When it comes to bedding down in one of our favourite cities, we love the hip and the new, but we also value the time-honoured classic. We asked Time Out's international magazine and online editors to tell us about the hot hotels – both new and old – in their cities.
The Shangri-La The Shangri-La has made an appearance in the best lists of multiple travel publications. This is not surprising when you consider that its Valley Wing alone offers a high level of luxury, personalised service, a minimum of 50sq meters of space and floor-to-ceiling windows (some with stunning panoramic views of the city). Add to this the CHI spa – dedicated to 'restoring balance and harmony to mind and body' – and two stylish restaurants (Nishimura and Blu Lobster) offering a range of cuisines from traditional Asian to the latest international favourites and you start to understand why this hotel is grabbing so much attention. The attached souk – if not traditional – houses some of the city's hippest eateries.
Le Méridien Le Méridien stands as testament to a bygone era. Though shabby on the outside, the interior looks like one of David Lean's Arabian sets, and you half expect Peter O'Toole to stumble in demanding 'bed and sheets for the boy'. Despite the wealth of alternative options throughout the city, it sometimes feels as though the entire ex-pat community can be found around the pool for Friday brunch.
Citizen M We've seen the future, and it's a bit trendy. Citizen M (M for 'mobile') is a new concept for those who want luxury on the cheap. A little way out of town – though definitely bikeable – this design hotel is stuffed full of iconic furniture (Eames recliners and the like) but not unnecessary grinning staff. Which would be a mighty triumph of style over substance, if it didn't seem to work so nicely.
Eden Amsterdam American Hotel Spacious rooms have been tastefully refurbished in this grand art nouveau building in the museum quarter. Guests are greeted by 'Lady American' – a 1920s flapper on the carpet inside each bedroom – and can watch live footage from a webcam on the roof. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the 'Cafe Americain' – a stunning art deco room with Tiffany lamps, stained glass and recently uncovered murals inspired by 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'.
The Opposite House Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and located in the heart of Beijing's trendy Sanlitun district, The Opposite House is by far and away Beijing's coolest hotel. A striking, open-plan lobby reaches up to the sky, while fashion-themed works of art draw your eye to different corners of the relaxed space. The Zen rooms are the main reason to stay here, but the major bonus is the fantastic selection of restaurants and bars, including the popular after-work hangout Mesh and Mediterranean eatery Sureno.
St Regis With a list of guests that extends to celebrities and heads of state, the St Regis is Beijing’s most prestigious address. Many an important executive has thrashed out a deal in the Press Club Bar, and the Sunday brunch at the Garden Court is for those who prefer quality to quantity – or to put it another way, caviar to a greasy fry-up. The style is over-the-top elegance, with more marble and chestnut wood than you can shake a stick at: definitely a classy experience.
Faena Hotel + Universe A true original in BA. Designed by French master Philippe Starck, this magnificent, lavish and camp lodging is built in the shell of an eye-catching English-style red-brick silo. The hotel continues to house the famous and wealthy in the 105 gorgeous rooms, and the even wealthier in the 83 privately owned apartments.
Alvear Palace Hotel The clue is in the word ‘palace’ – not, in this case, pretentious hyperbole. For the Alvear is more than a mere hotel – it’s also a source of civic pride, a symbol of grandeur and an enduring reminder of BA’s golden, affluent era. Filling half a block of the lavish Avenida Alvear, the 210 rooms offer extreme opulence: rich burgundies, antique French furniture and Hermès bathroom goodies scattered around the hot tubs. Avenida Alvear 1891 (+54 11 4808 2100/www.alvearpalace.com).
Hotel Felix The lovely Hotel Felix beats other Chicago hostelries (even trumping nearby Trump's) by having the city's first silver LEED certificate for environmental sustainability. This eco-chic newcomer is located in a charming brick building dating back to the 1920s. Each of the 224 guest rooms are decorated in gentle, earthy colours and fitted with high-speed internet access and flat-screen TVs. 111 W Huron St (+1 312 447 3440/www.hotelfelixchicago.com).
The Drake The Drake epitomises old-world glamour in every sense of the word. Meeting rooms and lobbies are still adorned with Oriental rugs and chandeliers, high tea is served daily in the Palm Court and lavish weddings for the rich and famous are held in stadium-sized banquet rooms. But all is not frozen in time: rooms have been updated with high-speed internet access and non-allergenic pillows to ensure twenty-first-century amenities and comfort.
Hotel Broadway Built in 1956, Hotel Broadway is a throwback to a time when the split between new and old Delhi wasn't quite as pronounced as it is today. A few rooms were recently refurbished in what can only be described as a bazaar-kitsch style by Catherine Lévy of Tsé & Tsé Associées of Paris. Although painfully hip, the rooms are still comfy. There are a couple of bona fide Delhi classics on the bottom floors, as well: the Bollywood villain-themed bar, Thugs, is one of the few places in the old city where you can get a drink. Grub is courtesy of Chor Bizarre, an Indian restaurant with an accent on authentic Kashmiri food. Ask for a guided tour through the old city, or catch a movie at the beautifully restored art deco Delite cinema next door. The Sunday book bazaar, which starts pretty much outside the hotel's door and continues for a further couple of kilometres, is worth a trip in itself.
