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L'And Vineyards Resort, Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, June 03 04:49 PM

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Like wearing white after Labor Day or boat shoes with socks, spending the warm months indoors is its own kind of gauche. Thankfully, the 22-suite L'and Vineyards, nestled in the rolling hills of Portugal's Alentejo wine region, has opened just in time to help you avoid summer sacrilege.

A slick wood and slate palette and bold architecture make a modern play against the pastoral landscape, and the Sky suites raise the roof (literally): Above your king-size bed is a retractable ceiling that lets in fresh air and reveals the constellations above, adding thousands of stars to the resort's already commendable five. Think of it as a boozy camping trip for people who don't like camping.

Photo: Courtesy of L'and Vineyards

Avalon Hotel, Göteborg, Sweden

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, June 01 07:00 AM

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Design exhibitions can be a bit frustrating, especially when the works on show--say, an Eames lounge chair just pleading to be sat on--are behind glass. But now that the fashion-, design-, and decorative arts-focused Röhsska Museum has paired up with Sweden's Avalon Hotel, you can look, touch, and swivel with verve.

In conjunction with the museum's Past-Present-Future exhibition (through September 30), design covetables from the collection have been replicated in the hotel's public areas and key guest rooms. Our faves include a tangerine Verner Panton Cone chair, a classic of late 1950s Scandinavian modernism; the full-size Horse lamp and Pig tray tables, quirks of design stars Moooi; and a DVD of Swedish FRONT design group's Blow Away Vase, showing in the elevators. Free workshops and design tours are offered for the truly obsessed. How novel: design that's actually within reach--at least for a night.

Photo: Courtesy of the Avalon Hotel

The Tides Beach Club, Kennebunkport, Maine

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, May 23 10:39 AM

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The tides they are a-changing in Kennebunkport this summer. No longer must you pop your collar at some stuffy seaside manse decorated with doilies and dinghies. Instead, bed down in boutique style at the newly reopened Tides Beach Club.

This century-old grande dame went under the knife and came out looking svelte and tchotchke-free. Muted tones give the 21 rooms a contemporary, coastal cool look; the folks at Jonathan Adler stepped in to add a touch of whimsy to the suites, with Peruvian textiles, turquoise accents, and zebra rugs.

The Tides is also loosening up the social scene with artisanal New England beers on the veranda and locavore fare in the restaurant. And if you're in need of a makeover yourself, you'll be transported to sister property Hidden Pond for spa treatments in its luxe tree house. Finally, a hotel that's putting the "new" back into New England.

Photo: Courtesy of The Tides Beach Club

De L'Europe Hotel, Amsterdam

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, May 16 07:00 AM

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Amsterdam has always been an ideal destination for immersing yourself in art. Case in point, the $87-million gut-to-garret renovation of the 19th-century De L'Europe hotel. The grande dame reopens on June 1 with furnishings that juxtapose Art Deco chic with Renaissance frills, by modern master Cees Dam.

Bold colors (blues, greens, golds) lead the musty-to-modern charge across 88 expanded rooms and 23 loftlike suites. But the coup de grâce? Artwork--six-by-nine-foot detail shots of Rijksmuseum masterpieces, to be exact. And while some may call sleeping under the massive, steady gaze of Jan Cornelisz Verspronck's Girl in Blue creepy, you can paint us impressed.

Photo: Courtesy of De L'Europe 

The Most Puzzling Hotel in Greece

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, May 13 07:00 AM

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Transforming a 53-year-old into a hip young thing isn't the easiest of projects. But art collector Dakis Joannou has proved it can be done: He took Athens's aging Olympic Palace hotel apart, reassembled it piece by piece without discarding anything, then cheekily dubbed his chic salvage project the New Hotel.

The property's edgy aesthetic is the handiwork of Brazilian interior-design legends Humberto and Fernando Campana, who have created glass room dividers and mirrors that appear fractured, and wooden furniture that looks like it's been carved out of rock. Chairs and doors salvaged from the original hotel have been repurposed as art installations. Seems there's no better place than Athens to celebrate life in ruins.

