The 2020 Uproxx Travel Hot List

Top End Safari Camp
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Unsplash
Getty
Getty Image
Luke Dyson

What the hell does the phrase “hot list” even mean?

This world was around long before any of us and, with any luck, it will still be here long after we’re gone. Tracking our movements on a year-by-year basis is kind of silly when you think of it in the “we’re specks of matter, sitting on a big floating rock, warmed by a single star in a seemingly infinite sea of stars”-sense. Besides, after a decade that gave us the six hottest years on record, with increasing panic over species death, ocean acidification, and global warming, isn’t everything sort of on the hot list? (Zing!)

So why do it? Why track down the best collection of travel writers, influencers, experts, and photographers currently roaming this big, spinning rock and ask them: “Where should people visit in 2020? What should they do once they’re there? Where should they stay, eat, and drink? What parties should they go to?”

Because while “right now” is meaningless in the cosmic sense, it matters greatly to all of us living it. And where you decide to spend your hard-earned time, money, and energy is inextricably tied to our current cultural/ political moment and all the freight that that carries. So although the destinations on this list aren’t “new” in any true sense, our reasons for choosing them are. The questions “why here?” and “why now?” hung over every debate about what belonged and what didn’t. Sometimes the defining factor was a country’s embrace of a trend, like Belize and eco-tourism; other times, we recognized ancient destinations that seem particularly relevant this year, like the sacred sites of the Navajo Nation; and others still, we chose to highlight recommendations because we trusted the authority of the travelers pitching them. (This list features famous influencers, Explorer’s Club Members, Travel Channel hosts, and award-winning writers — when they talk travel, we’re eager to listen.)

Through it all, diversity — in how people identify, what makes them burn, and their distinct worldviews — is the axis around which this list rotates. Like so many fields, travel writing has long been plagued by the sort of gatekeeping that routinely rewards the same voices year after year. For the 2020 list, UPROXX Life Deputy Editor Zach Johnston and I made a sincere effort to upend that tradition. Our December kick-off call featured writers of various gender identifications, sexual orientations, and cultural backgrounds sharing their distinct perspectives about what feels “hot” in travel right now. We’re thrilled to share those insights with you here and hope that besides connecting you with new places to visit, this list introduces you to fresh, potent voices in the travel space.

At the same time as we strived to be inclusive, we created this for our core audience — young, socially conscious people, many heading out on the road for the first time, eager to explore and grow but also often keen to jump off cliffs, get a little rowdy, and dance ’til 4am (there’s a whole “festivals” section this year). The list also has a distinctly American gaze. When we call something “unique” we aren’t exoticizing it so much as noting that for most American travelers it’s going to carry a sense of newness. If done in the spirit of respect, we believe modern-day “exploration” can support Indigenous communities, aid rebuilding efforts after a disaster, and help us evolve beyond our prejudices.

All that said, to pretend that a list — even one this expansive — doesn’t contain blindspots is absurd. Its very creation is a contradiction. A common trend suggested by our travel writers, whose job is ostensibly to fly around the world on jets powered by fossil fuel, was the quest for environmental accountability across all segments of the industry. Though many of us seem to believe in setting personal carbon caps, no one felt fully ready to publicly commit to one. Is that hypocritical? Maybe. But travel writers also deserve some of the credit for the airline industry’s recent sustainability push. Perhaps the best answer when wrestling with these pinch points is: “Let’s all try our hardest.” On the ecology front, UPROXX and its writers are committed to finding solutions for the impact of the travel writing genre (through carbon offsets, slow travel, and “microcations”), though we also believe that to properly fight for something you need to bear witness to its beauty.

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In the early days of 2020, Greta Gerwig said: “Quentin Tarantino makes movies as if movies could save the world.” That’s how we feel about travel. Travel connects us. It reminds us of the natural marvels that we are called to be stewards for. It brings us face-to-face with life’s universal aspects: birth, death, art, storytelling, humor, sex, food, intoxicants… the list goes on. Those simple, core pieces of existence are shared across all cultures. Simultaneously, travel reminds us that the real world is far less black and white than it is online. The fury that we often feel on Twitter when someone thinks differently from us quickly dissipates as our journeys shade in the context and background that led a certain person to arrive at a particular way of thinking. On the road, we realize that there has to be some sort of allowance for cultural/moral relativism or every trip is going to be a series of constant battles and little growth.

Perhaps the overarching point here is: travel is messy. Just like life.

So here you go, the 2020 UPROXX Travel Hot List. A sprawling, messy, imperfect-but-often-lovely reflection of a sprawling, messy, imperfect-but-often-lovely planet. We believe that these destinations, experiences, hotels, restaurants, bars, and festivals will bring you some sense of joy. We believe they have something worthwhile to teach or reveal, this year in particular. Above all, we believe that travel can save the world, and we hope that’s reflected in every word, photo, and idea presented below.

