Hotel Bardo – Savannah, Ga.

The Best Hotels That Opened This Spring

BY Matt Meltzer | April 28, 2024

It was only yesterday you were planning that ski vacation that never materialized, but, would you look at that — summer travel season is almost upon us. The hotels that opened this spring are already on it and offer all sorts of summery fun. For instance, there’s a tennis-themed Aloft in Florida, and a primetime seaside escape in Newport, R.I. You can also post up by the Pacific in a sea otter suite, or delve into the Deep South at old mansions in New Orleans and Savannah. The hottest new American hotels of spring are ready to make your summer getaway actually happen.

Aloft Orlando Lake Nona – Lake Nona, Fla.

Tennis enthusiasts have a new destination hotel as the Aloft Orlando Lake Nona has gone all-in on the game. As the closest hotel to the USTA National Campus, this Aloft takes full advantage of its proximity offering one-on-one and group training sessions with USTA pros. On the property, guests can sit in on regular coffee chats with professional tennis players, tackle tennis drills on the lawn and get their racquets restrung onsite. The lobby is stacked with tennis-themed books, and the ground-floor restaurant Tempo + Grace offers a full menu of tennis-inspired food and drinks. Those who want to visit the USTA Campus can ride the Aloft’s autonomous Beep shuttle, a fun example of the fast-paced technology that’s fueling Lake Nona’s growth.

Hotel Bardo – Savannah, Ga.

Savannah is a place of grand history and lush public spaces. You’ll get a hearty helping of both at the new Hotel Bardo, set inside the 1888 Forsyth Mansion beside the sprawling city park of the same name. The stately redbrick mansion exudes old-world luxury, though the interior skews more Lowcountry pastel than deep brass and dark woods. Light pours into most rooms via large, rounded windows, brightening the wood floors and soft natural furnishings. The pool deck and attached new building feel like a tropical resort in the city, with a spacious area for sunning below pink umbrellas and desert palms. And the on-site restaurant Saint Bibiana combines Southern staples with Italian inspirations on its small shared-plate menu.

The Celestine – New Orleans, La.

The Celestine very much puts the French in French Quarter, where wrought-iron balconies, cozy courtyards and 1800s art evoke a decidedly Continental spirit. Still, this is the Big Easy, so the hotel has gained much of its early acclaim for Peychaud’s, the downstairs bar named after the chemist who developed his namesake bitters and once lived in this 1791 home. Rooms are as diverse and aesthetically alluring as the neighborhood they reside in, ranging from small balcony pieds-à-terre with views of the courtyard to exposed-brick attic rooms that feel very turn-of-the-century industrial. Nearly all have four-post beds and some sort of antique furniture, and every inch of the hotel is teeming with genuine Creole character.

The Flat Iron Hotel – Asheville, N.C.

Downtown Asheville’s Flatiron Building was among the city’s first skyscrapers, a 1927 architectural wonder designed by Albert C. Wirth. It housed Asheville’s first radio station, and was a former playground of F. Scott Fitzgerald and other Roaring ’20s notables. This spring, it returned to its original glory as a 71-room hotel, complete with a ’20s-style speakeasy at the Red Ribbon Society and a forthcoming rooftop with views out over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Room décor is a tribute to the building’s early days, with globe lamps, preserved transom windows and tile bathrooms. The Flat Iron also offers easy access to downtown and South Slope, so you won’t have to go far to experience all the other new stuff popping up in Asheville.

The George – Georgetown, S.C.

Photo by Andrew Cebulka.

Set between the shores of Myrtle Beach and the cobblestone streets of Charleston, Georgetown is the South Carolina Lowcountry’s laid-back historic gem. The coastal town’s idyllic charm is everywhere at the new 56-room George, from the wood-and-wicker décor to the animal-inspired artwork portraying the surrounding nature. The on-site restaurant The Independent is a tribute to the city’s old seafood market, and serves an impressive menu of Southern seafood classics. Rooms are bright and light-colored, reminding guests they’re near the coast without bombarding them with nautical themes. Guests can also enjoy craft cocktails at Eliza’s, the hotel’s waterfront cocktail bar that features bay breezes and warming firepits.

HarborWalk Inn – Morro Bay, Calif.

