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Rocco Forte Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, December 14 12:38 PM

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Hoteliers in the United Arab Emirates love a game of one-upmanship. If it's not bigger, shinier, and crammed with more decadent amenities, why bother? The owners of the new Rocco Forte Hotel in Abu Dhabi definitely got the memo.

Not only is the Rocco Forte situated at the heart of the emirate-of-the-moment, it's also a total showstopper, fashioned entirely from curved blue and green glass panels that mimic the Persian Gulf in a wavy mosaic. The hotel's 281 rooms and suites, designed by Olga Polizzi, combine rich colors, textures, and one-off pieces by artists from the region. The hotel's Blue cocktail bar appears to float in midair in the 11-story glass atrium--an ideal vantage point for surveying the spectacle of the glittering city below. Your move, Dubai.

Photo: Courtesy of Rocco Forte

Pendleton 5th Avenue Glacier Park Throw

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, December 13 01:02 PM

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Since the early 1900s, Pendleton has been making blankets inspired by America's national parks. Now these iconic striped throws have started popping up in design mags and on hip hotel beds (see Ace Portland). But while these woolly throws look awesome, they can be a little rough to the touch.

So for those of you not ready to suffer for style, there's the new 5th Avenue blanket ($138). It replaces the rustic feel of the old-school version with 100-percent superfine merino wool. It's just the kind of featherweight throw to push into your carry-on for a cozy overnight flight. Another top find to add to your holiday wish list.

Photo: Courtesy of Pendleton

Nira Alpina Design Hotel, Switzerland

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, December 12 12:59 PM

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When does a ski trip become a winter escape? At the newly opened, 70-room Nira Alpina in Silvaplana, Switzerland, it's the moment you arrive at the firelit lounge, sink into a comfy cowhide sofa--hot toddy in hand, of course--and watch the Alpenglow fade through panoramic windows.

Interiors are all restrained Swissness, full of natural materials such as spruce, suede, and granite. As the area's only ski-in/ski-out retreat, Nira Alpina provides powderhounds easy access to the 75 miles of pistes via a private glassed-in walkway to the Corvatsch cable car. And with private terraces and walls of windows, even lodge lizards can enjoy the great outdoors while waiting for their spa appointment.

Photo: Courtesy Design Hotels

Andaz Shanghai, China

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, December 06 01:32 PM

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The new Andaz in Shanghai wants you to make yourself at home. But in this case, home is a Jetsons-style, curving latticelike building in the Xintiandi neighborhood.

The floor-to-ceiling rounded windows give the place a certain Sixties hipness, inside and out. There's no front desk--an all-in-one concierge/doorman/bellboy/receptionist checks you in on a tablet over wine in the lounge or in the elevator. The 307 rooms have wood floors, walls covered in traditionally patterned red fabric, and glowing translucent tubs in the bathrooms, as well as adjustable multicolored LEDs. Overall, the feel is softened space age. We see jet-set membership in your future.

Photo: Courtesy of Andaz

The Shelborne, Miami Beach

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, November 29 01:27 PM

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It's all about grand entrances in Miami. And tomorrow's unveiling of the Shelborne South Beach, a 70-year-old Art Deco/MiMo masterpiece reimagined to the tune of $20 million, is no exception.

The big reveal starts when you drive up to the Morris Lapidus-inspired floating porte cochere (the robotic garage will take it from there). Check into one of the 200 beachy-pink guest rooms, then sashay down a glass-railed catwalk from the infinity pool to a new elevated sundeck. The approach from the beach is just as stylish, in a more laid-back way: Grab a taco and tequila at Lucy's Cantina Royale before settling in for some sandy people-watching. In a place as over-the-top as South Beach, sometimes simplicity is the grandest gesture of all.

Photo: Courtesy of Add Inc.

St. Regis Tianjin, China

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, November 16 12:51 PM

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A luxury hotel opening in China is about as newsworthy these days as a celebrity marriage meltdown. But the newly unveiled St. Regis Tianjin is hard to ignore. The 18-story hollowed-out cube dominates the banks of Tianjin's Hai River like a portal to another world. And in some ways it is.

