Stately Serenity and Old-World Comfort From Santa Monica to Dubai

Plus, A Buenos Aires getaway and a spa-centric New York City hotel — these are the stays our editors loved this month.



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RECENTLY, AN ALBANIAN friend who grew up in New Jersey told me that she used to collect luxury travel magazines, poring over stories of gorgeous hotels in dreamy, far-flung places. Her family didn’t have the means to travel, so they didn’t, not even to return to Albania — for years. Her magazine pile grew in proportion to her yearning, the towering stack a stinging reminder of her flightlessness. In adult life, her fortunes have changed, and recently, she visited one of the very hotels she had dog-eared in her childhood bedroom. As she stood with her husband and two children by a lemon tree in Sorrento, Italy, overlooking the Mediterranean, she experienced a feeling of such stunning satisfaction that she cried. The point is that a trip is never just a trip. We come from different places and travel for different reasons, but somewhere at the center is always a story of longing. In the spirit of dreams coming true, here are a few of the hotels our editors were lucky enough to visit this month.
Laura Smith

Stately and Vibrant

Palacio Duhau — Park Hyatt, Buenos Aires

I had an incredibly vibrant pitstop in Buenos Aires a few months ago that I’m still thinking about. The city, a simmering mix of Latin soul and European custom, lingers like a song I can’t get out of my head — it’s dynamic and melancholy, with that old grandeur of crumbling corners that only adds to its romance. I stayed at the Palacio Duhau, Park Hyatt in Buenos Aires in the city’s tony Recoleta neighborhood — undoubtedly the most stately hotel in all of the city. With marble-inlaid floors and voluptuous, dripping chandeliers, the building’s old-world elegance is beautifully preserved. The garden in the middle is a dreamy hideaway for an aperitivo, far from the hustle and bustle. But the best part? The knowledgeable staff connected me to cultural activities around the city, namely, where to watch tango, from classic shows to the more elusive milongas, in ballrooms where locals gather to dance. — Sophie Mancini



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Sweat, Relax, Sleep, Repeat

Equinox Hotel, New York City

The Equinox Hotel New York, in New York City’s Hudson Yards, is a one-stop shop for those who want it all — which happens to be one of their taglines. Everything about the room is designed to ease you into a restful night’s sleep: the expertly designed lighting, thermostat suggestions (they recommend 64 degrees for sleeping), the bedding, the tea selection, the minibar stocked with sleep products, the blackout technology, and the a.m. and p.m. body products by Grown Alchemist. In keeping with Equinox’s fitness origins, there’s also in-room workout equipment and on-demand fitness demonstrations, but nothing tops the hotel’s club. With state-of-the-art equipment, a variety of workout classes throughout the day, an outdoor pool with jaw-dropping views, barrel saunas, an indoor lap pool, and more — the club is reason enough to visit or consider a membership. If you’re looking for a five-star spa, the on-site sanctuary has every wellness experience you can dream of (and some you haven’t heard of), including the Icoone Roboderm, a non-invasive lymphatic body treatment; facials with products by French skincare line Biologique Recherche; cryotherapy; acupuncture; and wellness drips to assist with sleep, energy, and immunity. During the warmer months, visit the outdoor terrace connected to their in-house eatery Electric Lemon for fantastic views, a cool breeze, and delicious cocktails. — Elissa Polls

Serenity and You

Anantara The Palm Dubai

Bleary-eyed at 5:45 in the morning, I stumbled into the lobby of the Anantara The Palm Dubai to meet a driver who would take me up the craggy coast of Oman to a dhow (a traditional boat) in Khasab for a tour through the Strait of Hormuz. I expected a long and hungry ride. I did not expect the front desk to surprise me with a to-go feast of fresh pastries and cappuccinos, enough breakfast for me, my wife, and likely the dhow’s entire crew. This is the thoughtful, seemingly effortless service I’ve come to appreciate from Anantara properties. From the signature teas and hot towels that greet guests upon arrival to the personal assistants a text message away, Anantara staff eliminate any possible barrier between serenity and you. The only question is which experience to choose when you book. At Anantara’s Qasr Al Sarab resort in the Rub’ al Khali desert, we spent afternoons post-spa in a private plunge pool overlooking the cinnamon-colored sand, gathering the stamina to hike through the “Star Wars”–esque dunes for a better sunset view. At this Thai-influenced resort on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah island, we opted for a palatial overwater villa with a beach-facing balcony and a glass-bottomed floor, through which we watched the tide roll in and fish swim underfoot. When I return, it’ll be a tough choice. — Cooper Fleishman


Cozy, the English Way

Milestone Hotel, London

London’s Milestone Hotel is housed in a listed Victorian building from 1883 and sits directly across the road from Kensington Gardens. It is impressive, therefore, that it manages to pull off the trick of being at the same time luxurious and veritably cozy. It’s a juxtaposition that seems to me to be a particularly English trick. No doubt this feeling was enhanced by the high tea that was plopped in front of me almost as soon as I arrived, which featured classic finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, and round upon round of my favorite English invention: strong, black Earl Grey tea. How can one not feel cozy when sitting next to a fireplace on a gray day, stuffing herself with these indulgences? The winding corridors played their part as well, with original, slanting door frames that had wisely been retained, preserving the charms of their age. But the warmth of the staff was the true key. Striking just the right balance between personal and attentive, their attentions set the tone for a truly delightful stay. — Skye Parrott

California Dreaming

The Proper Hotel, Santa Monica

Southern California is all about indoor-outdoor living, and the Proper Hotel in Santa Monica delivers that ethos in the best way, with many of the hotel's walkways open to the ocean breeze. The SoCal aesthetic extends to the stunning Kelly Wearstler-designed lobby. At the Surya Spa, you can find Eastern-inspired wellness, and the fitness center, dubbed Helios, offers top-of-the-line equipment as well as a serene outdoor space. You can also use the hotel as a jumping-off point to explore the area: My husband and I took the hotel’s bikes to visit the Third Street Promenade farmers’ market before continuing on to Venice Beach. Back at the hotel, near the rooftop's zero-edge, heated pool, you’ll find Calabra, one of two on-site eateries, where the new spring menu spotlights Mediterranean cuisine. Nestled among the cozy foliage, we sampled the baba ghanoush with housemade laffa, the falafel, and the tenderloin kebab. As the sun set, I savored my Washed Ashore (one of their signature cocktails), content to ride this wave all the way home. — Lisa Lok

Our Contributors

Laura Smith Writer

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.

Skye Parrott

Skye Parrott is the editor-in-chief of Departures. A magazine editor, photographer, writer, and creative consultant, she was previously a founder of the arts and culture journal Dossier, and editor-in-chief for the relaunch of Playgirl as a modern, feminist publication.

Sophie Mancini Writer

Sophie Mancini is an editor at Departures. Born and raised in New York City, she holds a degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and has a background as a writer in brand and editorial.

Elissa Polls Writer

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.

Cooper Fleishman Writer

Cooper Fleishman is Senior Director of Audience Development at Departures. Based in Brooklyn, he is a writer, editor, content director, and growth strategist with more than a decade’s experience in digital media. He previously led news and audience for MEL magazine, directed technology and culture news at, and managed the New York bureau for the Daily Dot. He writes about style, travel, technology, and music.

Lisa Lok

Lisa Lok is the visuals director of Departures. A Brooklyn-based creative, she enjoys collaborating with photographers and illustrators from around the world.

Jess Rotter Illustrator

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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