Must-Visit Tokyo Neighborhoods
Excellent areas to find Michelin-starred dining, art and design, and everything in between.
Plus, Italy, Boston, and a few stops out west. These are the hotels our editors loved this month.
AS A SELF-DESCRIBED king of staycations, I have spent the past year moonlighting as a tourist in my own town, spending a night (or two or three) in as many New York City hotels as I can. This not only gives me a sense of how all of my hometown stays stack up against one another, but it also indulges my love of hotels in general. Over the past month, as I seemed to travel from one hot city to another, an icy hotel room felt like the ultimate respite from the true dog days of summer (even better if it had a pool). This month, my colleagues and I have been all over the place, from Paris and near Tokyo to Jackson Hole; and while all of these places and properties offer very different amenities and environments, the experience they provide — a sense of rest and refuge, a bit of escape from the realities of the world — is often remarkably the same. — T. Cole Rachel
While there is no shortage of beautiful hotels in Paris, few feel as stately or as eternally chic as The Peninsula. On a recent visit, I finally made it a point to dine at L’Oiseau Blanc, the 2-Michelin-starred restaurant that offers not only sublime food, but also one of the city’s most incredible views. The Eiffel Tower looms large nearby, and the restaurant itself boasts a life-sized replica of the aircraft once flown by Charles Nungesser and François Coli, who were the first pilots to attempt a non-stop transatlantic crossing. Chef David Bizet also maintains a beautiful rooftop garden in which sage, basil, marigold, green grapes, and zucchini flowers are picked fresh and given star treatment in some of his signature dishes. If the hotel itself wasn’t gorgeous enough, the dining options (including a Chinese fine-dining experience downstairs called LiLi) send it into the stratosphere. Truly magnifique. — Cole
There’s a world of art and architecture beyond the Forum and the Colosseum.
Navigating the art of Japanese hospitality among the finest hotels and ryokans in...
It has been at the top of my husband’s parenting bucket list to take our kids to a Red Sox game. He’s a born and bred New Englander, and Fenway Park is so much more than a ballpark — consider it his church, where the spirit of his childhood comes alive today. While visiting the park, we stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel Boston and were blown away. I had a feeling that the newly renovated property would hold up to the stunning images I had seen online — floor-to-ceiling windows both in the rooms and surrounding the indoor pool with sweeping city views, insanely comfortable beds, and a well-designed on-site restaurant and artisanal coffee shop. What surprised me was the vast family-friendly amenities at such an opulent property. As I checked into the hotel, my son and daughter were led to a secret door behind the concierge desk that was packed with toys, games, and art supplies — all available for the taking. As we made our way up to our room, we discovered child-sized robes and slippers, which encouraged us to lean into a room-service experience (a first for my little ones). They chose items from the kids’ menu, and their jaws nearly dropped to the floor when their dinner was rolled in and placed in front of their bed. After dinner, we checked out The Vault, a new addition on each floor of the property, which is open 24/7 and is stocked with drinks, snacks, and candy. Needless to say, I had to pry my kids from the room when it was time to head home.
— Hailey Andresen
My journey to Costa Smeralda will forever be the most glorious 48 hours of exploring abroad. Now some of you may be thinking that that’s not enough time, but I assure you that I made the most of every minute in the Italian sun. This summer, I was able to stay and celebrate the launch of Assouline’s new book dedicated to Hotel Cala di Volpe. Inside the iconic ’60s resort, I found myself marveling at the stunning craftsmanship of the rooms. From the organic forms and terra-cotta exteriors to the pastel accents designed by Jacques Couëlle. Much like the gentle tides outside, you cascade easily through the arches. Playful touches such as small colored glass hidden within the walls and a handprint courtesy of Couëlle himself make this truly a one-of-a-kind place. I could spend days simply sitting by the bay taking in the pristine turquoise waters or relaxing by the saltwater pool, but a bit more adventure was in store. A quick boat ride across the Cala Petra Ruja took me to Nikki Beach for some sushi. From out on the water, it’s easy to see how the secluded beauty of Costa Smeralda attracts a roster of famous guests: Princess Diana, and Queen B and Jay-Z among them. Despite my short time here, I felt at peace. A moment of escape that I can’t wait to return to. — Lisa Lok
When people who love the outdoors travel to Jackson Hole, the question is: Should they go in the summer when the hiking is fabulous, or wait until winter for skiing? The obvious answer: Do both, if you can. I stayed at Hotel Terra and its sister hotel Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa this summer with some friends and found both hotels, which are located in Teton Village just outside of Jackson proper, to be ideal jumping-off points for outdoor adventures. You can see the ski slopes from your hotel room, which means that you can be on the trail or the lift five minutes after walking out of the lobby. (Pro tip for summer travelers: Check out the Wildflower Trail. It’s steep, but the views and wildflowers are stunning, and there’s a restaurant waiting for you at the top.) Both hotels are about as close as you can be to Grand Teton National Park as well. On our last day, we rented the hotel’s electric bikes and found a breathtaking loop through the park, where we met a local in his 60s who whooped and hollered for joy on each downhill. I guess living in a place with this much majestic beauty gets you pretty psyched on life. As for the hotels themselves, since both are equally well-located, which one you choose is just a question of aesthetics: If you’re looking for a classic, rugged Wyoming look, you’ll want Teton Mountain Lodge, while Hotel Terra, with its Italian-inspired eatery and chic, modern interiors, has a more cosmopolitan vibe. Twist my arm, I’ll come back in the winter.
