An architectural revival in Hong Kong, a breath of fresh air in Beirut; a hideaway in Porto and a forest retreat in New Jersey: just some of our finds that are both off the beaten track and resolutely on the mark.
New hotels in Hong Kong tend to be within a mixed-use development so The Murray stands out in more ways than one. The 336-room flagship in Wharf Hotel’s Niccolo brand takes up all 25 storeys of a 1960s tower in the centre of the city, with views over Hong Kong Park and the botanical gardens. Foster and Partners oversaw the interior redesign of the building, which was built by Ron Phillips almost 50 years ago – his ahead-of-its-time eco-friendly design originally housed British colonial government officials.
Come June the hottest location will be the rooftop restaurant and alfresco bar (a rarity in Hong Kong). When it opens, Popinjays will serve cool drinks alongside contrasting views of Foster’s first Hong Kong building for HSBC and the official colonial-era residence of Hong Kong’s leader.
It may not always be sunny in Philadelphia but, thanks to Chad and Courtney Ludeman, you’re sure to get a good night’s sleep. They co-founded Lokal in 2017, with six sharp apartments in a former gallery in Old City. In December they opened a second location: a revamped A-frame cabin in Dorchester, New Jersey. Nestled in woodland, the three-bedroom cabin was made with California redwood in the 1960s and updated by the Ludemans with modern Scandinavian touches. Take a kayak out on the river then kick back in the hot tub.
Food writer Kamal Mouzawak and womenswear designer Rabih Kayrouz are behind Beirut’s newest guesthouse, Beit el Tawlet. It sits above Mouzawak’s farm-fresh restaurant of the same name and it’s the fourth guesthouse from the formidable duo but their first in Beirut. The feel is comfortable and relaxed. “It’s like you’re living in our house,” says Mouzawak. “But we want guests to feel as if it’s their home too.” The decor feels 1970s (in a good way), with rattan furniture, plenty of greenery and playful lampshades.
If you're looking for somewhere to stay in Tokyo you might consider Hotel Koé, a new opening in the middle of Shibuya. It's on a busy crossroads with a bustling café on the ground floor, while the serene guest rooms are higher up, away from the hubbub. The look is modern Japanese, with a grey palette and beds on low wooden platforms. Rooms run from compact to generous and guests are free to use the private lounge, where green tea and cocktails are served.
Property developer Ashish Manchharam – known for reinvigorating old neighbourhoods – opened his latest hospitality venture in March. Ann Siang House includes a café, pizza joint, wine bar and craft brewery.The 20-room stopover is designed for business travellers and those on longer stays. There are larger suites outfitted with kitchenettes (despite the fact that no one cooks at home here) and plenty of shared space for mingling.
The 10 wooden huts – each encircled by pinewood poles – making up the Cabanes des Grands Cépages were designed to blend in with their surroundings. Short piers connect each floating room to the reed-covered banks of the Lac de la Lionne, a turquoise expanse of water near Avignon in southern France. Inside, the wood-clad cabins feature the essentials – a double bed, bathroom and minimalist lounge – and some also have a hot tub for a splash of indulgence.
This townhouse in the Art District of Porto brims with subtle arts and craft features. There are vintage pieces, a generous courtyard and an honesty bar where you can shake a port and tonic before exploring the lively surrounds. The five suites boast plenty of space and comely wooden beds.
With a stable of Bern-based apartments already under their umbrella, business partners Mirko Beetschen and Stéphane Houlmann set sights on a pretty 1897 chalet in the alpine village of Interlaken. After testing the waters with a pop-up in 2015 they opened the eight-bedroom Maison Bergdorf. The decor is a fetching collection of restored wallpaper and creaky floors, antique lamps and tapestries, much of it found in a friend’s inheritance lot.
Will the din of echoey lobbies from big-brand hoteliers drown out soulful and independent hotels? Not if our new book on hotels (and the art of hospitality) is anything to go by. Published by Gestalten and on shelves this summer, The Monocle Guide to Hotels, Inns and Getaways tells the tale of everything from our favourite places to bed down to how to start your own hostelry – plus when to renovate and when to leave well alone.