After passing through the reflective Blade Runner exterior, you find yourself transported to the early 1900s, the heyday of this port city 80 miles south of Beijing. Art Deco-style touches--black-and-white checkerboard floors, crystal chandeliers, geometric French mirrors--abound in some of the public spaces as well as in the 274 guest rooms. And the grand lobby features a mural created by acclaimed ceramicist Zhu Legeng from hundreds of handcrafted tiles. That's what we call future perfect.

Photo: Courtesy of Starwood Hotels

Frank's Bar, Barcelona, Spain

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, November 10 01:13 PM

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The lure of Barcelona's nightlife has destroyed many a reputation. That's why we find the idea of dedicating a bar to creation--at least in terms of architecture--a refreshing concept. Behold Frank's Bar in the Hotel Arts Barcelona, a homage to the creative mind of starchitect Frank Gehry.

The bar honors Gehry's famous fish sculpture that sits on the waterfront adjacent to the hotel. The interiors draw from the palette of colors that the sculpture reflects throughout the day, from graphite to gold, plum to emerald. The arcs of the sofas, the geometry of the decorative moldings, and the diamond tufting of the ottomans draw lines of order, while signature margaritas (named after Gehry's wife, Berta) blur them. Sounds like the blueprint for a top Catalonian night out.

Photo: Davide Lovatti, Courtesy of Hotel Arts Barcelona

Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, November 09 11:34 AM

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The '60s have Mad Men, and the '20s have Boardwalk Empire. But what about the golden intervening years? Mr. Sorkin, do we have a pitch for you: a drama based at the 103-room Hotel Bel-Air, that glam hideaway of Hollywood stars of the '40s, '50s, and today. Fresh from a two-year restoration, the French Deco-meets-Spanish Colonial set is ready, Wolfgang Puck is on craft services, and the extras are already boldface.

New additions to the lush 12-acre property include a La Prairie spa and fitness studio, seven open-plan suites (some with grand pianos and private pools), and 12 loftlike hillside accommodations with canyon views and outdoor fireplaces on spacious decks. Like the hotel's signature swans, the faultless service remains the same. It's a wrap.

Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air

The Conservatorium Hotel, Amsterdam

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, October 31 01:50 PM

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If well-executed design is music to your ears, tune in to Amsterdam's latest triumphal symphony of style: the Conservatorium Hotel's transformation of a 19th-century bank-turned-music conservatory into a five-star modernist escape. Soft-opening on the Museumplein opposite the Royal Concertgebouw and near the tony P.C. Hooftstraat shopping strip in mid November, it'll reach a galloping allegro by December. The hotel's most harmonious note? Over half its 129 rooms are double-height duplexes.

Italian design maestro Piero Lissoni has combined vintage decorative elements (Asian rugs, tribal masks, Delft plates) with exposed beams, wood floors, and oversize windows to create a homey, loftlike feel. Common areas are equally lively. A glass ceiling tops an eight-story atrium lobby with a cocktail bar and restaurants by Dutch chef Schilo van Coevorden. There's also a 10,000-square-foot holistic spa (Watsu pool included). Apropos of everything, classical music echoes throughout. We think that deserves a standing ovation.

Photo: Courtesy of Design Hotels

Amir Building at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, October 27 07:00 AM

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It's impossible to guess what lies beneath the new Herta and Paul Amir Building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (opening November 2) when viewing it from outside. Architect Preston Scott Cohen's prismatic shiplike structure, made of 430 polished cement and glass panels, hides a library, an auditorium, and almost 30,000 square feet of gallery space in its unassuming angular belly. Ramped promenades and staircases spiral around a top-lit 87-foot-high atrium, its complex geometric surfaces bouncing the Mediterranean sun three floors below ground.

A temporary exhibit of works by Anselm Kiefer plus 250 pieces from the museum's permanent collection (prints, drawings, photography, design, video, and sculpture from 1906 to the present) will inaugurate the $55 million cultural hub--as well as Tel Aviv's Art Year festival.

Photo © Amit Geron. Courtesy of Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Hotel Lautner, Desert Hot Springs, California

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, September 29 10:21 AM

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Those gentle tulip curves, those slender tapered legs. You've always had a thing for midcentury modern. But she's starting to look a little cheap these days, what with everyone from Urban Outfitters to Walmart knocking her off. What you need is to get back to the source, at the Hotel Lautner in Desert Hot Springs, California.

