Six of the best: hotel openings in 2014



The Shard, London. Soon to be home to Britain's first Shangri-La hotel.
It's that time of year again, when the wrap-ups are wrapped, the forecasts are cast and we all enjoy a little panicking to get it all tied up neatly in time for a beach Christmas. I'm absurdly interested to see Hayman Island's reincarnation, and, having just arrived back from London, have renewed a love affair with that city and all that's glitzy and good in it.



SHANGRI-LA, ENGLAND
The first Shangri-La hotel in Britain will have London's best address, at the Shard, Western Europe's tallest building, designed by starchitect Renzo Piano. Set in the London Bridge quarter, each of the 202 rooms come with butlers and floor-to-ceiling views to St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Level 52 is the domain of Hong Kong's darling architect Andre Fu (of Upper House fame), where you'll find Gong, London's highest cocktail bar, and a sky-high infinity pool. Word on the street is it's to open summer 2014 but there's no official date from the hotel yet and prices are still to be released. See shangri-la.com.

The much-anticipated Peninsula Paris.
PENINSULA PARIS, FRANCE
It's taken more than four years of work but The Peninsula Paris has finally declared it will open on August 1, 2014. Expect 200 rooms, a rooftop bar and underground spa and hey, because this is Paris, a cigar lounge as well. The wraps are now off the 100-year-old Beaux-Arts building in the fancy 16th arrondissment, with views to the Arc de Triomphe, as befits the group's first foray into Europe. For your gastronomic pleasure there's Cantonese being dished up inside, French fare on the roof and a Chinese tea counter. Rates have not yet been released. See peninsula.com.

SOFITEL SHANGHAI JING'AN, CHINA
Shanghai's already fabulous hotel scene gets a new player when the city's third Sofitel opens just off the iconic shopping strip of Nanjing Road. In keeping with most Chinese hotels, it's big: we're talking 503 rooms, with a cocktail bar at the top of the 68-storey art deco-inspired building and French-meets-Chinese cuisine being talked up. There's already been a two-year delay in its launch but the group is planning a grand opening of what will become the city's new flagship Sofitel in September 2014. See sofitel.com.

CROMLIX, SCOTLAND
Fancy angling for trout, stalking deer or wearing someone else's tartan? Wimbledon champ and local lad Andy Murray has taken over this classic country house and opening is set for April 1, 2014 (yes, really). Built in 1874, Cromlix has just 15 rooms and suites, each named after a great Scot, and is close to Gleneagles, which hosts next year's Ryder Cup. You won't starve: the kitchen is under the deft hand of Albert Roux, responsible for Britain's first three Michelin-star restaurant. Cromlix is just outside Andy's home town, Dunblane, and less than 80 kilometres from both Glasgow and Edinburgh. From £200 ($350) a night. See cromlix.com.

Hayman Island's iconic pool shot.
ONE&ONLY HAYMAN ISLAND, AUSTRALIA
It was the talk of the town when it was announced that the uber-luxe hoteliers of One&Only Resorts, who play in all the best addresses including the Bahamas, Maldives and Dubai, are taking over the iconic Great Barrier Reef resort. Thankfully, the pool wing will be carved into new all-suite accommodation including private pool terraces; that much-photographed lagoon pool will be hit with cabanas and daybeds and there's also a new adults-only pool and chill-out lounge. And forget foreign backpackers spinning up fishy tales, your guides to the reef will be dive experts and marine biologists. The new Hayman opens April 2014 (actually, make that July 1, 2014: BJ), from $730 a night. See hayman.com.au.

SEA SENTOSA ECHO BEACH, INDONESIA
It hasn't even opened yet and already this Balinese beachfront resort has won world's best apartment at London's International Property Awards. Located just north of Seminyak on Canggu's legendary surf beach, the 68-apartment resort features "living walls" or vertical gardens by French botanist-designer Patrick Blanc, a lagoon for your front yard and views straight out onto the Indian Ocean. If looks are anything to go on, its two beach restaurants, complete with sand beneath your feet, are set to rival those of Ku De Ta and Potato Head when the resort opens come July 2014. From $175 for a garden studio. See seasentosa.com.

By Belinda Jackson. This article first featured in the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age Traveller

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