4/15A Asaf Ali Road (+91 2327 3821).
The Imperial This Janpath beauty, located in the heart of town, just off Connaught Place, opened in 1931. If it wasn't a hotel, it could easily be a museum, displaying one of India's finest privately held collections of colonial-era prints and originals by artists such as the Daniells. Even if you don't stay here, make time for dinner at the Asian-Indian restaurant, Spice Route (easily the most beautiful eating venue in Delhi), a drink at the Patiala Peg bar, or even just a coffee on the veranda.
La Maison d'Hôtes Why not come to the Middle East and stay in a French guesthouse? Tucked away in the city's most prestigious beachside residential area, Jumeirah (Dubai's Riviera, if you will), La Maison d'Hôtes is utterly unique within this sandy land of hotels. Each bespoke room is inspired by Middle Eastern or Asian culture, yet, with its pastry shop and French restaurant, the place still manages to retain the charm of a European B&B.
Burj Al Arab Dubai is so synonymous with the sail-shaped hotel that if it suddenly disappeared one day we doubt residents would be able to identify their city anymore. Entering the ten-year old iconic building after driving on to its private island is still like entering Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory – that little bit magical, even if it is only due to its downright outrageous opulence.
The Luxe Manor Since bursting onto the scene in 2007, The Luxe Manor has established itself as Hong Kong's premier boutique hotel. Situated on a small street in lesser-travelled Kowloon, its reputation has nevertheless spread far and wide. Beyond the Greco-Roman exterior lies a surrealist-inspired interior – the bar is called Dada, no less – which, while never taking itself too seriously, never fails to impress.
The Peninsula Labelled as 'the finest hotel east of Suez' upon opening, the grand old dame of Hong Kong hotels holds court over Victoria Harbour, as she has done since 1928. Afternoon tea – replete with plenty of scones and English breakfast tea – is still served in The Verandah. Make sure you visit the toilets of the rooftop, Philippe Starck-designed Felix bar – the views are stunning.
A’jia Hotel Each of the 15 rooms at this stunning, former Ottoman mansion, located directly on the Asian banks of the Bosphorus, offers a breathtaking view. One of the most impressive aspects of a stay here is that a ferry can be taken directly from the hotel across the Bosphorus to any number of clubs along the shore.
Çiragan Palace Kempinski Turkey’s one and only Çiragan Palace Kempinski is incredibly opulent – it's even got a butler. Celebrities, politicians and musicians all stay here. The outdoor infinity pool is a must as it creates the illusion of swimming in the Bosphorus itself.
Travellers House It's the new thing in town: the boutique hostel. Who says the words 'affordable', 'backpacking' and 'stylish' don't go together? The owners boast that Travellers House has been createdby travellers for travellers, which means that it has been tailor-made to fit every traveller's needs. No surprise then that 'Hostelworld' named it the number one hostel in the world.
Hotel Palácio Estoril Forty years ago, the James Bond film crew landed in Lisbon to film On Her Majesty's Secret Service. And they went straight to the Hotel Palácio Estoril, which at the time was known as a favourite hangout for Europe's spies. Yes, the real ones. They've departed now (we think), but the glamour lingers on.
The Zetter If you’re looking for a modern, stylish and very reasonably priced boutique hotel in the capital, then The Zetter should be your first port of call. Situated in the heart of London’s stylish Clerkenwell district, the hotel incorporates all the amenities you’d expect of a modern hotel – free wi-fi, 24-hour room service and movies on demand – with a host of elegant design touches that set this hotel apart: think Penguin paperbacks, pink mood lighting and Eley Kishimoto textiles. Whatever your room rate, the staff offer a level of dedicated and hospitable service usually only found in the most deluxe of London hotels.
Claridge’s The opulent Claridge’s has long been the Mayfair destination for comfort, service and downright decadence. Many deluxe hotels offer the top-notch range of facilities and services available at Claridge’s, but none can imitate the quintessentially English sense of luxury on offer here. From the lavish art deco interior style, to the Michelin-starred restaurant run by Gordon Ramsay, via a world-beating afternoon tea, a stay at Claridge’s is an exercise in 1930s-style glamour. On a wintry London evening, nothing beats slipping through the hidden door that conceals ‘The Fumoir’ – a sensuous, low-lit bar perfect for a secret rendezvous.
The Four Seasons Mumbai With its gleaming exterior rising out of a slum, the Four Seasons is the bricks-and-mortar embodiment of the new Mumbai. It's big, brash and something of an upstart – with the only chef in India licensed to cut the poisonous puffer fish fugu working in its Chinese restaurant! But rest assured, whichever room you take, you'll have a construction site for a view.
The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower A grand old lady among city hotels, the Taj hasn't lost its charm to time, competitors or even terror attacks. Whether you check in to the old building or the new you'll be treated to crystal chandeliers, the finest Indian art works and staff that treat you like royalty. It will be a few months before the famed bell-tower suite is ready for use again, but in the meantime a Louis Vuitton shop, local boutiques and jewellery showrooms at the arcade are great retail therapy.
