Travel - Issue 106 - Magazine | Monocle

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Easy charm

Los Angeles


Following in the fine footsteps of its Chicago and Miami properties, the Sydell Group’s Freehand in LA’s resurgent Downtown comes courtesy of interiors firm Roman & Williams. “Culturally they’re all similar but from a physical point of view, the LA Freehand has more luxury to it,” says Andrew Zobler, founder and CEO of Sydell (also known for The Ned in London).

Occupying the historic Commercial Exchange building, the 226 guest rooms range from shared bunks (with which the brand has become synonymous) to a smart corner-loft suite. The look chimes nicely with a laidback California style: earthy tones, bright murals and handsome plants are present throughout. The Exchange restaurant, led by Angeleno chef Alex Chang, is a blend of Israeli meets Latin – with a few Asian influences thrown in.

More LA openings

Hotel Figueroa Newly renovated.

NoMad Another Sydell spot.

The Tuck Hotel Discreet boutique.

Openings we’re eyeing up in London

Two new openings in clamorously cool (and increasingly grown-up looking) Shoreditch have thrown open their doors of late.

  1. The Nobu Hotel Shoreditch cuts a contemporary shape in the old East End with a cantilevered steel, concrete and glass exterior – and 143 smart rooms by Studio Mica within. 
  2. The Curtain, New York hotelier Michael Achenbaum’s first European play, which includes chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster restaurant on the ground floor and a taqueria named Roosteria (really). There’s also an appealing pool and Mediterranean-feeling terrace on the roof. 
  3. This autumn our attention is shifting west to ThePilgrm hotel in Paddington; expected to open in October, it’s from a former Zetter Group GM and looks set to offer another reason to linger in this long-overlooked rail hub.;;

House proud

Shenzen & Tokyo


Japanese design darling and retailer Muji has announced a hospitable new side to its business (which currently ranges from kitchenware to prefabs) in the form of two hotels in China and one in Japan. The Beijing and Shenzhen projects open later this year; the Ginza venue in Tokyo will appear in 2019.

To the manor born

Ponte de lima, Portugal

Paço de Vitorino

The Paço de Vitorino hotel, on the banks of the Limia River, is a converted manor house that has been in the same family since the 16th century. Every corner is filled with stories, such as the cot in the Princess room in which generations of babies have slept. Rooms are spread across the house, and in former gardens and farmland. “We weren’t allowed to add even one square metre of new building,” says Carla Pereira Coutinho, who owns the place with her husband.

Elegant export


Kimpton De Witt

Kimpton’s first property outside the Americas, the De Witt boasts most of the things you’d hope for from a luxury stopover: a top-end restaurant (Wyers; try the bacon kimchi hotdog), well-appointed rooms, attentive staff and an old school cocktail bar. But it’s the details that make this place, including the 17th-century house-for-rent in its grounds, blue tiles from the Dutch town of Delft and city-centre jogs led by general manager Mike Robinson.

Tried and tested



This beachfront Waikiki effort is the latest addition to Marriott International’s Autograph Collection. It’s designed to evoke a midcentury Hawaiian look, with teak lattices, hanging rattan chairs and Monstera-leaf wallpaper. Marriott hired Oregon design firm Official Mfg Co to lead the $60m (€51m) renovation, which included creating furniture and fixtures for the lobby, pool and 251 guest rooms. The gift shop’s products come from Aloha Beach Club.

To the letter



Chef Viki Geunes has partnered Belgian TV host Hans Otten to open this 15-room hotel atop the Mas Museum. “The idea was to create a space where there’s no real divide between hotel, restaurant and bar, something we see in other cities abroad but not yet in Antwerp,” says Geunes.

Doing it right

San Francisco


Located on Market Street, this attractive new hotel is the most recent tenant of a historic beaux-arts building that dates back to 1907. As the flagship of the budding Proper Hospitality group, no detail has been spared: the crumbling exterior has been painstakingly restored and everything in the lobby, from the plaster mouldings to the Carrara marble floors, has been given a makeover.

The 131 guestrooms are furnished by interior designer Kelly Wearstler and all include Aireloom mattresses handmade in California, which are a welcome sight for weary travellers. Be sure to pop into one of the hotel’s four restaurants – including a lobby commissary and rooftop lounge – which do much to make Proper an attraction for San Franciscans as well as visitors.


Jean-Jacques Boude

CEO, Float


Run by former yacht broker Jean-Jacques Boude, Float allows travellers to book a seat on a yacht that sails from one Mediterranean location to another at a fraction of the normal cost of a cruise, with spots starting at less than €100. Places can be booked online or using an app and the price includes pick-up and lunches or dinners in a choice of spots before reaching your destination. Current locations include Monaco, St Tropez and Ibiza.

Why the yachting industry?
I started sailing at seven; since then my life has always turned towards the ocean. After working for 16 years in the maritime industry and with a degree in engineering and maritime law, Float was the next step.

What’s unique about Float?
Float is following a worldwide trend, with a new generation of clients that want to holiday without wasting time on administration. Float provides a flexible alternative to ownership.

Is there a secure future for luxury yachts?
The industry is growing, with an increase of 23.5 per cent in the number of yachts – with a price tag exceeding €20m – sold over the past four years; the market for 70-metre-plus boats is exploding.

What’s next for Float?
We launched Ibiza and Mykonos in August and Miami and St Barts will follow this winter. By summer 2018 we plan to have 12 destinations, including Dubai, Portofino and more.

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