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HOT LIST 2008

South Africa: Melton Manor, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

Melton Manor
Bathroom with a view.
Photo: Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Below, a post from this year's Hot Hotels list.

Melton Manor, a villa with accommodations for eight, is the latest addition to Kwandwe, a privately owned game reserve spanning 62,000 acres in the malaria-free Eastern Cape. Like the other three lodges on the reserve, the CC Africa-managed Melton Manor has stellar service from a staff who seem to have a telepathic ability to delight guests. Because you have Melton Manor all to yourself, you can plan everything down to the smallest detail, from setting departure times for the twice-daily game drives to placing a standing order for waffles at breakfast. Architecturally, the property is a contemporary take on a traditional frontier farmhouse, with high ceilings and deep verandas overlooking a central courtyard and an infinity-edge pool. Decor is witty and nostalgic--imagine antique claw-foot furniture painted dark pink and Granny's crocheted blankets reworked in funky colors. An open kitchen gives you license to interact with (or even assist) the chef as he prepares a constant round of delicious meals, snacks, and afternoon teas. There is a misconception that game viewing here doesn't have the wow factor of other reserves farther north, but lion prides, black and white rhino, buffalo, cheetahs, and many other wild animals are prolific. The reserve is also a sanctuary for numerous bird species, not least the endangered blue crane after which the reserve is named.

When to go: Winter months (May-August), for spectacular displays of flowering aloes.
Which room to book: One of the two farthest from the lounge, dining, and kitchen areas, for peace and quiet and the best views of the towering cliffs along this stretch of the Great Fish River.

Further reading:
* Melton Manor
* Hot List 2008
* The best African resorts from our 2008 Readers' Choice Awards
* South Africa Guide
* Hot List on the DT

HOT LIST 2008

Buenos Aires: Alvear Spa & Fitness Center

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Below, a post from this year's Hot Spas list.

Minimalist and modern, this unexpected oasis of simplicity sits amid the Belle Epoque glamour of the Alvear Palace Hotel. Treatments hew to old-school Euro pampering ways with Swiss La Prairie products, used in the Pressure Relief Treatment ($203), a 90-minute facial and body massage designed to induce maximum relaxation. Post-massage, shed some toxins in the sauna and then soak in the whirlpool, the spa's highlight. Be sure to move around in the pool--there's a circuit of submerged jets aimed to stimulate different pressure points (massages, $115).

HOT LIST 2008

Stockholm: Pontus!

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

Created by renowned entrepreneur Pontus Frithiof, this new three-level nightlife beacon in Stureplan Square deserves its kudos: It includes an oysters-and-champagne bar, a cocktail bar, a sushi bar, a dim sum station, and a restaurant. Custom-made wallpaper creates the illusion of being in a fantastical library where The Dangerous Book for Boys and Our Man in Havana are stacked alongside Pontus!'s own cookbook. Every night, as nearby offices close, sharply dressed Swedes flood in to order Nordic- and Asian-influenced cocktails such as the Dragon's Kiss, with fresh ginger juice and Absolut Citron.

Address: 1 Brunnsgatan, Stockholm, Sweden
Tel: 46-8-8-545-273-00

Further reading:
* Pontus! Web site
* Hot List 2008
* The Stockholm Guide
* Hot List on the DT

HOT LIST 2008

Palm Springs: Colony Palms Hotel

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

A speakeasy and brothel for naughty weekending movie-industry types in the 1930s, the 56-room Colony Palms has a new incarnation as a cool restaurant-hotel. Located in a part of downtown Palm Springs now favored by the West Hollywood crowd, the motel-style Spanish colonial revival buildings surround a garden with cypress trees and a pool that is an oasis of palm-fronded, brightly flowered old California. Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, who has designed houses for Cher, among others, has boldly updated the interior decor with arresting Suzani appliqué pillows, Indonesian settees, Moroccan tray tables, and black-and-white thirties-style photography of scantily clad starlets. A huge Moroccan daybed fronts one side of the pool outside the superlative Purple Palm restaurant.

Address: 572 North Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, California 92262
Tel: 800-557-2187

Further reading:
* The Colony Palms Hotel Web site
* Hot List 2008
* The Palm Springs Guide
* Hot List on the DT

HOT LIST 2008

Shanghai: Franck

TarteTatin
Franck serves traditional
French treats like this tarte Tatin,
an upside-down apple tart.

