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26 November, 2011

The Best Hotels in the World: Gold List 2012

 The Best Hotels in the World:

Gold List 2012


The lobby at Beijing’s emerald-glass Opposite House—which gets a 90.3 design score—serves as a gallery for Chinese art.


Soaking in the scenery at The Reefs, Bermuda.



Le Méridien—on a motu just off Bora Bora, with views of volcanic Mount Otemanu—has a location score of 91.4


The Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, has working rice paddies on its 60-acre grounds. The resort reproduces the Lanna architecture prevalent in Northern Thailand, earning it a 97.1 design score from our readers.


With a design score of 96.8, Ashford Castle, in County Mayo, Ireland, was built in the Norman style as a monastery in 1228.



A flare for drama in the lobby of Dubai’s 28-story Burj Al Arab: More than 17,000 square feet of 24-karat gold leaf helped earn the resort a 96.6 for design.


Pick your plunge at Montage, in Laguna Beach, California: the 90-foot mosaic pool (heated to 82 degrees) or the Pacific. This view might explain the 96.3 location score.


Spot lions, leopards, and cheetahs—activities that bag a perfect 100—or simply gaze at the horizon at Mombo and Little Mombo Camps, in Botswana’s Moremi Game Reserve.



This bed in the Imperial Suite at The Ritz, Paris, replicates the one in Marie-Antoinette’s bedroom at Versailles. Such lavish accommodations give the hotel a 94.0 score for rooms.


Il San Pietro di Positano, in Italy, is built above the Tyrrhenian Sea, scoring 97.4 for its location.



The stucco buildings of Maroma, on the Riviera Maya, were crafted on a former coconut plantation. Its oceanfront location scores 98.6.


Regional Italian dishes dominate at the eponymous restaurant of São Paulo’s Hotel Fasano, garnering it a 93.5 score for food. Satisfy your shopping appetite at the nearby Versace and Louis Vuitton stores.

Hot New Restaurants of 2012

Hot New Restaurants of 2012

The world's top chefs pick their favorite new restaurants for Condé Nast Traveler's 2012 Hot List


New York

April Bloomfield has a strict no-condiments policy when it comes to burgers. In fact, she's quite specific about many things, from the dress code for her sous-chefs to the proportion of nuts to greens in her salads. But Bloomfield's precision is what makes her food so dazzling: Since opening the Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village in February 2004, she has turned out hit after hit, amassing a cult following and earning two Michelin stars. Her latest endeavor, a turn-of-the-century-style oyster bar, is a departure from her porcine obsession, but don't expect tepid flavors—there's smoked haddock terrine, eel and parsley pie, and of course her famous oyster pan roast with uni butter crostini (entrées, $11-$21).

Must eat: The bar's happy hour special (5 p.m.-7 p.m. or midnight-2 a.m.) includes a half-dozen oysters and a 20-ounce pint of stout or a glass of cava ($15).


New York

Anyone who has eaten at Michael White's previous establishments (including Marea, Alto, and Convivio) knows that the Michigan-born chef can do fancy Italian. But his newest restaurant—rather, osteria—is an ode to the dairy-rich, meat-centric food of Northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna region. At Morini, explains admirer April Bloomfield, "White extrudes his pastas in-house, giving them a nice rustic texture." He also embraces simple, fatty pleasures like butter, olive oil, cream, and lard—or any other fat, for that matter. Expect deep-fried béchamel croquettes, polenta topped with lardo, and prosciutto and mortadella meatballs (entrées, $17-$28).

Must eat: The mascarpone-stuffed pasta with black truffle, and the veal and pork ragù.



Graham Elliot's latest project is all about the humble sandwich—and, says admirer Michael White, "bringing his whimsical culinary style to a fast-casual setting." The shop smells like popcorn (in a good way) and has chalkboard bathrooms where self-expression—and toilet humor—are encouraged. Waiters call out orders for pastrami on rye and house-made sodas while Graham, in white-framed glasses, greets customers. It's the most fun you'll have pre-cocktail hour, and that's before you've tried his take on grilled cheese: Wisconsin cheddar, prosciutto, tomato marmalade, and cheese curd on Pullman bread (sandwiches, $10).

Must eat: Beef short rib with baby watercress, shoestring potatoes, and pickled shallots on pretzel bread.



