April 20, 2022

This is the life. How often have you said that in the past two years? A few times, maybe. Possibly not once. Makes sense, because, well, it’s been the past two years. But there is an antidote to our collective anxiety and dread: getting the hell out of town. We said it on a cross-country road trip when we hit the otherworldliness of South Dakota’s Badlands. We felt it in Mexico when we ate tacos and drank Champagne on the beach. And we definitely uttered it aloud to whoever was with us in that thermal pool in Telluride overlooking the mountains. Hot tubs are very conducive to optimism.

Travel offers the opportunity to reset. A way to escape and be welcomed. To feel the intoxication of leaving a place and the thrill of arriving. To make fast friends at that secret wine bar or to cultivate deeper relationships with family and old pals. You can even find meaning in packing: You confront what truly matters (nope, don’t need a second blazer) and, perhaps, how you really want to show up to the world (yes, bring the crazy pants). The following pages are devoted to these undercurrents of joy and discovery that define travel, kicking off with an essential part of the wanderlust experience: a great hotel.

This is more than a cloudlike bed and a TV hidden in the bathroom mirror (but you’ve got to admit that trick never gets old). The very best provide restoration and inspiration, and each hotel’s staff has worked harder than ever to do so. That’s why we created our first-ever Best New Hotels list: to celebrate such hospitality and the fact that you deserve a vacation.

There’s an old adage that hotels should feel like home. But when home has morphed into an office, a daycare, and a mediocre 24-hour diner, a hotel should feel better than home. There are the classic ways the best properties provide a reset: handing you a cold towel on a humid day, serving you a welcome cocktail after a long flight, tidying up your room after your suitcase explodes. But the ones we’ve fallen in love with have given us fresh outlooks. They’ve taught us how to farm or helped us discover a love of archery; they’ve exposed us to impeccable design that made us think, I need better bookcases.

We traveled via plane, helicopter, car, boat, and horse (!) to select this inaugural class of Best New Hotels. We defined new to include places that have opened or gone through significant changes since early 2020. All of them are guaranteed to put you in that “This is the life” mindset long after you’ve checked out of your suite.

See you at the lobby bar. And maybe the hot tub?

— Kevin Sintumuang

MADELINE HOTEL (Telluride, CO): Many come to ski. I was enchanted by the hot tubs. There are two, fairly sized, that flank a vast outdoor heated pool, and in the winter and cooler spring evenings, they are a sublime way to take in the crisp, clean, sky-high air and the awe-inspiring jagged mountains. (They don’t call it Hell-U-Ride for nothing.) And while the Auberge Resorts Collection hotel could have easily rested on its prime ski-in, ski-out location and detail- oriented service, it recently went through a vibrant classic-Alps-meets-Colorado-chic renovation. Hot tub not relaxing enough? Check into the Recovery Ski Lounge for some post-workout therapies that will get you back on the slopes. Rooms from $1,500