Photo: Gourmet.com

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

In the former French Concession, this chic bistro-cum-épicerie wears its Francophilia with pride: black café chairs and tiny tables, chalkboard menus, nostalgic photos and maps of the motherland, and a soundtrack of throaty French ballads. Naturally, Gallic fare takes center stage: gallete de cochon, tarte Tatin, and a deliciously nutty pâté de campagne. Sea bass in a light, frothy cream sauce and filet de cerf, or deer, are finds in Shanghai. A gourmet counter sells mustards, hams, olive oils, and jams (entrées, $14-$24).

Address: 376 Wukang Road
Tel: 86-21-6437-6465

Further reading:
* Hot List 2008
* The Shanghai Guide
* Etiquette 101: China
* Hot List on the Daily Traveler

HOT LIST 2008

Hamilton Island: Qualia

Qualia
A retreat over the barrier reef.
Photo: Condé Nast Traveler

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

Tucked away on 30 acres of Hamilton Island's northernmost point, this adults-only retreat has rocked the Great Barrier Reef when it comes to island comfort. The 60 pavilions--elegantly constructed in native timber, limestone, and slate--have floor-to-ceiling windows, plus (in the Windward Pavilions) infinity-edge plunge pools overlooking glorious tropical surroundings. While this resort is all about nature's beauty--exemplified by abundant tropical foliage and the warm ocean waters--there's fun to be had, too. Pavilions come with an electric golf cart for tooling around the island, and room rates include non-motorized water sports, on-site meals (though not alcohol), and dining at Hamilton Island's best restaurants--perhaps wise, as Qualia's island-time service can be spotty.

Address: Hamilton Island, Australia
Tel: 61 2 9433 3349

When to go: September and October to avoid the intense humidity and the jellyfish.
Which room to book: Pavilion No. 6 for its views, seclusion, and cute walkway to the beach; or the Beach House for a private lap pool and guest quarters.

Further reading:
* Qualia's Web site
* Spa Qualia
* Nicole Kidman's Baby Magic: Australia's waterfalls have pregnant-making powers
* Hot List 2008

HOT LIST 2008

Palm Desert: Spa Desert Springs

Desert Spa
Three's not a crowd:
Treatment rooms here are spacious.

Photo: Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

The 21-year-old Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort, a monolithic 800-plus-room Coachella Valley property built around a lake and a golf course, has added a spa, providing watery relief for sun-parched active types. The standard sauna, steam room, and whirlpool have been supplemented by a hammam; just outside, a bin of refreshing herbal-soaked washcloths awaits. The Desert Journey body treatment ($190) is more than an hour of being rubbed in citrus body butter, scrubbed with brown sugar, and prodded with basalt river rocks (with a bit of foot paraffin masking and scalp rubbing thrown in). The only thing missing is an in-room rinse, so guests are left to find the shower in their post-massage narcotized state (massages, $130-$140).

Further reading:
* The resort's Web site
* Hot List 2008
* The Palm Springs Guide
* Hot List on the Daily Traveler

HOT LIST 2008

Vienna: Ring Hotel

The Ring Lobby
The Ring Hotel's lobby.
Photo: Hotelchatter.com

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

This majestic 68-room hotel on the Ringstrasse offers a more casual air than neighboring grande dames. There's no pseudo-Hapsburg decadence, gold faucets, or red velvet behind the nineteenth-century facade: The decor throughout is uncluttered, with easy-on-the-eyes browns and creams, while color-coordinated prints hang instead of oil paintings, toning down the opulence. Rooms come with original moldings and a Nespresso machine. The seasonal food at At Eight, the restaurant, is inventive and mouthwatering, diminished only by a dining room with somewhat bland furnishings. Impeccable service adds the finishing touch of personal luxury, and the less formal look doesn't take away from the five-star quality of the residence, which is a welcome, less expensive alternative to the usual Imperial- or Art Deco-style hotel.

