Where to Travel Next

Each year, we index the best, brightest openings, but for the 26th edition of Condé Nast Traveler’s Hot List, we’ve upped the ante: This time, editors at all seven worldwide editions had a hand in scouting and selecting the entries. At its heart, this is still a hotel list—a whopping 96 made the cut this year, which is a true testament to the industry’s resilience. But because (almost) no hotel is an island, we’ve widened the lens to include the restaurants, culture, transportation, and cruises you need to know, and the destinations that are reinventing themselves. We mean it when we say this may be the hottest Hot List yet. Here, the seven destinations around the world you should travel to next.


Momentum has been building around Maine for some time, but 2021 was its year. That’s thanks in part to a slew of nature-minded projects and comfortable places to spend the night that weren’t confined to the coast. New trails like the Great Circle Trail and the Bold Coast Scenic Bikeway made the rugged 100-Mile Wilderness and Downeast areas more accessible. Up north, glamping favorite Under Canvas’s first East Coast outpost and reimagined indie boutique The Claremont opened up Acadia National Park’s 26 peaks to a larger travel set, while fresh-opening Captains Collection kept classic Kennebunkport more relevant than ever. —Todd Plummer

Piedmont, Italy

This proud, polished northern Italian region is giving Tuscany and Puglia a run for their money, thanks to a boom in its southern Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato areas. Two game-changing openings are making these wine-centric areas more accessible to travelers. Sophisticated Nordelaia is a stylish 12-room conversion of a 19th-century villa, with a persuasive fresh-and-local restaurant. Farther west, surrounded by its own sweep of vineyards and truffle-rich woods, 39-room Casa di Langa is a terracotta-red riff on the traditional Piedmontese farm estate, with a contemporary-art collection including works by Ai Weiwei, Sean Scully, and Carla Accardi. —Lee Marshall


With one eye on the traditions of the past and the other firmly on the future, compact Qatar feels different from its Gulf neighbors. The country’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup has brought in a wealth of new stadiums, infrastructure projects, and hotels, including the Middle East’s first Banyan Tree, a testament to Qatar’s confidence that the world will keep coming when the games are done. Because there’s so much more to the Gulf nation than sports. In the past year, Doha’s museums and galleries have hosted exhibitions by Jeff Koons and Virgil Abloh, and Msheireb Downtown is now home to M7, a hub for Qatari design. (The I. M. Pei–designed Museum of Islamic Art reopens in late 2022 after a year of enhancements.) Those in need of a reset are heading to the north coast to Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som, where traditional Arabic and Islamic medicine meet well-being philosophies. And outside Doha, the unexpectedly verdant Heenat Salma Farm reconnects people with nature through field-to-table dining, craft workshops, and cozy tents for overnight stays. It’s desert life, but not as you know it. —Nicola Chilton


Hungary’s sophisticated capital used the COVID pause well. The city restored institutions like the UNESCO-listed Buda Castle Quarter and The Guard House and opened up in fresh ways via new access to sites like the Hapsburg Palatine crypt, while Budapest’s landmark neo-Renaissance Opera House reopened in March after five years of restoration work. Fitting, too, that historic Matild Palace debuted as a Luxury Collection hotel in June, glamorous with Art Nouveau–inspired public spaces like the buzzy Duchess rooftop bar. Never has the nickname "The Paris of the East" felt more resonant. —Jen Murphy

Mexico City

It seems as if every creative on Earth has relocated to Mexico City or is considering a move to this buzzy and still-affordable megalopolis. We get it: The seemingly always-75-degrees city has a ton going on just now. Its strong hotel landscape got stronger with the opening of The Ritz-Carlton along the jacaranda-lined Paseo de la Reforma. In the posh Polanco, The Alest opened with 19 smart rooms, and Casa Polanco is set to open soon inside a 1940s former mansion. The city’s main green space, Bosque de Chapultepec, welcomed LAGO ALGO, a restaurant, café, and cultural center set in a renovated 1960s building. The dining scene flourished too, with the leafy La Condesa neighborhood reemerging as a hot spot. At Anónimo, the Mexican German chef Klaus Mayr serves delicate pastas, while at Botánico, Sergio Meza plates dishes like sustainably sourced fish wrapped in Malbec leaves. In Roma Norte, tucked away off the bustling street of Álvaro Obregón, the passageway El Parián opened with dozens of new businesses, including the concept shop PCH, showcasing the city’s top female brands, and Jarilla, an upscale grab-and-go for sandwiches, jarred Mexican delicacies, and natural wine. —Michaela Trimble

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has long been an enigma to most of the world, its timeworn ruins, sacred religious sites, and glittering cities largely off-limits. Though the pandemic delayed the Kingdom’s plans to open the nation to global tourism, 2021 saw an unprecedented wave of arrivals and attention. Stunning new hotels, like Habitas AlUla, are adding a diverse design ethos to an ethereal destination already brimming with events like art expo Desert X. The historic capital of Diriyah, just outside Riyadh, welcomed the country’s first biennial and will soon see outposts of Michelin-starred heavyweights like Bruno and Hakkasan. Over in Jeddah, an alluring Red Sea city and gateway to the holy city of Makkah, there’s a hotel boom happening—the opening of the quirky House Hotel Jeddah City Yard was followed by a gleaming Shangri-La, and The Jeddah Edition is coming soon. There are few places on the planet where the past and the future collide so spectacularly. —Sarah Khan


For a while now, Madrid has been nipping at Barcelona’s heels for sheer urban appeal, but this year the Spanish capital blazed past its Catalan sibling. A slew of high-profile openings includes the Four Seasons and the Rosewood Villa Magna, drawing a sophisticated crowd to leafy Salamanca. Then there’s the food, moving beyond the many flavors of rock-star local chef David Muñoz to bring in global notes like excellent Japanese spot Zuma, and tastes from the African continent at Aarde. And in the ultimate nod to inheritance, UNESCO announced that Madrid’s regal, central Retiro park has joined its list of protected places. —Erin Florio



For a city famed for its caught-in-time appeal–its 15th-century Grand Bazar and well-preserved Byzantine architecture–there’s an awful lot of new just now in Istanbul. Major urban-renewal efforts that have been in the works for years are seeing the light of day, like the Beyoğlu Culture Road, a walking trail that links some of the city’s biggest attractions, including the enormous, newly completed Taksim Mosque and the Atlas Cinema, and the Galataport, a new cultural hub in the Karaköy neighborhood, that debuted a shiny cruise terminal alongside restaurants and shops. The city’s hotel scene is keeping pace with big-name openings like the waterfront Mandarin Oriental in Kurucesme and the reimagined Four Seasons in Sultanahmet. The present has never felt more exciting. —Rebecca Misner

Courtesy of Condé Nast Traveler