17 stellar new hotels that embrace their geography
Opening a new hotel, especially in an ongoing pandemic, is an act of optimism, an invitation that says, “come see us, be our guest.” Hundreds of new spots to stay debuted in 2021 and early 2022.
From campgrounds under the stars in Maine to eco-lodges in the wilds of Africa, they provide inspiration for future trips, whether you leave next month or next year. Here are some of the most notable:
Habitas AIUIa, Saudi Arabia
The Nabateans—the ancient civilization behind Jordan’s Petra—also built the monumental tombs and water wells at Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. Habitas’s nearby 96-room eco-lodge, framed by the same sandstone canyons, features an infinity pool, site-specific art installations, and no-impact, tent-like suites snaking along the desert sands.
Cielo Lodge, Costa Rica
This striking newcomer, once a logging site, has been transformed into an off-grid eco-lodge, powered by solar panels and small-scale hydroelectricity with wastewater used for landscaping. This is Costa Rica, so expect full immersion in nature, with wildlife walks along a series of waterfalls and a nighttime frog trail.
Xigera Safari Lodge, Botswana
Relaunched in early 2021, Xigera is situated in the Moremi Game Reserve, where pied kingfishers, hippos, and leopards live in the Okavango Delta. In Botswana, where most lodges make sustainability a priority, Xigera goes the extra mile with a renewable energy center and water treatment plant. The sleek interiors star eye-catching fabrics, handcrafted furniture, and sculptures by contemporary African artists.
The Hotel Britomart, Auckland, New Zealand
The first New Zealand hotel to receive the country’s Five Green Star eco-certification produces greenhouse gas emissions around 50 percent lower than the building code requires. Other elements that exemplify earth-friendly hospitality: low-VOC paint on the walls, driftwood knobs on the doors, and a sustainable seafood restaurant serving underrated-but-delicious local fish.
Cool historic conversions
Castello di Reschio, Umbria, Italy
Count Benedikt Bolza used to live in this 1,000-year-old castle, but he recently moved out, turning the estate and its former chapel into a stunning, 36-room hotel. The location sells itself: tucked among the green furrows of the Italian countryside, with cypress and pine trees. What sets Reschio apart is its swirling modern excavation of the past. Bolza, an architect, designed everything, from the beams to the lampshades, as well as a Roman-style spa in the former wine cellar. Rooms deviate slightly from the stone-walled aesthetic, with modern four-posters paired with deco-style lamps and mid-century chairs.
Domaine de Murtoli, Corsica, France
Twenty-five years after revamping a string of shepherds’ huts, the owners of this rural French retreat have converted an adjacent farmhouse into a smart hotel tucked between organic gardens and olive groves. Guests have full access to the estate, with its wild walks and peaceful Mediterranean sands.
The Harrison Chambers of Distinction, Belfast, Northern Ireland
A 19th-century merchant’s home near Belfast’s Botanic Gardens has been transformed into a chic shrine to local authors, lavish antiques, and frisky design. It’s a welcome, quirky addition to the city’s hotel landscape: expect freestanding baths on reclaimed floorboards, rooms named for local heroes like C.S. Lewis and singer Ruby Murray, and Bridgerton-style four-poster beds beneath lush wallpapers.
Hotel St. Vincent, New Orleans, Louisiana
A former 19th-century orphanage, rich in red brick and wrought iron, has been renovated and reimagined as a 75-room boutique hotel in NOLA’s Lower Garden District. Legendary Texas hotelier Liz Lambert infused the place with moody decor (bathrooms decked in coral tile, a chapel-turned-nightclub) and playful comforts (a Saltillo-tiled swimming pool, gummy bears in the minibars).
Kruger Shalati, South Africa
Permanently parked on an out-of-commission railway bridge in Kruger National Park, this boutique safari lodge features rooms in both converted train carriages and along the bridge itself. A swimming-pool deck hanging over the Sabie River affords views of hippos, elephants, and other animals in the waters below.
Bottleworks Hotel, Indianapolis, Indiana
A 1920s Coca-Cola bottling plant is now the opulent setting for the most distinctive new hotel in Indianapolis, Indiana. A flag bearer for the city’s revitalized Bottleworks District, the 139-room property revived the site’s art deco details: brass railings, terrazzo-tiled floors, and a grand spiral staircase built to resemble a soda fountain. The onsite Garage Food Hall, located on the spot where cola delivery trucks once parked, holds a dozen vendors for ice cream, Asian food, and local tipples.
Paradero Todos Santos, Baja Mexico
The sun-blushed desert of Baja Mexico might not be the most obvious place for Brutalist-inspired architecture, but Yektajo Valdez Architects has seamlessly blended a stretch of low-rise concrete buildings into a landscape of farms and fields of cactus. The 35 suites all come with private outdoor spaces such as rooftop lounging spaces or soaking tubs. The 130-foot-long infinity pool and its half-moon-shaped sunbathing deck are ideal for fans of photogenic minimalism.
Under Canvas Acadia, Maine
A hundred acres of wooded waterfront property near coastal Maine’s Acadia National Park hold 63 tent suites, bookable from late spring until early fall. This family glamping resort—a 30-minute drive from the park’s rocky trails—offers morning yoga, a restaurant serving sophisticated camp food, and nightly live music (with s’more roasting) around communal fire pits.
Zannier Hotels Bãi San Hô, Vietnam
In an unspoiled corner of central Vietnam between rice fields, rolling hills, and a coral reef, Zannier Hotels Bãi San Hô is the stuff of honeymoon dreams. Villas borrow the Southeast Asian vernacular: all thatched roofs and woven bamboo walls, crowned by muslin-draped beds and jumbo bathtubs. Activities include snorkel trips to secluded bays and rice planting or harvesting. Làng Chài, the restaurant, is set right on the gossamer-fine sands.
Camp Sarika by Amangiri, Utah
This rugged offshoot of luxury icon Amangiri carves its own niche with 10 one- and two-bedroom canvas-roofed pavilions with plunge pools, industrial-cool furnishings, and otherworldly Utah desertscape views. The pavilions’ finest feature? A fire pit under the stars, where guests can trade stories of day trips to nearby national parks (Zion, Bryce).
Arthaus Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
With Ottoman-inspired decor and a garden peppered with Roman relics, this chic newcomer sits in the Lebanese capital’s bohemian Gemmayze district, which is rebounding after the devastating 2020 port explosion. Its 25 rooms, sprawled across several historic structures, showcase antiques, rare books, and contemporary art.
The Hoxton, Rome, Italy
The lines between work and home life have blurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some hotels have the concept down to an art, like this Eternal City newcomer with lobbies that feels like living rooms and classy cocktails to end the day. In a modernist building with a dusty pink facade, the 192-bed urban retreat mixes 1970s furniture and salvaged Murano glass chandeliers in interiors inspired by Italian cinema. The all-day Cugino restaurant is as comfortable for breakfast as it is for aperitivos.
The Social House, Nairobi, Kenya
This is no ordinary African city boutique hotel, expertly dodging both colonial tropes and the corporate feel of many regional options. Instead, Nairobians pack four stylish bars and restaurants, with menus ranging from Scandinavian to Peruvian-Japanese. Bed down in one of 83 rooms with smartphone controls and contemporary, Kenya-inspired decor.
This article originally appeared in National Geographic Traveler UK. It has been updated and expanded.