Address: 8 Kaerntner Ring, Vienna, Austria 1010
Tel: 43 1 22 1 22

When to go: May through September for coffeehouse culture and walks through Vienna's many parks, November through January for punch stands and romance.
Which room to book: An X-Ordinary room on the fifth floor with a view of the Ringstrasse and the Staatsoper, or the exclusive Ring Suite, which can be reached only by paternoster lift.

Further reading:
* The Ring Hotel's Web site
* Hot List 2008
* The Vienna Guide
* Hot List on the DT

HOT LIST 2008

Mexico City: Biko

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

Japanese-inspired minimalist decor ensures that nothing detracts from the ambitious creations of Basque-born chefs Bruno Oteiza and Mikel Alonso. Occasionally the pair stray too far into the molecular gastronomy hinterlands to concoct flavors and invent textures, but when they get it right, the result is superb. The squid stuffed with caramelized onions and stewed in its own ink is nicely smoky, and the escolar verde apio, a Pacific fish cooked in a hen broth flavored with celery, is simple and divine. Anise ice cream makes an appropriately bold finish (entrées, $24-$38).

Address: 407 President Masaryk
Tel: 52-55-5282-2064

Further reading:
* Hot List 2008
* The Mexico City Guide
* Hot List on the Daily Traveler

HOT LIST 2008

Costa Rica: El Silencio Lodge & Spa

El Silencio Cabana
A camouflage cabana at El Silencio.
Photo:Elsilenciolodge.com

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

In the country that practically invented ecotourism, El Silencio sets a new standard for responsible luxury. The 16 khaki-colored cottages are built of environmentally friendly materials such as bamboo tiles, with lamp bases and towel racks fashioned from logs and twigs. (There are also plans to begin education programs for the community.) The identical one-room cottages--each with a king-size bed, two plush sofas that can double as extra sleeping nooks, and a gas fireplace to cut the morning chill--are plenty roomy,but the biggest draw is beyond the sliding glass doors: As you watch the late-afternoon mist slide over the lushly forested mountains from your cottage's rail-less porch, you'll know why this is called the cloud forest. The largely local staff are ever present and eager to please, whether you're up for a guided walk through the adjacent 500-acre reserve to several waterfalls--some gushers and others trickles--or yoga practice on the open-air platform at the spa. Chef Marco González's Costa Rican-fusion food is among the best in the country, sourced from the resort's own organic garden and nearby purveyors of produce and naturally raised chicken and fish.

Address: Bajos del Toro, Central Valley, Costa Rica
Tel: 866 446 4053

When to go: January through March is the cloud forest's dry season.
Which room to book: No. 12 is highest on the hillside.

Further reading:
* El Silencio Web site
* Hot List 2008
* The Costa Rica guide
* Hot List on the DT

HOT LIST 2008

Bali: Safari Wellness Spa

Safari Wellness Spa
Mingle with the elephants
from your massage table.

Photo: Elephant Safari Park Lodge

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

On an island brimming with five-star spas, try something completely different in Ubud--namely, one with 27 roaming elephants. The small granite-and-glass facility sits on the grounds of Aussie expat Nigel Mason's Elephant Safari Park Lodge, a 25-room Ubud property inside a Sumatran pachyderm sanctuary. With picture windows framing the herd's lush "living quarters," two modern suites are set up with treatment tables, massaging armchairs, showers, and soaking tubs. The full menu ranges from waxing and mani-pedis to aromatic Yon-Ka Paris facials ($58) and Balinese massages ($30). The Wild Yam Skin Nourishing Signature Ritual ($60) incorporates skin-firming local wild yam (as well as lemongrass, ginger, cinnamon, and mint) into a two-and-a-half-hour super-softening massage, scrub, body mask, and hot-bath medley (massages, $30).

