas — 21 perched on the sand and 16 over water — all come with muslin-draped four-poster beds, deep soaking tubs, private pools and Raffles’ legendary butler service. Enjoy lazy days snorkelling alongside the resident marine biologist, or being pampered in the overwater spa. Evenings, meanwhile, are devoted to sunset dhoni cruises and candle-lit dinners.

Inspired to go? Click here to book a stay


LUX* North Malé Atoll, Maldives

A short speedboat-ride from Malé, this mould-breaking resort favours two-storey, white-washed duplexes over thatched-roof villas. There are 67 in total, some over water and all with private pool, roof terrace and bathroom as big as the bedroom. The cool, South Beach-vibe continues in the restaurants and lounges — think Peruvian-Japanese cuisine, resident DJ and underwater aquarium. Daily routines revolve around snorkelling with turtles, blissful treatments in the overwater spa, a spot of yoga or tai chi, and toes-in-the-sand dinners. 

Inspired to go? Click here to book a stay

Australia & the South Pacific


InterContinental Hayman Island Resort, Australia

Two years after Cyclone Debbie’s destruction, and following a multi-million-dollar refurbishment, this private island resort is once again welcoming guests to the Whitsundays. There are 166 rooms, suites and villas spread across three distinct wings, including an all-new beach house with private pool, three new restaurants and an 11-room spa. Intersperse your pool days with trips to the Great Barrier Reef. 


Nukutepipi, French Polynesia

Go totally off-grid at this exclusive-use retreat in the remote Tuamotu archipelago, 750km southeast of Tahiti. With the sound of lapping waves as your soundtrack, the tiny island shines for its staggering beauty and total seclusion. There are 16 barefoot-chic villas and bungalows, while the turquoise-hued lagoon is an invitation for adventure. Take your pick of activities on land and in water, with staff on hand to cater to your every whim. 

The Americas


Puro Vik, Chile 

Two hours south of the capital Santiago, Chile’s newest luxury retreat features 19 glass-walled bungalows overlooking the vine-covered Millahue Valley. Each villa is outfitted in distinctive style, with themes ranging from Japanese to Pop Art, while al fresco bathtubs offer views of the valley and Andes Mountains beyond. You may never feel the urge to leave — though the adjoining sister property features two Chilean restaurants, an infinity pool, luxurious spa and activities like yoga, hiking and horseback riding. 


Equinox, USA

In a 92-storey skyscraper in New York’s newly constructed Hudson Yards district, this buzzed-about hotel is the first from America’s most exclusive fitness club (where the likes of Kim and Kanye work out). Join a SoulCycle class in the 5,600-square-metre gym, then recover in a cryotherapy chamber in the spa, or opt for a restorative vitamin IV-drip. The 212 rooms and suites, meanwhile, are designed to encourage sleep, with precise levels of quiet, darkness and temperature, and a mini-bar packed with healthy snacks and ample supplements. 

Inspired to go? Click here to book a stay


Eden Rock, Caribbean 

Perched atop a rocky promontory surrounded by sandy beaches, Eden Rock has been an A-list favourite since the 1950s. Following a two-year, Hurricane Irma-induced renovation, the St Barths icon will reopen on November 20. All rooms have been redesigned in elegant, breezy style — plump for the new Pippa suite with private pool — while a new spa and beach bar add to the hotel’s already considerable charms. Regulars, meanwhile, can relax knowing Jean-Georges Vongerichten still presides over the food. 

Nobu Hotel Los Cabos


Nobu Hotel Los Cabos, Mexico 

On an idyllic stretch of the Baja Peninsula, chef Nobu Matsuhisa and actor Robert De Niro’s latest hotspot is perhaps their finest yet. The vibe is contemporary Japanese minimalism — think Zen-like rooms with traditional teak tubs and shoji sliding doors — while pops of colour  and those Pacific Ocean panoramas cement the sense of place. Tee off at the neighbouring Tiger Woods-designed course, unwind in the spa stocked with Natura Bissé products, and dine on the ever-excellent miso-glazed black cod at the signature restaurant.


Rosewood Miramar Beach, USA

Spread across 6.5-hectares of pristine beachfront near beautiful Santa Barbara, this resort mixes relaxed Cali charm with discrete Rosewood luxury. All 161 rooms have outdoor terraces, while some are perched directly on the sand — a real rarity in southern California. Start your day with yoga on the beach, laze by the cabana-lined pools (one for families, another for adults) and stock up on goodies from Gwyneth Paltrow’s in-resort Goop boutique. The Italian-influenced Caruso’s, meanwhile, is the pick of the resort’s stellar line up of seven restaurants. 

Kachi Lodge


Kachi Lodge, Bolivia 

Until recently, exploring Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni meant staying in modest digs in a nearby town. That’s all changed with the advent of this collection of nine glamping domes pitched right on the world’s largest salt flat. Kitted out with plush beds and colourful Bolivian artwork, the pods have clear panels for star-gazing and wood-burning stoves (you are, after all, at
altitude). Best of all, there’s inventive cuisine from Gustu, founded in the capital La Paz in 2013 by Noma’s Claus Meyer. 


