Munich-based affordable hotel brand Ruby Hotels is touching down in London this year, launching its first UK venture after successes in Vienna, Dusseldorf and Hamburg. Opening in the autumn on the Southbank, the hotel aims to offer ‘lean luxury’. Swapping traditional features for more up-to-date offerings, there’ll be no in-house restaurant, minibars or gyms but communal spaces serving organic breakfasts, movie loungers and rooftop chill-out spaces instead.
Bedrooms will come with walk-in showers and high-quality linen while hallway vending machines will dish out craft beers and snacks from local producers. Each bedroom will also contain a carefully curated London city guide, including the best local restaurants and bars to check out during your visit.
Also in London, long-standing Clerkenwell boozer turned gastropub, The Coach, has just unveiled four smart bedrooms. Overlooking East London’s cobbled streets, the rooms have been designed by Liana Goatman (of the Museum of Everything) and are peppered with mid-century furniture, copper bedside lamps and velvet headboards. Hot on the heels of Paddington’s recently opened Pilgrm Hotel, the rooms are comfortably formed (good beds and bedding, immaculately chosen furnishings, decent showers, nice smellies) but on the smaller side, and stripped of unnecessary frills.
The downstairs kitchen is the big draw here: a collaboration between Henry Harris and James McCulloch it brings together French and British classics. Tuck into steak tartare, grilled rabbit with mustard sauce or a traditional Sunday roast, or just perch at the bar and order a next-level sausage roll made with pork and merguez.
Another starry London launch to circle on the calendar is Belmond’s Cadogan Hotel, opening in Knightsbridge in February. Executive chef Adam Handling’s new flagship restaurant will showcase menus created around his commitment to seasonal and sustainable ingredients with dishes that re-invent British regional classics. (If you can’t bag a table try the Frog by Adam Handling in Covent Garden or The Frog Hoxton).
And, while The Goring is in no way new (royalists will remember it as the hotel where Kate Middleton spent her final night as a single woman), spring will see the Belgravia hotel add a new Nathan Outlaw restaurant. A smidge more casual than the hotel’s Michelin-starred Dining Room, the restaurant will specialise in Cornish seafood (and will no doubt attract fans of Outlaw’s restaurant at Knightsbridge’s The Capital, which closes in March).
Heading north, in Manchester Hoteliers Native, the restaurateurs behind Bistrotheque and boutique fitness brand BLOK are joining forces to create the London Warehouse, a new space for people to sleep, dine, drink, work and meet in the city’s Northern Quarter. Opening in Spring 2019, the building will house 166 suites, an outdoor terrace and a multi-functional ground floor space with a restaurant, bar, lounge and coffee counter. Further details are thin on the ground at the moment but watch this space…
The Hoxton, with its hipster-ready ‘open-house’ hotels inspired by the vibrant neighbourhoods that surround them (the first hotel launched in Shoreditch in 2006, followed by Holborn, Amsterdam, Paris, last year Williamsburg and, in November, Portland), also has a clutch of new openings to keep an eye on over the coming year. A Chicago hotel is set to open its doors in the spring, followed by LA and Southwark. The Chicago branch, especially, is one to watch for foodies. Stroll out of the 182-room hotel, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, mid-century-inspired furniture and bespoke wallpaper, and you’re in the city’s culinary-focused West Loop district with its cocktails bars and ‘Restaurant Row’.
Liam and Ellis Barrie, founders of The Marram Grass on Anglesey, are opening a cookery school in the grounds of the restaurant later this year, following a successful crowdfunding campaign. There will be lessons for local children as well as cookery classes for restaurant guests and masterclasses from chefs including Cornerstone’s Tom Brown and Paul Askew of Liverpool’s Art School.
It’s a big year for the Barrie brothers; in March they’ll be opening their second restaurant in Liverpool’s historic Albert Dock – and there are the pigs to look after (they also rear and sell their own pork, through the restaurant and local butchers). Look out for a guesthouse coming soon, too.
