For this October edition of Spirited Travels, food and travel writer Esther Lim puts together a list of recent hotel openings – in some of her favourite cities – she’d love to one day check out.

We hope you’ve already put together your year-end travel plans, seeing that there’s only November and December to go for the rest of this year.

But travel doesn’t always have to be about discovering new destinations; it’s totally ok to go on an impulse trip back to a city you’ve fallen in love with on a previous trip. For us we count London, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Melbourne, Sydney, and Bangkok, among those we really enjoyed that we’d happily head back to, especially with these new hotels that have recently opened up in those destinations.

Have a look and pen them in those travel itineraries!

  • Raffles London at The OWO :: London, United Kingdom
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka :: Fukuoka, Japan
  • Dusit Thani Kyoto :: Kyoto, Japan
  • Laneways by Ovolo :: Melbourne, Australia
  • W Sydney :: Sydney, Australia
  • Madi Paidi Bangkok, Autograph Collection :: Bangkok, Thailand

[Cover photo: 29/30 in W Sydney (Photo courtesy of W Hotels)]

Raffles London at The OWO
Photo courtesy of Raffles Hotels & Resorts

Raffles London at The OWO :: London, United Kingdom

It’s been a number of years since we’ve been back to London, but the next time we drop in for a visit we have the perfect hotel in mind. Britain’s iconic Old War Office – where British wartime prime minister Winston Churchill maintained his headquarters during World War II – is now home to Raffles London at The OWO. The first hotel in the UK for Raffles Hotels & Resorts, newly-opened Raffles London boasts 120 spacious guest rooms and suites, along with a host of dining concepts, a grand ballroom, as well as an expansively indulgent spa in partnership with Guerlain and Pillar, The Guerlain Spa and Pillar Wellbeing.

Among its nine signature dining experiences? Award-winning Argentine chef Mauro Colagreco has put his name here for Mauro’s Table, an intimate chef’s table experience set within one of The OWO’s most storied rooms, and Saison, an all-day Mediterranean restaurant that reflects his philosophy and commitment to seasonal cuisine with a focus on hyper-local produce. We’d also love to pay a visit to The Spy Bar, a speakeasy cocktail bar located in a former interrogation room with a theme that pays homage to Britain’s infamous spy networks ranging from the Special Operations Executive branch to the MI5.

Raffles London at The OWO | 57 Whitehall, London SW1A 2BX, United Kingdom (Google Maps link) | Check-in time: 3pm; check-out time: 12pm | | +44 20 3907 7500 | rates

The Ritz-Carlton Fukuoka - guest room
Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Fukuoka

The Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka :: Fukuoka, Japan

We absolutely adore Fukuoka, and are always looking for excuses to make a return visit to this storied city located in the north of Japan’s island of Kyushu. We may have found a new reason: The Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka. Opened earlier this year in June, this elegant and refined property houses some 147 guest rooms and 20 suites on the 19th to 23rd floors of the Fukuoka Daimyo Garden City complex located right smack in the heart of the city.

We like that the design of the hotel is an understated blend of contemporary sensibility and Japanese art traditions, complete with a three-dimensional piece of wall art rendered of thousands of pattern-dyed threads, and carpets inspired by local Hakata-ori textiles. Not trawling Fukuoka for the best Hakata ramen? There are fine-dining options within the hotel such as Genjyu, which combines three of Japan’s finest culinary traditions in kaiseki, sushi, and teppanyaki, or Viridis if you prefer a more modern European repast. Then there’s also Bay, a restaurant-bar where you can soak in the resplendent sights of Hakata Bay while you lounge over tapas and cocktails.

The Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka | Japan, 〒810-0041 Fukuoka, Chuo Ward, Daimyo, 2 Chome−6−50 福岡大名ガーデンシティ (Google Maps link) | Check-in time: 3pm; check-out time: 12pm | | +81 92 401 8888 | rates

Dusit Thani Kyoto - Imperial Suite
Photo courtesy of Dusit International

Dusit Thani Kyoto :: Kyoto, Japan

One of the newest hotels to open in Japan’s cultural capital of Kyoto this year is Dusit Thani Kyoto. While some of us may prefer the more traditional Japanese ryokan experience, this swanky contemporary hotel from Dusit International offers unparalleled access to many of the old capital’s iconic cultural attractions such as Nishi Hongan-ji Temple, Higashi Hongan-ji Temple, and Ryokoku Museum, all of which are within walking distance.