Hotels

Bespoke, boutique, and highly Instagrammable (preferably with a great bar program) — it’s not so much that the recipe for cool hotels is changing, just that more and more properties seem to be catching the vibe.

Spirit Bear Lodge
Spirit Bear Lodge
Spirit Bear Lodge
01

This secluded lodge offers travelers a chance to support Indigenous communities and wildlife at the same time.

The great wild north is truly that: Wild. And if you want to experience something that most will never experience while also supporting Indigenous people and Indigenous tourism, then you need to head way north to Spirit Bear Lodge, which is owned and operated by the Kitasoo/Xai’zais people, whose mission is to build employment opportunities for the people of Klemtu, in British Columbia, where the lodge is located. In fact, this world-class ecotourism and adventure travel business employs mostly Klemtu locals in all aspects of their operations.

So, what’s a spirit bear? The lodge is in the Great Bear Rainforest, and the spirit bear is one of the rarest animals in the world, with current population estimates varying from 50 to 150 individual bears. This elusive bear is only found in a small portion of the Great Bear Rainforest, and the Kitasoo/Xai’xais territory is home to the largest portion of the spirit bear population. It’s also the only spirit bear conservancy. You’ll see more than spirit bears during your time there, though. Expect to see grizzly bears, black bears, whales, porpoise, sea lions, and loads more.

This property not only fits our current cultural moment, but it’s also perfect for the values that this list wants to celebrate.

By David Duran
Contributing Writer
Top End Safari Camp
Unsplash
02

TV-star and croc wrangler Matt Wright has opened up an exclusive glamping experience complete with helicopter rides and giant croc encounters.

Matt Wright hosts Monster Croc Wrangler on NatGeo, which is honestly not the bio of someone I’d normally want as a tour guide. Yet Australians, and especially the ones who work with Wright, manage to have a contagious chill that is oddly relaxing. The show and the tour company Wright runs, Top End Safari Camp in Australia’s Northern Territory, are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Wright’s conservation efforts. In addition to Top End, he and his team collect crocodile eggs for sustainable farming to help poorer communities. I should mention that they do this by repelling from hovering helicopters over croc-infested waters.

As for the tour that Wright gives guests, it was easily the most memorable I’ve ever been on (and not just because I got engaged while I was there). The tour picked us up from Darwin, taking us from idyllic swimming holes to a helicopter ride across lunar landscapes dotted with otherworldly cathedral termite mounds. Then we went on a fan boat ride for up-close encounters with massive crocodiles. It was the rare tour where we felt like we did everything but never felt rushed. In between all the rides in different vehicles and encounters with exotic wildlife, there still seemed to be plenty of time to relax while drinking beers around the campfire as the wallabies grazed around us and the cockatoos squawked in the trees. Add in photo-opp-friendly glamping tents and you have the sort of adventure that refuses to be forgotten.

By Vince Mancini
Senior Film & Culture WriterFacebookTwitter
Hotel Peter & Paul
Hotel Peter & Paul
03

This hotel — built into an entire church complex and designed with an antique-infused aesthetic — might just be the most interesting property in NOLA.

When most people think about New Orleans, they go straight to the absurd abundance of decadent food, the unhinged revelry of Bourbon Street fueled by utterly ridiculous sugar and alcohol-laden concoctions, stately homes shaded by majestic oaks on St. Charles Avenue, and… did I mention the decadent food? What often gets overlooked is that New Orleans is home to some of the more unique and interesting hotels found anywhere in the country. And a recently opened hotel might just be the most unique and interesting of them all: the Hotel Peter & Paul.

The result of a collaboration between NOLA-resident Nathalie Jordi and NYC-based ASH NYC, the Hotel Peter & Paul is built out of a mid-19th century Catholic Church complex, situated in the Marigny. Each room in the hotel has been meticulously (and gorgeously) designed and features furnishings built by local artisans, as well as pieces collected from antique malls across Europe. No two rooms — which are spread out across the entire church complex; the schoolhouse, the rectory, the convent, and the main church — are alike, and many feature claw-foot bathtubs and balconies. The hotel’s numerous common areas are spaces that no one with an Instagram account can resist, too picturesque not to photograph.

If that all weren’t enough, the hotel’s delightful in-house food and drink establishment, the Elysian Bar, is helmed by one of New Orleans’ most celebrated chefs, Alex Harrell, probably best known for opening one of the French Quarter’s top culinary jewels, Sylvain, in 2010. If there’s any drawback to the Peter and Paul, it’s that it’s all so fantastic that you’ll be tempted to never leave the property, which is a tough fate to wrestle with during a visit to one of the world’s most fun cities.

By Brett Michael Dykes
Editor-in-ChiefTwitter
Preidlhof Resort
Preidlhof
Preidlhof
04

This Italian mountain resort offers awe-inspiring views and top-notch spa treatments.

