It may have missed its Olympics deadline but the London outpost of Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts began taking bookings on 1 May for its 1 September opening in the spire of The Shard, Europe’s tallest building. Opening warm on the heels of Shangri-La Paris, this latest property promises four wining-and-dining options, including Gourmet by Shangri-La, a cake shop and artisan deli on the ground floor, and GŎNG, a bar on level 52. Also on this dizzying level will be an infinity swimming pool and 24-hour gym, both with panoramic views of the London skyline.
From here it will be possible to see the rest of London’s latest wave of hotel debutants, including, at the edge of Covent Garden in a north westerly direction, the ME London, the city’s first hotel from Spain’s Meliá Hotels International group. This is a marble-heavy, design-fixated affair, with moody black corridors and virtually all-white suites. Eating options include a branch of trendy New York steakhouse STK, as well as Italian eatery Cucina Asellina, while the Radio Rooftop bar, lounge and terrace, with views of the river and beyond, is already a London hotspot.
Another newcomer to London in October will be the venerable US company Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, now owned by Hong Kong-based New World Hospitality. The Rosewood London represents a $130m refurbishment of a 1914 Edwardian, Grade II-listed building on High Holborn. The hotel promises to blend English heritage with contemporary sophistication to the Rosewood collection, whose properties include New York’s The Carlyle. Known for his work on some of London’s best restaurants such as Scott’s and Le Caprice, Martin Brudnizki has designed the hotel’s restaurant with an outdoor terrace.
One more high-profile refurbishment project scheduled to open its doors before the year-end is André Balazs’s first London property, set within an old fire station in Marylebone. Details are scarce, but what is known is that it won’t be one of Balazs’s Standard brand hotels but instead something smaller and more intimate with an estimated 36 rooms.
Other European cities benefitting from standout hotel openings this year include Berlin, where fast-expanding chi-chi brand Waldorf Astoria has just opened sleek new premises in the fashionable-again west, near the zoo; ever-chic Vienna, which has just got a new Kempinski and will get an ME by Meliá in October; and booming Istanbul, which this summer will get both an outpost of Singapore’s finest, Raffles Group, and its very own Shangri-La. And for those heading for Istanbul looking not for a hotel but a “more of a village, a real ‘urban bazaar’ made of meetings, freedom, sparkling, sensations and emotions”, as the hype has it, there is Mama Shelter Istanbul in the Beyoğlu district — the latest venture by the Trigano family and Philippe Starck, whose Mama Shelter Paris was one of the most ground-breaking hotels of the decade.
Paris, of course, is now blasé about the influx of hotels managed by Asian companies. First came Le Royal Monceau Raffles, operated by Raffles, the Shangri-La Hotel Paris and the Mandarin Oriental, Paris. This autumn will see Peninsula Hotels (a Hong Kong company) unveil its reinvention of the fabled Majestic hotel on Avenue Kléber near the Arc de Triomphe. The existing building was constructed in the late 19th century as the Hotel Majestic and enjoyed around 40 years as one of Paris’s most famous landmarks. The new Peninsula Paris hotel aims to reinstate the building’s reputation as the leading hotel in Paris. Its 200 rooms will include 46 suites (among them a ‘Historic’ suite, complete with period decoration), three restaurants, a spa and pool.
You may think it is impossible to squeeze in another palazzo-turned hotel in Venice, but Singapore-based Amanresorts debuted its first Italian property on 1 June, with the Aman Canal Grande, housed within an expansive 16th-century palazzo that fronts the Grand Canal near the Rialto Bridge in the San Polo district, one of the city’s oldest areas.
Within the palazzo are 24 accommodations, most with views of the Grand Canal; a grand dining room that serves Italian and Asian cuisine overlooking the canal; a regal high-ceilinged salon and adjacent library; a spa with three treatment rooms; and a small gym with rooftop views of the city. The resort will have two gardens (unusual for Venice hotels): a garden terrace facing the Grand Canal where guests can dine al fresco and a hidden, tree-fringed courtyard, both exclusive to hotel guests. Simply designed contemporary furnishings throughout are promised, with three Signature Suites, with canal views, having elaborate architectural details, friezes and elaborately painted or carved ceilings. Private motor launches will take guests from the airport or the train station to the hotel.
For those who really want to get to stay somewhere in Europe but outside of a city this year, there is no shortage of new options. Among the buzziest for winter snow, Europe’s first Chedi Hotel, managed by Singapore’s GHM Group, will open this autumn offering ultra-modern and ultra-luxurious relaxation in a complex designed by Jean-Michel Gathy. And for summer sun, Hotel de Paris Saint-Tropez is set to make its long-heralded reappearance under the influence of French designer Sybille de Margerie. Created in the 1930s, this was one of the first hotels in Saint-Tropez and a place of rendezvous in the 1960s and 1970s for famous French singers and movie stars. The new design includes a clear-bottom pool suspended above the atrium. Of course it does.