On Vanessa Branson’s private Scottish island retreat, Eilean Shona, off the country’s wild-edged west coast, you can bed down in the big house (sleeps 20) or in one of eight cottages scattered across its craggy wooded wilderness. Shepherd’s Cottage, a bijoux bolthole for two with tongue and groove walls, a romantic roll-top bathtub and gas lighting, was revamped last year and opens for bookings in 2019. Reached via a 45-minute tramp along a coastal path from the island’s jetty, it’s romantically secluded and off-grid (there’s no electricity but the hot water and heating are supplied by a stove in the living room). Also new this coming year will be welcome hampers stocked with local honey and handmade shortbread biscuits (though don’t forget to pick up bags of mussels, along with local venison stew and fish pie, in the ‘Wee Shop’ by the pier).
Further south, another private island retreat opens downriver of Berkshire foodie hotspot, Bray (home, of course, of two of the UK’s three-Michelin-starred restaurants: Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck and the Roux brother’s Waterside Inn), in February. Seven-acre Monkey Island sits in the River Thames, accessible only by footbridge, and will boast a 41-bedroom boutique hotel, a brasserie with an open-kitchen serving modern British classics, a whisky snug and a floating spa.
Foodie wellness concepts
Stressful transport connections, poor airline food and navigating new terrain means that travel isn’t always as good for the soul as we imagine but a new hotel concept winging its way to London this summer hopes to change that. Inhabit Hotels’ new 90-bedroom property, housed in six Georgian townhouses in a leafy Paddington mews, takes a holistic approach. Cool Scandinavian design is combined with British heritage to produce relaxing, de-cluttering spaces while a ‘mind-improving’ library and sumptuous ‘clean’ skincare products by REN encourage self-care.
The atrium at the heart of the hotel will host fitness, meditation and yoga classes, while guided morning runs will be offered around Hyde Park. A cafe (free of single-use plastic) will serve cold-pressed juices and a nourishing all-day menu while a 24-hour pantry for on-the-go organic grazing will be stocked with healthy snacks from local suppliers.
In New York, gym giant Equinox is opening its first hotel in the city’s new Hudson Yards development in 2019. With a tag line of ‘where the science of fitness meets the art of travel’ expect a hotel experience tailored to health-conscious travellers, with bedrooms and wellness dining services an add-on to pilates and spin classes (your traditional poky hotel gym, squirrelled away in an unloved basement corner of a hotel, is about to get its moment in the limelight).
Also in the US, a wellness-focused sister property to Tennessee’s cult foodie resort Blackberry Farm, Blackberry Mountain opens seven miles from its big sister in February. Fitness here will be all about the outdoors, whether that’s taking an aerial yoga class or going for a hike. A flagship restaurant, Three Sisters, will focus on plancha-cooked dishes such as pumpkin with black walnut butter and berry glaze, with a more casual restaurant, Firetower, serving breakfast egg bowls with sweet potato hash and, for lunch, curried rice bowls with cashews.
Field to fork escapes
Two new piglets will join the growing litter of Pig Hotels this year. The first to open will be The Pig at Bridge Place in the bucolic Nailbourne Valley, Kent, in May. This redbrick Jacobean pile (the scene of raucous rock ‘n’ roll parties and gigs in the 1970s) is a warren of cosy nooks and crannies, peppered with ornate fireplaces, secret stairways and wood-panelling. There will be seven bedrooms in the main house, 12 in an adjoining coach house and two more in the restored gate lodge while glamping fans can book one of seven Hop Pickers’ Huts dotted throughout the grounds (and kitted out with double beds, cosy bathrooms and wood-burning stoves). Keeping to the Pig ethos, all food not grown in the kitchen garden will be sourced from local farmers and producers within a 25-mile radius.
Next up, in winter 2019, the first Pig in Poldark country will be launched, Grade II-listed Harlyn House, near Padstow (keep an eye out, too, for the Grade II-listed Pig at Madehurst Lodge, set to open in the South Downs in early 2020).