— Laura Smith
I’ve been telling myself that where I was raised is the West Coast equivalent to the Hudson Valley town where I now live, and last month I was able to put this notion to the test. I flew into San Francisco early on a Tuesday, hopped in my best friend’s car, and drove to Grass Valley for check-in at the Holbrooke Hotel that same afternoon. The boutique hotel, which is nestled in the Sierra Nevada foothills, has undergone a massive renovation that challenges nearly every memory I have of the space. I recall strolling past the hotel on Main Street during Thursday Night Market — squinting into the dimly lit building as I savored my hand-dipped ice cream bar from Lazy Dog. Returning to the Holbrooke over 20 years later, I am awestruck by the serene rooms and modern touches. The original structure that now houses the Holbrooke Hotel, Golden Gate Saloon, and The Iron Door goes way beyond my time. The property was originally built in 1852, and while the hotel has transformed tremendously over the last 170-plus years, much of its historical charm remains intact today. My friend and I filled up on excellent Mexican-inspired dishes such as aguachile hamachi, braised short rib, and tuna tostada at Golden Gate Saloon. We explored the well-curated gift shop next door, took in a movie at the storied Del Oro Theatre, and may have gone slightly overboard at Lost and Found Vintage.
The next morning we took a short, nostalgic hike near the Yuba River to swim before heading to The National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City (a sister property of the Holbrooke that is also newly revamped and shiny, yet almost as old). Upon stepping inside, you are immediately presented with an array of colors and patterned wallpaper that is mismatched to perfection. To the left is the delicious restaurant, Lola, where I convinced my once-vegetarian friend to split oysters and beef carpaccio, plus whipped ricotta topped with farm-fresh tomatoes and peaches. We shuffled around Summer Nights — exploring makers’ booths and watching the fire dancers before turning in at our spacious room. We awoke early for coffee on the communal, sun-drenched second-floor patio overlooking the street where all the action had taken place the night before. As we chatted, it was clear that my hunch was true — my hometown is absolutely the West Coast version of the Hudson Valley. — Hailey
Lutetia is enough to turn anyone into a Left Bank enthusiast.
When it comes to Paris, I’ve always been a Left Bank (or Rive Gauche) kinda guy. Whereas across the Seine on the Right Bank, there’s the Louvre, the Tuileries, and so many other marquee wonders, the Left has a sense of both cool and class: the bohemianism of Cafe de Flore, the shopping at Le Bon Marché, and the pure perfection of the Hotel Lutetia, an absolutely glamorous luxury palace where Pablo Picasso and Josephine Baker used to hang out that originally opened in 1910. After a restoration in 2018, the art-nouveau hotel is a heart-stopper: My suite had a small balcony that overlooked the bustle of the streets below but, with windows closed, also felt like a quiet little oasis from the hectic heat of a June day. Each room is situated down long, dim hallways that make you feel like you’re aboard some wonderful ocean liner from the 1920s, half expecting Marlene Dietrich to stroll by with steamer trunks. The service is impeccable: When I asked for breakfast to come at 7 a.m., it arrived on the dot, teeming with pain au chocolat and cafe au lait. Lutetia is enough to turn anyone into a Left Bank enthusiast. — Alex Frank
While it’s true that you can find pretty much anything your heart desires in New York City, one thing that isn’t always so easy to find, especially in the peak heat of summertime, is an accessible outdoor pool. This is what first led me to the Coda, a boutique hotel in Brooklyn. The hotel boasts a gorgeous pool and an adult-only beach club that caters both to hotel guests and to daytime visitors who make advance reservations. (The pool is also heated, which means swimming season extends all the way through September.) For those looking for more than just a cool dip, the boutique hotel is also home to a lovely rooftop bar, Creatures of All Kind, and offers some surprisingly large suites that not only provide expansive views of Williamsburg, still the borough’s hippest neighborhood, but also rival those of its Manhattan counterparts. — Cole
When choosing the locations for our summer cover story, I worked with a local producer to find Japan’s hidden gems. Two hours south of Tokyo, in the city of Shizuoka, lies one of the most exquisite ryokans in all of Japan: Asaba. Our producer recommended it for its serene environment, delectable cuisine, and authentic experience. The ryokan is drenched in history — a former lodging for monks dating back more than five centuries. “Asaba is a wonderful introduction to Japanese culture in the most sophisticated surroundings,” explains Hannes Hetta, our cover-story stylist, who stayed at the property during the photo shoot. “The service is seamless, what the Japanese refer to as omotenashi [meaning to look after guests wholeheartedly], but done to perfection.” Twelve Japanese-style guest rooms, each unique and thoughtfully designed down to the tiniest detail (some have their own outdoor baths and spectacular garden views) surround a central pond enveloped by lush vegetation and bamboo. Food is prepared with seasonal ingredients — freshwater trout in early summer and matsutake mushrooms, pike conger eel, and crab in the fall — always fresh and cooked to perfection. Depending on your preference, there are several hot-spring options to choose from, including indoor and outdoor baths.
