The Kumaon Hotel in Himalayas
The Kumaon Hotel
Tablet was founded by Laurent Vernhes and Michael Davis in 2000 to help travelers discover new properties around the world and featuring only the most amazing hotels that matter, along with the lowest prices, and upgraded experiences. Recently Michelin, the France-based tire company that publishes Michelin guides for restaurants and tours, acquired Tablet to bring Tablet’s expertise in hotel curation to the Michelin Guide, and leverage their digital expertise.
I spoke exclusively with Laurent Vernhes about this years selection of the Top 25 and the recent acquisition where Vernhes will remain CEO of Tablet Hotels. Tablet also recently launched a new version of the Tablet iOS app that now includes a complete Michelin Guide for restaurants.
“Tablet selects hotels on the criteria that we think really matter — not traditional measures of luxury, like star ratings, but factors like personality, design, authenticity, and delivering an extraordinary experience for the price. These 25 hotels are all new to Tablet, and they stand out above the hundr of other hotels we’ve added in 2019” says Vernhes.
He continues, “While each hotel is different from all the others, what they have in common is that they’re all properties that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Some of them are the kind of ultra-hip boutique hotels that we might be best known for, but even the high-end selections are appealing to travelers who have an appreciation for good design in various styles”
August – Antwerp, Belgium
This former Augustinian convent was transformed into a luxury hotel in the city’s verdant Green Quarter. With 44 rooms, all use historical architectural details and contemporary fixtures and furniture. With large spaces in the hotel, there are three walled gardens, as well as a spa, a library, and an outdoor pool. The August Bar occupies the soaring chapel, which is possibly the hotel’s most spectacular space. The restaurant is overseen by chef Nick Bril, who won a Michelin star at the Jane.
Emiliano Rio – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Hotel Emiliano presides over Copacabana Beach, and is a mix of Brazilian Modernism and contemporary cool. It’s been popular with celebrities with its stylish modern interiors, and a stunning rooftop pool. The spa is impressive with its own outdoor space, and the fine-dining Emile Restaurant is top notch, but it is the rooftop restaurant and bar with pool overlooking the city that really dazzles.
Six Senses Krabey Island
Six Senses Krabey Island – Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Six Senses Krabey Island is a short boat ride from the mainland, in the stunning Gulf of Thailand. There are 40 villas at this property and you may never see another guest during your stay, it is that private. The spa is also one of the best offerings at Six Senses and the main infinity pool is amazing on its hillside location.
Treeline Urban Hotel
Treeline Urban Hotel
Treeline Urban Resort – Siem Reap, Cambodia
Treeline Urban Resort is a privately-owned, 48-room design hotel on Siem Reap’s Riverside in Cambodia. It is a low-slung, compound-style hotel made of Indigenous stone and wood. Three different restaurants showcase three different perspectives on the local flavors, from breakfast at Seed to a rooftop snack at Canopy or a street-inspired dinner at Hok Noodle Bar + Grill or at one of the city’s finest cafés Brown Coffee.
Hotel AWA – Puerto Varas, Chile
Chile’s southern region Lake District, is spectacular, with Osorno, the volcano, visible in the horizon. The luxurious Hotel AWA, is five stories of concrete, glass, metal, and wood with just 16 rooms and suites positioned for privacy and views.
The restaurant serves high-end contemporary fare, and the spa, with its heated indoor pool, is a perfect retreat. Excursions are available for anyone who’d like to explore the surrounding national parks on foot, on horseback, or by bike, kayak, raft, or even seaplane.
The old Seventies-era Camden Town Hall Annexe, opposite St Pancras Station in King’s Cross, has been rescued by the Standard hotel group for this upcoming trendy North London neighborhood. The rooms are memorable with private terraces and outdoor bathtubs. Chef Adam Rawson’s restaurant and bar: Isla and Double Standard will also be a game changer for the area.
25hours Hotel The Circle – Cologne, Germany
The 25hours Hotel The Circle, transformed a landmark building whose rotunda gives the Circle its name. The scene is retro-futuristic, in the classic late-modernist West German utopian style, full of pastel colors and rounded forms. Rooms span from Medium to Gigantic, and even at the small end come with rain showers.
Lindley Lindenberg Hotel
Lindley Lindenberg – Frankfurt, Germany
The growing trend of apartment-sharing has melted with the hotel business and the Lindley Lindenberg, have managed to create a blend of both worlds. They call it a “guest community,” which means the occupants of its 100 suites and its various social spaces are as likely to be long-term tenants as they are overnight guests.
Among the highlights are Lindley’s common spaces, from the Parlour, with its library and record collection, to the rooftop terrace, with its view over Frankfurt. Community kitchens allow for self-catering, with help from the hotel’s indoor farm, and a bar, a bakery, and an all-day restaurant are on hand when you’d prefer to leave it to someone else.
