London’s high life
As yet, western Europe’s tallest building (at 1,016ft) is still a shell, but its 72nd-floor observation deck will open to the public on 1 February, and a hotel will follow in early summer. The Shangri-La group’s first UK property will also be the first new-build five-star in London in over a decade. It will take up floors 34 to 52 of this architectural giant, offering 202 rooms and suites. Epic views of the capital will, of course, come as standard.
0800 028 3337; shangri-la.com
Oslo’s ‘criminal’ hideaway
As hotel names go, “The Thief” is decidedly ear-catching. This new boutique option in the Norwegian capital – which opens on 9 January – is so-christened because it sits in Tjuvholmen, a fjord-side district where criminals were once executed. But times change, and The Thief – equipped with 119 rooms – is the latest element in the gentrification of a waterfront that is rapidly shedding its warehouses for cafés, shops and the drama of Norway’s national opera house.
00 47 24 00 40 00; thethief.com
Hong Kong’s fairytale fantasy
Mira Moon, a 91-room boutique hotel will appear in early summer in the Wan Chai district of Hong Kong Island as a mix of Far East tradition and contemporary flair. Its decor will be themed around the Moon Festival and its legend of a woman who drinks an elixir and soars to the Moon to become a goddess. Expect this left-field vision – created by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders – to mean light, art and space.
00 852 2315 5618; miramoonhotel.com
Nicaragua’s beachside surprise
Usually viewed as a destination only for the intrepid, Nicaragua will dip its toe into the warm waters of the luxury accommodation market in February, with the unveiling of the Mukul Resort. This splendid possibility will dig itself into the white sands of the Central American country’s Emerald Coast, on its Pacific flank – proffering 37 beach villas. The focus will be on the quiet life, delivered via massages and treatments at the in-house spa. But those averse to full-time relaxation can also pit themselves against an 18-hole golf course.
00 505 852 99 829; mukulresort.com
Lima’s arty upstart
Often dismissed as little more than a stop-off on the road to Machu Picchu, the Peruvian capital is an underrated city whose Spanish colonial heritage (not least the 17th-century Convento de San Francisco) is arguably as spectacular as any “lost” Inca treasure. And its appeal will be boosted in February by the arrival – in the bohemian, oceanside district of Barranco – of Hotel B (El Hotel de Barranco), which claims to be “the first arts-boutique hotel in Lima”. Here, 17 suites have been fitted into a 19th-century mansion – where the ambience will be assisted by El Comedor, a bar that sells a range of potent Peruvian piscos.
New York’s hat trick
The Big Apple scarcely needs another boutique retreat, but The Refinery will still be a welcome arrival. Pitched in the Garment District on West 38th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues), the hotel makes use of the Colony Arcade Building – a former hat factory. The soul of the neo-Gothic structure has been preserved – 12 floors and 197 rooms will retain period fittings. A lobby tea lounge will also greet guests when the hotel opens in March.
001 646 664 0310; refineryhotelnewyork.com
St Petersburg’s royal retreat
At times, it is easy to believe that St Petersburg entirely ignored the Russian Revolution, so regal is much of the gracious architecture on show in the city. This is certainly the case with the Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace, a 19th-century aristocratic home which is due to find a fresh purpose this spring as a five-star hideaway. Some of the nips and tucks to the building – such as a top-floor pool under a glass roof, plus a sizeable spa – will introduce lavish modernity. But the retention of the original sweeping staircase in the entrance hall will ensure the spirit of 1820s is kept alive.
0800 6488 6488; fourseasons.com/stpetersburg
Hampshire’s country pile
Tucked amid 400 acres of gardens and woodland 10 miles south of Reading, Heckfield Place will be a celebration of Englishness when it opens in March. The transformation of this 18th-century manor into a weekend retreat has been slow going, but the process will bear fruit in the form of 60 large rooms (as well as a 65-seat underground cinema). Guests can stroll in the grounds and dine on produce sourced from the estate’s farm. B&B doubles from £400 per night.
0118 932 6868; heckfieldplace.com
Oman’s mountain marvel
Most hotels on the Arabian Peninsula tend to gaze out over the water, but the latest offering from the Asian luxury resort specialist, Alila, will opt for the more remote territory of Oman’s Hajar Mountains. The Alila Jabal Akhdar is scheduled to launch in autumn. It is tucked 2,000m above sea level, a two-hour drive west of Muscat. The accent will be on escape, in a retreat that’s beyond the reach of even the desert heat and has 78 rooms and cliffside restaurant.
00 65 6735 8300; alilahotels.com
Sri Lanka’s chic escape
India’s near-neighbour will take another small step away from the grim spectre of its former civil war on 14 February, with the opening of the Beach House Pasikudah. This 34-suite resort will bring a five-star presence to Pasikudah Bay, midway along Sri Lanka’s eastern coastline – a portion of this often idyllic Indian Ocean island that was largely cut off in the government’s war on the Tamil Tigers from 1983 to 2009. That said, the resort is close enough to the key sights of Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya for easy insight into the country’s Unesco-acknowledged cultural heritage. Double rooms start at US$198 (£122), including breakfast.
00 94 11 473 6263; beachhousecollection.com
Marrakech’s spacious statement
Morocco’s most fabled city trades on an image of giddy chaos and clutter. But the Baglioni Marrakech, destined to open at a still unspecified moment in 2013, will cling to a contradictory ethos. The Italian hotel group’s first foray into Africa will spread its arms inside 34 acres of parkland. Here, a luxury 80-room hotel will compete with a Six Senses spa. Marrakech will rarely have seemed so peaceful.
00 212 524 390 930; baglionihotels.com
Zambia’s wonderful wildlife
March 2013 will see the launch of Chinzombo Safari Lodge, the sixth camp to be opened by the Zambia specialist, Norman Carr Safaris. This top-end option will have six “wildly luxurious villas” – each with private pool – standing next to the Luangwa River. The South Luangwa National Park has a firm reputation for big-cat sightings.
0845 468 2177; normancarrsafaris.com
Santa Barbara’s coastal classic
Strictly speaking, there is nothing new about El Encanto, 100 miles north-west of Los Angeles in the seafront enclave of Santa Barbara. However, a hotel that has hosted endless Hollywood stars has been closed for renovation since 2006, under the careful eye of new owner Orient Express. March 2013 brings its long overdue return with 92 luxury bungalows in seven acres of landscaped gardens.
001 805 8455800; elencanto.com