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The Next Generation of Hotels Giving Tradition a Modern Twist

By Julia Cosgrove

Apr 10, 2020

From the May/June 2020 issue

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The Bar at the Belmond Cadogan Hotel in London serves cocktails inspired by such famous former occupants as Oscar Wilde.

Photo by Emma Hardy

The Bar at the Belmond Cadogan Hotel in London serves cocktails inspired by such famous former occupants as Oscar Wilde.

AFAR editor in chief Julia Cosgrove raises a glass to hotels that connect guests to locals and to each other.

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Note: Though COVID-19 has stalled a lot of travel plans, we hope our stories can offer inspiration for your future adventures—and a bit of hope.

These days I spend about a third of the year in hotels, traveling extensively for business and pleasure. Other than my preference for two firm pillows, a real human being at check-in, and a classic negroni on the house cocktail list, I have some thoughts about what it means to be a truly great hotel in 2020. They’ve helped guide our picks for this year’s Stay List, AFAR’s annual celebration of the best new hotels around the world.

In the last decade, I’ve watched as hotels in major cities have focused on connecting guests to locals and to each other. To me this signals great progress in taking down the barriers between the surrounding community and the traveler. While the modus operandi at a resort was once to keep guests within the confines of its walls, today, hotels encourage guests to go out and explore local culture while also inviting residents to come enjoy on-site restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.

Hotels have also recognized that home-sharing services are here to stay and are taking cues from what they do well. In the past few years, I’ve felt a move away from the staid and snobby approach to hospitality, as the best hotels embrace a more laid-back and inclusive attitude toward all guests. It’s a more open-minded take on the best of classic hospitality.

Another development: Hotels are at last working toward becoming more environmentally sustainable, in everything from reducing restaurant food waste to eliminating single-use plastic. When done right, it’s good for the traveler and it’s good for the travel business. Read more on other trends reshaping the hotel industry.

This, our third annual issue devoted to hospitality, celebrates the different ways cultures around the world make people feel welcome. A train ride through Canada’s Maritime provinces shows writer Colleen Kinder the kindness for which Canadians are known. And the Stay List showcases extraordinary hotels that offer a deep sense of place and make all travelers feel connected and at home.

In the new age of hospitality, the world is a warm and welcoming place. Let’s raise a glass to that.

>>Next: The Best New Hotels in the World: The Stay List

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