In Paris, fancy restaurants are out (for now) and tiny bistros in outlying arrondissements are in. And the most exciting
table du jour is Giovanni Passerini’s 26-seat modern Franco-Italian Rino. “It encompasses so many dining trends that are taking off right now in Paris,” says Elliot of the self-taught chef’s first venture, in an increasingly arty but still working-class pocket of the eleventh arrondisement. Elliot loves the “laid-back vibe paired with the simple seasonal menu,” which touts sexy market-based dishes like sardine ravioli in fennel consommé, and crispy lamb sweetbreads with beets and roasted endive.

Must-eat: Homemade ravioli with brandade de morue.

46 rue Trousseau; 33-1-48-
06-95-85; prix fixes, $52–$76.



Copenhagen's Noma was recently ranked the world's best restaurant—so it's no wonder that the city's hottest table is the brainchild of Noma expats. Just over a year ago, Christian Puglisi and Kim Rossen left their posts as sous-chef and waiter, respectively, at René Redzepi's acclaimed restaurant to open Relæ. Expect rigorously seasonal pared-down dishes like broccoli with parsley puree or veal hearts with pepper sauce, fare that admirer Iniki Aizpitarte describes as "both frank and singular. Relæ has a real culinary culture, a true cuisine d'auteur that is dynamic like Puglisi's personality" (prix fixe, $60).
Must-eat: Pickeled mackerel with shaved cauliflower and lemon peel puree.



Singapore's food hawkers have long been the source of many a blogger obsession, but a recent blitz of celebrity chef-helmed restaurants has put the tiny nation at the center of the food world. Our favorite new arrival is Luke Mangan'Salt Grill & Sky Bar, a hot spot where the Aussie chef serves a mod-Oz menu, mixing classic French techniques with local ingredients like coriander, ginger, and chili. And then there's the view: Perched atop the gleaming art-and-retail complex ION Orchard, the restaurant is a glass-domed jewel box with unparalleled views of Singapore's urban surrounds (entrées, $27-$70).

Must eat: Yellowtail kingfish sashimi with ginger, shallot, and goat's feta.



Admirer Luke Mangan admits, "I'm a big fan of anythingMario Batali does"—and he's particularly enthralled by Batali's Singapore export. As at the Los Angeles original, the restaurant's star is the central mozzarella bar, which turns out more than 15 varieties of handmade mozzarella, while a soundtrack of U2 thumps in the background. "I love how you can sit at the bar while watching all the fun in the kitchen area," Mangan notes. It doesn't hurt that Osteria Mozza has an impressive 700-bottle wine list (entrées, $25-$43).

Must eat: We love the mozzarella cheese with braised leeks for its simplicity.


New York

Mario Batali skips across continents in pursuit of the perfect prosciutto, but this year the restaurant that most impressed him was close to home. "Harold Dieterle is cooking simply delicious Thai-inspired food that feels more Thai than a lot of 'authentic' places," says Batali. Most items on Kin Shop's menu are either interpretations of traditional dishes or wholly new creations that fuse Thai ingredients with Western cooking methods, but Dieterle masters the balance between spicy and sweet (entrées, $14-$27).

Must eat: The duck laab salad skates that thin line between insanely hot and divinely delicious.



Pit master Adam Perry Lang has teamed up withJamie Oliver to bring to England a range of barbecue techniques—from Japanese robata to Texas smokers. Admirer Harold Dieterle says of the duo, "Both are great chefs, and with Barbecoa, they are diving into a wide range of international grilling styles." Look for American imports like beer-can chicken and pulled pork shoulder, as well as riffs on British bar snacks, including fried pork scratchings served with mole dipping sauce (entrées, $25-$56).

Must eat: Charred hot wings.



Britain's hometown hero, Jamie Oliver has been spending a lot of time across the pond changing the way Americans eat. He's left the crown in good hands, though. As he reports, "One of my students from the first year [of Fifteen], Tim Siadatan, has set up a restaurant that's had amazing reviews." The 28-year-old chef's Trullo has acquired cultlike status due to its ingredient-driven, Italian-leaning food. The 40-seat utilitarian space buzzes with British tastemakers, starched financial types, and writers, actors, and artists, while James Dean look-alikes cheerily serve chili-spiked tagliarini and perfectly charred lamb (entrées, $25-$32).

Must eat: Slow-cooked lamb with grilled eggplant and salsa verde.



