It can’t have escaped any discerning traveller’s attention that the millennial hotel experience – at the best properties at least – has gone so far beyond the basic model that it has become practically unrecognisable. From a welcoming gift of a bespoke jumper for your dog, and a pet room-service menu that features organic buffalo marrow bone, to cosmetic fridges and distilled-water fountains in the bathrooms, and even private jets available for guests – every moment is orchestrated to drive home one fact: this is no ordinary hotel you are staying in.
If the modern urban hotel increasingly resembles a members’ club, it follows that hoteliers must be nimble on their collective toes to keep everyone happy. This goes a long way towards explaining why hotel amenities – once limited to fancy bathroom soap and a dinky chocolate on the pillow at turndown – have morphed into a whole other creature. Free Wi-Fi, in-room yoga mats and gym gear, once rarities confined to suites, are now apt to elicit yawns from spoilt travellers. The Mandarin Oriental in New York stocks new hardbacks in rooms to take home, while the library of JK Place Roma (last year’s winner, W*189) is filled with guidebooks its guests can borrow for sightseeing. Kimpton Hotels host a complimentary wine-tasting hour every evening, while the Ovolo group in Australia and Hong Kong offers free 24-hour gym, laundry facilities, snacks and minibar, including alcohol.
What all the properties shortlisted for this year’s Wallpaper* Best Urban Hotels awards have in common is the ability to think outside the box, intelligently and intuitively, in terms of room layouts, in-room comforts, spa menus and postprandial entertainment options. Our global tour of duty, inspecting every aspect of this new breed of hotel, has been exhaustive and exhausting. See the December issue of Wallpaper*, on sale 12 November, for the winners. Until then, meet the judges here or browse though our shortlist here.