If 2022 was the year of “revenge travel”, we should travel even more in 2023. More and more countries are welcoming back travelers, and we can finally discover the new hotels and other cultural venues whose openings were delayed due to the pandemic. In response to this travel fever, airlines continue to rethink their offerings.
Where should lovers of wide open spaces and beautiful roads go? Each year before the summer, we pick the must-see destinations, whether you want to discover the most exciting museums, the most fascinating cultural revelations, or take the pulse of emerging trends. Whether it’s a star city with an ever-changing appeal, an undiscovered island or a remote rural area, our list includes places that will captivate all types of travelers..
One could almost believe to be on Mars in Lanzarote, this beautiful volcanic island of the Canaries. Little known to travelers, it has an incredible diversity of landscapes, from its small villages, perched high up, lined with palm trees to its fabulous black sand beaches, through its green national park populated by volcanoes or its new wellness resort that has just opened its doors.
As smart travelers know, the best way to escape the crowds on the streets of Capri is to spend a night there, enjoying the delights of the island’s nightlife once the daytime visitors are back on the boat. When it opens in the spring, the much-anticipated Hotel La Palma, part of the Oetker Collection designed by interior designer AD100 Francis Sultana, is expected to become the most glamorous new venue for a stay on the island.
Big Island, Hawaï
If you decided to discover Hawaii after seeing the first season of The White Lotus, you’re in luck. In 2023, the Rosewood Kona Village hotel will open on the Big Island. Its design inspired by the island itself is the work of architect Greg Warner, himself an island native, Walker Warner and AD100 decorator Nicole Hollis. The facility, which had its first life in the 1960s, will feature self-contained thatched cabins and several restaurants and bars, including a completely renovated Shipwreck Bar.
Less known than its neighbor Comporta, Melides is still one of the most beautiful destinations in Portugal. A few miles from Lisbon, on the coast, it is the local counterpart of a little low key. From its charming city center where you can parade through mazes of stores and cafes that open onto terraces to its wild beaches where you can meet surfers, locals, families or Christian Louboutin who is about to open a hotel.
Santa Ynez Valley, California, USA
The Santa Ynez Valley, just north of Santa Barbara, has already made a name for itself in the wine-loving community. The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, part of the Inn Resorts Collection in bucolic Los Olivos, is about to put its name on the global design map. The highly respected AvroKO agency reimagined this historic property of a tavern and self-contained cottages into a chic but relaxed retreat, which opened in February 2023.
Always at the forefront of architecture and design, Copenhagen will have the honor of being the Unesco World Capital of Architecture in 2023. The city will host 300 events throughout the year, including Open House Copenhagen and the UIA World Congress of Architects. Also of note: a series of new pavilions along the harbor, built by leading Danish architectural firms, including AD100 Bjarke Ingels Group.
A bit of glamour in the Scottish capital’s hotel offering thanks to a trio of flirty openings. The Gleneagles Townhouse, a Leading Hotels of the World affiliate, opened last year in a restored heritage building with chic design by Aime Studios. The Red Carnation Hotel Collection’s 100 Princes Street will open next in the spring, followed by a W Hotel scheduled for late 2023.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
One of Europe’s most beautiful capitals, Amsterdam, is expected to see art lovers from around the world flock to the largest Vermeer exhibition ever held at the Rijksmuseum. Stay at the newly renovated Hotel De L’Europe, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, or the newly opened Anantara Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, with a Michelin-starred restaurant and soothing spa.
High in the Himalayas, Ladakh was once uncharted territory, but new accommodations, restaurants and luxury experiences are now attracting the most adventurous travelers to this remote region. The vernacular architecture is a must-see, from centuries-old Buddhist monasteries to sustainably designed safari-style camps for slow travelers. So let Extraordinary Journeys organize your stay and, in addition to monasteries, palaces and stupas, you may even spot the elusive snow leopards.
With Bali a little too overrun with tourists, savvy travelers are now turning to Lombok, an island east of Bali. In 2023, it will be home to two new Design Hotels: Innit Lombok, consisting of two-bedroom detached villas inspired by traditional Lumbung-style houses, and Somewhere Lombok, designed for luxurious rest, all in natural materials, with an Indonesian fusion restaurant and spa to relax in.