The chance to take in the expansive and impressive Alps surrounding Preidlhof Resort might have won the hotel a spot on this hot list alone. Thankfully, the view also comes with a multi-award winning, six-floor spa tower featuring a whopping 16 infused saunas and relaxation rooms, an infinity pool, a fire lounge, a snack room, a sun deck, a “deep-sea” light and music relaxation room, and sauna ceremonies and performances that include hot Austrian men doing dances with towels. Sounds fun, right?

The resort has also been named the best spa in the world for clean eating by Condé Nast Traveler, and they have tons of fitness and wellness activities for you to avoid while you hang at the spa — from hiking, training, and biking to any other random Alpine activity you can dream up. If you’re looking for luxury, wellness, and deep, deep relaxation surrounded by great beauty, I can’t recommend this place highly enough.

By Chelsea Frank
Contributing Writer
The Lexington Hotel
The Lexington Hotel
The Lexington Hotel
05

This plush Manhattan hotel in a prime spot to enjoy everything the city has to offer.

The Lexington Hotel — on East 48th Street and Lexington Ave. — has three great things going for it.

One, it’s location is perfect for diving into the city. Park Avenue is a block away. Central Park is 12 blocks north. 30 Rock is four blocks west. Grand Central (and it’s killer oyster scene) and the Chrysler Building are five blocks south. You can get to a lot of great spots by foot, is what we’re saying.

Two, the Lex isn’t over-priced for its location and luxe digs. You can score a room for anywhere from $150 to $200 per night for a plush room with all the amenities you’ll ever need. If your flush, opt for a dope Specialty Suite ($500 to $1,000 per night). One of them is actually the apartment that Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio shared when they lived in the city. Another is themed around Ernest Hemingway. Yet another is devoted to jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald.

Three, the bar scene at The Lexington is one of the best lobby bar scenes in the city. Straight up. The Stayton Room draws locals and travelers alike, all looking for a rad happy hour alongside cocktail aficionados eager to sip something bespoke.

By Zach Johnston
Life WriterTwitter
Chris Dodds
Chris Dodds
Chris Dodds
06

Meet Mexico’s sexiest 2020 hotel stay.

The sexiest place in Mexico is Zihuatanejo, a small town with a long name that’s as far from the hype of Tulum as you can get — literally and metaphorically. Situated on the Pacific side of Mexico, a few hours above Acapulco, “Zihua” has long been a secret retreat for the bohemian-minded.

The best vibe in town for design forward-luxury is the Thompson Hotel. Splurge on one of the rooms with a private pool as your front yard and the beach is just a hop away. Dynamic open-air restaurant / bar / nightclub HAO hosts full moon parties, or you can walk over to LOOT — a three-level lofted building with a café, barbershop, art gallery, and parties every weekend. With LOOT’s new project MUSA opening this winter, the buzz is only the beginning for this sweet little surfer’s paradise.

By Erin Granat
Contributing Writer
Unsplash
Noel Russell
07

Change up your camping game by staying in a ranger station or fire lookout this year.

Lighten your load and enjoy a bit of history by reserving a stay in a fire lookout. This isn’t your typical hotel stay, but it is an unforgettable (and super-photographic) experience fit for today’s traveler.

Between the trek up to the tower and making a camp dinner, a fire lookout is a self-sufficient, close-to-nature adventure with real perks. Fire lookouts are cozy, private, and the 360-degree views can’t be beaten. They’re rustic, to be sure, but there’s a kind of simple luxury to the whole thing. Wrap up in your sleeping bag and watch the moon rise over rolling hills. Wake up with the sun and power up the Jetboil for camp coffee. Discover trails and swimming holes right outside your “front door” and enjoy the peace and solitude of nature – without the need to set up a tent!

You can find fire towers across the American West: Idaho, California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming all boast rentable fire lookouts. Find a spot that suits what you’re looking for and start packing your gear.

By Gale Straub
Contributing Writer
The Curtain
The Curtain
Red Rooster LND
08

This chic hotel is found at London’s epicenter for sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll.

Shoreditch is London’s hippest neighborhood. It’s where the cool kids go to party, make art, and hook up. If you want to take part in all the fun, you’ll need a central base that also serves as a refuge from the bustle. The Curtain is that haven.

The plush hotel has a rooftop bar that’s a draw for travelers looking to meet locals (and vice versa). Star chef Marcus Samuelsson set up his first British restaurant on the hotel’s ground floor, an outpost of his iconic Red Rooster. The best part for me, though, was my room’s minibar. This wasn’t just a fridge with some local brews and a Diet Coke. There was a whole minibar area, with crystal rocks glasses and champagne flutes. There were real bar tools for shaking and stirring. And the quarter bottles of booze were all top-notch choices. You could legit throw a cocktail party in your room with the setup.