As for the luxury hotel itself? It is designed to reflect the rich cultural heritage and stunning architecture of Kyoto, flourished with Ayutthaya accents from Dusit’s Thai heritage. Dusit Thani Kyoto offers two Thai fine-dining concepts – Ayatana, which combines seasonal Kansai produce, Thai culinary influences and Japanese Shijin Ryori dining philosophy for a unique fusion experience, and Kati, a Thai-Japanese dessert atelier. If you prefer something more traditional? There’s Kōyō, for an interactive chef’s table-style omakase dining. Cocktail revellers will be glad to discover Den Kyoto, a pulsating social bar offering signature Japanese-inspired tipples.

Dusit Thani Kyoto | 466 Nishinotoincho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8327, Japan (Google Maps link) | Check-in time: 3pm; check-out time: 12pm | | +81 75 343 7150 | rates

Laneways by Ovolo
Photo courtesy of Ovolo Group

Laneways by Ovolo :: Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne remains one of our favourite cosmopolitan cities in the world. And while it’s usually a stopover for some of us on the way to wine country in nearby Yarra Valley, Laneaways by Ovolo – newly-revamped earlier this year – invites travellers to explore Melbourne’s inner city districts. Indeed this vibrant boutique hotel, located on the edge of Melbourne’s iconic Hoddle city grid – its neat rectangular patchwork of streets – means that guests have easy access to all that inner city Melbourne has to offer, with the venerable Flinders Street train station, iconic Queen Victoria Market, beautiful Fitzroy Gardens and the stunning Southbank stretch along Yarra River, all within walking distance.

With just 42 rooms the fun and funky property remains cosy and comfortable, and its 1980s Italian design and architecture is a tribute to nearby Lygon Street, sometimes known as Melbourne’s Little Italy. We’d love to check out Amphlett House too, their all-new drinking and dining venue spearheaded by celebrated chef and restaurateur Ian Curly and award-winning bartender Andrea Gualdi. Another reason to stay here? It’s just a stone’s throw from eccentric cocktail bar Caretaker’s Cottage, recently named to the World’s 50 Best Bars list at No.23.

Laneways by Ovolo  | 19 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia (Google Maps link) | Check-in time: 2pm; check-out time: 11pm | | +61 3 8692 0777 | rates

W Sydney - Spectacular King Room
Photo courtesy of W Hotels

W Sydney :: Sydney, Australia

And if you’re heading to Sydney? There’s a stunning new luxury hotel that opened up this month along the Darling Harbour waterfront – W Sydney. Massive W Sydney – it features 588 guest rooms, including 162 suites – towers over Sydney’s infamous mess of streets within The Ribbon offering a commanding view of the harbour and city skyline, and its cutting-edge dynamic design and blue-inflected marine theme draws inspiration from the city’s storied history and unquenchable spirit.

W Sydney also adds four new restaurant and bar venues to liven up the Sydney’s dining scene. There’s BTWN, a modern Australian eatery by day, but during the evenings transforms into 2AM: dessertbar by Singapore’s very own queen of desserts Janice Wong. On the other hand, Living Room, which overlooks the city’s Asiatown, offers Asian small bites along with a focus on sake and soju. For those who can’t live without a tipple, rooftop bar 29/30 – which spans two floors – is a great place to soak in the city’s views over a cocktail or three. Bonus: W Sydney is not too far away from award-winning cocktail bar Maybe Sammy, ranked at No.15 on this year’s World’s 50 Best Bars list.

W Sydney | 31 Wheat Rd, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia (Google Maps link) | Check-in time: 3pm; check-out time: 12pm | | +61 2 9072 0000 | rates

Madi Paidi Bangkok Autograph Collection - Sapphire Room
Photo courtesy of Autograph Collection

Madi Paidi Bangkok, Autograph Collection :: Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok remains one of Singapore’s favourite destinations for dining and shopping, and for good reason – it’s just barely over two hours by flight. And while the sprawling metropolis offers an entire plethora of accommodation choices, Madi Paidi Bangkok, newly opened last month, is one we’d love to check out when we next visit. Located in Bangkok’s vibrant Thong Lor, Sukhumvit district, this stylish new boutique hotel comes with 56 guest rooms and suites, each with its distinctive character while blending tradition with modernity.

EKKALUCK, the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant is an elegant breakfast venue during the day, before evolving into a bright and cheery setting for lunches and light bites in the afternoon. Come evening it transforms into a progressive fine-dining Thai restaurant that offers cutting-edge fusion Thai dishes driven by hyperlocal and seasonal ingredients. After which we recommend you venture into the surrounding streets for some of Bangkok’s acclaimed night life such as #FindTheLockerRoom, an up-and-coming bar blazing its way in cocktail circles.

Madi Paidi Bangkok, Autograph Collection | 22 Sukhumvit 53 Alley, Klongton Nua, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand (Google Maps link) | Check-in time: 3pm; check-out time: 12pm | | +66 2127 5953 | rates

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