We're kicking off 2021 by highlighting hotels that have opened under the shadow of a global pandemic. They did it against all odds (or to stick to long-held schedules), with full faith and fortitude. We applaud them and wish them all a long and healthy future, or at least one that's better than their inevitably rocky start. Also on this list are a few hotels that opened at the end of 2019 because — poor things! — they never got a fair shake once Covid reared its ugly head.
You may notice that we are calling attention to the special initiatives, if any, that the hotels are doing around sustainability, inclusivity, and community-building. If we've learned anything this year, it's that we all need to be more accountable for and thoughtful about our behavior. To that end, we commit to being more responsible in our reporting, with the dual goals of helping us all make better travel decisions and to support the companies that do what they can to have a positive impact on the world.
Don't miss all our notable hotel newcomers in Africa, Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean. In the United States, we've broken down our favorites by region: the Northeast, the South, and the West.
Where : Newport, RI
Why We're Excited: Nostalgia for mid-century Americana has made its way to Newport’s yacht-filled harbor. There’s nothing cliché about the seaside style in this hotel, which is relaxed and stylish with cool tones and vintage elements sourced from antique markets and local artists. The lobby and its sunshine-yellow floating fireplace give off retro vibes and have plenty of seating for cocktails and conversation. Rhode Island food trucks park near the outdoor pool and raw bar — it’s pure summer fun. And, with rates from $99, totally accessible.
Feel Good Factor: Sustainability is top of mind. Take note of the electric car charging stations, news of regular beach cleanups, and the absence of single-use plastics.
Where: Hudson, NY
Why We're Excited: Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg, founders of the skincare company Fresh, have turned their refined aesthetics to a 3D project, transforming three neighboring 1800s buildings along hippie Hudson's main street into a super-charming eleven-room inn, with each room named for and dedicated the craft of a maker — the Writer, the Architect, the Gardener. Everything you see — the tiles, the paintings, the wallpaper, the glassware, the objets in the library — tells a story, underlying what a fine eye for vintage collecting the owners have. Just as inviting are the street-facing cafe, the glass-enclosed restaurant, and the hidden, begging-for-hijinks lounge.
Where: Big Indian, NY
Why We're Excited: The latest opening from self-proclaimed "accidental hoteliers" Lyon Porter and his wife Jersey Banks, whose hotel brand began with a bed and breakfast in Brooklyn and now includes two additional properties in Nashville. At their new Catskills property, they took the bones of the former 19th-century Alpine Inn, run by a German-Bavarian family, and turned it into a rustic-chic mountain escape that evokes nostalgia for American hunting lodges. Porter's whimsical, maximalist style that defines the Urban Cowboy brand is on full display in mixed textiles, vibrant painted patterns, found and repurposed pieces, and natural elements woven throughout. The inn's history as a lively vacation retreat lives on: The Swiss-German chalet style lends a playfulness and warmth that is heightened by Porter's designs. Especially his talent for a well-positioned bathtub.
Read More on Fathom: Gimme Space: I Took a Breather from the Pandemic at Urban Cowboy Lodge About Our Stay This Summer
Where: Kerhonkson, NY
Why We're Excited: This retro '60s former roadside mainstay has been refurbished for a new century with an almost humorous giant eye-catching motel sign, all-pink exterior, and robin-blue doors. Located just two hours north of Manhattan in the small town of Kerhonkson, the inn has taken full advantage of their simple and private accommodations with 16 first-level rooms with patios, fire pits, grills, and a secluded hammock alley. Interiors are a mix-and-match of local artists' work and mid-century and Scandinavian furniture.
Where: Kenoza Lake, NY
Why We're Excited: Housed in a 1900s boarding house on 55 acres of property overlooking a large freshwater lake, Kenoza Hall opened just in time for summer in the western Catskills. The hotel’s 22 rooms include original hardwood floors, deep-soaking tubs and many with private balconies and custom furniture in soft pinks and grays. A new spa is open with spacious walking paths and gardens, an outdoor barrel sauna, a movement studio for classes like aerial yoga and sound meditation, in addition to the pool and hot tub.