Soho House New York In a town full of chic sleeps, private members' club-cum-swish-hotel Soho House New York remains the hippest place to rest your head. The rooms exploit their ex-warehouse proportions well, stretching out with soaring ceilings, fashionably bashed sofas and, in the larger rooms, free-standing baths at the foot of the beds. The Cowshed spa, which started life in Somerset sister property Babington House, has crossed the Atlantic well and is in line with the hotel's ramshackle chic. The rooftop pool and bar out-eye-candied the 'Sex and the City' girls in an infamous episode, and it remains the exclusive playground of the trendiest of Manhattanites. Guests, of course, bypass the velvet rope and an evening spent pout-spotting is worth the room rate alone.
The Waldorf-Astoria First built in 1893, the original Waldorf-Astoria was the city's largest hotel before it was demolished to make way for the Empire State Building. The current art deco Waldorf opened in 1931 and now has protected status as a historic hotel. The rooms, with wingback chairs, love seats, rich colours and layered fabrics, feel as if they were decorated by Upper East Side socialites of yore. Those socialites would feel right at home at the exclusive new Louis Vuitton-owned Guerlain Spa. Double-check your attire before entering the hotel – you won't be allowed in if you're wearing a baseball cap and ripped jeans.
Off hotel A very small (19 guests and the place is full) but cheap (£12 per person per night) crash pad on Griboedova, right in the centre of the city, Off is the perfect place from which to explore the palaces, embankments and museums which can be seen from its windows.
Astoria hotel One of the symbols of (the old) nouveau riche Russian luxury, the Astoria was built in 1912 for the numerous princes, kings, sheikhs and artists visiting St Petersburg, Petrograd, Leningrad and St Petersburg. Forbes lists it as one of the ten most romantic hotels in the world – and they’re right.
New Majestic Hotel Mirrored ceilings, an Asian boudoir-style suite, suspended four-poster beds and pop art paintings by local artist Justin Lee: a night at the New Majestic Hotel is proof that creativity thrives in Singapore. Choose wisely, as all 30 rooms are individually designed. But fret not, style does not outweigh function - every room comes equipped with a plasma TV, Kiehl's toiletries and 280-count bedsheets. Wander around the hotel to inspect the scattered artworks by nine different local artists, and when night falls, pop over to the trendy Majestic Bar for a Kampung Freeze before stepping out for a spot of dinner at nearby Chinatown. 31-37 Bukit Pasoh Rd (+65 6511 4700/www.newmajestichotel.com).
Raffles Hotel The grand dame of Singapore needs little introduction. Open since 1887, the old-world style of the hotel with its tropical suites and open courtyards is a shining example of Singapore's colonial past – all suites come with personal butler service. While each evening should be enjoyed with a drink in hand at the hotel's Long Bar – this is where the Singapore Sling was invented – do start the day poolside with a leisurely breakfast underneath the shade of palm trees.
The Medusa This 18-room boutique hotel in the heart of Darlinghurst is beautifully designed (every room is different), and they even have rooms where dogs are welcome. The best thing about Medusa (apart from the seriously schmick fit-out) is the that fact it’s smack-bang in the action – you’ll find the best bars, restaurants and clubs on your doorstep, and yet the hotel is actually pretty quiet.
The Observatory Hotel The Observatory Hotel offers real old-fashioned luxury. In fact, you can pretty much smell the history – it’s set very near The Rocks, where 200 years ago you wouldn’t set foot unless you were carrying a switchblade. Now, it’s a must for anyone visiting Sydney. The Globe bar has original leather-bound journals written by Captain Cook (the first Westerner to see Australia). The hotel also features one of the largest swimming pools in the southern hemisphere.
The Montefiore Hotel Boutique hotels have been springing up throughout Tel Aviv in the past few years, but the Montefiore Hotel definitely stands out from the crowd. The hotel, housed in an impressively renovated building, is situated in the heart of Tel Aviv in a small street near Rothschild Boulevard. The Montefiore belongs to the owners of two of the most consistently successful restaurants in the city (The Brasserie and the Coffee Bar), and the pair has put their restaurant expertise to good use here as well, in a cool new restaurant that takes up most of the hotel lobby. The restaurant, open to the general public as well as guests, serves trendy, excellent food at reasonable prices. The rooms are well appointed and comfortable, and the signature suite even includes a large selection of novels, as well as poetry collections and art books.
The Cinema Hotel The Cinema Hotel was the first to break with the tradition of seaside hotels in Tel Aviv, and is situated smack-bang in the middle of the city. It is aimed at ultra-urban types who actually enjoy spending vacations in the bustling city centre. The hotel is located off Dizengoff Square, in a large, impressive Bauhaus-style building that used to house the Esther movie theatre – a local landmark. In homage to the building’s rich past, the hotel holds a permanent exhibition of cinema memorabilia. One of the best aspects of the hotel is its roof terrace, perfect for sunbathing during the day or enjoying a pleasant view of the city lights at night.