Tel: 62-361-977884

Further reading:
* Elephant Safari Park Lodge
* Hot List 2008
* The Bali Guide
* Hot List on the DT
 

HOT LIST 2008

Qatar: La Cigale Hotel

La Cigale
Qatar to the future.
Photo: qatartourism.gov.qa

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

In its rush to compete with Dubai, Qatar has scored a twofer with this sleek 20-story tower, at once architectural eye candy and the embodiment of a new hospitality concept: the gourmet business hotel. The ground-floor lobby's bespoke Baccarat crystal tables, Swarovksi chandeliers, kinetic paintings by Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez, and decorative wall of Rolex watches speak to the property's luxurious excess, while the adjoining Le Cigalon restaurant and pastry shop serve beautifully presented Middle Eastern delicacies such as bahsaliye, a star-shaped pistachio cake, and viscous ice cream made with salep, a ground orchid powder. The 214 rooms and 26 suites have a masculine dark-wood Art Deco theme and interactive 40-inch LCD TVs. The spa and the sweet shop are popular with abaya-clad ladies who lunch, and the second-floor piano bar is the see-and-be-seen venue for Qataris and expats who drink. (Le Cigalon does not serve alcohol.) The location, equidistant from the airport, the new financial district, and Doha's sports stadiums and university campuses, makes the hotel convenient for business tycoons; the third-floor pool, on a glassed-in terrace, is nirvana for lap swimmers.

Address: 60 Suhaim Bin Hamad Street, Doha, Qatar
Tel: 974-428-8888

When to go: Business clientele come year-round.
Which room to book: The so-called Panoramic rooms have views of Doha Bay and the financial district's skyline, but the large windows in the rooms that face the desert and the futuristic Sports City complex make them feel bigger and airier.

Further reading:
* La Cigale's Web site
* Hot List 2008
* Hot List on the DT
* Middle East: Development Through Travel, a discussion from CNT's World Savers Congress this year

HOT LIST 2008

Los Angeles: The Edison

The Edison
One of the Edison's roomier lounge areas.
Photo: la.eater.com

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

Downtown, in the bowels of the historic Higgins Building, this Roaring Twenties-era gin joint is housed in an old power plant. Waitresses in slinky flapper dresses serve decadent handcrafted cocktails: The Charlie Chaplin is a potent blend of apricot brandy, sloe gin, and lime. Sleek leather sofas encircle ancient artifacts and machinery. Old black-and-white films of shimmying beauties are projected on exposed brick walls, to the tune of live jazz or pleasantly scratched recordings of torch singers. Thursdays, classic gin martinis are just 35 cents, the price in 1910.

Address: 108 W. 2nd Street
Tel: 213-613-0000

Further reading:
* The Edison Web site
* Hot List 2008: best of the new
* The Los Angeles Guide
* Hot List on the DT

HOT LIST 2008

Southampton: Hotel TerraVina

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

A fine wine cellar and the local terroir are the essence of this country hotel, the latest enterprise of Hotel du Vin founder and sommelier Gerard Basset and his hotelier wife, Nina. Two new wings flanking the brick Victorian house emphasize earth tones and a natural country look, albeit with some shortcomings: The plank walls do not blend well with the old house, and the stairs are cramped and steep. Yet a stay at the TerraVina is still a delight. The staff are simultaneously unobtrusive and efficient, and the 11 rooms, although snug, are light and inviting. Chef Rory Duncan's cuisine is based on locally sourced and organic ingredients, superlatively prepared in an open galley kitchen and served in an attractive space overlooking a garden. Close by are the lovely meadows and paths of the New Forest, now a national park, where you can ramble or ride (a bike or a horse) and glimpse the forest's famed wild ponies.

Address: 1 Suffolk Place, Netley Marsh, Southampton, England SO40 7GL
Tel: 44 2380 293 784

When to go: In spring, when the rhododendrons are in bloom, or anytime from May through September, when you can bask in the rays on a sunny terrace.
Which room to book: An upper room with a terrace for privacy and a treetop view; if a big bathtub at the foot of the bed is your thing, ask for a room with one.

Further reading:
* Hotel TerraVina Web site
* Hot List 2008
* The England guide
* Hot List on the DT

HOT LIST 2008

Northern Ireland: Spa at Galgorm

Galgorm
The River Maine runs through it.
Photo: Galgorm.com

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

On the lush green banks of the River Maine, this 163-acre tract includes a $10 million spa that's a dark-wood, richly scented oasis offering Ytsara and Aromatherapy Associates products. Guests can choose among 11 treatment rooms, including a sumptuous private suite featuring twin couches and two freestanding Parisian baths facing a beautiful sea horseand-coral aquarium. Indulge in the Thermal Spa Experience ($58), a series of nine hot and cold stations including a Roman purification bath, herb caldarium, steam aroma grotto, sauna, outdoor hot tub, and amazing indoor infinity hydrotherapy pool, where at the push of a button massage cannons and volcano airpads relax and rejuvenate tense muscles as the river rushes through the woodland outside (massages, $116).

