by STELLA magazine writers, The Telegraph, December 13, 2019
Stuck for somewhere to see in the New Year? Look no further than these four hotels, in the world capitals of fun...
The Standard, London, UK
Best for… the ultimate after-party
This brand-new hotel – the Standard hotel group's first UK property – is the coolest crash pad in the capital, and the most fun, complete with Instagrammable interiors and hipster staff. Start your evening in the The Library Lounge (particularly buzzy on Thursday nights) –the vibe is thoroughly 1970s, with retro council-library-style bookcases (a nod to the fact that it was once home to Camden Council Library), low tan leather armchairs and groovy walls covered with textured carpets and shagpile. DJs play sets in the corner and the espresso martinis and bowls of spicy French Fries are a must. There’s also a Double Standard Bar and two restaurants. The hotel itself is housed in a 1970s Brutalist building and all 266 rooms are individually decorated in different styles. We went for a King Superior (Room 611), which is the ultimate after-party pad. As the receptionist told us, 10 people can fit into the shower alone. In the centre is the most enormous and comfy bed we’ve slept in, positioned in front of three tall windows, so you wake up to views of The Shard and the London Eye, which is just visible over the rooftops. There’s a long banquette windowseat for drinks and gossiping, and the bathroom is especially striking with pink tiles, mint-green taps and a whopping bath. The 24-hour room service menu includes pleasing grilled cheese for 3am munchies, and the well-stocked minibar contains ready-mixed Virgin Marys to help soothe sore heads in the morning.
Stella loves: Breakfast at Isla. Try the shakshuka with chewy mozzarella and spinach. Chase it with a delicious freshly blended grape, apple, plum and spinach juice.
Out and about: Directly opposite King’s Cross Underground station and St Pancras train station, this place is as well-connected as they come. It’s a stone’s throw from the British Library and a 20-minute walk from Upper Street (Angel Tube station) with its bars, shops and dozens of restaurants, plus the Almeida Theatre and Sadler’s Wells. For nightlife, east London (Hackney, Shoreditch and Dalston) is also within easy reach. Head to Columbia Road Flower Market on Sunday morning for gorgeous fresh blooms – it’s a 2.5-mile walk but there are plenty of quirky interiors shops and cool cafés to potter into along the route so you can make a day of it.
Rooms from £199 a night (standardhotels.com)
Read the full expert review: The Standard, London
The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, United States
Best for... celeb spotting
Located in a relaxed West Hollywood neighbourhood of 1920s cottages and modern apartments behind high bougainvillea hedges, this looks more like a high-end apartment building than a hotel, yet it’s just a block from the nightlife and bling of Sunset Boulevard. It commits to the Brit theme throughout, from the lavish European breakfast bar (with house-made pastries, locally sourced seasonal fruits, fresh juices, and sliced meats and cheeses) to the two bulldogs that potter around named Winston and Churchill. Elsewhere, the hotel is a vision of retro glam, with a rooftop pool, Peloton-equipped fitness centre and a beauty salon. One needn’t leave to spot an A-lister, as it is also home to a 110-seat cinema that hosts regular screenings and receptions. For New Year's Eve, however, it’s an oasis of calm from the roaring in the streets beyond.
Stella loves: The enormous Vivienne Westwood-inspired penthouse – a mind-boggling 11,000 sq ft of haute couture… it’s the second largest suite in the US.
Out and about: There’s no shortage of ‘WeHo’ hotspots to see in the new year, like legendary rock clubs Whisky a Go Go and the Viper Room (once owned by Johnny Depp), which are a short stumble away. If you're a member, head to Soho House West Hollywood, a 10-minute walk from the hotel (not that anyone walks here), which has stupendous views of the city from the wraparound terrace and some of the most stylish people in the city cosying up on the sofas by the fire. It's also worth trying to secure access to another exclusive spot, The Magic Castle, a private club for magicians around the world-they can bring along guests. It's a magical (literally) labyrinth of secret doors, dark passageways and showstopping live shows from world-class musicians, with a good restaurant to boot and grand atmosphere, since it's strictly black tie dress code. The morning after, head for brunch or lunch at Cecconi's West Hollywood, an uber glam and modern Italian restaurant on the corner of fashionable Melrose Avenue where the beautiful and rich cluster – the service is excellent, atmoshere buzzy. Try the baked eggs with sourdough and a punchy arrabiata, and a hair of the dog Eastern Standard cocktail. Perfection.
Rooms from £283 a night (thelondonwesthollywood.com)
Read the full expert review: The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills
The Norman, Tel Aviv, Israel
Best for... a chilled-out oasis
For those after a cooler, calmer way to see in New Year's Eve (or Sylvester, as it is known in Israel), this is the place to go. It’s the city's only luxury boutique hotel. There’s also an excellent cocktail bar headed up by an expert mixologist – try the Crazy Earl (gin, elderflower liqueur and Earl Grey). Book a table for dinner at Alena, which serves delicious Mediterranean fare, then head to a party in the Library Bar (£35 a ticket), where a DJ will be playing. Further afield, stop in at Tel Aviv's street party, now in its second year, and usher in 2020 under the stars.
Stella loves: The hotel’s kitchen garden, with mint, jasmine and more growing there, used in the restaurants and cocktails
Out and about: Foodies should head to Carmel Market (two miles away) for a pop-up feast of every denomination. Whether it's falafel with a generous dollop of red schug or a rich slice of babka.
From £435 a night for a classic room, b&b (00 972 3 543 5555; thenorman.com)
Read the full expert review: The Norman
W Koh Samui, Thailand
Best for… pool parties
This is the ultimate pool party pad. Unwind from the long journey with a Blood and Sand cocktail (vodka and raspberry purée), flop on one of the lime green infinity pool ‘pods’, and by the time the DJ takes to the decks – and the fire shows, complete with barefoot dancing – begin, you’ll be in the party mood. There are hammocks scattered along the nine-mile beach perfect for lounging the next day. For active sorts, there are tennis courts and complimentary rackets available. Refuel with a spicy banana blossom, prawn and shallot salad (better still, sign up to one of the hotel’s Thai cooking classes) and unwind that evening with a cooling aloe vera wrap at the tranquil AWAY spa, before the sun sets and you do it all over again. On New Year’s Eve, there’s a countdown (dress code: glitz and glam) that will feature DJs and fireworks. Book a table at the hotel’s Japanese restaurant Namu for an eight-course ‘Space Odyssey’ New Year’s Eve set menu beforehand, with wine pairings and a live saxophonist.
Stella loves: The pool-service breakfast, piled high with dragon fruit, mangosteen and egg white omelettes – it’s delivered on a floating tray so you can eat it in the pool.
Out and about: The restaurants and bars of Bophut fisherman’s village are in walking distance. Head to Coco Tam’s for sundowners with a view. The iconic Big Buddha statue and the famed Santiburi Golf Course are also nearby. Usher in 2020 with pyrotechnics and countdowns on the beach, and then watch the floating lanterns head skywards. For DJs and a party atmosphere, visit Ark Bar in Chaweng or Nikki Beach Resort in Lipa Noi.
Rooms from £302 (wkohsamui.com)
Read the full epert review: W Koh Samui
Edited by: Laura Powell. Reviews by: Laura Powell, Charlotte Lytton, Joanna Fortnam and Maddi Howell