Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Top 10 New U.S. Hotels 2008

Decor, cuisine and a real sense of place define the properties on our 2008 Top 10 New Hotels list. Our selections span the country, from the New Mexico desert to the coast of Florida, and include hot designer hotels, green resorts and celebrity-owned properties. Modern technology and amenities are combined with Art Deco architecture in Dallas, while Asian influences permeate both décor and dinner in Boston's Back Bay. These ten overnight stays are so much more than just a place to rest your head—they’re destinations, so make a reservation, check in and explore the best debuts of the past year.


Los Angeles
SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills

A room at SLS at Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, California

Vibrant and visual, SLS at Beverly Hills wows guests with eye-catching treats. Envision a wild mash-up of furniture and decorative pieces from the creative mind of fabled designer Philippe Starck and the hotel’s owner and nightlife impresario Sam Nazarian. From the red carpeted front entrance and outdoor living room (complete with alligator hide-covered couch and faux mink throws) to the elegantly modern guestrooms (with eggshell-shaped tubs or glass-walled showers and peek-a-boo sliding panels), this hotel mixes high-tech and comfort. Lounge in the whitest of fine Italian bed linens while watching the plasma TV (disguised as a mirror) or listening to the iPod home base (pre-loaded iPods available). Room service here is 24/7 and dining options downstairs are gourmet indeed. Acclaimed chef José Andrés is the mastermind behind the hotel’s dining areas including The Bazaar, which features secluded fabric-walled nooks and glittery, glass communal tables, and Saam. The visual overload continues up to Altitude, the rooftop pool deck with dreamy cabanas—Starck has literally outlined the space in oversized frames, which also serve to block the wind. The fully-loaded gym, complete with TechnoGym equipment and the radical looking Kinesis gym system, provides 21st-century workouts, but guests may prefer to exercise and mingle at the pool tables that grace each floor. Take a photo tour of the SLS at Beverly Hills.

San Francisco

Cavallo Point - The Lodge at the Golden Gate

The interior of the Historic Suite at Cavallo Point - The Lodge at the Golden Gate, California

Cavallo Point, the Lodge at Golden Gate, is in one of the most gorgeous locations in Northern California. Close to the Golden Gate Bridge at the tip of Marin County, the lodge occupies Fort Baker, a former army post and parade grounds. Guests can choose between two vastly different guestroom styles—68 in the restored historic officers' quarters and 74 ultra-modern, new accommodations set back on the hill. Here, eco-consciousness is an imperative. Among the significant initiatives are "green" construction and sustainable building practices, recycling bins in every room, landscaping with native plants and wildflowers, water and power conservation and solar power. Murray Circle, the hotel’s restaurant, emphasizes locally grown and organic ingredients complemented by a reserve wine cellar. The Cavallo Point Healing Arts Center & Spa focuses on natural healing in a separate pavilion with a tea bar and garden. And if all the green practices weren’t groovy enough, the lodge excels at learning vacations where guests have the option of cooking, art and fitness classes. Set within 350 acres of national park lands, this luxury stay is copasetic to the max.


The Ritz-Carlton, Denver

The view from the bathtub in The Ritz-Carlton Suite at The Ritz-Carlton, Denver

The Ritz-Carlton's famed service and luxury combine at downtown hotel The Ritz-Carlton Denver, situated steps from Denver’s Performing Arts Center and the dozens of galleries and restaurants that dot the lower downtown (LoDo) area. Occupying the first fourteen floors of a modern tower (Ritz Residences are above), the hotel is a sophisticated addition to the Rocky Mountain capital city. Off the lobby is the ultimate sports bar and restaurant (Elway’s) from hometown football hero John Elway, formerly of the Denver Broncos. Game days are big here as guests crowd the plush banquettes to watch the game on flat screen TVs. For those that prefer the privacy of their rooms, these areas are spacious (most are larger than 500 square feet) and include handy extras such as motion sensors that trigger nighttime lighting. Can’t get your iPod or computer to link up? An on-call tech butler is available. For short jaunts around downtown, there’s a hybrid car to shuttle guests—one of the hotel’s many green initiatives. Guests have access to the adjacent FORZA fitness center that has an indoor lap pool, basketball court and daily classes. On-site is a sumptuous spa, arguably the city’s best, with a Colorado River stone massage and high country tranquility wrap among its signature treatments. Denver can now boast that it is truly ritzy.


