Asmundo di Gisira hotel, Catania, Sicily
Left, at Asmundo di Gisira, cement tiles in the covered courtyard. Right, a ceramic crocodile and Gaetano Pesce’s 1969 Up-7 foot sculpture in the Uzeta room.
(Image credit: Filippo Bamberghi/Photofoyer)

Best Urban Hotel 2018 winner: Asmundo di Gisira

Like many palazzi, Asmundo di Gisira, a converted 18th-century pile in Sicily’s second largest city, hides its true beauty within. The hotel interiors take their inspiration from Sicilian legends, referenced with a contemporary design language by GUM, a local studio that spent seven years restoring the 400 sq m compound located just steps away from Catania’s landmark Fontana dell’Elefante. Original elements such as decorative ceilings and mouldings were retained, while a new skylight turns a courtyard into an atrium, and ensuite bathrooms focus on comfort.

Asmundo di Gisira hotel, Catania, Sicily

The spring-themed Proserpina room, featuring a granary-inspired bed and a ceiling fresco depicting the myth of Proserpina.

(Image credit: Filippo Bamberghi/Photofoyer)

Unique touches come courtesy of Sicilian artists: the public space celebrates the myth of Billonia, with a painting of the goddess by Sergio Fiorentino; an enormous flamingo sculpture by Domenico Pellegrino references the birds that used to inhabit the fountain at Catania’s Giardino Vincenzo Bellini; and the Proserpina suite, one of six generously sized guest rooms, features a granary-shaped bed and hand-painted tiles by local ceramist Alessandro Iudici. With handpicked Italian furnishings from the 1930s to the 1960s rounding off the design, the palazzo offers suite dreams indeed. Writer: Yoko Choy

Via Gisira 40; tel: 39.09 5097 8894; Rates: from €120

And the three runners up are:

Hôtel de Crillon, Paris

Hôtel de Crillon Les Ambassadeurs Bar, Paris, France

The hotel’s gilded Les Ambassadeurs bar, revamped by Chahan Minassian with velvet armchairs and tables inlaid with precious metals and crystals

(Image credit: Filippo Bamberghi/Photofoyer)

Four years, 17,600 gold scales, 40 different types of marble, minerals, feathers, mirrors, glass and gilding are just some of what went into creating the newly buffed and polished Hôtel de Crillon on Paris’ Place de la Concorde. For all its impressive history, which dates back to 1758, the property, from Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, wears its heritage lightly, layered with 21st-century Parisian chic and a real sense of place. Ten Signature Suites, including two by Karl Lagerfeld, offer individual takes on opulence, while the remaining 114 rooms and suites feature muted tones and grey marble bathrooms. Nespresso machines are clad in leather, beds in the softest linens, and desks are stacked with books on Paris. Fine dining restaurant L’Ecrin is not to be missed, for its Champignon de Paris dish alone, but try, too, the Île Callot oysters in the Brasserie d’Aumont, and the Paris Mule cocktails in the glitzy yet cool Les Ambassadeurs Bar. Revive in the pool and at the sensational spa with products that pamper, Parisian style. Writer: Mary Lussiana

10 Place de la Concorde; tel: 33.1 44 71 15 00; Rates: from €1,110

Hotel Sanders, Copenhagen

Hotel Sanders guestroom, Copenhagen, Sweden

A coupé room at Hotel Sanders, its design inspired by luxury train cabins

(Image credit: Filippo Bamberghi/Photofoyer)

Former Danish Royal Ballet dancer and third-generation hotelier Alexander Kølpin has transformed an art nouveau building across the road from his former workplace, the Royal Danish Theatre, into a supremely elegant 54-room hotel. His attention to detail is apparent throughout the property, from the staff uniforms, made by Parisian label Older using a sustainable technical fabric, to the surprisingly un-Scandinavian, eclectic interiors by London-based studio Lind + Almond. With its restaurant serving up casual fare in a relaxed setting, cosy vintage bar and rooftop conservatory, Hotel Sanders has become a new social hub for Copenhagen. Writer: Micha van Dinther

Tordenskjoldsgade 15; Rates: from DKK2,895 (€390)

Hotel Koé, Tokyo

Hotel Koé, Tokyo, Japan

Hotel Koé’s XL room, a 100 sq m space that nods to Japanese teahouses

(Image credit: Filippo Bamberghi/Photofoyer)

Located among the blaring neons and packed ‘X’ crossings of Shibuya, Hotel Koé is no conventional property. Managed by Japanese fashion retailer Stripe International (the building’s first floor is home to the company’s flagship store) and designed by local studio Suppose Design Office, it is accessed through a light-filled ground floor, where an open-plan restaurant and bakery serves up dishes such as pink egg and ramen noodles to a DJ-curated soundtrack. But it is the ten teahouse-themed, super-minimal guest rooms that really turn heads, with their serene expanses of charcoal grey walls and night-sky blue carpets. Other highlights include a lounge with a sleek bar stretching the length of the space, and a small VIP area dominated by two paintings by Yoshitomo Nara and Hiroshi Sugita. Writer: Danielle Demetriou

3-7 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku; Rates: from £240 

As originally featured in the January 2019 issue of Wallpaper* (W*238), view the entire Best Urban Hotel shortlist here

Melina Keays is the entertaining director of Wallpaper*. She has been part of the brand since the magazine’s launch in 1996, and is responsible for entertaining content across the print and digital platforms, and for Wallpaper’s creative agency Bespoke. A native Londoner, Melina takes inspiration from the whole spectrum of art and design – including film, literature, and fashion. Her work for the brand involves curating content, writing, and creative direction – conceiving luxury interior landscapes with a focus on food, drinks, and entertaining in all its forms