Then, of course, there’s Shoreditch’s wide-range of bars, restaurants, and art stops mere steps away. London’s iconic Brick Lane with record shops, more bars, Truman’s Brewery, and a massive array of food and restaurants is only ten minutes away on foot. You could easily spend a weekend here and never have to take a taxi or underground train — that’s a very unique (and cool) brand of London experience.

By Zach Johnston
Life WriterTwitter
The Goodland Kimpton
The Goodland Kimpton
The Goodland Kimpton
09

Embrace California’s surf culture at this mid-century Santa Barbara retreat.

Whether it’s a bucket list dream for a road trip up California’s PCH, a thirst to find the most perfect strawberry pink Grenache rosé, or a need to embrace some low key living by retreating for a week of relaxation, Santa Barbara ticks all the boxes. Cradled by the Santa Ynez Valley and known for its amazing wines, laid back So-Cal lifestyle, and cruisy surf culture, Santa Barbara is the quintessential place to experience California’s idyllic central coast.

This past summer, my sister and I retreated to Santa Barbara for a couple of days and stayed at the coolest boutique surf hotel I’ve ever come across — The Kimpton Goodland. The property has a revamped old motel feel with a nod to the local, not-so-fussy-yet-very-hip So-Cal surf culture. Anchoring the property is a large pool where guests hang out, relax, and soak up the sun’s warm rays during the day. Around six pm, complimentary wine and appetizers are offered in the lobby, followed shortly by people retreating to the outdoor fire pits where s’mores packets are provided to help you ruin your appetite before dinner. At night, the hotel bar draws a crowd of young, artsy guests and locals interested in craft cocktails and a couple of rounds of pool.

Although The Kimpton Goodland may not be as luxurious as many of the other hotel properties available in Santa Barbara proper, it’s got an unpretentious, low-key vibe worth seeking out by anyone in need of a cool Cali retreat.

By Soheila Hakimi
Contributing Writer
The Kindler Hotel
The Kindler Hotel
10

Stay in the heart of Lincoln, Nebraska at this plush new property from former Olympic figure skater Brian Boitano.

Let 2020 be the year we finally ditch disregarding any state as a flyover state. The university town of Lincoln, Nebraska is all the proof anyone should need that the middle of the U.S. is rich with sights worth seeing and activities worth trying.

The Kindler Hotel recently came onto the scene in Lincoln — its modern art deco vibe pulling from Nebraska’s past to help usher in the future. The hotel leadership, which includes Olympic figure skater Brian Boitano, emphasized diversity when hiring, while the design team spared no detail in making this downtown accommodation feel as luxurious as possible. The bar makes a great gathering point for locals and travelers alike. Plus, the hotel is situated in downtown Lincoln — about a ten-minute walk from bars and restaurants.

Anyone flying over the country or driving through Nebraska and dismissing it as nothing but corn is missing out on a truly spectacular addition to a growing city with a lot to offer.

By Ali Wunderman
Contributing Writer
Hans Valor
Hans Valor
11

High-concept design, art, and luxury fuse together in this new Oaxacan hideaway.

Hotel Sin Nombre is already gaining quite the buzz in Oaxaca City and it’s still in soft opening stages. The hotel is the brainchild of Portuguese architect Joao Boto Caeiro and Mezcal Mama, Elliott Coon of Gem & Bolt. It’s equal parts earthy and edgy — a Oaxacan hideaway oozing with attitude set in a rescued 17th century UNESCO heritage site.

The hotel’s chef, Israel Loyola from a small town called Huajuapam about two hours from Oaxaca City, is ambitiously curating an all-vegan Oaxacan menu that supports local farmers and incorporates herbal and medicinal elements from the region. It’s truly divine. The sun-drenched interior courtyard has already played host to stunning performances by Mardeleva and mystical candle-lit Dia de Los Muertos celebrations. This property will be the one to visit in Oaxaca in 2020. How am I so sure? Well, among other reasons, the rooftop pool and biosphere are expected to be completed by February.

By Courtney Scott
Contributing Writer
Canopy by Hilton
Canopy By Hilton
Canopy by Hilton
12

This new hotel embraces Minneapolis’s past, making it popular with travelers and locals alike.

Minneapolis’ Mill District is going through a reawakening. At the center of that blossoming scene is a brand new hotel fitted into an old flour mill. And when I say “fitted” I really mean it. The building’s bones were respected and the hotel was built to accentuate them. Rooms have 20-foot high ceilings with old steel rolling doors and massive wooden beams. This is Minneapolis’ living history in hotel form.

This installation of Canopy By Hilton is a draw for locals as well as tourists. It’s right next to most of downtown’s main attractions, including the stadium and the river, which means local folks drop into the hotel’s bustling bar to pre-game or grab a bite, giving the place a very local and hip feel. It helps that the bar is on point and not overly expensive, with a super friendly staff who know their drinks.