Photo: Courtesy of Design Hotels

Harbor Hotel, Provincetown, Massachusetts

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, May 03 04:29 PM

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Quaint
is king in Provincetown, the salty artists' colony and beach resort on the tip of Cape Cod. You can't fling a flip-flop without hitting a lovingly restored B&B or weathered fisherman's cottage. But now there's a fresher catch in town: the newly renovated Harbor Hotel.

The 119 rooms and 10 suites, unveiled this past weekend, pop with lime walls, honey-colored wood, stained concrete floors, and mod amenities (flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, all-day coffee bar). Outside, there's a cozy fire pit and the poolside Cabana Bar, complete with a grill menu; inside, the arty Whaler Lounge serves up pub grub.

But Harbor also plays to Provincetown's classic strengths, with spectacular seaside sunsets visible from every room and easy access to briny tidelands across the street. Free shuttles and bikes help you make short hops to the area's famous dunes and into town for the galleries, restaurants, and quirky nightlife. Because in Provincetown, quaint also means queer, in every sense of the word.

Photo: Courtesy of Harbor Hotel Provincetown

St. Regis Washington Ballet Package, Washington, D.C.

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, April 29 04:21 PM

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When Natalie Portman pirouetted onto the ballet scene in Black Swan, the dance world was spun into the spotlight. Now you can go behind the scenes (minus the feather freak-outs) courtesy of a partnership between the St. Regis and the Washington Ballet, in D.C.

Hotel guests will attend a private dress rehearsal and the opening night performance of Carmen on May 19, plus a backstage tour by the Washington Ballet's artistic director, Septime Webre. You'll party afterward at a gala reception with company dancers and ballet VIPs. Then you'll debrief with Webre the next day over lunch at the hotel's Alain Ducasse restaurant, Adour.

The $5,000 price tag includes four nights in a swanky St. Regis suite with private butler service, so you know your stay will be en pointe.

Washington Ballet Aficionado Experience, $5,000 for four nights, May 17 to 21, 2011.

Photo: Sona Kharatian by Steve Vaccariello

Hogmead, Nairobi, Kenya

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, April 25 04:36 PM

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Most East African safaris require you to spend your first night in some generic city hotel before heading into the bush--the only beasts in sight being the ones served grilled in the dining room. The new Hogmead hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, is changing all that.

The six-room hotel has an Out of Africa vibe (the author, Karen Blixen, lived just down the road); overstuffed sofas and deep soaking tubs up the ante on comfort. Hogmead is also perfectly placed, with easy access to both the airport and Nairobi National Park, which means you could be face-to-face with an elephant just an hour after touchdown. Prefer to start with something smaller to prepare you for the wild times ahead? The resident warthogs on the hotel grounds should do the trick.

Photo: Courtesy of Hogmead

Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel, Shanghai

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, April 18 02:18 PM

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It's a mere seven minutes from Shanghai's international airport--at 268 mph on the Maglev, the world's fastest train--to the newly opened Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel. So in no time at all, you can be sipping a cup of green tea and decompressing in the hotel's 50,000-square-foot rooftop Infinity Garden.

The Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel, by the masterminds behind Dubai's Burj Al Arab, blends feng shui with Blade Runner in the heart of the Pudong financial district. The 401 art-filled rooms rise above standard five-star fare with custom Ming dynasty-meets-mod furnishings. And then there's that sky oasis. Perched atop the adjacent Himalayas Centre, a theater/museum/designer mall, the garden is magical at night, bathed in a wave of color from the tower's lacy grid of light. This is how the future rolls.

Photo: Courtesy of Jumeirah

25hours Hotel Wien, Vienna, Austria

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, April 11 03:53 PM

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Despite its refined reputation, Vienna has always been a bit of a show-off. With all the operas, the balls, and the surrounding hills that are alive with the sound of music, it takes a flashy newcomer like 25Hours Hotel Wien to make any noise on this scene.