— Elissa Polls
Tucked away in Freeman Alley — one of NYC’s most iconic spots for graffiti and street art — you’ll find Untitled at 3 Freeman, a boutique hotel that offers a particularly unique vantage point for experiencing downtown New York City. While the rooms are somewhat spartan, the location gives easy access to everything the Lower East Side has to offer. The rooftop bar, Unlisted, not only provides amazing views of the city, but it feels like a true hidden gem (I suggest making a reservation). It’s also the only bar I’ve ever been to that offers a gourmet hot dog as a bar snack and serves cocktails in a vessel designed to look like a can of spray paint. — Cole
I took my daughter to Camptown in Leeds, New York, for an end-of-the-summer mother-daughter trip. Our sunny two-bedroom cabin had modern, yet unfussy furnishings — exactly what you want from a cabin in the woods. The kitchen was outfitted with gorgeous ceramics, everything needed for light meals, and an adorable dining table to enjoy it all, or in my case, move through a little work. Surrounded by 25 other cabins and another 24 hotel rooms at the base of the Catskill Mountains, I couldn’t help but feel like Leeds, just northwest of the town of Catskill, is an ideal, and centrally located respite from New York City. After dining at the inventive Jalisco-inspired on-site restaurant, Casa Susanna, we ventured into Hudson (a quick 15-minute drive) for breakfast at Kitty’s Market Cafe and dinner at Feast & Floret the following day. As we sat on the front porch of our cabin after dinner, it occurred to me that this would be the ideal property to vacation with friends and their families. You can sit around the firepit and roast s’mores, explore nearby hiking trails, ski, snowboard, or simply indulge in the local snacks and beverages from Camptown’s 24-hour on-site pantry open to all guests and operated on the honor system. I’m looking forward to next summer when I’ll be able to sip cocktails poolside, sunbathe, and swim at their brand-new pool. — Hailey
Even though Vegas tends to get most of the attention when it comes to gambling and enjoying some high-rolling debauchery, I am a lifelong devotee of Atlantic City. Not only do you get the same requisite casinos and entertainment options, but you also have the old-school romance of the boardwalk, which for me provides a jolt of charm that is almost impossible to replicate anywhere else (except for maybe Coney Island). In honor of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa’s recent 20th anniversary, I made the quick drive down from NYC to stay at the venerable hotel and check out why it remains one of the city’s best stays. Our suite in the MGM Tower gave a bird’s-eye view of the city and placed us within walking distance of two pools, an incredible spa (which I desperately needed after several hours of playing the slots), and over half a dozen excellent restaurants (including Michael Symon’s Angeline, which was remarkable). Where else can you take in a show, play a quick round of blackjack, and still have time to run to the beach to ride a roller coaster before taking a quick dip in the Atlantic Ocean? The Borgata remains a classic.
T. Cole Rachel is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and teacher with over 20 years of experience working in print and digital media. He is currently an editor-at-large at Departures.
Laura Smith is the deputy editor of Departures. Previously, she was the executive editor of California magazine and has written for the New York Times, the Guardian, the Atlantic, and many more. Her nonfiction book, The Art of Vanishing, was published by Viking in 2018.
Hailey Andresen is the guides editor at Departures. A New York–based writer and editor, she founded the digital lifestyle publication Household Mag and has spent more than a decade in the hospitality industry.
Alex Frank is a contributing editor at Departures. Based in Manhattan, Frank previously worked at Vogue.com as deputy culture editor. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, GQ, Pitchfork, New York Magazine, Fantastic Man, and the Village Voice.
Lisa Lok is the visuals director of Departures. A Brooklyn-based creative, she enjoys collaborating with photographers and illustrators from around the world.
Elissa Polls is the head of production for Departures. A producer who typically stays behind the scenes, she has worked with creatives from around the world, helping bring their ideas to life. Polls has over 15 years of production experience and lives in Berkeley, California.
Jess Rotter is a Los Angeles–based illustrator and artist. Rotter’s work has frequently featured in the Washington Post. Her clients range from Natalie Portman to Questlove.
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