It’s a Big Year for Hotels

AFAR’s cofounder and CEO, Greg Sullivan, reflects on how marquee hotels are increasingly becoming destinations themselves.

A bellman carries suitcases at top of a staircase at the Raffles OWO.

Winston Churchill’s Old War Office has been reborn as the London flagship of the Raffles hotel brand.

Photo by Greg Funnell

This past December, I attended the International Luxury Travel Market in Cannes, France, the premier annual gathering for travel professionals. And in the 15 years of AFAR’s existence, I’ve never been more excited by what’s going on in the world of hotels. Hospitality brands are investing tremendous resources to create (and re-create) amazing spaces.

AFAR cohosted a party at the Carlton Cannes, a Regent Hotel, which was the first luxury hotel on the French Riviera. It reopened in 2023 after a five-year renovation. It was gratifying to see the attention to detail that was put into honoring this grande dame, from stripping layers of paint off enormous marble columns to reinstalling the original chandeliers with the aid of the same skilled craftspeople who previously restored the Palace of Versailles.

More recently, I had the opportunity to tour the Raffles London, which opened inside the legendary Old War Office. It was from here that Winston Churchill guided the British effort in World War II. With its Grand Staircase leading to the ballroom, as well as nine restaurants and a spectacular glass art installation, this magnificent structure offers both travelers and Londoners a new landmark.

Ambitious projects such as the Carlton Cannes and the Raffles London made our editors’ job of selecting this year’s Best New Hotels difficult. Accordingly, we more than doubled the size of our list to 31—and there were still worthy contenders left on the cutting room floor.

Yes, there are some expansive properties in our list, but we always have a place in our hearts (and pages) for the small and distinctive. A great example is the 29-suite Shinta Mani Mustang, a Bensley Collection, a collaboration among Nepalese mountaineer Namgyal Sherpa, world-renowned designer Bill Bensley, and Bangkok-based hotelier Jason Friedman. With breathtaking views of the mountains, traditional Thakali architecture, and touches of high design, this property elevates Nepal to the top of my travel list.

So, please check out our Best New Hotels list to see which of our picks appeal to your wanderlust. And, for you hospitality aficionados out there, this project is part of a broader digital series, Hotels We Love. You can subscribe to AFAR’s biweekly newsletter, Stay Here Next, in which senior deputy editor Jennifer Flowers and team share the latest in openings, news, and inspiration at

Good travels, and happy lodging!

Cofounder and CEO

Greg Sullivan is the cofounder and CEO of AFAR. You can reach Greg at
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