Set in the shadows of El Morro, this intimate bay-front inn stands as the centerpiece of the new HarborWalk Plaza, Morro Bay’s buzzy new shopping-and-dining destination. Make no mistake, this isn’t a corporate takeover of a quaint California coastal town; the HarborWalk Inn is a family-run enterprise, where each of its eight suites is themed after a fun ocean creature. These rooms sleep between three and five people, with light fixtures sculpted to look like jellyfish in the Jellyfish Suite and an above-water look at frolicking otters in the Otter Suite. There’s even a Mermaid Suite, complete with firepit and a mermaid tail cactus. If you want to scope your suite before you go, the hotel has 360-degree virtual tours available on its website.

Hotel Landy – Orlando, Fla.

Photo by Michael Kleinberg

Staying near Orlando’s glut of theme parks typically involves an unappealing choice of expensive park resorts, chain hotels or motels that could have been featured in “The Florida Project.” Universal Drive gets a much-needed jolt of personality with the opening of Hotel Landy, a 400-room Tribute Portfolio jam that feels much more like an intimate boutique. The hotel offers a sunswept lawn for outdoor games, as well as a 24-hour kinetic game room for days when the weather won’t cooperate. The massive swimming pool has a convenient pool deck bar, if your kids are old enough to roam the parks alone and you’d rather kick back with a cocktail. Interior design is bright and very Florida, filled with pastels and palm trees but stopping short of tacky. For food and drinks, the Émilie Bar and Lounge is a fun tribute to mathematician Émilie du Châtelet, whose work led to the development of roller coasters.

Newport Harbor Island Resort – Newport, R.I.

Hotels in stately Newport often evoke Gilded Age glamour, where old money and classical taste dominate the vacation lodging landscape. In redoing the old Gurney’s resort on Goat Island, the people behind the Newport Harbor Island Resort sought to change that in their $50 million renovation, beginning with all-new artwork commissioned from local artists. Rooms are done in light woods reminiscent of summer beach homes, and the saltwater pool sits right on the Narragansett Bay with views of the Claiborne Pell Bridge. You can also enjoy the waterfront locale with cocktails at The Pineapple Club, or while gathering around the resort’s plush firepits. Yachtsmen will delight in the 22-slip marina, so you can spend your days sailing before retiring inside. Later this year the signature 1639 restaurant will bring all varieties of fresh seafood for lunch and dinner service.

Petit Soleil – San Luis Obispo, Calif

Photo credit: Blake Bronstead

This SLO newcomer promises to be the area’s first B, B&B, as Santa Barbara cocktail masters Good Lion Hospitality add “beverage” to the traditional lineup of bed and breakfast. The 17-room, European-inspired downtown boutique puts a big focus on its cocktail program, offering curated drinks in its sunny, velvet-banquette dining room. Guests can also enjoy fine wines at the nightly aperitif hour, accompanied by Alle-Pia cured meats and fresh baked goods. After making the most of the “beverage” part of Petit Soleil, the “bed” part will be calling, and the rooms make it especially inviting with large, overstuffed furniture and calming wood floors. The “breakfast” component ain’t bad either, with fresh fruits, seasonal vegetable frittatas and local pour-over coffee. 

Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa – Honolulu, Hawaii

Ocean view room at the Renaissance

Hard to believe, but the last time Oahu saw a full-service hotel built from scratch was 1990. The 34-year wait is over as the island welcomes its first new luxury property outside Waikiki with the opening of the Renaissance. Each room boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, giving guests a perfect sense of place as they wake up to views of Diamondhead, Waikiki and the green mountains of Oahu. The rooms also offer deep tubs for those who like an after-beach soak, though soaking aficionados can head up to the spa where the island’s first Japanese ofuro soaking tubs await. The spa sits on the eighth-floor Sky Deck, where you’ll also find Himalayan salt saunas, cold plunges and the outdoor lap pool set inside a tropical garden surrounded by modern high-rises.

Thompson Houston – Houston, Texas

To date, Houston has been a little behind the curve in the Instagrammable hotel rooftop pool department. That changes with the opening of the new Thompson, which in addition to sweeping views of one of the best urban parks in America at Buffalo Bayou also has a stunning panorama of the Space City skyline. Not far from the pool you’ll find the rooftop restaurant Sol 7, where guests can enjoy seasonal offerings and drinks with the view. Further down the 36-story, HOK-designed skyscraper, luxurious rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, marble bathrooms and custom furnishings, all made to evoke a feeling of old-timey Texas. The Thompson also brings the first stand-alone shop for local coffee sensation Maven Coffee, the brainchild of former Astro Lance McCullers Jr.