5 -min. read

For longer than just a brief moment this past winter, the Danish art of ‘hygge’ captivated people around the world, even those in warmer climes.

On social media, hygge meant showing off cosy indoor spaces: havens from the winter weather complete with fur rugs, knitted slippers, fluffy blankets and roaring fireplaces (or at least a few pine-scented candles). In real life, hygge meant finding small ways to brighten up the dreary winter routine and push away any dark thoughts about the future of the world, which has looked pretty bleak in the past year.

So can you really blame us for coming up with our own hotel-centric take on hygge to lift our dark thoughts about a world full of homogenised and corporatised hotel stays?

In January, we always publish a comprehensive annual list of all the exciting new hotels openings. But there are always a few ‘woke’ hotels that have stood out from the rest over the last year or so, whether for a stunning look, original concept, exotic location, or entirely new brand. Below, we’ve rounded up four whose mere existence and ideation have warmed our souls – and will hopefully warm our bodies for many years to come.

1. M.O.B Hotels

Guest room in M.O.B Hotel in Lyon – courtesy of M.O.B Hotels

Created by Cyril Aouizerate, the visionary behind Mama Shelter Hotels, M.O.B Hotels is meant to be an “urban motel,” where guests can socialise, relax and work all in one spot. On paper, that may not sound very different from the, er, M.O. of most hotels, but M.O.B is genuinely focused on creating a meaningful, evolving community out of its hotels. Indeed, the hotel’s mission statement says they don’t want to create a chain, but rather an “ethical cooperative movement that will regularly welcome new players.”

Like Mama Shelter, the rooms in the Paris branch are small, but the amenities go big, including a bed worthy of a luxury hotel and blazing fast Wi-Fi. A casual restaurant downstairs serve fresh and organic fare, such as homemade bread and several different kinds of pizzas. The lobby will also offer co-working spaces for startup companies. One M.O.B. is already open in Paris in Les Puces and another in Confluence in Lyon, with a new branch in Washington due to open in 2020…

2. west elm Hotels

west elm Hotel – courtesy of west elm Hotels

There has long been talk of furniture and design companies branching off from their day jobs and having a go at the hotel business, but the first company to actually put forth a development plan was west elm. The US-based home furnishings retailer announced in October 2016 that they would open five west elm hotels by 2018 in smaller, but culturally relevant US cities like Savannah, Indianapolis and Detroit.

Much like the styles found at west elm stores, the boutique-sized hotels (150-200 rooms) will feature a contemporary but comfortable interior design that’s accented by locally handpicked furnishings. Each hotel is meant to have the “intimate, independent spirit of a neighbourhood inn.” The man tasked with bringing this to life is David Bowd of the bespoke Salt Hotels, who will focus on delighting west elm guests with his signature brand of whole-hearted hospitality. And no, you cannot buy the furniture from your hotel stay; but you can shop a hotel-inspired collection at a west elm store.

3. Duxton Club Singapore

Guest room with patio at Duxton Hotel Singapore – courtesy of Duxton Hotel Singapore

Harpreet and Satinder Garcha, the hotelier duo behind contemporary art hotel hôtel vagabond in Singapore, are going luxe with the Duxton Club in Singapore’s Tanjong Pagar neighbourhood in 2018, with a little help from some very influential friends.

Already a part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection, the Duxton Club will have nearly 200 guest rooms spread throughout two pre-war colonial shophouse buildings, not quite attached to each other, but definitely within walking distance. The Duxton House will have 50 boldly designed guest rooms by interior designer/hotelier Anouska Hempel, who will fill the spaces with luxe and glamorous details. Duxton House will also have a restaurant, signature bar, and private cigar room.

A mere 600 feet away will be the Duxton Terrace, which will house 138 guest rooms in several three and four-storey colonial-era buildings dating back to 1929. Here, renowned architect and designer Jacques Garcia (who, in addition to hôtel vagabond, has worked on The Louvre and The Palace of Versailles) will restore the building to its 20th century grandeur. No less than five food and beverage outlets, including a poolside bar, will be at Duxton Terrace, alongside an exclusive members-only club. Whetting our appetite for all that’s to come, Duxton House is expected to open later on in 2018.

4. Wild Coast Tented Lodge

Bar exterior at Wild Coast Tented Lodge – courtesy of Wild Coast Tented Lodge

The name of this property alone sends tingles through our spine. Opened on 1 November 2017, Wild Coast Tented Lodge can be found at the edge of Yala National Park in Sri Lanka, with 28 air-conditioned cocoons, chandeliers, private plunge pools and a Sanctuary Spa.

There’s even more to get excited about: its outdoor viewing deck – from which you can observe the Indian Ocean and the wildlife of the park – is known as a hotspot for catching glimpses of leopards along with elephants, sloth bears, birdlife and amphibians. A bamboo bar and restaurant on-site serves a daily changing menu, while a “picnic tea” is served on safari drives into the park.

The lodge is actually run by Resplendent Ceylon, a subsidiary of the Sri Lankan tea company Dilmah Tea, whose mission is to give travellers an authentic, yet sustainable look at Sri Lanka’s history, culture and nature.

5. Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito

Rendering of Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito – courtesy of Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito
Rendering of Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito – courtesy of Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito

Sometimes all you need to feel warm and fuzzy inside is a little throwback – which is what folks visiting SoCal from 1 January will get at this new beach resort. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts are set to open their third luxury property in California, on the site of the old Miramar Beach Hotel near Santa Barbara, in the ritzy town of Montecito.

The property, which is now under construction, will feature 161 guestrooms, all built as either one-storey cottages or smaller bungalows. There will also be an oceanfront restaurant and bar, two swimming pools, a Sense spa, fitness center, a screening room, and a beach club. And about that beach: guests who book the oceanfront rooms will be able to open their doors and walk directly out on to the sand; a common wow factor on tropical islands but a real rarity for Southern California.

The resort will be a not-so-subtle nod to America’s golden age of seaside resorts but fortunately Rosewood, with its sophisticated and modern-luxury approach, will be in charge of all the important details. Also adding to the throwback feel? The Amtrak Surfliner train that runs through the property. (Yes, we’re thinking what you’re thinking – the soundproofing better be good.)


Juliana Shallcross
A self-confessed hotel addict, Juliana Shallcross has been reporting on hotels around the world for more than a decade. She was previously the managing editor HotelChatter.com. A good portion of her job involves sleeping in new hotels, obsessing over technology and keeping tabs on the ever-changing hospitality landscape. She's based in Los Angeles.

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