Ten Top New Hotels

Posted by Learn More | 8:06 PM

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Looking for a hotel that really stands out from the crowd? Travel magazine Travel + Leisure has come up with its third annual list of the top 30 best new hotels of 2008 with ten top hotels listed below.

The "It" list is compiled by editors at Travel + Leisure and is not endorsed by Reuters. The full list can be viewed here.

1. Banyan Tree Maldives Madivaru (beach hotel)

Banyan Tree, accessible by seaplane, is built in safari style: elaborate tents, a jungle setting, and its own aquarium lapping from the shore. The price is steep, but this is a camping trip without comparison with staff to indulge your every whim.

2. J.K. Place Capri, Italy (beach hotel)

Surely one of Europe's most stylish recent openings, this nautical design hotel feels like staying at a chic friend's house. Drink Bellinis on the terrace while watching the beach below.

3. Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya, Mexico (beach hotel)

One of the most anticipated hotel openings this year, the winning Mandarin formula of exemplary service, forward-reaching design, a first-rate spa-has taken root in a pristine Mexican coastal environment. Acres of mangrove forest surround 128 boxy white villas with sculptures by prominent Mexican artists, creating the most sophisticated resort on Mexico's eastern coast.

4. Six Senses Hideaway, Yao Noi, Thailand (beach hotel)

All the beauty of a remote destination without the hassle of being entirely off the grid. On the island of Yao Noi, 45 minutes by boat from Phuket, guests are surrounded by lush jungle, tiny fishing villages, and untouched beaches. The resort has 56 villas and private plunge pools in a pristine environment.

5. Qualia, Hamilton Island, Australia (beach hotel)

Billing itself as Australia's first seven-star hotel, Qualia has the requisite luxury trappings -- personal infinity pools, a 1,000-bottle wine cellar -- but the real stars here are architect Chris Beckingham and chef Stephane Rio, who have modernized the notion of an Australian reef resort. Airy one-bedroom pavilions combine native styles and materials with Rio using indigenous ingredients in unexpected ways.

6. Haymarket Hotel, London (city hotel)

Kit Kemp has released an arsenal of bold colors and supergraphic effects on the former American Express London headquarters in the heart of the theater district. Kemp and her husband/business partner Tim Kemp have struck a balance between a classic English manor and a buzzy film- and-art world haunt.

7. Regent Bal Harbour, Florida (city hotel)

Regent's first property in the United States has got the beautiful beachfront, the country's first Guerlain Spa, a $4 million art collection, but no Euro-lounge sound track pumping into the lobby. It's all about the signifiers of luxury: Anichini bedding, plasma television screens embedded in bathroom mirrors, and a dazzling crystal chandelier.

8. Hotel Fasano, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (city hotel)

In his second property, restaurateur Rogerio Fasano has designed spare, breezy rooms environments with leather-upholstered Mies daybeds, Amazonian wood side tables.

9. JIA Shanghai, China (city hotel)

Ensconced in a 1920's building on fashionable West Nanjing Road, the 55-room hotel adds a needed dose of boutique intimacy to the city's booming hotel scene. Its Asian-contemporary hideaway of dark wood floors, embroidered fabrics, and elegant birdcages sit alongside Knoll and Moroso furniture and free Wi-Fi.

10. Onguma Plains, The Fort on Fisher's Pan, Etosha, Namibia (rustic hotel)

Northern Namibia is Africa's Next Great Safari Frontier, partly due its wildlife, but also because of its wealth of high-quality luxury lodges, like this camp on a private

50,000-acre game reserve, five minutes from Etosha National Park. Carved antique doors, billowy curtains, and reflecting pools, it's as if a casbah were relocated to the continent's south. Two of each guest room's walls are made of canvas and can be opened to reveal the plains like an Impressionist painting.