After closing its borders for two and a half years due to the pandemic, Japan has finally reopened its doors to tourists. In 2023, plan to visit the lesser known island of Kyushu, where hot springs and traditional ryokans abound. Beautiful hotels are also plentiful there, starting with the InterContinental Beppu Resort & Spa (opening in 2019) and the Kengo Kuma-designed Hoshino Resort KAI Yufuin, which opened last summer.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town has emerged in recent years as one of Southern Africa’s leading design destinations, with a host of vibrant galleries and showrooms, including established big names like Southern Guild, cutting-edge spaces like The Fourth, and enticing new shops like Always Welcome. Meanwhile, the transformed V&A Waterfront continues to make news, with the upcoming opening of Marble restaurant and the dramatic refresh of the One&Only Cape Town complex, which puts emerging artists at the heart of its project with a gallery of contemporary African art, but also design with ceramics and beaded pots.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Safari lodges in northern Botswana have been little visited in the past two years, as travel difficulties have kept animal lovers away from this fabulous southern African territory, known for its natural splendor, abundant wildlife, and sparse human presence. But Wilderness safaris are now well prepared to meet the renewed enthusiasm and previously frustrated demand. In the Linyanti Game Reserve, this historic safari organizer has not only rebuilt its iconic DumaTau Camp but expanded it, adding the more intimate Little DumaTau Camp (perfect for groups). Just a short plane ride away in the Okavango Delta, Wilderness has also carefully refreshed the popular Vumbura Plains camp, incorporating local crafts and materials, including light fixtures woven by Vumbura team members. Finally, there’s the 2019 transformation of Jao Camp, with thatched suites and two spectacular villas, a grand spa, and perhaps the Delta’s most remarkable thatched-dome pool. And that’s not to mention, of course, the elephants, giraffes, lions, and impalas that await you.
Ecuador’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site has long attracted tourists to admire its Spanish colonial architecture, but now the South American metropolis can also boast of being a mecca for contemporary architecture. Skyscrapers and other sustainable projects by Jean Nouvel, the Bjarke Ingels Group and Carlos Zapata are changing the city’s skyline and paving the way for a more environmentally friendly future.
As an alternative – or perhaps a complement – to a safari in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Amboseli National Park offers incredible views of Mount Kilimanjaro and great opportunities to see wildlife up close. In late 2023, design-savvy travelers will have an added reason to visit: the launch of Angama Amboseli, designed by the talented team behind Angama Mara Lodge. When you land in Nairobi, you can spend a night at Eden Nairobi, an intimate, eclectically styled hotel and former home of fashion designer Anna Trzebinski and her husband Tonio, before perhaps spending a few days in the Maasai Mara at Sir Richard Branson’s designer safari camp, Mahali Mzuri.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Baltimore began as a shipping town, hosting ships loaded with tobacco and grain. But today, the city has become a much different port of call, attracting creatives from all over the East Coast in search of a decadent vacation. It’s all thanks to the Ulysses Hotel, the latest success story from multidisciplinary agency AD100 ASH. The sophisticated, eclectic and sometimes delightfully kitschy property – it’s impossible not to mention the fabulous Bloom Lounge – was an instant hit, bringing attention to a city that, for many, had fallen off the radar. Steeped in history, Baltimore is nonetheless worth exploring, from the Walters Art Museum to the Baltimore Museum of Art’s Matisse galleries to the impressive Peabody Library. On a recent visit, a group of hard-to-please New Yorkers could be heard wondering aloud, “But why didn’t we come here before?” quickly followed by, “When are we coming back?”
Forget Ibiza and Mallorca: all the most interesting designers and artisans are currently migrating to Menorca, the chicest and most authentic island in the Balearics. Among the must-see galleries are Galéria Cayón, Lithica Foundation, and of course Hauser & Wirth, which opened their location in Menorca in 2021. You can stay at Can Albertí, a luxury boutique hotel within the walls of a palace built in 1740, or in the whitewashed walls of Villa Le Blanc, a new addition to the Leading Hotels of the World.
Punta del Este, Uruguay
Fly to Montevideo and spend a few days exploring Uruguay’s vibrant capital before heading to the chic beaches of Punta del Este: enjoy summer in the southern hemisphere! Here you can visit the new Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Atchugarry, Uruguay’s first contemporary art museum, before heading to nearby Jose Ignacio to see James Turrell’s Skyspace installation at Posada Ayana, which opened in 2021.
Rather than putting your bags down on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, why not fly to the Mediterranean? A favorite city of artists, poets and other intellectuals, Tangier is one of its best kept secrets. Immortalized a hundred times in the cinema (Un thé au Sahara by Bernardo Bertolucci, Les temps qui changent by André Techiné, Only lovers left alive by Jim Jarmusch…), one can enjoy a colorful city, sublime gardens and beaches from which to admire the sparkling sea.
Wedged between Indian Sikkim and Tibet, Bhutan is a rare destination because it is little known. Surprising, when you know that this “country of happiness” has breathtaking landscapes. Nestled between the Himalayan mountains, carved out of valleys where rivers flow and are fed by the eternal snows, nature is king. The only visible human trace are the Buddhist monasteries clinging to the cliffs that contemplate the Himalayan immensity. Another asset, it is also one of the first eco-responsible countries that has a 100% organic agriculture.