There are nice little flourishes throughout the property that make it feel completely un chain-like. You can borrow bikes to ride around the city (which is great because Minneapolis is pretty much flat) and the whole property is dog-friendly, welcoming pets with treats and water. If you’re looking for a spot to meet people, see the town, and grab a great night’s sleep in the Twin Cities, this is your jam.

By Zach Johnston
Life WriterTwitter
Verana Boutique Homes
Jo Savage Photography
13

Find inspiration and seclusion in the Mexican jungle.

Imagine waking up with the jungle just a few feet away, coffee served right to your bungalow’s thatched front door and then taking a dip in your private pool while the sun rises across misty mountains. Well, that’s just a standard morning at Verana. And while there are plenty of dreamy bungalows to stay at around the world, I’ll bet the farm on this being one that will capture your heart this year.

Verana is a Boutique Homes Property, located in the jungle of Yelapa, Mexico just a car ride and boat trip away from Puerto Vallarta. Something truly happens to you when you make that extra effort — and it’s not just because of the views or the organic food or the jungle humming you to sleep at night. It’s a place that asks you to take your walls down too, to connect and feel the world in a way that we are not often asked to do.

Verana will tune you and recalibrate your compass, inspiring your creative side like never before. This location hosted the first Trust and Travel writing retreat last year and I swear there is something magic in those hills. If this is your year to create something you’ve been talking about creating, this is the place to do it. If you’ve got a book inside you, a record to be written, a vision that needs to manifest — go here to plant the seed.

The Calile Hotel
The Calile Hotel
The Calile Hotel
14

Indulge in a moment of luxury in Brisbane, Australia at this well-appointed and food-forward hotel.

The Calile Hotel in Brisbane, QLD is the hotel that finally made me understand why splurging on a fancy hotel can be totally worthwhile. My girlfriend Jess is from the area, so we fly in and out of BNE often to visit family and so forth. Generally, we always book at least one night at this hotel, located on James Street, one of my favorite parts of the city (and not just because the best meat pies are located next door at the Standard Market).

Let’s get down to the brass tacks. The rooms are tastefully modern and, importantly, at no point do you feel your money is wasted. The hallways are open-air, so it lacks that stuffy, windowless feeling common in even the higher echelon establishments. When we can, we ask for a room facing the pool. It’s not long before we make our way down there either, because it’s one of my favorite hotel pools on the planet. There are incredibly comfy and weirdly private nooks that line the cityscape side, yet are still serviced by the staff of the hotel’s restaurant Hellenika, meaning glasses of sparkling wine magically keep arriving during your days spent poolside.

Why is this relevant? Because The Calile represents a charming trend in hotel design that goes beyond achieving luxury or excellent service. The place captures the feel of its environment. And instead of copying trends in Sydney or Melbourne, as may be the custom in more provincial service outposts, the Calile embraces its sub-tropical setting to the fullest extent.

By Mark C. Stevens
Contributing Writer
Aman
Amangiri
15

Glamping, minimalist design, and nature all meet in Utah at this plush resort.

If Instagram is any indicator, we can be pretty certain that Amangiri isn’t falling off of anyone’s radar anytime soon. The unbelievably beautiful resort has done an impeccable job of building the architecture of the hotel to blend into the surrounding desert and mountainous landscape. It’s also become a go-to wellness destination for anyone looking for a luxurious vacation.

Naturally, the modern and minimalistic design of the resort offers the perfect backdrop for all of those drool-worthy Instagram posts. Coming in April of this year, Camp Sarika, the resort’s take on glamping, will offer guests an added opportunity to completely unplug in one of ten luxury tents — complete with a private plunge pool — in the middle of the Utah desert. The tents are only a short walk or drive away from the main resort and offer even more privacy than is usually expected of Aman properties. Get ready Instagrammers, you’re sure to see even more of this photogenic hotel in the year to come.

By Kristin Corpuz
Contributing Writer
Christabel Lobo
Unsplash
16

Take a step back in time in this luxurious castle where food is the star of the show.

Set atop a steep hill of Hornstone breccia rock, Neemrana Hill Fort-Kesroli offers travelers to Rajasthan a unique chance to stay in a former 14th-century fort. Thought to have been built by the Yaduvanshi Rajputs, who claim to be descendants of Lord Krishna, the fort has changed owners many times since its inception: at one point in time, the Mughals, Jats, and Rajputs all walked its enduring halls and climbed the fort’s many, many winding staircases.

Now a luxury heritage hotel with an ethos of preserving the architecture and structure of this 700-year old property, Hill Fort-Kesroli offers travelers the ability to disconnect from modernity if only for a few days. Airy rooms and suites feature antique furnishings and vibrant pieces of Indian art; some have balconies that look out onto fields of yellow mustard flowers.