El Bulli may be closing, but Ferran and Albert Adriàalready have another project in Barcelona. Tickets, named for its theater district location, is an homage to tapas, with six dining areas, including a futuristic bar serving avant-garde bites and a space the brothers call the "madhouse" or the "Marx Brothers' cabin," reserved for regulars and "rogues" (a.k.a. friends of the owners) who the chefs predict will act as a peanut gallery of sorts. Albert's brainchild is the amusement park-like dessert fairyland, La Dolca, with cotton candy machines, ice-cream carts, and display windows full of decadent sweets (entrées, $3-$16).


Las Vegas

Not long after opening L.A.'s sleek multi-concept Bazaar, José Andrés is taking on Sin City with a restaurant that marries Chinese and Mexican food. Andrés's friend and mentor Albert Adrià says, "The best street food comes from China and Mexico, and China Poblano has both—and of the highest quality." In practice, Andrés's restaurant is less about fusion than about serving the cuisines side by side: In addition to the main kitchen, two separate kitchens turn out dan dan mian (hand-cut noodles with spicy meat and peanuts) and sui mai, scallop seviche, and cochinita tacos (entrées, $8-$17).

Must eat: The Rou Jia Mo Street Sandwich, a traditional braised meat burger.



Max Levy, the U.S.-born, Japanese-trained chef behind Beijing's Bei, the sleek mod-Asian restaurant at the Opposite House, shows his Big Easy roots with his latest project. Apothecary is one part cocktail bar, one part down-home eatery, serving classic tipples alongside fried favorites. China Poblano chef José Andrés, who stumbled upon Levy's casual joint in Beijing's Chaoyang while researching his own new restaurant, reports, "Levy is an American from New Orleans, now cooking in Beijing." Translation: Expect plenty of andouille, tasso ham, and gumbo to go with your Sazerac (entrées, $9-$30).

Must eat: Fried chicken dinners on Sundays.


Oaxaca, Mexico

Rick Bayless calls José Manuel Baños Mexico's "most promising rising star," and the 31-year-old chef delivers, combining traditional flavors with modern technique learned at El Bulli. Sopa de fideos comes with capsules of liquid cheese that burst in the mouth, while the lamb chops in Oaxacan green mole are served with white bean foam. The setting, like the cuisine, is Old World and New: In a restored colonial house in the historic district, the restaurant has white walls and contemporary art to make it current. And almost everything, from the vegetables to the 43 varieties of mescal, is local (entrées, $7-$20).


Mexico City

Gabriela Cámara, the star restaurateur behind Mexico's impossibly hip seafood shack Contramar, is tackling a new protein. Its name derived from the Spanish words for fish and bull, MeroToro is the Slow Food queen's take on surf and turf. Still, expect a similar combination of refined food in an informal Condesa setting. Cámara's executive chef, Jair Téllez, combines the flavors of Baja with the best possible ingredients—admirer José Manuel Baños describes the restaurant's short seasonal menu as "Mexican cuisine in a Mediterranean style." (entrées, $15-$26)

Must eat: Grilled octopus with pickled vegetables, sea beans, and green chiles.


San Francisco

Corey Lee spent four years as chef de cuisine at theFrench Laundry, earning a James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year award and the attention of fellow toques—including admirer Melissa Perello. Now Lee has his own place, Benu, where he's painstakingly planned every detail, from the minimalist decor to the imported Korean tableware. Chef Perello, who admits to being envious of his huge kitchen, describes Lee's Eastern-leaning food as "unique, creative, and cutting-edge without being pretentious or weird." His is a modern take on fine dining (a sign, perhaps, that fancy is making a comeback?), and the $160 tasting menu is worth every penny (entrées, $24-$40).

Must eat: Faux shark's fin soup with truffle custard.


San Francisco

After a rapid rise in the San Francisco restaurant world, culminating in the Michelin-starred Fifth Floor, Melissa Perello took a break. But she's back in a big way with her 46-seat Frances, in the Castro. Admirer Gabriela Cámara says, "It's extraordinary food in a casual restaurant, cooked by people who obviously know all about fine dining." The modern Californian menu changes weekly and might include bacon beignets with maple crème fraîche or lamb with butter beans, artichokes, and olives. The thoughtful wine list includes a house red and white; blended by sommelier Paul Einbund and wine maker Marco Cappelli, it's priced at $1 an ounce (entrées, $18-$25).

Must eat: If they are on the menu, the sardines.

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