This year will see another bumper crop of trendy new properties popping up across the globe, as hotel chains clamor for new product and developers push the envelope on design. However, 2019 also will see a number of the finest historic hotels reborn with all their former — and some new — glory. Here are eight that are poised to welcome guests again.
Historic Hotels with Modern Amenities
This 131-year-old dowager is a true landmark in this Asian island nation. Now managed by Paris-based Accor, this is where the Singapore Sling cocktail was invented by bartender Ngiam Tong Boom in 1915.
The 103-room Raffles Singapore (picture at top), closed since December 2017 for a down-to-the-bones overhaul, will reopen in August, featuring all the bells and whistles of modern hospitality, from a lobby transformed into a social hub to new soundproof windows, improved lighting and multiple electrical outlets in guest rooms. Also look for new restaurant concepts by celebrity French chefs Alain Ducasse and Anne-Sophie Pic.
Built in 1897 in Norway's central city of Trondheim, the 257-room Britannia Hotel will reopen in April 2019 as a new member of Leading Hotels of the World following a three-year US$150 million renovation.
This iconic property, which has hosted members of Britain's royal family and stars of the silver screen, will feature six restaurants and lounges, including a wine bar with a cellar housing several thousand bottles chosen by famed wine-sommelier, Henrik Dahl Jahnsen. Rounding out the amenities are:
- A full-service spa
- An indoor pool
- Meeting space for up to 300 people
MANDARIN ORIENTAL HYDE PARK, LONDON
In June 2018, the venerable Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, reopened its doors following the biggest renovation in its 115-year-old history.
Just one week later, a fire tore through the property, shuttering it again. This grande dame, however, is determined to rise again. This past December, the 181-room hotel's flagship restaurant, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, along with three bars, the spa and almost 8,000 square feet of meeting space, reopened; all guest rooms will come back online this spring.
When Tokyo's vintage 1960s Hotel Okura was partially demolished in 2015, an outcry of disappointment rippled through architecture and design circles. That hit a chord with the building's new investors and developers, who vowed to recreate some of the property's post-modern signature rooms, but with a more edgy flair.
Scheduled to reopen in September, in time to make a splash before the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, the 508-room Okura Tokyo will be earthquake-proof and sport 100 more guest rooms than its previous incarnation. Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi — whose father, Yoshiro Taniguchi, helped design the original hotel — is leading an interior design that will include vintage décor that helped make the Okura a vivid setting in the 1964 James Bond novel, You Only Live Twice, by Ian Fleming, and where scenes were shot for the 1967 Sean Connery movie.
HOTEL GRAND POWERS
Near the Champs-Élysées in the middle of Paris' Golden Triangle, the 50-room Hotel Grand Powers, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, has reopened after a more than yearlong renovation to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
This elegant boutique property's original moldings and marble fireplaces have been blended with new design elements to create a striking contrast under high ceilings. Some guest rooms have balconies with views of the Eiffel Tower, and offerings include a full-service spa, and Café 52, a lounge-style restaurant.
HOTEL RITZ MADRID
In Spain, the 167-room Hotel Ritz Madrid, which first opened in 1910, closed in February 2018 for a US$121 million restoration. Opposite the Museo del Prado and managed by Mandarin Oriental, the property will reopen by year's end. Spanish architect Rafael de La-Hoz and his team will maintain the Belle Époque style of the original building, while French firm Gilles & Boissier will oversee the interior redesign.
A bar and a fitness center with an indoor pool will be added. The glass roof over the lounge will be restored and the full-service restaurant returned to its original location with direct access to a terrace that for decades was one of the city's most sought-after outdoor dining spaces.
Built in 1867 as a palace, the former Grand Hotel du Boulevard in the Romanian capital sat empty for a decade until Malta-based Corinthia Hotels swept in with plans to restore the place to its former glory.
Upon reopening on Dec. 1, the 50-room Corinthia Bucharest will once again delight guests with its luxe rooms and suites, a sumptuous lobby of marble columns, ornately carved walls and a glass skylight, along with a grand ballroom and multiple dining options.
Details are still slim concerning New York City's famed Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street, which is in the middle of a comprehensive overhaul and remains covered in scaffolding after being bought for $250 million in 2016. Management, amenities, even the new room count (somewhere around 125) have yet to be announced, but this 1880s landmark, known for the many artists, musicians and writers who have stayed there, is poised for a comeback since closing in 2011.
In April 2018, 50 of its original guest-room doors went up for auction and were snatched up in mere hours for hefty prices. When the wraps come off later this year, no doubt avid travelers will flock through its halls, as the likes of Mark Twain, Bob Dylan, Arthur Miller and Leonard Cohen once did.