From chic city hotels to secluded wilderness lodges, Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH) has an unrivalled portfolio of some of the world’s finest independent hotels. An expert team from the luxury hotel brand has been searching the world over and seeking out the best-kept secrets in luxury accommodation, and so far this year around a dozen hotels have managed to meet the strict criteria to join the exclusive group.
Here are the new properties that have made the mark so far this year:
A stylish Sri Lankan spa resort set in a wild and natural spot between the Indian Ocean and the lagoon at Negombo, which is known for its distinct elegance and peaceful solitude. The 55-room hotel is historically significant for being the first resort designed by legendary Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. The magnificent swimming pool, the longest on Sri Lanka’s north-west coast, runs from the hotel’s reception through to the main property, and along with jungle foliage and cool breeze, helps to create an atmosphere of pure relaxation.
Tipped as one of the hottest new hotels for 2013, Mukul (meaning secret in Mayan) opened in February and has already become a benchmark for luxury in Nicaragua. The luxury boutique hotel and spa is set in Guacalito de la Isla, a new $250 million, 1670-acre low-density private beach community on Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast. The 37 villas and bohio-styled huts combine modern elegance with traditional Nicaraguan roots and each one has an ocean view and private pool. Other luxurious amenities at this pampering paradise include Spa Mukul, beach club and an 18-hole golf course.
Opening 15 May, The Refinery will be the latest addition to Manhattan’s celebrated boutique hotel scene in the famed Garment District. The impressive 12-storey property is the reincarnation of the Colony Arcade Building built in the 1920s, which once housed 19th century milliners, hat factories and a tea room. The eclectic design reflects the building’s industrial past with contemporary flair, while the hotel’s own gastronomic microworld provides a prohibition-style tea lounge, a silver coffee trailer, a signature restaurant and a rooftop bar with views of the Empire State Building.
The Mirror, which opened in February 2011, is ideally situated in the Eixample district, close to Las Ramblas and the city’s Gothic Quarter. As the name suggests, the hotel’s style emphasises light and reflection, with white-on-white décor and a masterful use of mirrors, making The Mirror an avant-garde showpiece. The gourmet restaurant is headed up by renowned chef, Paco Perez, and offers contemporary seafood cuisine based on specialities from the Costa Brava. There is also a rooftop pool, solarium and massage therapies on offer.
Centrally situated in the historic Eixample district, Hotel Cram has an elegant 19th century façade that contrasts with dramatic yet contemporary interiors. The hotel is home to Michelin-starred GAIG restaurant serving Catalan haute cuisine with a focus on traditional flavours and stripped down preparation. Guests can soak up the panoramic views of Barcelona at the hotel’s outdoor pool and enjoy some casual dining at the poolside ÀNEMOS Terrace Bar.
Bo Phut is one of the most peaceful and luxurious hideaways on the tropical Thai island of Koh Samui, set in pretty landscaped gardens and surrounded by sapphire waters. The 61 rooms, including 32 villas – some with outdoor Jacuzzis and private pools – are designed in modern Thai style and use natural materials that blend perfectly with the garden setting. The resort has two restaurants featuring different cuisines. L’Ocean is an all-day beachfront restaurant that serves a delectable selection of local and international cuisine. At Sala Thai, the resort’s signature restaurant, guests can savour authentic Thai cuisine whilst enjoying the sounds of the ‘khim’ – a traditional Thai musical instrument.
Five-star WH Ming Hotel is the latest addition to SLH’s growing portfolio in China and is situated in a relatively tranquil area of bustling Shanghai. Overlooking the green of Huangxing Park, all 166 rooms and suites have spectacular park and river views and are designed in a modern Art Deco style with traditional Oriental touches. The hotel also features four distinctly different restaurants featuring Asian, Western and Chinese cuisine, including upscale fine dining Shanghainese restaurant Shanghai Min. Cocktail bar Ming Club, on the top floor of the hotel, offers a great selection of cigars, wine and cocktails and live Jazz performances.
This is an all-suite boutique hotel, where stunning views across the Aegean Sea are enjoyed from every angle in the property. Designed with the island’s traditional Greek architecture in mind, the hotel reflects the island’s cubic white-washed style, while the rooms’ décor is crisp, clean white with striking colours. Whether in the infinity pool, Jacuzzi or at the poolside cocktail bar, the focus at De.Light is on winding down and soaking up the sun and the sea. The hotel’s authentic Greek restaurant is also located by the pool overlooking the Aegean Sea and serves healthy dishes based on traditional Mykonean recipes and fresh seasonal products.
Porto Kea Suites, another Greek island retreat, is set in idyllic garden overlooking white sandy beaches and encircled by the sea and water from a large central pool. The rooms and suites are connected by meandering pebbled paths across the garden and expansive pool, and have a contemporary chic style mixed with traditionally styled wood furniture and classic touches. The rooms have a veranda with garden view, while suites benefit from sea views. The restaurant features Mediterranean cuisine with a traditional Greek flair.
This is Beijing’s newest hotel and opened in February to much anticipation. The hotel is already cited as one of the city’s most elegant hotels since it is housed in an architecturally-striking gleaming glass pyramid, which is part of a new fashionable development with designer boutiques and high-end restaurants. The 100 rooms are inordinately generous, many with a private terrace and some with their own pool. The hotel is also culturally significant with a stunning contemporary art collection, which includes original sculptures and paintings by Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol and Zeng Fangzhi amongst others.
SLH’s first hotel in Kashmir opened in December last year and is the first luxury resort to open in the skiing destination of Gulmarg in the Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas. All rooms offer breathtaking views of either the Affarwat Peaks or surrounding evergreen valleys. Their interiors are designed with traditional materials and draw upon Kashmir’s rich heritage of craftsmanship, combining Namda felted wool, locally sourced silk carpets, furnishings embellished with crewel embroidery and carved walnut panelling.