travel

Travel - Hot List 2012 (Part 1)

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This year’s Hot List vovers 29 countries from Argentina to Vietnam. The 60 hotels in our final selection were chosen from hundreds of suggestions from our correspondents worldwide. Despite the economic climate there were many strong contenders; and the best vary from futuristic towers to ocean- edge villas and revamped grandees dames. Plus, in this Olympic year, we offer a preview of the hotels about to open in London.

Hot List 2012 - Asia Australia

India: The Oberoi, Gurgaon

Description: The Oberoi, Gurgaon

The Oberoi, Gurgaon

Welcome to the next level in Indian luxury. Located in the city of Gurgaon, some 30km south of Delhi, the new Oberoi Gurgaon has set a new benchmark for India’s urban hotels. Gurgaon is an important commercial hub dominated by cranes and construction workers building corporate headquarters call centres and a multitude of malls claiming to be ‘the largest in Asia’. In stark contrast to this congested, dusty din, the Oberoi is a cool oasis set in nine acres of the most valuable real estate in India. The architecture is sleek; the lofty public spaces bathed in natural light. The somewhat stark interior design is softened by impressive contemporary art, a cobalt- blue reflection pool and a massive ‘living wall’ planted with almost 3,000 wedelia plants. The bedrooms are among the largest in India (even entry- category rooms are the size of suites in most other high- end hotels) and luxurious touches include a round- the- clock butler service, a 24- hour spa (particularly useful given Delhi’s unsociable flight times), suites with heated lap pools, a modern India restaurant speccialising in fresh seafood (flown in daily) and a cigar humidor room.

When to go

Avoid the scorching hot months of April and May leading up to the monsoon. Delhi’s best weather is between October and March, the Indian winter season.

Room to book

The Premier category rooms on the fourth floor have the best views across the reflection pool to the spectacular jewel- box lobby.

00 91 124 245 1234; www.oberoihotels.com. Double from $716

China - Hotel ICON – Hong Kong

Description: Hotel ICON – Hong Kong

Hotel ICON – Hong Kong

First things first: discard any thoughts of yet another hotel stuffed into a skyscraper in the vaguely louche environs of Tsim Sha Tsui East. Rather, ICON’s architecture suggests a high- rise greenhouse or aquarium, with light flooding a lobby that stretches across the entire ground floor. A 230- quare- metre vertical garden provides a delicious trompe- I’oeil effect and, as an adjunct to the Polutechnic University. ICON is imbued with a youthful air. All of this contrast neatly with the veteran designers who helped shape the hotel, of whom Sir Terence Conran and local heroes Rocca Yim, Vivienne Tam and Barney Cheng are probably the best known: Justin Wong is less renowned, but his abstract cartoons do much to brighten the upper floors. And while all the hotel’s 262 rooms and suites are excellent examples of a work- and- play ethos, it is the upper floor that make the most sense. The main reason for this is the club lounge, Above & Beyond, which is a sparkling, cosmopolitan salon with the look of permanent cocktail hour. Next door, Chef Joseph Tse demonstrates why food is the subject of so many Cantonese conversations. Final plaudits go to the health club, where nine- metre- high windows look over metropolitan views best described as panoramic.

Description: The vertical garden at Hotel ICON

The vertical garden at Hotel ICON

When to go

Hong Kong is a year- round destination, but the weather is (usually) at its dreariest from January to March.

Room to book

Anything facing south or with some sort of angle on the harbour.

00 852 3400 1000; www.hotel-icon.com. Double from $274

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