In Somerset, all eyes are on Hadspen House, near Castle Cary. Owned by the team behind South Africa’s kitchen-centred Babylonstoren, the 17th century manor house is currently being transformed into a boutique hotel. Details are currently so sketchy that it may well be 2020 before it starts welcoming guests but Andrew Foulkes (formerly of Bath’s Abbey Hotel) has been confirmed as GM and plans are afoot for 30 bedrooms, a restaurant, kitchen garden and cider mill. Food is likely to be a cornerstone of the development but with an Arts and Crafts garden designed by Penelope Hobhouse set to re-open and whispers of an adjacent attraction based around a little-known Roman villa, it’s definitely one to watch.
Further afield, in January, Pavilions Hotels will open Nepal’s first luxury tented eco villas. Guests will cross Lake Phewa by paddleboat to reach the eight villas, surrounded by shimmering rice fields and the magnificent Annapurnas. The villas have been constructed using local materials and are decorated with handcrafted furniture, while floor-to-ceiling windows frame spectacular views. Traditional Nepalese cuisine is on the menu, of course – think spicy salads, curries and fish fresh from the lake – with many of the ingredients grown in an on-site organic farm.
Landmark hotel re-openings
Singapore celebrates its bicentenary in 2019: it is 200 years since Sir Stamford Raffles washed up there. The legendary Raffles Hotel, meanwhile, is currently being restored and refurbished and is scheduled to re-open in the summer. Dating back to 1887 this elegant colonial gem will retain its air of old-world glamour, all teak floors and verandas surrounded by lush gardens – and will boast five restaurants and six bars. The historic Long Bar, home to the Singapore Sling, is being spruced up while, in the BBR (Bar and Billiard Room), Alain Ducasse will be unveiling a Mediterranean sharing and grill concept. La Dame de Pic will be an elegant restaurant headed up by stellar French chef Anne-Sophie Pic, Yi by Jereme Leung will showcase provincial Chinese cuisine while in the Raffles Arcade there will be a high-end steakhouse, Butcher’s Block. The signature Raffles’ dining experiences will also return: guests can tuck into authentic North Indian dishes in the Tiffin Room or take afternoon tea in the lobby.
The restoration of New York’s iconic Chelsea Hotel has been plagued by controversy and delays, but is likely to re-open this year. Dating back to the 1880s, ‘the Chelsea’ was a bohemian enclave where artists, writers and musicians famously bedded down in the middle of the last century to party – among them Jack Kerouac, Arthur Miller, Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix and Leonard Cohen. The revamped hotel will feature 130 hotel rooms, a first-floor restaurant, lobby lounge, greenhouse and private event space as well as a basement bar.
In France, meanwhile, the Art Deco Maison Albar hotel, in the historic heart of Nimes, is also scheduled to re-open in summer 2019, following an extensive refurbishment. In its time it has played host to guests including Ernest Hemingway and Ava Gardner and the painstaking restoration has preserved such historic features as the building’s grand staircase and original lift. The Provençal hotel, with its embellished stone arches and intricate ironwork, is set to include 54 bedrooms and six villas, a pool, spa and a ‘bistronomic’ restaurant.
Unesco recognised the importance of French food on its cultural heritage list back in 2010 and, in 2013, Lyon was chosen as one of four international cities of gastronomy across France (Tours, Dijon and Paris-Rungis were the others). In 2019 Lyon plays host to the Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie, in the newly renovated Grand Hôtel Dieu, showcasing a range of temporary and permanent exhibition spaces, including restaurants and a sensory food museum across four floors. With the aim of celebrating French cuisine, there will be interactive workshops, demonstrations and tasting sessions.
