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


Top 2005 U.S. Hotel Openings


with each passing year since the mid-1980s, the U.S. hotel scene has continuously evolved, but this year’s eclecticism feels particularly significant, from an upscale “dorm” in New York City to an architecturally dramatic newcomer from a classic luxury group in San Francisco. Although California dominates our selections, we’re not playing favorites. The Golden State just happened to have an unusually large number of high-profile openings. That said, the rest of the country made a valiant showing, particularly inland. The prototype for a new chain from an Ian Schrager-empire offspring popped up in Houston, and a long anticipated extravaganza debuted in Las Vegas. Whether you’re looking for a rural getaway or urban retreat, you’ll find it on this list.

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CALIFORNIA

West Hollywood
Chamberlain West Hollywood

From the group that gave West Coast hipsters the Viceroys in Santa Monica and Palm Springs, this classy property showcases designer touches, beginning in the lobby, with its herringbone patterned tile, drum-shaped bronze coffee table, and oversized reception desk that recalls an ancient Asian steamer trunk. The guestrooms are homey and residential—this is a great place for a long-term stay, if you have the bucks. In the bistro dining room, a twenty-foot wall of windows looks onto the garden patio. For California dreamers, the rooftop terrace offers a heated pool, cabana lounges and 360-degree views of the city.

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CALIFORNIA


San Francisco
Hotel Vitale

This gem of a hotel brings classy, boutique style to the Embarcadero Waterfront, an area better known for luxurious behemoths. Although the building is new, it blends nicely into its neighborhood. Onsite Americano serves Italian cuisine with Northern California influences. The menu takes full advantage of Ferry Plaza Farmers Market produce across the street, and you can, too: Pick up a tote bag at the concierge. Other customized goodies include en suite signed copies of Food Lover’s Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area. The penthouse level is the place to be, with its terrace yoga studio and spa, whose three treatment rooms offer Bay Bridge views.

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CALIFORNIA


San Francisco
St. Regis Hotel, San Francisco

Old meets new at the St. Regis Hotel, San Francisco, which is comprised of the historic, early 20th-century Williams building and a new forty-story tower, inspired by Rodin's sculpture, "Balzac.” This lavish property houses two significant attractions: the 9,000-square-foot Remède Spa, and Ame restaurant, operated by the chefs behind Terra in St. Helena, which was ranked among our 2004 Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. A refreshing, streamlined style with an emphasis on white is used throughout the property, which also includes three commissioned public art installations.

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CALIFORNIA


Napa
Poetry Inn

With just three guestrooms, this Napa Valley hideaway ensures a private, intimate escape. Accommodations range from 850 to 1,450 square feet, and all have great views over the Stags Leap District and Cliff Lede vineyardsthe inn is owned by the Cliff Lede winery. Highlights: private balconies, wood-burning fireplaces, outdoor showers, Italian linens, original artwork and colors in harmony with the environment. A three-course breakfast is served daily, and guests enjoy access to the inn’s private cellar, which emphasizes Cliff Lede wines, including the Poetry label.

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FLORIDA


Miami
Hotel Victor

Who knew Hyatt could be so cool? The usually staid group operates this flashy boutique, which fuses South Beach Art Deco and Parisian styles. All accommodations offer views of the Atlantic or South Beach, along with custom-designed furnishings, open bathrooms with rain showers and now requisite, massive and flat, state-of-the-art TVs. VIX restaurant serves a Spice Route-inspired menu, and V Bar and Lounge keeps you entertained with its live jellyfish tank. Adjacent to the Versace Mansion, the hotel features a raised rimless pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and Spa V and Fitness Club.

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FLORIDA


Sunny Isles
Le Méridien Sunny Isles Beach

Sunny Isles may not be the country’s sexiest destination, but this hotel doesn’t care. A member of the reliably sleek Le Méridien group, it’s done up in a tasteful, minimalist style featuring pale woods and frosted glass. Sophisticated living rooms and kitchens equipped with stainless steel appliances give this beach resort an urban residential feelyou won’t be surprised when you learn that accommodations are privately owned condos. Adding to the 21st-century appeal: an open-air yoga platform, the two-level, 6,000-square-foot Le Spa, and Bice, serving Milanese-inspired cuisine.

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NEVADA


Las Vegas
Wynn Las Vegas

Much anticipated, this hotel opened to exuberant fanfare that most likely won’t die down soon. The reasons for this are plenty, beginning with the lineup of restaurants from big names such as Daniel Boulud and Eric Klein. You’ll also find an eight story mountain, three-acre lake and the only championship golf course on the Strip. At the 2,080-seat Aqua Theater, water surrounds audiences from above and below, and at the Penske Wynn Ferrari Maserati dealership, it costs fifteen dollars simply to view the cars. The 111,000 square feet casino offers the chance to win back the dough you’re sure to blow during your stay here.

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NEW YORK


Lake Placid
The Whiteface Lodge

While billed as a kind of old-fashioned camp for adults, this Lake Placid property is in fact too classy to fall into such a rustic category. Architecturally, it looks like an archetypal National Park lodge, with its solid stone pillars and shingle siding. All-suite accommodations and a three-story Great Room with six granite fireplaces are paired with such unique amenities as a sixty-seat movie theater, ten-pin bowling alley and year-round skating rink. Since staying here is all about getting back to nature, there’s also a fully equipped marina on the lake. In keeping with this year’s hottest hotel trend, condo accommodations are available.

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NEW YORK


New York City
QT

Given the buzz over the opening of this hotel, the name is something of a misnomer. As is the term “dorm” to describe the so-called hostel-style accommodations with four bunks per room. The last time we checked, dorms didn’t feature a flat-screen TV with each bunk. Hype aside, this is a pretty cool hotel, jokingly referred to as the “sub-Standard,” because it’s from the creator of the Standard hotels in L.A. and Miami. You can pick up candy and booze at the check-in kiosk at the lobby, and spy into the pool from the bar. With steam rooms and a DJ booth in close proximity, the QT will never be New York City’s best kept secret.

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RHODE ISLAND


Providence
Hotel Providence

The first luxury boutique hotel in Providence, this property takes its cues from the many museums and galleries in the area. Antiques and oil paintings are highlights in the modern Belle Epoch-style lobby of this restored building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. In guestrooms, you’ll find work by the chairman of the Rhode Island School of Design grad school, as well as limited edition intaglio prints on Japanese paper. Nice variety, we think, for a traditional New England town. The onsite L’Epicureo Restaurant is in fact a transplant; this popular venue was originally located in Federal Hill.

 

(Updated: 05/26/08 HC)


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