Where: Finger Lakes, NY
Why We're Excited: Studio Tack, one of our favorite design firms, has transformed an old motor lodge into a multi-building resort property suitable for all seasons. The family-run lake house has serenely decorated rooms (lots of blond wood!), a lovely event barn, a standalone spa, a tavern, a bar, a pool, and a year-round hot tub.
Feel-Good Factor: The property heats and cools using only geothermal power. Canandaigua is known for its water purity; guests drink sparkling and tap water sourced locally, dramatically reducing the amount of plastic on site.
Where: Amagansett, NY
Why We're Excited: What was a farm in the 1700s is today an independently owned inn with 15 serene but understated rooms and suites located in old cottages and a barn. Don’t let the words “farm” and “barn” fool you into thinking this will be a rustic or inexpensive experience. This is the Hamptons, after all, where hotels are rare and summer Friday nights will cost about $900.
Feel Good Factor: The hotel’s Lemonade Stand kids’ program helps budding entrepreneurs (guests or locals) raise money for charities.
Where: East Village, New York
Why We're Excited: Like its sister hotel in Chelsea's Flower District, the Moxy East Village is a reflection of its neighborhood, visible in ways both big (street art and graffiti the the lobby, rooms, and in stairwell down to the hidden Little Sister Lounge) and small (guests can borrow turntables and LPs sourced from Academy Records and read books from The Strand). The hotel is equal parts fun — Alphabet Bar & Café is decorated with '80s VHS tapes, cassettes, and a working skee-ball machine — and practical — rooms are tightly designed and efficient, with super comfy beds in up to quad configurations.
Where: New Hope, Pennsylvania
Why We're Excited: If travel for now is about making discoveries close to home, then this hotel in New Hope, a quaint, artsy town along the Delaware River an hour from New York and Philadelphia, picked its moment wisely. River House was born in 1794 as a tavern and inn for partying boatmen, and in 1961 became the French-inspired cabaret Chez Odette, whose spirit lingers in the opulent furnishings and the members-only rooftop bar. The rooms, decorated in rich jewel tones, boldly patterned textiles, have mountain and river views. Many have fireplaces, making for a nice getaway from the city.
Where: Washington D.C.
Why We're Excited: The Navy Yard is emerging as a new destination neighborhood in the US capital, its riverfront location making it a destination for land-based and aquatic pursuits (the Washington Nationals baseball park; sailing on the Anacostia). The new Thompson Hotel reflects that openness, starting with the first impression guest receive in the sunny, high-ceilinged ground floor lobby-lounge-bar area. A nautical theme echoes in the design by Parts & Labor (hallway lights that look like portholes, tight and ship-shape fittings in the 225 rooms and suites) and in the dining outposts overseen by restaurateur Danny Meyer: Maialino Mare seafood restaurant on the ground floor and Anchovy Social on the rooftop.
Read More on Fathom: Everything Is Ship-Shape at the New Thompson Washington D.C.
Where: Washington D.C.
Why We're Excited: Because we're suckers for a clever historic rebirth, and this refurbishment of the 1890s home of Riggs, DC's hometown bank, is a great one, overseen by Lore Group, the hoteliers behind the impressive Pulitzer Amsterdam Hotel, whose attention to detail included framing old Riggs checks they found on eBay. Café Riggs, the all-day-dining restaurant on the ground floor, is reminiscent of a European brasserie; Silver Lyan is the speakeasy bar in the former basement bank vault (and is temporarily closed for Covid). Of 181 rooms outfitted with custom headboards and cozy furnishings, four are suites dedicated to historic First Ladies.
Where: Lenox, Massachusetts
Why We're Excited: That the renowned spa company opened its third (and first East Coast) location just down the road from Canyon Ranch should make for healthy competition in a very toned Northeast. Upping the wellness ante are Miraval's equine program, where guests learn to communicate with horses; tree-line challenge courses and forest bathing along Monk’s Pond Trail and Pleasant Valley Hike; and Life in Balance, the 29,000-square-foot spa where options include a Vasudhara water treatment and Naga Thai, Miraval’s exclusive Thai massage. Sharing the 380 acres is the also-new Wyndhurst Manor & Club, a refurbished Tudor mansion transport guests back to the Gilded Age.