In 2014, Time Out’s Portuguese magazine editors spearheaded the conversion of the historic market hall in Lisbon into the first Time Out Market, to showcase Portuguese food and culture. Today, under one roof, there are over 30 restaurants, bars, cafes and a cookery academy. The market attracts over three million tourists each year and has revitalised the area. So successful was the concept that others followed and, in 2019, Time Out is gearing up to roll out markets in Miami, New York, Chicago, Boston and Montreal. The New York market will open in the spring on the waterfront in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighbourhood, with spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and a range of curated cultural activities while the Boston market will be housed in the former Landmark Centre, an Art Deco building dating back to 1929. In its new incarnation there will be 15 food traders, two bars and a cookery school.
In Denmark, on the East Jutland coast, a 19th-century malt factory is being transformed into a museum, micro-brewery, centre for culture and creative industries, the arts and gastronomy; the Ny Malt is due to open in 2019. In Copenhagen, meanwhile, the former head chef of Noma, Matt Orlando, will open Broaden and Build in the new year, an organic brewery and eating house that aims to explore the creative collaboration between chefs and brewers.
Name-checked as the place to visit in 2019 by Lonely Planet, not least for its vibrant food culture, Sri Lanka is also due to welcome a clutch of new hotel openings. Teardrop Hotels, a curated collection of boutique hotels across the country, includes recently opened Goatfell, a tea plantation bungalow with just four bedrooms in the hills above Kandapola, and Nine Skies, a colonial era gem surrounded by tea-clad hills that’s also just launched outside Ella (it has five bedrooms, private gardens, a croquet lawn and swimming pool). In 2019 the group will open Pekoe House, in Kandy. Food is a focal point at each Teardrop property (much of the herbs, fruit and veg it serves are grown in large kitchen gardens at each site) and Sri Lankan specialities (hoppers, black pork curries and superior afternoon teas) are not to be missed.
Also opening in the autumn is The Harding, a luxury hotel with just six suites overlooking a sweep of white sand and surrounded by dense coconut groves at Ahangama, on the south coast. Around thirty minutes’ drive south of Galle, the pared-back interiors and architecture have been inspired by Sri Lanka’s modernist movement; owner Paul Harding’s great uncle opened the first Geoffrey Bawa hotel on the island, The Blue Lagoon. All-day dining will be available at a poolside restaurant and lounge but breakfast on the rooftop will set the tone for a show-stopping foodie trip.
Closer to home Turkey, that traditional hot summer ticket, is likely to creep back onto travellers’ radars in 2019 after a challenging few years. In 2018 the beach-party crowd started returning to its turquoise-fringed shores in large numbers (Thomas Cook saw a 60% increase in UK bookings alone) and that trend is likely to continue next summer.
A new airport in Istanbul officially launches in March (it’s already partially up and running) but it’s the coastline – and its plethora of simple beachside restaurants serving jewel-like salads, charcoal-grilled meats, comforting flatbreads and honeyed desserts – that is likely to see the biggest upsurge.
Ian Schrager’s sleek Bodrum Edition hotel (with a restaurant by El Bulli’s Diego Muñoz) and the more wellness-focused Six Senses Kaplankaya are likely to build on return bookings since opening near Bodrum in summer 2018. Further around the coast, discerning package holidaymakers will have their eyes on two new Turkish Cook’s Club properties – the affordable but hashtag-friendly brand that’s big on craft cocktails and vegan-friendly beach-side dining – opening in 2019, one in Marmaris and one near Antalya.
Also close to Antalya is olive travel editor, Rhiannon Batten’s, favourite family-friendly escape, Hotel Azur, in postcard-perfect Cirali. With simple but carefully tended cottages set among gardens heady with roses, jasmine and mulberries, and a swimming pool, restaurant and bar to boot (breakfasts include freshly squeezed pomegranate and orange juices straight from the surrounding trees), it’s the perfect basecamp for all-ages forays down to the village’s vast crescent-shaped beach, boat trips to swim off deserted coves, bike rides below mountains hugged by pomegranate and orange groves and lazy afternoons spent eating mulberry ice creams or sugar-dusted cubes of rosewater lokum in shady cushioned cafes. Get there before the crowds return.