There's a concrete-and-glass structure in Iceland's foothills that travelers happily traverse snow and ice in a 4x4 to reach. South Beach has welcomed two new too-cool-for-school properties, and a sexy boutique hotel now sits on the top floors of a Tokyo skyscraper. You can actually book a hostel stay and feel good about it, thanks to the latest Parisian installment of the Generator brand.
2014 and 2015 have been banner years for the travel industry, and it shows in the steady growth of hotels around the world; throughout our mission to visit as many hotels as possible (we've added 5,635 properties to the site this year), we've discovered amazing new hotels, resorts, boutiques, and hostels that should definitely be on your radar. Because while of course we love an iconic historic stay, we can't help but be intrigued by the shiny and brand-new. Here are a dozen hotels that are worthy of their new-kid-on-the-block hype.
1. 1 Hotel South Beach
The luxurious, 426-room 1 Hotel South Beach opened in March 2015 after a complete renovation (it was formerly Perry South Beach, and the Gansevoort Miami Beach before that). The 1 Hotel brand is extremely eco-conscious and the entire hotel has environment-friendly features including salvaged wood, hemp mattresses, and take-home socks instead of disposable slippers. Top-notch amenities include direct beach access; four pools, including one on the roof; three bars and fine-dining restaurant; fitness center; event spaces; and Tesla car service within a three-mile radius.
2. The Inn at Newport Ranch, Mendocino County
The Inn at Newport Ranch is a special property where it's all about the views; just opened over Labor Day weekend, it sits on a prime piece of land in Northern California overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Reaching the inn via Highway 1 can be quite an ordeal, particularly on foggy days, but guests seeking seclusion find it well worth it -- with just a handful of rooms and suites, as well as two standalone options, Newport Ranch makes for a quiet and relaxing stay. However, the friendly innkeepers can arrange all sorts of activities, such as horseback riding and ATV tours, and guests often mingle during the free (and delicious) daily breakfast and afternoon appetizers. Those looking for extensive amenities should stay elsewhere -- there's no gym or full restaurant, and some rooms lack TVs -- but the Inn at Newport Ranch is truly one-of-a-kind (and techies can still expect fast Wi-Fi and iPod docks).
3. ION Luxury Adventure Hotel, Iceland
It may have opened in 2013, but Iceland's ION is just now getting the attention it deserves. It's concrete-and-glass facade rises from the Icelandic landscape like a set piece in a science fiction fantasy. Geothermal power and sustainable building materials are as pretty as they are practical at this four-pearl property, where 45 rooms are chic and include organic amenities, modern technology, and frequently gorgeous views. The restaurant serves New Nordic cuisine and the lovely bar offers seasonal glimpses of the Northern Lights -- there's also a spa with a gorgeous outdoor hot tub. The location might not suit all, but design nerds, romantic couples, and thrill seekers looking for excursions can fulfill a dream or two.
4. Hugo Hotel, New York City
Opened in 2014, the Hotel Hugo is a stylish, upscale 122-room boutique property located on the far west side of SoHo in the newly coined Hudson Square neighborhood; thanks to its popular indoor/outdoor rooftop bar with panoramic city and river views, it has already established itself as a hot spot among the hip after-work crowd. Architect Marcello Pozzi's design pairs a downtown industrial style with sleek maritime-inspired interiors. Rooms are finished with polished walnut, shiny chrome fixtures, and Hudson River views, evoking the feeling of staying on a well-heeled Italian yacht.
5. SLS Las Vegas
The upscale, 1,613-room SLS Las Vegas is in the building that once housed the iconic Sahara Resort & Casino. Designed by acclaimed French designer Philippe Starck, in collaboration with Gensler Architects, the property mixes elements of the property's past with strikingly modern decor and opened to rave reviews in August of 2014. The casino area isn't huge but all the typical gaming options are available, and there is a wide array of restaurants to fit anyone's budget -- including the trendy Bazaar Meat by José Andrés. Three nightclubs and a gorgeous outdoor pool area lure a younger crowd.