While WiFi is certainly available, do not expect the rooms to have TVs. Instead, you can spend your days exploring the area, taking a dip in the pool, or trying a bit of Rajasthani cuisine — dal bati churma (lentil curry) and laal maas (meat in red curry) are both must have-dishes!

By Christabel Lobo
Contributing Writer
Eaton Hotel DC
Christabel Lobo
Eaton Hotel DC
17

Culture, radio, food, and ideas collide in this innovative DC hotel and workspace.

Walk into the lobby of Eaton and, right off the bat, you know it’s not your traditional district hotel. Everything you see inside the property has an intent and purpose — from the sustainably sourced minibar snacks to the on-site wellness classes focused on crystal healing and shamanic journeys to the ingredients sourced from American Son and Kintsugi, this property challenges itself and its guests to be socially conscious and eco-friendly.

For me — apart from spending weekends sipping on craft cocktails at Allegory before heading upstairs to dance the night away at Wild Days — one of the best parts about Eaton is its commitment to our D.C. community. Throughout the year, the hotel functions as a community center, hosting a variety of thoughtful art exhibits, book readings, film screenings, live shows, and more. With Eaton Radio broadcasting from the ground floor of the hotel, you can tune in to the district from anywhere in the world.

No space is left bare here, either. In December, the hotel turned into a literal art billboard when Jamila El Sahili’s “Human Being” was displayed on its exterior.

By Christabel Lobo
Contributing Writer
LOGE Camps
LOGE Camps
LOGE Camps
18

This boutique hotel chain is repurposing old camps and motels and turning them into communal adventure hubs.

How would you like to be a short drive away from Mt. Bachelor? Or settled in on a secret surf spot on the Washington coast? How about being 15 minutes away from Colorado’s Copper Mountain? Well, that’s exactly the idea behind LOGE Camps, the boutique hotel chain that’s transforming run-down motels into adventure-ready basecamps.

With a variety of ways to stay — from traditional hotel rooms to hostel bunks and campsites — LOGE was inspired by the ‘70s cultures of surf, climbing, camping, and road-tripping. But these properties aren’t just places to sleep at night. Expect to find on-site gear rentals, fire pits that inspire community, and a calendar of events that attracts like-minded folks.

If you’re curious, LOGE stands for “Live Outside, Go Explore” — something the brand takes very seriously, which is why they care so much about bringing these retired spaces back to life. Beyond building responsibly, LOGE also donates a portion of its revenue to foundations that are in line with their mission to help foster responsible outdoor access. That’s just the sort of project we want to get behind.

There are currently five distinct LOGE locations scattered throughout the western U.S. in Bend, Oregon, Westport and Leavenworth, Washington, Mt. Shasta, California, and Breckenridge, Colorado.

By David Duran
Contributing Writer
RC Hotel Tokyo
Jenavieve Belair
19

This minimalist gem feels like a work of art, down to the last details.

RC Hotel is a straight-up work of art and the hottest place to stay if you’re visiting Kyoto. The energy of the space and who it attracts is, in and of itself, a reason to book a stay.

RC Hotel was built 50 years ago and served as an apartment building to residents of Yaska, Kyoto. Now only the concrete structure remains — redesigned, refurbished and remixed into a minimalistic and artistic haven, giving the building a fresh new start. Each floor has a unique theme, with a soundtrack in your room to play via a pull cord. The bar is a true experience where every detail is artfully designed.

Aside from the incredible accommodations, it’s RC Hotel’s location that really makes it a must. It’s situated right in the middle of Yasaka Street, in the heart of the Higashiyama district. Meaning that if you’re looking for those amazing photos on the cobblestone street with the Yasaka Shrine in the background, well… they’re right outside your room. One of my favorite coffee spots on earth can be found just down the way (% Arabica), which is how I got wise to this hotel to begin with. It’s an epicenter of historical richness with a vibrant clientele of up and coming artists.

Four Seasons
Four Seasons
Four Seasons
20

Looking for a mix of luxury, paradise, and a souciant of sustainable fishing? Look no further than this resort.

Seeking an exceptional experience on the Island of Hawaii? Look no further than the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. Surrounded by white sand beaches and black lava terrain, the luxury resort is an absolute stunner with lush tropical landscapes, sea-facing pools, and intimate bungalow accommodations. There’s even a 1.8-million gallon snorkeling cove carved out of natural lava rock where you can swim with 4,000 colorful reef fish and spotted eagle rays.

There are endless reasons to splurge on a stay here — the latest being a ‘Pond-to-Table’ offering that brings a hyper-local philosophy to next-level dining. The experience spotlights the innovative sustainable seafood program (tens of thousands of Pacific oysters and shrimp are grown and harvested on the property) and includes: A behind-the-scenes oyster pond visit, learning from the on-site marine naturalist, a Champagne and oyster tasting, a chef-led garden tour, and the opportunity to catch your own shrimp.

