From South America to Southeast Asia, the Bayou to the Caucasus, we think these seven under-the-radar destinations will be cropping up again and again on travel itineraries in the coming year. So as 2017 draws to a close, here’s a bit of inspiration for the months ahead.
Beautiful, multiethnic, and geographically diverse, Bolivia is home to the high-altitude deserts of the Andes and the lush rainforests and vast savannahs of the Amazon basin. Its stunning capital, La Paz, set among the snow-capped mountains of the Andes’ Altiplano plateau, is bursting with fashion and design, fabulous restaurants, boutique hotels, and an edgy art scene. It’s also home to Atix Hotel, a stunning showcase for Bolivian design and gastronomy, as well as a crucial exhibition space for the country’s most important living artist, Gastón Ugalde, a video art pioneer whose 50-year career has helped change the face of Latin American art.
More than a decade since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, “The Big Easy” is regaining its footing. Visitors are arriving again in big numbers to experience the round-the-clock nightlife, vibrant music scene, and the spicy, singular cuisine reflecting its history as a melting pot of French, African, and American cultures. It’s also now home to a Design Hotels property, The Drifter, a gorgeous contemporary homage to the Beat Generation that opened in 2017 in a 1950s-era motel renovated by Nicole Cota Studio.
Cambodia‘s emerald green rice paddies, tropical islands, and awe-inspiring ancient temples hold a singular magic that’s increasingly complemented by the growing ecotourism sector. Leading the pack is Phum Baitang, an elegant hideaway wrapped in eight acres of lush gardens and paddy fields near Siem Reap.
With its lovely Baroque architecture, cobblestone alleyways, and hip bohemian enclaves, the Lithuanian capital is a lovely place for a city break, even more so when you realize it’s substantially cheaper than other European capitals. Craft beer, street art, and a flourishing hotel scene (including the 2018 opening of Hotel Pacai) round out this ace destination.
From the snowy Caucasus Mountains (home to Rooms Hotel Kazbegi) to the sand beaches of the Black Sea coast, Georgia’s geography is as multifaceted as its cultural landscape. In the capital of Tbilisi, home to Rooms Hotel Tbilisi and, come spring, the spectacular Stamba Hotel, increasing numbers of visitors are coming for its leading-edge fashion, art, nightlife, and restaurants.
In 2017, the lovely German port city of Hamburg unveiled its 790-million-euro Elbphilharmonie concert hall, an architectural and acoustic marvel located in the HafenCity port area. The concert hall might be reason enough to visit in 2018, but Hamburg also boasts excellent restaurants, nightlife, and hotels.
Helsinki has been known for years for its world-class design, restaurant, and arts scenes, but in 2018 the Finnish capital is primed to hit the big time, bolstered by new openings like the next-wave art museum Amos Rex and the ambitious upcoming Hotel St. George.