With companies like VRBO and Airbnb redefining the way we travel, it has never been more critical for hotels to beef up the basics—and we’re not talking about thread counts and free Wi-Fi. These days, how well we eat and drink is as important to our travel happiness as where we ultimately decide to lay our heads. These are eight hotels where you can do both in style.
The new Freehand Los Angeles’ shared bunk rooms start at $55 (and private rooms at $229), in keeping with the hipster hostel inspiration of the mini chain. Set in a historic 1920s building, the LA lobby may be Freehand’s most striking yet, with its 1970s-meets-Yosemite flair and lofty ceilings. The Exchange serves modern Middle Eastern cuisine, while Café Integral offers excellent coffee. Rudolph’s in the lobby and Broken Shaker on the rooftop both mix ambitious cocktails, and the playful rooftop pool is a sea of pinks engulfed by the skyscrapers of downtown.
Fairmont Pacific Rim scores major points for its Willow Stream Spa, green initiatives and suites featuring private patios and outdoor fireplaces. The hotel is also home to Botanist, a restaurant with an edible-plant-filled garden, a wine list that skews organic and a molecular cocktail lab under the direction of bar star Grant Sceney. Drinks reflect local natural elements and might be whimsically served in bird glasses or perched on driftwood. Downstairs, The Lobby Lounge boasts live music, cocktails and the city’s first 100 percent Ocean Wise sushi menu of all sustainable seafood.
Retrophiles and romantics alike are swept up in the midcentury furniture and vintage signage of this 1965 hotel. The rooms are luxuriously retro with a modern flair, many stocked with spirits and local gourmet snacks. Low country meets French brasserie in Henrietta’s bistro downstairs, while Ryan Casey’s elegant cocktails flow in all of the hotel’s bars, including the the Living Room lobby bar. Stay tuned for a future rooftop bar, blessed with jaw-dropping views of Charleston.
On the east side of Diamond Head, the legendary Kahala Hotel & Resort is a luxury respite from tourist-packed Waikiki. Home to Kahala Spa and a natural ocean-water lagoon with resident dolphins, the hotel steps up its dining game at the five restaurants overseen by executive chef Wayne Hirabayashi. Last summer, Hoku’s gained new chef de cuisine Eric Oto, a fisherman who catches, smokes and pickles his fresh bounty. The hotel also hosts winemaker dinners, while The Veranda is the spot for afternoon tea and cocktails on the lanai with local twists and evening jazz.
Hong Kong is blessed with some of the world’s best hotels, including the original Mandarin Oriental and the luxurious Langham Hong Kong. Tucked away in the heart of the bustling city, The Pottinger delivers that rare H.K. boutique experience, with just 68 rooms in soothing tones. The hotel boasts one of H.K.’s most playfully elegant bars/restaurants, The Envoy, with a British colonial theme and Chinese-British afternoon tea. Hungie Fong, Antonio Lai and Amanda Wan’s whimsical cocktails might be served in an owl or dinosaur egg, whether a spirituous sipper, tea cocktail or Hot Toddy. And The Pottinger doesn’t slouch on the food, with offerings that range from the refined Italian of Gradini Ristorante e Bar Italiano to the modern Chinese of two-Michelin-starred Ta Vie.
Located on historic St. John’s Square, The Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell has been a hit with cocktail geeks for years. The 13 eclectic rooms put you in the mind of old-school London with a modern attitude. Ditto the quirky, comfy Cocktail Lounge serving afternoon tea with scotch quail eggs and tea sandwiches. Molecular drink pioneer Tony Conigliaro’s cocktails were created just for The Zetter (a Fennel Seed Sour, anyone?). In 2015, it added a second Marylebone location further west in a 24-bedroom Georgian townhouse with a similar eccentric design, afternoon tea service and Seymour’s Parlour, also serving Conigliaro cocktails.
From the moment you hit the lobby near the top of the Conrad Chicago hotel, you’re enveloped by the city’s views. Rooms marry an almost 1970s opulence with modern understatement (think velvet rust-colored couches, brass and wood accents and floor-to-ceiling windows). The 20th-floor bar and restaurant, Baptiste & Bottle, serves crudo and kimchi black garlic bison beside those same amazing views. Tableside carts deliver craft cocktails that pay tribute to American whiskey, sometimes with liquid nitrogen and other dramatic effects. In the spring, it opened Noyane on the rooftop (closed until spring when the weather warms up), serving sushi, wagyu beef, Japanese whisky and cocktails set to more of those skyline panoramas.
Amid the faux Italian canals and endless shopping of Las Vegas’ sprawling Venetian hotel, you’ll find some of the best cocktails on the Strip. Case in point: The Dorsey, helmed by lead bartender Juyoung Kang, who can whip up vibrant sippers like the Mosquito, made with Campari liqueur, mezcal, lemon and spicy-fresh ginger juice. Chica serves Latin cuisine ranging from Mexico to Peru alongside Spanish-style Gin & Tonics and Tiki-inspired cocktails. The newest kid on the Venetian block is Rosina, which brings an Art Deco aesthetic, classic cocktails and a Champagne call button to an intimate setting of barely 65 seats, which by Vegas standards is tiny.
Mixing your cocktail