That evening, executive chef Thomas Bellec will prepare a customized, five-course feast for you, showcasing the freshly-harvested shellfish and other locally-grown produce at the resort’s open-air oceanfront restaurant. And just wait until you see the sunset!

By Megan Murphy
Contributing Writer
Marroitt
Cameron Lee
21

This London hotel combines luxury with cutting-edge high-tech flourishes in every room.

In 2019, The W London did a multimillion-dollar tech-based transformation to offer guests an immersive and memorable stay. After visiting this summer I can say it is by far the most exciting hotel in London currently. It’s made for the modern traveler who is looking to live outside the box a little. The rooms function off a system that allows guests to customize their check-in, room lighting, room service, temperature, and music through tablets. You can change the vibe of the music depending on your mood with a swipe on the tablet.

Most importantly, they also did a major collaboration with fashion designer Jack Irving (who designed for Lady Gaga) on the “techorative” pillow in each room. The spiked pillows appear muted to the naked eye and transform into an iridescent piece of art through the click of a camera flash. From the Insta-ready pink candy brunch on the weekends to their spin on afternoon tea with drag performers, this is definitely where you want to hit up in 2020 in London!

By Cameron Lee
Contributing Writer
Tokyo EDITION
Pawel Nolbert Unsplash
22

Get ready for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo by staying at one of the city’s newest, hottest, and best-designed hotels.

Set to be the first EDITION hotel in Japan, the Tokyo EDITION, Toranomon is slated to open its doors in the summer of 2020, just in time for the nearly half a million Olympic revelers to descend on the city. It’ll be Ian Schrager’s eleventh EDITION property worldwide, with numbers twelve and thirteen (Reykjavik and Dubai, respectively) coming in late 2020.

The Tokyo EDITION will rise from Tokyo’s upmarket neighborhood of Toranomon, close to iconic landmarks like Tokyo Tower and Tsukiji Fish Market, and walking distance to Roppongi where nightlife and restaurants reign. You know something special is brewing when the same architect who has designed the Tokyo National Olympic Stadium has also put his stamp on the hotel. In partnership with EDITION, renowned Japanese designer and architect Kengo Kuma has brought his unique vision to 205 rooms and suites, four bars and eateries, a pool, and a spa. EDITION enthusiasts will be excited to know that beloved EDITION cocktail bar, The Punch Room will also have a home in Tokyo.

By Courtney Scott
Contributing Writer
Unsplash
Alle Pierce
23

Embrace old-school English manorhouse living this year with some time in the English countryside.

Walking up to Whatley Manor on a chilly November morning felt like something out of an episode of Downton Abbey. Bright red leaves blanketed the hotel’s limestone walls and pumpkins lined the entryway. I was fully living out my fantasy of becoming Lady Mary Crawley and, once inside, the fairytale continued: A roaring fireplace, impressive staircase, and oh my God the spa!

You can find this 18th-century manor home-turned-hotel tucked away in the heart of the Cotswolds. And while Whatley Manor boasts all the amenities any traveler expects from a luxury hotel — a two Michelin starred restaurant, spa, cinema, impeccably designed rooms — it’s the property’s commitment to sustainability that sets it apart from the pack.

Visit the hotel’s website and you’ll find a laundry list of all the ways Whatley is reducing its impact on the environment. From swapping plastic toiletries for reusable ceramic containers in guest bathrooms to upgrading their entire kitchen to be fully energy efficient, Whatley Manor is demonstrating how luxury and sustainability can work hand in hand. The hotel works in partnership with EarthCheck to certify its level of sustainability and is constantly coming up with new ways to reduce its impact on the planet.

By Alle Pierce
Contributing Writer
Guldsmeden Hotels
66 Guldsmeden
24

This Copenhagen hideaway in the heart of the city is the perfect place to have a one-of-a-kind and hotel experience in 2020.

Ever wanted to stay in an Airstream but don’t have the four-wheel drive, the money to buy one, and, oh, you’re backpacking through Northern Europe? Well, that’s exactly what happened when I did a weekend trip to Copenhagen this winter. When a guest in the hostel I was staying in started rattling off the loudest snores I’ve heard in a decade, I booked 66 Guldsmeden for a night of peace and quiet. The Guldsmeden group of boutique hotels are all incredibly classy, but 66, in particular, feels special. It features two Airstream Bambis which you can book for your courtyard slumber. If you opt for a traditional room, know that they straight-up ooze charm, especially the tiled bathrooms.