Further reading:
* Spa at Galgorm Web site
* Hot List 2008
* Hot List on the DT

HOT LIST 2008

Oman: Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay

Six Senses Oman
Freestanding villas with their own pools
at Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay.

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

This is the first luxury resort on Oman's mountainous Musandam Peninsula, whose breathtaking fjords, 9,000-foot-high ridges, and isolated beaches are an emerging adventure-travel mecca. Backed by peaks, the 82 freestanding stone villas, with private pools and, in some instances, spa rooms, share a mile-long white sand crescent with a fishing village; no further tourism development is allowed on the bay. Facilities include a spa and a marina (still unfinished), but the beach alone is worth coming for: Colorful coral patches shelter sea turtles and stingrays, and impressive snorkeling and dive sites are a short kayak or dhow ride away. So as not to disturb guests and villagers, motorized water sports take place in a deserted bay just up the coast. The service is exemplary, but be aware that activities such as hikes, four-by-four trips, boating, and paragliding, as well as four-hour Arabian spa rituals and seven-course meals with wine flights, can easily double your room rate.

Address: Zighy Bay, Musandam, Oman
Tel: 968 26735 555

When to go: Avoid June and July, when the humidity peaks; it may be too cold to swim from mid-December to mid-February.
Which room to book: Request a villa directly on the beach or the four-bedroom Reserve, which has its own gym, spa, private cook, and wine cellar.

Further reading:
* Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay Web site
* Hot List 2008
* Hot List on the DT

HOT LIST 2008

Jackson Hole: Couloir

Wyoming
Not a bad setting for Hamilton's Couloir.
Photo: Concierge.com

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

Most restaurants with jaw-dropping views get away with serving solidly mediocre fare. Not so at Couloir, Jackson Hole's mountaintop table, where the food rivals the setting. Chef Wes Hamilton takes a straightforward approach, steering clear of any fussiness or fusion. Here, a cup of buffalo chili or a duck confit and grilled fontina sandwich is the stuff of memories, and the tenderloin of buffalo and seared foie gras could turn a vegan bad (prix fixe, $85).

Address: 7652 Granite Loop Rd., at the top of the Bridger Gondola
Tel: 307-739-2675

Further reading:
* Hot List 2008
* The Jackson guide
* Hot List on the DT

HOT LIST 2008

Siem Reap: Hotel Be Angkor

ESPA
One of Hotel Be's
art gallery-cum-guestrooms.

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

Located in a renovated shophouse alongside sister property the One Hotel in the middle of Siem Reap's nightlife district, the three-room Hotel Be is more casual than its neighbor but no less interesting. Guests access the hotel through Aha, a hip tapas café that also serves the hotel's breakfast and will deliver meals day into night. The three guest rooms are beautifully rendered, and decorated with works by Siem Reap-based artists. The Saffron Room, accessible by an interior bridge, is filled with the funky monk-themed artwork of Filipino artist Loven Ramos. Its sunlit living area features a Bose iPod docking station and stylish loungers, while double-glaze laminated glass provides soundproofing. Plenty of closet space and an expansive sunken rain shower enhance this room's good value. All accommodations come with modern essentials like Wi-Fi and a 32-inch flat-screen television; those in search of Siem Reap's low-tech offerings can tour the food market with a Khmer-speaking French chef.

When to go: December to March has the least rain (but the most tourists).
Which room to book: For lovers of sculpture, the Bamboo Room; painting, the Saffron Room; and photography, the Sepia Room.

Further reading:
* Hotel Be Angkor Web site
* The Angkor guide
* Hot List 2008

HOT LIST 2008

Enniskerry: ESPA at Powerscourt

ESPA
ESPA's shimmering pool.
Photo: Ritz-Carlton

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

Set in Enniskerry's new Ritz-Carlton hotel at the foot of Sugar Loaf Mountain, this 30,000-square-foot spa in slate, wood, and stone has views of the surrounding forest. There are 20 treatment rooms and a generous modern ensemble of saunas, plunge pools, and steam rooms. The two-hour Garden of Inspiration Body Ritual ($372) starts when your therapist brings you a cup of herbal tea and performs a footbath. A sea salt-and-oil body scrub follows, before warmed ESPA oils are poured on for an intensive massage (massages, $190).

