Sometimes less is more when it comes to sparking joy in travelers.
Once in awhile, it pays to pare down life on the road. From Malibu to the Maldives, these seven hotels around the world are channeling simplicity to tap into their guests’ wants and needs.
Opened in January in buildings formerly part of Copenhagen’s Carlsberg brewery, Hotel Ottilia adapts the space’s industrial design to calming effect. One example: Cushioned half-moon couches inside the deep sills of the hotel’s 64 circular windows create hygge-nourishing nooks for reading, snoozing, or simply zoning out. Guests can fuel up on a mostly organic breakfast buffet and even breathe easier, knowing Ottilia uses no harsh chemical cleaners. From $160.
Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Inky-black walls, black leather upholstery, and moody lighting converge at this dramatically dark retreat an hour south of Melbourne. The aesthetic is austere but not without luxurious touches, such as suites with panoramic vineyard views, private wine cellars, Japanese stone soaking tubs, and daily champagne and caviar service. From $471.
The six suites that occupy an 18th-century residence in Lisbon’s old cultural quarter have light grey walls, natural wood furnishings, and precious little else except peace and quiet. An interior garden offers a fine meditation space, perfect for reflecting on the well-loved landmarks–including Santa Engrácia Church–that lie just minutes beyond the front door. From $451.
Japanese ryokans wrote the book on minimalism, but travelers don’t have to cross the Pacific to enjoy their spartan beauty. At this boutique inn, 16 blissfully uncluttered guest rooms open onto golden-hued Carbon Beach or views of a Zen-inspired garden. Tranquility awaits in the teak soaking tubs and on the oceanfront ipe-wood deck, an ideal spot to sip from a cup of steaming green tea. From $2,000, two-night minimum.
Water Mill, New York
Opened in May, Shou Sugi Ban House is a three-acre spa and retreat inspired by wabi sabi, the Japanese philosophy of embracing imperfection. A stay in one of the 13 airy studios is an immersion in a wellness program that emphasizes seclusion (spa therapies, meditation), connection (communal dining, culinary workshops), and healing through nature (guided beach walks). Noma co-founder and chef Mads Refslund crafted the seasonal, hyper-local, plant-forward menu, including rice bowls for breakfast and silken tofu with salted plums for lunch. Half-day rituals from $325. Three-day retreats from $4,650.
Guests checking in to this Lower East Side hotel won’t find anything in excess—not even art on the walls. The first venture from Atelier Ace—the team behind the Ace Hotel—focuses on serene, Scandinavian-inspired spaces where furnishings fold up and out of the way. Electronic musician Julianna Barwick created Sister City’s subtle Lobby Score, an audio art installation that uses roof-mounted cameras capturing real-time environmental cues that trigger a constantly refreshing mix of soothing sounds. From $259.
Opened in the Lhaviyani Atoll last December, this all-inclusive eco resort is minimalist not only in its aesthetic—breezy, open rooms framed by warm-toned woods—but also in its size. Kudadoo has just 15 Japanese-inspired overwater villas, plus a bi-level spa and a restaurant. If the endless Indian Ocean vistas aren’t enough bliss, the uncrowded serenity certainly is. From $3,100.
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