Having bought a 1974 Tradewind Land Yacht last spring, it astonished me that Guldsmeden even got the things on their hotel terrace at all. Turns out they had to bust the gateway arch to accomplish said task. In an age when living the van life is the highest pinnacle of the savvy, slow travel Instagram set, grabbing a couple of nights mid-Euro-train tour feels impossibly cool. Plus, the staff offers great local food recommendations which you can easily afford after paying less than $100 per night.

By Mark C. Stevens
Contributing Writer
Muy'Ono Resorts
Muy'Ono Resorts
Muy'Ono Resorts
25

Muy’Ono is Belize at its most sustainable and photo-friendly.

Visit the tropical paradise of Belize and experience the country sustainably with Muy’Ono Resorts. The collection of unique and eco-conscious accommodations around the country put the environment and local community first, without skimping on luxurious amenities. Guests are gifted with aluminum reusable water bottles so it’s easy to avoid being wasteful with plastics. Innovative cocktails, made with fresh local herbs, are served with pasta straws. Several of the properties are powered by solar power, compost food waste, collect rainwater, and have eliminated single-use toiletries.

Each property is perfectly photogenic from the overwater bungalows at Thatch Caye to the luxurious suites tucked in the trees at Copal Tree Lodge. Go off-site and enjoy all that Belize has to offer — from phenomenal Mayan archaeological sites, rare birds watching at Sweet Songs, snorkeling along Earth’s second-largest reef, and learning about coral conservation from a Smithsonian scientist.

By Lola Mendez
Contributing Writer
Christabel Lobo
Sardar Samand
Jodhana Heritage
26

Live out your ‘Indiana Jones’ dreams by staying in a historic Indian fortress.

Sardar Samand Lake Palace may only be an hour’s drive away from Jodhpur, but you get there and you immediately feel like you’ve been transported back in time. Set on a sprawling property overlooking a calm, man-made lake, this building once functioned as the former hunting lodge of the royal family of Jodhpur.

Memorabilia in the form of monochrome photo frames, gramophones, taxidermied animals, and rare books from a bygone era adorn the stone walls and fine antique tables of the estate. While the Maharaja and his family still frequent the Art Deco property, guests get a choice of one of the eighteen expansive rooms, as well as access to the royal family’s freshwater stone swimming pool and indoor tennis and squash courts.

Spend a couple of nights on the property and you’re in for an incredible outdoor treat — wildlife safaris where you can expect to spot hyenas, wild boar, deer, blackbuck, and nilgai, star gazing (being the only property for miles has its benefits), nature trail walks, and unforgettable sunset picnics overlooking the serene lake.

By Christabel Lobo
Contributing Writer
Marroitt
Marroitt
W Aspen Marriott
27

The W Aspen is the luxe escape for any ski lover looking for sleek design nods and up-scale pampering.

Colorado’s bougiest mountain town has allowed a hotel to be developed for the first time in 25 years, and they couldn’t have made a better choice than the W Aspen.

In keeping with the W’s modern aesthetic, the W Aspen pulled from the area’s history as a mining town and Colorado’s modern-day cannabis culture by hiring renowned street artist Gaia to create murals throughout the hotel, from the gym to the stairwell to the rooftop pool. In keeping with the building’s history, which used to be a far more casual hotel, the W’s pool is available to the public, so you don’t even need to be a guest to enjoy it. The food and bar scenes on site embrace the local fare while offering both casual dining options and more refined living space. (Everything still goes by the rules of Colorado casual.)

If you’re in Aspen to ski, the W is the spot to be. Chairlifts rise from directly behind the hotel, giving you direct access to the slopes.

By Ali Wunderman
Contributing Writer
Mohamed Nashah Unsplash
Playa Viva
Soneva
28

World record-holding traveler Cassie De Pecol makes the case for embracing regenerative practices to go beyond off-setting your carbon footprint in 2020.

Just being “sustainable” isn’t enough anymore as a hotel property, you’ve got to be “regenerative.” That goes beyond just sustaining and respecting the environment, ecosystems, and economies. It means working to leave zero carbon-footprint while also helping to create further solutions to the most pressing issues facing local communities.

Two great examples of regenerative hotels are Playa Viva in Juluchuca, Mexico, and Soneva Fushi in the Maldives. Both are luxury properties — revered industry-wide. But both also go beyond sustainability and embrace regenerative practices.

What does that mean exactly? A regenerative hotel will have reverse osmosis systems in place which clean wastewater for reuse and they’ll give back to the local community and employ its residents. Each property should be working to regenerate the land they’re built on in a way that helps maintain and better the place. There should be a clear plan for the reuse of waste and a desire to approach zero waste altogether. “Single-use” shouldn’t be part of the equation.

Overall, it’s going to be a challenge for tourism businesses to have this mindset and truly embrace these ideas. They cost money. But by voting with your dollars, you can show them the net profitability of chasing long-term solutions for the environmental crisis facing us all.

By Cassie De Pecol
Contributing Writer