The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour, Miami

The interior of a standard room at The Regent Bal Harbour in Miami

Facing the Atlantic Ocean and overlooking the inland waterway, the curved seventeen-story One Bal Harbour Resort & Spa is located in one of South Florida’s most exclusive and tony enclaves. The fabulous Bal Harbour Shops are nearby to satisfy all designer needs. At the hotel, relaxation comes naturally, as each of the 124 rooms and suites has its own terrace from which guests can enjoy grand views, ocean breezes or a quiet sunset moment. Sink into Italian linens to watch a flick on a 42-inch flat screen TV that has movie theater sound. The audio system is just one of the hotel's many high-tech features; others include semi-private elevators, an iPod dock, a TV within the bathroom mirror, an in-room espresso machine and Wi-Fi throughout the property, even poolside. Each bathroom features a deep, free-standing soaking tub, two sinks, rain shower head and a ten-foot-high picture window complete with stellar water views. In addition to the beach (and beach butler to set up chairs and umbrella), private cabanas with their own whirlpool are available. Guests have the option of a massage in a beachfront cabana or within the 10,000-square-foot Guerlain Spa that has many indulgent and calming features. The foot therapy lounge overlooks the water; the waterfront terrace is the perfect place to unwind, and each of the fifteen treatment rooms is light filled and has a bathroom and locker for ultimate guest privacy. If the pleasures of the spa aren’t enough, guests have the option of private yacht charters. 1 Bleu is the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, a partnership with the famed Le Cordon Bleu culinary academy, while Aqua Soleil specializes in flavorful spa cuisine. With all of these luxuries, there's more than sea and sun to distract visitors to this swank seaside spot.


Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago

A suite living room at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago

Chicago's newest landmark, the 92-story, curving, glass and steel sheathed Trump International Hotel & Tower, sits along the Chicago River at the junction of the Loop and Michigan Avenue. With the boldface name of Donald Trump in the mix, the hotel excels at service (each guest has their own personal attaché) and luxurious appointments. This is a hotel that must pass the Donald’s muster, so guest rooms are expansive (starting at 600 square feet), the floor-to-ceiling windows yield impressive panoramas, baths are finished in limestone with deep-soaking tubs and ultra-modern showers, plus there’s free Wi-Fi. (We know Trump appreciates a good deal). Children are pampered with their own bathrobes and slippers that say "Trump Kids." Reflecting the hotel’s residential vibe and the tower’s adjoining floors of condos, each room has its own kitchen with upscale appliances such as a Sub-Zero mini-refrigerator, Miele cooktop and dishwasher and GE microwave. There’s plenty of cutlery, four kinds of designer water and room for the in-suite chef to prepare a private repast upon request. Moreover, the hotel’s restaurant Sixteen provides exceptional, multi-national flavored dining, a 900+ bottle wine cellar housed in its own glass walled "gallery" and spectacular 16th floor views of the landmark Wrigley tower. Equally remarkable is the hotel’s spa. Guests can also take advantage of their own spa attaché when choosing their spa intention—calm and revitalize are among the choices. Choose to take some time to enjoy the indoor pool, multi-head shower or a gemstone treatment that incorporates massage oils infused with pulverized gems such as diamonds or rubies. Fifty-three spa guest rooms offer a genuinely tranquil stay; there’s a direct passage to the spa and suites have room for yoga sessions or in-room massages so guests can relax in mogul style.


Mandarin Oriental, Boston

The exterior of the Mandarin Oriental, Boston

Boston’s Back Bay was initiated into the ancient art of feng shui with the opening of the chic Mandarin Oriental Boston: the front entrance is dramatically in line with the Charles River, promoting good fortune. Classic and contemporary, the Mandarin is filled with both Asian decorative pieces and modern artworks from the likes of Frank Stella and David Hockney. The spacious 148 guestrooms on eight floors also provide a sensual overload—silk upholstery and golden-hued, custom-made furniture. Mandarin Hotels are famed for their spas, the Boston edition is 16,000 square feet and unequalled in the city. Some treatments incorporate local New England herbs, while others revitalize the skin via aroma- and aqua-therapy treatments. Pets also get the royal treatment: they are treated to a dining menu as well as special beds. Traveling with a child under the age of 6? The hotel will childproof the room, one of the exquisite details in service found here. The hotel’s signature restaurant, Asana, combines refined American cuisine with real dim sum and other authentic Asian specialties made with local and organic ingredients. Boston Brahmins have never had it so good.


Santa Fe
Encantado, an Auberge Resort

An outdoor terrace at Encantado Resort in Santa Fe, New Mexico
The name says it all: "enchanted." Nestled against the always-changing hues of the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Encantado is spread out over 57 sage- and pinon-covered high desert acres close to Santa Fe. As an Auberge Resort, luxury and design co-exist in a stunning natural location. Each of the 65 guestrooms is a singular, stand-alone casita with a wood burning, kiva-style fireplace, private deck with fireplace and splendid bathrooms with soaking tubs and heated floors. The look is rustic modern with a strong southwestern influence by way of the adobe-style casitas’ exposed wood beams and the prolific original art. A Mercedes-Benz is available to shuttle guests into Santa Fe when needed. For those who seek mind and body rejuvenation, Encantado has a pool, movement studio, fitness center and spa. In a tribute to the region’s Native American heritage, many of the spa treatments use local and traditional healing ingredients such as sage, juniper, wildflower honey and blue corn. The couple’s suite at the spa is purposefully romantic: in front of a wood-burning fireplace, duos can soak, steam or sauna in complete privacy or even paint each other with adobe mud and rinse off under the outdoor rainshower. Dine in at Terra, the hotel’s restaurant that serves locally sourced and organic ingredients whenever possible in a dining room that takes in the incredibly blue New Mexican sky by day and endless stars at night.  Enchanting indeed.


