1. ELSE KUALA LUMPUR
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A relic of Kuala Lumpur’s colonial past, the Lee Rubber Building was built in the 1930s in the Art Deco style. After a major transformation, the Chinatown icon has been reborn as Else Kuala Lumpur, an urban escape in the heart of the Malaysian capital and the first property from new brand Else Retreats. Imagined as a new cultural hub for the area, Else founders Justin Chen and Javier Perez commissioned all-female Malaysian design company Studio Bikin to breathe new life into the building, which was restored by local firm Faizah Architect over the last four years.
Inside, the 49 guestrooms are calm and pared back, with neutral colours, earthy tones and natural textures, plus custom-made textiles, rugs and carpets crafted by Singapore-born, KL-raised Omar Khan. Else Suite is the top accommodation offering, an 84 sqm retreat with a private balcony overlooking the Kuala Lumpur skyline. The works of Malaysian artists adorn the walls of rooms and public spaces, which include Latin-Asian fusion restaurant Raw Kitchen Hall, a homely lobby lit by a soaring atrium skylight and a boutique gym with sensory deprivation floatation pods and saltwater infinity pool.
2. THE LANGHAM, GOLD COAST
Gold Coast, Australia
An hour’s drive south of Brisbane, Queensland’s Gold Coast lives up to its name: a ribbon of pristine beaches sandwiched between the crashing waves of the Pacific and the gleaming condos and offices of downtown. Here, nestled on the beach in Surfers’ Paradise, The Langham, Gold Coast, is an architectural marvel that takes centre stage on the modern cityscape; one of the three towers of the mixed-use Jewel development. As the first new luxury hotel to offer direct access to the golden sands of Surfers’ Paradise in more than three decades, The Langham has lots to live up to.
Each of its 339 rooms and suites have spacious balconies affording spectacular views of Pacific sunrises and epic ocean swells, as well as two infinity-edge lagoon pools down below at ground level. The Langham’s Chuan Spa brings the brand’s holistic wellness concept to Queensland for the first time, one of several signature Langham touches that also include Palm Court lobby lounge and fine dining Cantonese restaurant T’ang Court, which holds a constellation of Michelin stars at outposts in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Other dining options include casual Australian buffet fare at Akoya, surf café vibes at 26 & Sunny and al fresco libations at Coral Moon. The Langham, Gold Coast, joins the company’s existing Australian properties in Sydney and Melbourne.
3. WALDORF ASTORIA KUWAIT
Kuwait City, Kuwait
The tiny State of Kuwait sits at the north-western corner of the Arabian Gulf, a vital port for petroleum exports and a hub for intra-regional business. Waldorf Astoria Kuwait brings a new level of luxury to the city, close to the international airport and attractions such as Kuwait Opera House and Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre, adjacent to The Avenues retail emporium. It’s 200 rooms and suites reflect Kuwaiti culture and heritage through striking artwork and textiles that reflect the colours of sky, sea and desert.
Certain room categories grant guests access to The Ikaros Club, a private space with library, business centre and private concierge services. As well as afternoon tea at Waldorf Astoria signature lobby lounge Peacock Alley, guests are treated to an outpost of award-winning Japanese robatayaki restaurant ROKA and delectable dining from the French Riviera, southern Italy and the Greek Islands at AVA. At night, OXIO Pool and Lounge transforms into Kubbar Poolside Restaurant, where guests can savour the flavours of Middle Eastern and Levantine cuisine in stylish poolside cabanas. Waldorf Astoria Spa is set to open later in the year, complete with a private suite with its own arrival lounge, steam-room hammam and double treatment room.
4. THOMPSON MADRID
Hyatt lifestyle brand Thompson Hotels has made its European debut with Thompson Madrid, the brand’s first property this side of the Atlantic. Situated on Calle De La Montera abutting leafy Plaza del Carmen in the heart of the Spanish capital, the 175-room hotel entwines a modern, homely aesthetic with local touches that reflect the character of the city.
Madrid-based design and architecture studio LYTA created the sleek interiors, which incorporate leather, marble and wood accents to great effect. Floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies provide views across the rooftops, while the gorgeous two-floor penthouse suite boasts a private bar and expansive terrace.
Creative collaborations with talent from the world of art, gastronomy and couture can be seen throughout the hotel and guests receive a limited-edition city map created by Madrid-based artist Nicolás Villamizar at check-in. Three signature dining venues are helmed by Chef Nino Redruello: bakery and bistro The Omar, soon-to-open speakeasy style bar Hijos de Tomás and Thompson Madrid Rooftop, which doubles as an urban wellbeing oasis complete with infinity pool and hydromassage system.
Centrally located, the hotel is within walking distance of the Prado Museum, Retiro Park and the Royal Palace, as well as the trendy neighbourhoods of Malasaña and Chueca.