Islas Secas, Panama 

On the search for for total seclusion? You’ll be hard-pressed to top this eco-resort in Panama’s Gulf of Chiriqui. Part of a 14-isle archipelago owned by a billionaire conservationist, there are just nine casitas secreted among the lush vegetation, with private pools and thatched-roof cabanas offering unbeatable ocean views. Guests get full run of the islands, 13 of which are uninhabited, so you can fill your days kayaking, snorkelling and diving, whale-watching, bird-spotting and fishing, or just hanging out on one of those blissfully deserted beaches.



Andronis Arcadia, Greece

Santorini is famous for its sublime sunsets and there’s no better place to soak up the view than from this all-suite hotel in the island’s north. The 53 sunset-facing suites all have private pools and are decorated in linen, rattan and wood. When you’re ready to mingle, nab a floating day bed by the buzzy infinity pool and its resident DJ, and take your pick of three restaurants. Be sure to book a treatment in the spa, too — it’s the largest in town. 


Hotel ChÂteau du Grand-LucÉ, France 

With just 17 rooms and 80 acres to explore, this fairy-tale chateau in the Loire Valley is as grand as they come. Built in 1760 and surrounded by its original stone wall, the chateau has been exquisitely restored: rooms feature soaring ceilings and parquet oak floors and are awash with gilt furniture, silk damask walls, canopy beds and clawfoot baths. Enjoy sunny strolls through the classical gardens, inspired by Versailles, picnics in the white oak forest and dreamy days by the pool. 


Belmond Cadogan Hotel, UK 

Occupying a handful of Queen Anne-style townhouses in London’s Chelsea, this handsome hotel has been a playground for socialites and bohemians since 1887. Following a top-to-toe makeover, there are now 54 supremely stylish rooms — mostly suites — with hardwood floors, velvet headboards and contemporary art by up-and-coming female artists. When you’re not shopping or museum-hopping, take afternoon tea in the lounge, dine on modern British cuisine in chef Adam Handling’s eponymous restaurant and play tennis in the private gardens.

Inspired to go? Click here to book a stay


Hotel de la Ville, Italy 

Hotelier Rocco Forte’s latest property sits atop the Spanish Steps, providing stellar views over Rome’s terracotta-tiled rooftops. The historic 18th-century palazzo houses 104 rooms and suites with jewel-toned velvets, rich woods and marble bathrooms. Exceptional Italian cuisine is on offer in the central courtyard or chic ground-floor trattoria (but of course you’ll want to head to the rooftop terrace for sundowners first). The spa, meanwhile, has a wealth of treatments infused with Sicilian botanicals, along with a sauna, salt room and hydro pool. 

Inspired to go? Click here to book a stay

Monkey Island Estate


Monkey Island Estate, UK 

Housed in two 18th-century buildings in the picturesque village of Bray-on-Thames, this former aristocratic fishing retreat is now a contemporary country manor. The 30 Art Deco-styled rooms have marshmallow beds and river views, while the Wedgewood Suite dials up the drama with wood-panelled walls, ornate plasterwork and moody oil paintings. Indulge in the floating spa, a custom-made canal boat moored along the bank, or cruise in the vintage-style launch to Bray’s three-star gastro-temples, the Waterside Inn and The Fat Duck. 


Six Senses Bhutan


Six Senses Bhutan, Bhutan 

In the little-explored Himalayan kingdom, Six Senses is creating a bucket-list circuit of five intimate lodges in the country’s most beautiful valleys. Lodges have already opened in Paro, close to the clifftop Tiger’s Nest; amid the rice paddies of Punakha; and in the capital Thimphu, with the remaining set to launch later this year in Gangtey and Bumthang. Each one weaves different elements of its surroundings into its design, but you can expect heart-stopping views, cultural excursions and serene wellness experiences. 


Capella Bangkok, Thailand 

Bangkok is famous for its non-stop energy, so this new arrival on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River provides a welcome change of pace. Capella’s 101 suites and riverfront villas feel like posh cocoons. The soothing ambiance continues in the spa with traditional Thai therapies, while youngsters can sign up for a ‘Little Monk’ mindfulness session. Another surprise: the signature restaurant is Mediterranean, overseen by Michelin-starred chef Mauro Colagreco. 

Anantara Desaru Coast Resort


Anantara Desaru Coast Resort, Malaysia 

Desaru Coast is Malaysia’s rising star resort, thanks to its white-sand beaches, family-friendly waterpark and Ernie Els-designed golf courses. Opening next month, this resort has 123 rooms and villas, some with plunge pools, in calming neutrals and dark wood. The sparkling South China Sea is never far away, whether you’re lounging by the infinity pool or feasting on Malaysian and Thai cuisine in the open-air restaurants. Jaded travellers, meanwhile, will love the signature spa and tailored wellness programmes. 

Lelewatu Resort Sumba


Lelewatu Resort Sumba, Indonesia

Forget Bali. Sumba, an hour’s flight south-east, is the place to go for incredible white-sand beaches, minus the crowds. On a cliff overlooking the ocean, Lelewatu Resort has 27 thatched-roof villas spread across 10-hectares of lush rainforest, with four-poster beds and beautiful handwoven ikat fabrics. Recline on muslin-draped daybeds by your private pool, and stroll to the spa to be gently pummelled by the expert masseuses. In the evening, sample the catch of the day in the open-air restaurant.