The editors of Travel + Leisure recently released their 2018 list of the Best New Hotels in the World, highlighting 56 standout properties across the globe. The T+L team scoured the latest and greatest resorts to find the 56 that will “truly be game changers for our readers," and four California hotels made the list, including Ventana Big Sur, Hotel Californian, Nobu Ryokan Malibu, and Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills.
To choose the finalists, T+L says that each contender must offer more than just location, design, and hospitality—the properties that rise to the top possess a certain buzz factor: “A standout hotel might be adding to the fabric of a neighborhood through events, opening up entirely new destinations by their very presence, and going above and beyond in terms of excursions (helicopter safaris, anyone?) to truly transport their guests.”
Below are the four best new California resorts, listed from north to south.
Ventana Big Sur
When the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge collapsed in 2017, the owners of Ventana Big Sur saw the downtime as an opportunity to revamp the entire oceanfront property. In addition to giving all of the 59 rooms and suites a fresh look, a new option emerged in its glamping options. Now guests can enjoy the secluded feel of camping with upgraded amenities like wood-burning fire pits, plush beds, and daily housekeeping service.
T+L says: “[Ventana's owners] also added new amenities throughout the grounds, like an infinity hot tub that overlooks a redwood canyon; an ocean-view terrace abutting the redone Sur House restaurant; and a Japanese-style bathhouse… It all adds up to a perfect opportunity to discover Big Sur all over again.”
The Funk Zone is one of Santa Barbara’s hottest districts, featuring a collection of wineries, boutiques, restaurants, and galleries in a converted warehouse space that's just blocks from the ocean. In 2017, the swanky Hotel Californian opened, adding posh boutique accommodations into the vibrant mix.
T+L says: “Spread across three buildings, the hotel and its 121 rooms have lavish Spanish Mission and Moorish design cues, courtesy of Martyn Lawrence Bullard. Rapid check-in takes place on an iPad; then, guests are whisked through the chic Moroccan-tiled lobby bar and into a courtyard, which in turn leads to the Andalusian-Deco guest quarters.”
Nobu Ryokan Malibu
There are only 16 rooms at this private, peaceful retreat on the beautiful beaches of Malibu. Well-known restaurateur Nobu Matsuhisa blended traditional Japanese ryokan with California laid-back luxury to create a very intimate setting.
T+L says: “The serene, earth-toned rooms have ikebana arrangements, as well as freshly brewed green tea and senbei rice crackers to greet travelers upon arrival. Soaking in your teak tub while listening to the waves, you’ll begin to see why the West Coast really is the best coast.”
Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills
As soon as you check into the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, you have a personal concierge at your fingertips—yes, you can text for things like concert tickets, a restaurant reservation, or a shoe shine from your room. Soak up the panoramic Los Angeles views from the rooftop bar, or sit down for a five-course meal from famed New York chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who is at the helm of the Waldorf’s signature restaurant.
T+L says: “Conceived by fêted French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, Waldorf Astoria’s first West Coast build is opulence at every turn, starting with the double-height, three-tiered lobby—all Lalique crystal, Italian marble, 22-carat gold leaf, and glossy cherry wood. The 119 rooms and 51 suites are just as over-the-top, with enormous walk-in closets, floor-to-ceiling windows, and private balconies that look out to the Hollywood Hills and beyond. “