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Santa's Resort Kakslauttanen, Finland

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, December 22 04:35 PM

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This Christmas, Santa isn't so much coming to town as inviting you to his town. At the newly minted Santa's Resort Kakslauttanen, close to the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, guests are greeted by the big man himself and plied with hot beverages and gingerbread (served by elves, natch). Accommodations in this winter wonderland include 40 log cabins, a snow igloo, and--our personal favorite--20 glass igloos (another 33 are coming in 2012) specially designed for viewing the northern lights while you're snuggled up all toasty in bed.

If you can drag yourself away, there's also the chance to steam in the world's largest smoke sauna, hitch a ride on a reindeer-drawn sleigh, or kick back with eggnog in the Glass Kota, a traditional Lapland tepee. Lead the way, Donner and Blitzen.

Photo: Courtesy of Santa's Resort Kakslauttanen

SLS Hotel South Beach, Miami

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, December 21 01:01 PM

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Just when we thought the food truck craze had peaked, star chef José Andrés is rolling out his own version poolside at the SLS Hotel South Beach. This Miami counterpart to the Los Angeles glamour spot opens mid-April with 142 rooms designed by Philippe Starck.

Andrés's fancy food truck has also been designed by Starck, as is the hotel's restaurant, a reprise of Bazaar's rustic-molecular mashup. Complete with some colorful touches by a graffiti artist, the truck will dispense haute grub to guests who like a side of street with their South Beach. We think this calls for a road trip.

Photo: Courtesy of SLS Hotel South Beach

The Beer Moth, Inverness-shire, Scotland

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, December 20 01:19 PM

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Sure, you don't mind roughing it. But you still like your mattress soft and your hearth warm. May we introduce you to the Beer Moth? Crafted from a 1956 fire truck, this flatbed B&B sits on the verdant grounds of Inshriach House in the shadow of the Monadhliath Mountains in the Scottish Highlands.

You'll lay yourself to sleep on an antique Victorian brass bed in the back of the truck, which is outfitted with oak parquet floors salvaged from a Tudor mansion. You'll warm yourself by a hearth made from an old snooker table. And you'll descend to hike the grounds via a fire escape staircase. Part truck stop, part glamper, the Beer Moth is a tall draft of personality. Bottoms up!

Photo: Courtesy of Canopy & Stars

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

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

Washington School House, Park City, Utah

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, December 08 12:53 PM

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This winter, Park City is going back to school. And we're not talking ski school. Class, let us introduce you to the new kid in town, the Washington School House hotel.

The 19th-century schoolhouse has graduated from the kid stuff to the big leagues just in time for Sundance next month, courtesy of an eight-month renovation. Reclaimed barn-wood floors, Swedish antiques, and roaring fireplaces add a rustic warmth to the modern snow-white palette and contemporary art collection in the 12 rooms. Ski to the back door of the hotel, where a valet takes care of your gear, leaving you free to cozy up by the fire or head to a heated pool tucked in a grove of trees beside the mountain. The school of hard knocks this is not.

Photo: Courtesy of Washington School House

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

Inn at Lost Creek, Telluride

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, November 30 12:40 PM

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Christmas has come early for ski bunnies: Heavy snowfall in Colorado has set the scene for a killer season. And two new packages at Telluride's Inn at Lost Creek can make it an affordable one. Sign up for the Pre-Season Ski Adventure and get four nights for the price of three, including transfers, breakfast, and two three-day lift passes, or nab the Altitude Adjuster, which is all that plus oxygen therapy and massages for two.

The homey-luxe inn has 32 suites (decked out with fireplaces, hot tubs, and steam showers), plus one of the most brag-worthy ski-in, ski-out positions in the San Juan Mountains. Oh, and did we mention the two rooftop hot tubs? Talk about taking it to the next level.

Pre-Season Ski Adventure from $1,809 (double occupancy), from December 1, 2011 through December 18, 2011; Altitude Adjuster from $2,301 (double occupancy), from December 1, 2011 through April 8, 2012

Photo: Courtesy of db2stock, Getty Images

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.

Hotel Williamsburg, Brooklyn

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, November 22 02:08 PM

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As if Brooklyn needed any more feathers in its hipness cap, the Hotel Williamsburg has just opened, promising a bed for luxe-seeking scenesters. Think panoramic rooftop bar, buzzy restaurant, and a lot of tattoos and facial hair digging the summertime swim club.

Half of the 64 rooms have Manhattan skyline views, and all pop with a mod-meets-vintage decor of orange leather against woodsy wallpaper. Rooms also feature free vinyl to play on Crosley record players. And like a good Brooklynite, the borough's first full-service luxury boutique hotel is thinking local: uniforms are by Brooklyn Industries, and there's a signature suds on tap, brewed by Brooklyn Brewery just around the corner. Even the coffee, delivered 24/7 in retro green Stanley thermoses, is roasted by the oldest family-owned shop in New York.

Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Williamsburg

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

Saint James Paris, France

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, November 14 01:24 PM

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You like your vacations to be a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll. Well, it just so happens that the hottest number in Paris these days also happens to be its most sylvan: The freshly refurbished Saint James is a little slice of Loire château life in the City of Lights.

Set on the site of the world's first hot-air balloon launch, in 1783, this 19th-century property is all high-flying whimsy, thanks to boho goddess Bambi Sloan's redesign. A riot of patterns--toile and stripes, brocade and herringbone--lends a playful decadence to the 48 rooms. As a hotel guest, you can rub elbows with tony locals at the Saint James's private social club, or visit the luxurious spa that has gemstones as its theme. And after an exhausting day of shopping and Champagne sipping, where better to escape the flurry of Paris than the hotel's perfectly manicured gardens, hidden away behind mature trees?

Photo: Davide Lovatti courtesy of Saint James Paris

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

Sea Temple Surfers Paradise, Australia

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, November 07 01:13 PM

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Glitzy high-rises. Minuscule swimsuits. Endless sunshine. Australia's answer to South Beach, Surfers Paradise is a dazzling strip of beachfront populated by hunky surfers and aspiring models and laced with a distinctly laid-back Aussie flavor. The only flaw, until now, has been the stuck-in-the-'80s hotel landscape. But a boutique hotel newcomer, Sea Temple, is set to shake things up.

Spread across levels 4 through 39 of the skyscraping Soul Tower, the two- and three-bedroom suites feel like swanky private apartments, complete with high-tech gadgets, full kitchens, Miami-esque white-on-white decor, and balconies that catch ocean breezes. Both the poolside cocktail bar and the restaurant, with its panoramic views and pan-Asian menu, are sure to be the town's most preen-worthy hot spots. Finally, a scene that lives up to the scenery.

Photo: Courtesy of Sea Temple Surfers Paradise 

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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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