Tel: 353-1-274-8888

Further reading:
* ESPA's Web site
* Hot List 2008
* Read all DT Hot List posts

HOT LIST 2008

Kenya: Sanctuary at Ol Lentille

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

The Masai community has joined forces with conservation tourism organizations and private investors to convert 6,500 acres of arid cattle range into a wildlife sanctuary and resort. The property's four luxury villas, designed with tribal, Lamu coast, colonial, or retro sixties decor, straddle a boulder-strewn ridge and come equipped with fireplaces, outdoor decks, and spectacular views from sun loungers, beds, even bathtubs. The conservancy's acacia-forested hills and wide, sand riverbeds shelter dik-diks, klipspringers, rare wild dogs, and spotted and striped hyenas; the planned addition this year of a water hole should increase sightings of larger game, such as elephants, kudu, and Grevy's zebras. Meanwhile, the land rejuvenates from overgrazing, as do guests who go exploring on mountain bikes, on horseback, or by scaling Ol Lentille, a 6,486-foot granite peak. (Your villa's enviably fit Masai guide also escorts you on four-by-four night drives and cultural trips to Masai markets and homesteads and on camping expeditions with local Yaku honey gatherers.) A library stocked with a GPS telescope and a well-edited list of Africa-themed DVDs tempts some guests to simply stay put. And why not? The villa fee includes butler service, a private cook, and unlimited massages.

Tel: 888-588-4590

When to go: January and February for warm, sunny weather.
Which room to book: Couples will prefer the Eyrie, with stupendous daytime views from an outdoor sunken tub and a round bedroom with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and faux-fur covers. The Sultan's House, a romance of sprawling Lamu-style carved wood furniture, arabesque lanterns, floor cushions, and a four-poster bed, has the most atmosphere at night.

Further reading:
* Ol Lentille's Web site
* Hot List 2008
* The Kenya guide
* Read all DT Hot List posts

HOT LIST 2008

New York: Dell' Anima

Dell' Anima
Grab a seat at the bar for a view
of the open-kitchen action.

Photo: Nymag.com

You'd think New Yorkers had never seen bruschetta before by the way they're in a tizzy over the seasonally changing lineup of pile-it-on-yourself grilled bread and toppings at this slim West Village wine bar. (For the record, we love the lily confit and octopus iterations.) But this perennially packed spot also has a heart-stopping tagliatelle alla bolognese, juicy grilled quail with fregula, and a stellar wine list to wash it all down (courtesy of co-owner and former Babbo sommelier Joe Campanale). Snag one of the six seats at the kitchen-side counter to watch chef-owner Gabe Thompson and his band of trucker hat-clad cooks (an ironic touch, we hope) do their thing (entrées, $15-$27).

Address: 38 8th Avenue
Tel: 212-366-6633

Further reading:
* Dell' Anima Web site
* Hot List 2008
* New York Hot List video
* The New York guide
* Read all DT Hot List posts

HOT LIST 2008

Bhutan: Taj Tashi Thimpu

Taj Tashi Thimpu
Taj's impressive facade, nestled
in Bhutan's forest.
 

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

This seven-story structure is a welcome addition to the emerging kingdom's small capital city. Offering an appealingly chic design, it also reflects traditional architecture, with its exterior walls painted a saffron hue with swirling dragons and Buddhism's eight sacred symbols. The 66 elegant rooms--the smallest of which measure 450 square feet--are a haven with high ceilings, dark-brown lacquered wood floors, walls mounted with mandalas, heated floors in bathrooms, and cushioned daybeds from which to gawk at the Himalayas. Early-morning risers may catch sight of the monk who chants prayers in the outdoor courtyard, also where traditional dancers perform most nights around the sunken fire pit. Mirrored walls affixed with an auspicious 108 Tibetan horns decorate the walls at the restaurant Chig Je Gye, where the impressive Bhutanese menu includes a milky river-weed soup and ema-datshi, the national dish of melted cheese with grated chilies. Rimps, the lobby-level tea lounge with dramatic carved walls rising another four stories, serves a tasty salted butter tea and offers a selection of authoritative reads on the region. Beneath the indoor pool is the aromatic Taj Spa.