The 34-suite hotel (another 187 rooms will be added next year) has vintage big top memorabilia--a ringleader's hat here, an acrobat's hoop there--and retro circus murals that splash a brushstroke of whimsy in otherwise minimal rooms with platform beds and brushed concrete floors. It's in good company in the quirky seventh district, a hub for Vienna's next-generation artists and musicians. So step right up, kids. It's time to get in on the act.

Photo: Courtesy of 25hours Hotel Wien

The Oberoi, Gurgaon, India

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, April 04 04:04 PM

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India has more ornate palaces than most countries have post offices. So it's high time the nation got a contemporary manor to suit its modern-day royalty: The newly opened Oberoi in Gurgaon, an area outside Delhi dubbed "The New Urban India," gives titans of multinational industry a princely place to lay their heads.

Starting at 620 square feet, the 202 guest rooms are among the largest of any city hotel in India. Everything about this property is outsize--the 10,000-square-foot vertical garden, the 36,000-square-foot pool that reflects it, the 50,000-square-foot shopping area. It's also home to the city's first 24/7 spa, so if you're jet-lagged, you can pop on down for an Ayurvedic massage at 3 am. After all, what royalty wants, royalty gets.

Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, March 31 07:23 PM

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The new Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, kicked things up a notch when it opened this week...well, quite a few notches. The world's highest hotel towers more than 1,600 feet above the city, stretching from the 102nd to the 118th floor in Kowloon's International Commerce Centre.

In the 312 rooms, luxe textures are featured in the leather headboards and in velvet armchairs arranged around the floor-to-ceiling windows. The 10,000-square-foot spa, five restaurants, and an open-air bar and pool with a 2,100-square-foot ceiling LED screen on the 118th floor are as over-the-top as the views of Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong Island, and the surrounding mountains. Welcome to the high life.

Photo: Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton

Hotel Chocolat, St. Lucia

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, March 28 07:09 PM

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If a tropical resort built on a cocoa plantation sounds like someone has dipped into your wildest dreams, we're just about to make your day. St. Lucia's newest arrival is Hotel Chocolat, the brainchild of two British chocolatiers. Go on, pinch yourself.

On this 140-acre, 18th-century plantation, you can learn the entire chocolate-making process, helping to harvest and roast the beans and, of course, taste the finished product. Or you could simply retire to one of the six cocoa- and cream-colored cottages with gauze-draped four-poster beds, ocean-facing chaise longues, and open-air rain showers. (Eight additional villas will open in October.) The restaurant takes its inspiration from the hotel's crop, with dishes like yellowfin tuna with cacao pesto. Talk about a delicious getaway.

Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Chocolat

London Syon Park

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, March 24 06:58 PM

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The upcoming royal wedding may have everyone's hearts aflutter, but the real flap should be over the new London Syon Park: This Waldorf Astoria hotel, sitting on 200 acres on the outskirts of the city, has its very own butterfly house.

The 1,000 winged lovelies in the lobby were inspired by the original butterfly house once located on the grounds. Outside, manicured gardens mix with sprawling parkland, where guests can play croquet, try their hand at archery, fish for trout, or picnic among rare flowers. Famed chef Lee Streeton (formerly of Brown's Hotel) draws inspiration and ingredients from the gardens for the British fare served at the hotel restaurant, The Capability (named for Capability Brown, who designed and landscaped the park in the mid 18th century). Decor in the 137 guest rooms and suites marries modern and old-world luxury--marble and limestone are complemented by flat screens and Apple technology. In other words, it's a royal indulgence.

Photo: Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria

Casa de La Flora, Khao Lak, Thailand

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, March 21 06:44 PM

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Lots of hotels try to up the luxury ante with amenities you never knew you needed, but the decadence of having a private place to float and chill still tops our list of favorite perks. And few hotels do plunge pools with as much style as the new Casa de La Flora in mellow little Khao Lak, Thailand.

Each of the property's 36 cubelike villas opens onto a private ebony-bottomed plunge pool, obscured from view by lush hedges or stone walls. The angular structures, with minimal mod interiors and Apple in-room technology, pay homage to midcentury Brutalist architecture. But we fail to see anything brutal in those floor-to-ceiling Andaman Sea views.

Photo: Courtesy of Design Hotels

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Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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