Interior designer Tracy Beckmann and furniture designer Ryan Trowbridge have completely restored this 1947 icon, which architect John Lautner originally created as a prototype for desert living. You'll find vintage furniture by a who's who of midcentury talents (the likes of Milo Baughman, Harry Bertoia, and Sigurd Russell) inside the concrete and redwood hotel. The four suites, lit by geometric shafts of sun filtered through skylights, are surrounded on three sides by gardens of succulents, and the new owners have added a pool. If that doesn't rekindle your midcentury love affair, perhaps the hexagonal fire pit will.

Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Lautner

Hotel J, Stockholm, Sweden

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, September 20 12:02 PM

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Americans don't always have the best reputation in Europe (who among us hasn't considered renouncing our citizenship when queried about exports like Snooki?). But there's one place that's unabashedly rolling out the red, white, and blue welcome mat with style: Stockholm's newly expanded Hotel J.

Set on the water's edge at Nacka Strand, Sweden's answer to Newport, Rhode Island, the hotel has 158 guest rooms--113 of them a Nordic homage to nautical New England, with stars-and-stripes bedding, blond wood furniture, and whitewashed moldings. The sweeping views of the Royal Djurgården, the leafy island of Lidingö, and the boats on Saltsjön bay are pure Sweden. But the friendly service extends to those of us as American as apple pie (which is served à la mode in the hotel restaurant).

Photo: Courtesy of Design Hotels

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, September 19 01:03 PM

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We're pushovers for a provocateur, and few designers deserve that label more than Jean Paul Gaultier. Over the past four decades, he's evolved from enfant terrible to fashion's elder statesman without seeming to have aged a day (perhaps it has something to do with his boyish white-blonde 'do). And now, thanks to the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts' exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, you don't have to be a boldface name to get up close and personal with the designer.

The retrospective includes 140 of Gaultier's showstopping pieces, along with sketches, costumes, movie excerpts, and videos. And, of course, the Madonna cone bra. That's a lot of blond ambition for one room.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, tickets $15, through October 3 in Montréal. Subsequent tour stops include Dallas, San Francisco, Madrid, and Rotterdam.

Photo: Courtesy of Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Public Chicago

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, September 15 07:00 AM

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Here's a cure for the energy crisis: Figure out what fuels Ian Schrager. As if redefining the entire hotel industry weren't enough, now the man responsible for the rise of the boutique is aiming to shift the paradigm yet again.

Schrager's new Public Chicago, a renovation of the 285-room Gold Coast institution the Ambassador East, is a thumb to the nose of the trend he unleashed. The color palette is notable for its lack thereof, the design is clean and minimal, there are no gimmicks. Instead, Schrager puts the focus on essentials, such as sincere service. Jean-Georges in the kitchen of the Pump Room and what's sure to be a rocking lobby library (coffee shop/group work space by day, cocktail lounge by night) are the only nods to excess. Think of it as a Master Cleanse to self-conscious hipness.

Photo: Courtesy of Ian Schrager

stillspotting: nyc, To a Great City, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, August 22 11:35 AM

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Quiet. Respite. Solitude. Not words usually associated with New York City. But from September 15-18 and 22-25, stillspotting: nyc, To a Great City, a conceptual art collaboration between the Guggenheim Museum, Estonia-born composer Arvo Pärt, and Snøhetta (the architecture firm behind New York City's National September 11 Memorial and Museum) will redefine your aural perceptions of the city.

A walking tour takes you to five "galleries" around lower Manhattan--including a green labyrinth in the Battery, an underground chamber at Governors Island, and off-limits rooms in landmark skyscrapers--where the interactive installation marries architecture with Pärt's signature minimalist compositions. Buy a ticket, get your map, and follow the three-hour route, or choose your own adventure throughout the day. Loop back. Meditate. Make it your own. In the city, finding peace and quiet is indeed an art.

Route starts at Castle Clinton National Monument in Battery Park, 11 am to 7 pm (ticket sales close at 4 pm), $10. Advance reservations suggested.

Photo: Courtesy of Snøhetta 2011

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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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