Address: Chubachu, Thimpu, Bhutan
Tel: 975-2-33-66-99

When to go: Avoid July and August, when rains can cause landslides along Bhutan's snaky roads.
Which room to book: The most romantic are the two Duplex Suites; each has a spiral staircase that leads to a cozy attic bedroom, as well as jaw-dropping views from the sunlit bathroom.

Further reading:
* Taj Tashi Thimpu's Web site
* Hot List 2008
* View all DT Hot List posts

HOT LIST 2008

Stockholm: Peacock Dinner Club

Spa Williamsburg
Fan your feathers in the main dining room.
Photo: Peacock Club Web site

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

The Peacock first spread its wings in Göteborg, on Sweden's west coast; the new Stockholm outpost features two bars, walls that shift color, seats upholstered in golden fabric, and carpets patterned with the club's namesake's feathers. Until 11 P.M., it serves Asian food--from sashimi to sublime gyoza dumplings with snow crab and salmon--and DJs play until 3 A.M. Cocktails come with an Asian twist, as in the Pomegranate Saketini, the ginger martini, and the yuzu cocktail. The age restriction (no one under 23) and a location removed from Stockholm's party animal haunts means a more professional crowd.

Address: Tegnérgatan 37
Tel: 46-8-790-0020

Further reading:
* Peacock Club Web site
* The Stockholm Guide
* Hot List 2008
* View all DT Hot List posts

HOT LIST 2008

Marrakesh: Angsana Riads

Marrakesh Riads
One of Angsana's distinctly
Marrakesh pools.

Photo: angsana.com

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

Angsana, the Singapore-based sister brand of Banyan Tree hotels, has made a major foray into Morocco with the launch of a terrific family of riads. Run by impeccably trained young hotel professionals (many Moroccan riads have been opened by newcomers to the hotel business), this group of six properties, all located in the medina, have wonderful spa menus that blend indigenous hammam culture with first-rate Thai, Ayurvedic, and Javanese massages. Among the six riads, three are standouts: The seven-room Riad Si Said is a beautifully restored aristocratic residence with a stunning courtyard of antique zelig (mosaics) and a plunge pool. Riad Bab Firdaus, also with seven rooms, houses a small but superb spa; and the intimate five-room Riad Tiwaline was renovated by noted local architect Nesereddine Njima, who has coined a hip new idiom for contemporary Moroccan architecture; all rooms here also have wood-burning fireplaces. Riad Bab Firdaus serves delicious traditional Moroccan dishes as well as excellent Thai and international food.

Tel: 212-24-438-517

When to go: Since summer in Marrakesh is scorching, the best months are April through May and September through October.
Which room to book: Majorelle or the Bahia Suite in Riad Si Said; Tinghir or Tiznit in Riad Bab Firdaus; or Dakhla in Riad Tiwaline.

Further reading:
* Angsana Riads Web site
* The Marrakesh guide
* Hot List 2008
* Read all DT Hot List posts

HOT LIST 2008

Virginia: Spa of Colonial Williamsburg

Spa Williamsburg
The spa's lush outdoor space.
Photo: spas.about.com

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

Creative anachronisms, indeed. This spa takes its healing rituals from the past few centuries and makes them into contemporary spa sessions: Seventeenth-century Native Americans' herbal compresses become a body wrap ($265), nineteenth-century African Americans' lavender-and-rose powder mix morphs into an exfoliator ($285). It's a novel concept by spa guru Sylvia Sepielli--and an effective one, provided clients don't trouble themselves too much about the historical exactitude of the treatments, instead enjoying the soothing escape they provide in this crowded family destination. No matter what treatment you opt for, arrive early and tack on the Virginia Springs Ritual ($18), a self-service face-and-body scrubbing and soaking rigmarole using sea salt, oils, and mud (massages, $110-$120).

Further reading:
* Spa of Colonial Williamsburg Web site
* Hot List 2008
* View all Hot List posts
* Colonial Williamsburg guide
* Virginia Is for Earth Lovers

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