Las Vegas
The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino

The Bella suite at The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada

All suites and action all of the time, The Palazzo is the sister property to The Venetian, connected but still separate with its own incredible dining options, casino, shopping anchored by Barneys New York and thrilling club scene. As the largest certified "green" hotel in the world, guests can relax about their carbon footprint knowing that the inviting outdoor pool is heated by solar power, that two atria skylights let natural sunshine shine in and all trash is sorted and recycled—a few of the hotel’s numerous green practices. But no worries, luxury can complement eco-consciousness: each of the hotel’s more than 3,000 suites has a sunken living room, pillow topped king-sized beds with the softest of duvets and sumptuous Italian linens, touch technology to open shades and drapes and a deluxe marble bathroom with Roman tub and glass enclosed shower. The 24th to the 28th floors are the concierge level with access to a lounge that serves breakfast, afternoon treats and open bar and hors d’oevres into the evening. Dining at the hotel is spectacular, and there’s an amazing collection of celebrity chef restaurants, including CUT from Wolfgang Puck, Carnevino from Mario Batali and Table 10 from Emeril Lagasse. SUSHISAMBA strip mixes Japanese cuisine and South American sensibilities in the liveliest of settings. Shopping here also sets new heights for Las Vegas, and there’s a Lamborghini dealership on site. The Palazzo is truly the definitive Las Vegas palace.


New York
The Greenwich Hotel

A room at The Greenwich Hotel in New York

Robert De Niro now plays the role of innkeeper at his own posh TriBeCa stay, The Greenwich Hotel. The newbie hotelier was very involved in the hotel’s design, from the choice of pal Agostino Sciandri’s restaurant AGO as the hotel’s signature eatery to the extremely fine finishes like hardwood floors to placement of the hotel’s artwork (some by his late father, an abstract expressionist painter). Guests, termed "houseguests," will feel at home in any of the 88 rooms, which feature hand-loomed Tibetan rugs, Moroccan tiles, leather-paneled doors and plush Dux beds. Guestrooms aim to be mini urban retreats with extras such as soaking tubs, Italian linens (of course), some free mini-bar snacks and free Wi-Fi. Exclusive to The Greenwich Hotel’s houseguests, the Shibui spa is a marvel of Japanese aesthetics. A 250-year-old wood and bamboo farmhouse was imported and thoughtfully integrated into the spa’s design—its roof frames the pool while Japanese lanterns light it. Japanese soaking tubs and a shiatsu massage room also contribute to the Zen ambience. The surrounding neighborhood is as vibrant and fashionable as they come. Expect the hotel to live up to its famous owner’s Oscar-winning caliber.


The Stoneleigh Hotel & Spa

A balcony at The Stoneleigh Hotel & Spa in Dallas, Texas

An Art Deco landmark constructed in 1923, The Stoneleigh Resort & Spa received a $36 million makeover in 2008 that reclaimed highlights of the hotel’s glorious past. Original marble columns, crystal chandeliers and custom ironwork in the lobby demonstrate the hotel’s elegant bones. Guests can stay in Tribute Suites that pay homage to the hotel’s acclaimed guests such as Elvis Presley and Judy Garland. In other rooms, the hotel's original architecture, including large picture windows, complements new features like flat screen TVs and Wi-Fi throughout. The Art Deco styled bathrooms feature classic details like black-and-white marble flooring and chrome bath fixtures. Dallas has no grander Penthouse than the Stoneleigh’s. A favorite event spot, the 12th Floor Penthouse terrace surveys downtown Dallas, while the furnishings and fabrics pay homage to Dorothy Draper’s bold and innovative original look. Bolla, the hotel’s modern Italian restaurant, is under the brilliant guidance of Chef David Bull, who’s received much critical acclaim and is a former "Iron Chef" challenger. The spa continues the Stoneleigh’s refined tradition with therapies that excel in urban detoxification with scrubs, massages and a honey ritual to start. Imbibe at the tea bar before or after. Within walking distance of Turtle Creek, the hotel is also close to other major Dallas landmarks in the Uptown area. Historic and up-to-date at the same time, the Stoneleigh is a revitalized and re-energized classic.

The lobby at The Greenwich Hotel, one of our Top 10 New Hotels in the U.S.


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