UMI Hotel – Vik, Iceland
The Umi Hotel is less than a hundred miles from Reykjavík, and deep in Iceland’s spectacular rugged southern coastline, not to mention the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Its low-slung modernist architecture was created from an abandoned farm and transformed into the stylish hotel with just 28 rooms. There is also a stylish restaurant and bar serving locally sourced meals.
The Kumaon Hotel
Originally intended as a private estate, this property in the Indian Himalayas was built into something absolutely extraordinary, and with only 10 modern suites, it is a rare retreat. Its vast floor-to-ceiling windows frame unforgettable views, and materials like stone walls and raw concrete beams are warmed by bamboo cladding and hardwood floors and ceilings. The remoteness of the site mandated that the construction use as little heavy machinery as possible, and evidence of hand-building is everywhere.
The restaurant’s view is even more extraordinary than the rooms themselves, as the dining room cantilevers out over the hillside. And from here, you’re poised for some unforgettable nature experiences, including the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to wild leopards.
Nihi Sumba Hotel
An hour to the east of Bali, is the wilder island of Sumba and the hotel is located on hundr of acres of waterfront land, between a stunning private beach and the edge of a truly untamed jungle. It was created from what was once a secluded surf shack, but now features private infinity pools and butler service, as well as a spa with open-air treatment pavilions. Three restaurants serve everything from sushi to wood-fired pizza, and the dry-land activities range from yoga classes to horseback tours and mountain biking.
Aman – Kyoto, Japan
The third Aman in Japan, is set in one of Kyoto’s most beautiful places: a vast private garden and an expanse of raw forest at the foot of a wild mountain that was once intended as the site for a textile museum. I am an Aman junkie and this is one of their finest achievements.
The haute-minimalist buildings and exquisite garden landscapes are an Aman signature. The rooms and suites are typically extraordinary, and vary in layouts and views: Western style or tatami furniture, garden, mountain or city views, with or without traditional Hinoki baths.
The spa offerings as usual are over-the-top as well, including spring-fed onsen baths and the Living Pavilion serves as the hotel’s restaurant, serving both Kyoto-style and international fare. The Aman Kyoto happens to be surrounded by 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including temples, tea houses, and more.
Ignacia Guest House
Ignacia Guest House
Ignacia Guest House – Mexico City, Mexico
Ignacia Guest House is set in the upscale Colonia Roma, the mansion that’s stood on this site since 1913. Thanks to an ultra-modern expansion the luxurious five rooms make it one of most unique hotel experiences in Mexico City.
@ Manolo Yllera
Casa Fortunato – Lisbon, Portugal
Another fine example of the new wave of apartment-sharing is Casa Fortunato, in Lisbon’s upscale Amoreiras neighborhood. While a proper luxury hotel, it is family-owned, and its small size ensures its residential vibe remains intact.
It’s a beautiful 19th-century townhouse, divided into just nine rooms, each of which is an eclectic mix of period architecture, unusual antiques, modern furniture, and contemporary design, including a unique wallpaper print for every room. They’re equipped with walk-in rain showers, and some add large soaking tubs.
Noah Surf House in Santa Cruz would fit in perfectly in California, but is on the Atlantic coast of Portugal. The hip, laid-back, bohemian boutique surf hotel, with its modernist architecture has become the new standard among Portuguese hotels.
The Accommodations range from 8-person bunk rooms to freestanding bungalows and the hotel also features Noah’s restaurant with a front-row view of the beach. They are also serious about surfing here, and they’ve even got their own surf school.
Esiweni Luxury Safari Lodge is located in the Nambiti private game reserve, and it’s a Relais Châteaux hotel owned by a French couple who created a contemporary construction and design with native materials and craftsmanship. With just 5 suites, it’s an intimate experience with only ten guests. Private terraces offer spectacular views, and the heated floors and luxurious bathrooms place physical comfort front and center.
Esiweni’s restaurant, where a South African chef, trained in London, combines Parisian traditions with local flavors, is a particular delight. And of course there’s more to experience than life at the lodge — you’ll want to leave plenty of time for sunrise and sunset excursions in an open-air 4×4 with an experienced ranger.
Wild Coast Tented Lodge
Wild Coast Tented Lodge – Yala, Sri Lanka
The Sri Lankan coast is an extraordinary place for a holiday, and the luxury-tent safari camps of southern Africa offer an unforgettable immersion in nature. Put the two together and you’ve got Wild Coast Tented Lodge, on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka, sandwiched between a gorgeous beach and the utterly wild Yala National Park, home to elephants, leopards, monkeys, and much more.