6. Generator Paris
Transformed from an office building and opened in February of this year, the Generator Paris is a chic and funky hostel located in Paris's hip 10th Arrondissement. The characterful property houses a whopping 916 beds arranged around small dormitories and private rooms, all clean and contemporary -- though with sparse amenities. With a cafe, Moroccan-themed chill-out lounge, and bars in both the basement and on the rooftop terrace, there's no shortage of space to relax and mingle, though non-guests will find it hard to get past security. While the location is a little far from most tourist attractions, for stylish and funky lodgings close to Metro and Eurostar transport links, this place is a budget-category winner.
7. Hotel de Glace, Quebec City
Very rarely (if ever) do you come across a property that rebuilds itself every year, but that's exactly what happens at Quebec City's Hotel de Glace, an upper-middle-range property made entirely of ice and snow -- one of only two such properties in the world. The property changes annually, with unique snow carvings and ice sculptures, and is typically open from January through March. There were 44 rooms and themed suites available during our 2015 visit, including some with decorative gas fireplaces -- the property remains between 23 and 27 degrees Fahrenheit at all times, and overnight guests are given thermal sleeping bags for extra warmth. Guests may only retire to their rooms starting at 9 p.m. and must be out by 9 a.m. the next day, when free breakfast is served. Public tours are offered all day throughout the property, including guest rooms and the Ice Workshop. There are lockers and public bathrooms with stall showers, as well as a small cafe, three bars serving beer and cocktails in glasses made of ice, and an outdoor spa with hot tubs and saunas, which guests can use throughout the night.
8. Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort
This grandiose adult-only resort that opened in late 2014 outside of San Jose del Cabo is practically a destination unto itself. Manicured grounds are sprawling (expect to walk often) and offer great views of the Sea of Cortez, especially from the two pools and golf course. All-inclusive rates are among the highest in the area, even for a luxury hotel, but the six bars and eight restaurants provide guests with plenty of food and drink variety. The 500 suites have modern amenities and playful, romantic touches -- some are swim-out.
9. Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills
Completed in 2014, the Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills is one of Tokyo's newest luxury hotels. It was built in the top floors (47 through 51) of the Toranomon Hills skyscraper, with enormous windows overlooking Tokyo. Cleverly placed telescopes and a sophisticated rooftop bar are excellent ways to take in the sights. Like all Andaz properties, this hotel has an open lobby concept and hosts take the place of traditional front desk agents and concierge staff. Luxurious guest rooms have free minibars, large soaking tubs, and plenty of closet space. The skyscraper is a neighborhood within itself, with restaurants, shops, and offices. Prices are high, but comparable with other five-pearl properties in expensive Tokyo.
10. Sandals Barbados
Set on a private stretch of Dover Beach on the island's southwest coast, the lushly landscaped, couples-only Sandals Barbados is an upscale, all-inclusive resort that opened at the beginning of this year. Some of the hotel's 280 rooms offer swim-out access into a river-style pool, or terraces with free-standing soaking tubs. The resort's three pools, 13 restaurants, bars, spa, and numerous recreational amenities make for plenty to do on property, but those needing an escape can easily access the nightlife of nearby St. Lawrence Gap. The hotel also boasts a manicured stretch of breezy white-sand beach lined with rows of cushy loungers.
11. Hyatt Centric South Beach
Opened in 2015, the upscale Hyatt Centric is a small hotel by Collins Avenue standards, with boutique-like features and sleek, contemporary accents. The first Hyatt property in South Beach, it's not as upscale as the Loews across the street or as luxurious as the nearby Ritz-Carlton, but it is less expensive and has a far more laid-back vibe. The 105 fresh rooms feature plush beds and 47-inch flat-screen TVs. An innovative restaurant serves Spanish-Mediterranean cuisine and the hotel has a small pool.
12. Delano Las Vegas
This 1,117-room, 4.5-pearl property is the result of an $80 million renovation, completed in Fall 2014, of the former THEhotel at Mandalay Bay. The revamping brought striking desert-inspired art installations to the lobby and chic, white furnishings in the suite-style rooms. There's not much in way of entertainment or dining on-site, but it's connected to the huge and lively Mandalay Bay. For guests or business travelers wanting a quiet retreat still near the Vegas hustle and bustle, the Delano is a prime pick.