The food and beverage program is a particular focus, owing perhaps to the fact that Wild Coast, along with sister hotels Cape Weligama and Ceylon Tea Trails, is owned by the Dilmah tea company. The centerpiece of the experience are the curated experiences where rangers accompany guests on game drives and nature walks.
Emerson Spice – Zanzibar
Set on a picturesque pedestrian-only street in the Kasbah, the ancient part of Zanzibar’s Stonetown, and a few minutes’ walk from the beach and the Old Fort, this hotel is very private. Once an aristocratic home, it comprises three landmark buildings, and is divided into only 11 rooms, each one lavishly decorated with a lifetime’s worth of antiques under high timbered ceilings.
The Secret Garden restaurant, in the ground-level courtyard, is almost exactly what it sounds like, while the rooftop Tea House is more than a tea house; it’s a high demand restaurant serving a single seating five-course tasting menu at 7 on the open-air terrace with a view of the Stoneton rooftops.
Shinola Hotel – Detroit, Michigan
Detroit-based Shinola, a retailer selling watches, bicycles, and lifestyle products manufactured largely in America. The watchmaker created not just a luxury hotel, but also a social space with 16,000 square feet of dining, entertainment, and retail space including Sam Morello, an Italian restaurant.
Hotel Joaquin is the transformation from a former roadside motel into a high-end boutique hotel. The Arts and Crafts style beach bungalow all have a French Riviera flavor. Accommodations range from cozy garden-side rooms to extravagant, wide-open ocean-view rooms with vast picture windows and deep soaking tubs.
There’s a lovely pool with a lively daytime social life, and the beach is two minutes’ walk away. Saline, the hotel’s Mediterranean restaurant is courtesy of chef Leo Bongarra, who earned his stripes at L.A.’s Sunset Tower.
Gold Diggers Hotel
Gold Diggers – Los Angeles, California
The original Gold Diggers was an East Hollywood bikini bar, and above the bar was a small residential hotel, with a rehearsal space in the rear where rock royalty is rumored to have practiced in their early days. This modern day rock-and-roll hotel has 11 rooms and also includes a recording studio and a cocktail bar complete with a stage for live performances.
Tourists – North Adams, Massachusettes
In far northwestern Massachusetts, the Berkshires are undergoing the sort of revival thanks in part to the redevelopment that’s accompanied MASS MoCA, the contemporary art museum, the formerly industrial town of North Adams is living a second life as a booming cultural destination. Outside the town center, on the road to Williamstown is Tourists, a 60’s motor lodge reborn as a very modern, very hip little country boutique hotel.
Maison de la Cruz
The upscale Maison de la Luz, was designed by Atelier Ace and is pure luxury, right down to the jewel-like colored marble tiles in the bathrooms with rooms that feel like the home of an eccentric, mysteriously wealthy friend.
With 67 rooms and suites it’s on the large side for a “guest house,” but it feels intimate all the same, thanks to the generous spaces, the residential vibe in the rooms, and the service. The hotel’s Living Room is for guests only, lending the Maison an air of members-club privacy. There’s plenty of nightlife close at hand, though the Maison has its own private entrance to Bar Marilou, the Parisian cocktail bar and small-plates restaurant next door.
Fitler Club – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Fitler Club is a modern version of the old multi-purpose members’ club, with co-working and events spaces, a first-rate gym and spa, a top-flight restaurant and bar scene, and stylish bedrooms for overnight guests available not just to the club’s carefully selected members, but to nightly guests as well.
The 14 rooms spare no expense, either in style or comfort, the spa is a club-sized version of what you might find at a five-star hotel, accompanied by a 75-foot, three-lane lap pool, and the fitness offerings at the Field House are truly extraordinary, owing perhaps to the club founder’s past career as an Equinox executive.
The Dining Room is chef Marc Vetri’s signature restaurant, serving seasonal New American fare in an elegant room overlooking the Schuylkill River, the Bar Lounge is a lively double-height space surrounding a central bar, and the Back Bar is a cozier, more intimate nightspot, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar that doubles as a live music venue.
O:LV Fifty Five
O:LV Fifty Five – San Juan, Puerto Rico
The original O:live Boutique Hotel was a popular funky hotel in Condado, and the new O:LV Fifty Five is a sleek, ultra-modern tower, with interiors featuring O:live’s bohemian vibe for a glossy gold-and-white color scheme, made even richer by gemstone-colored accents and marble floors and bathrooms.
The 26 all-suite hotel, offers generous spaces, most of which have impressive views of the Condado Lagoon. The best view, however, might be the one from the rooftop, where you’ll find the hotel’s bar, restaurant, and swimming pool where you’ll find a Seventies Rolls-Royce that’s been converted into a combination champagne bar and DJ booth.