Year to year, we see our readers’ travel habits shift, as some destinations suddenly explode in popularity (hello, Portugal and Iceland) and others experience a cooling, perhaps due to geopolitical events or an unfavorable exchange rate. And this, of course, trickles down into our World’s Best results, particularly when it comes to ranking the top 100 hotels on the planet. But one thing remains a constant: the properties that make this selective list are all incredible ambassadors for their home countries, delivering intuitive service and luxury experiences that can truly make a vacation.
The Hôtel le Clos Saint-Louis offers a romantic experience in old Québec City. The ambiance is cozy and the décor honors the building’s history: this is a former pair of Victorian houses renovated into a small boutique hotel. As the building is historic, ask for a ground floor room if you have mobility issues; there is no elevator. The rooms all come with a tea service set and are also decorated in Victorian-inspired furniture. The Hôtel le Clos Saint-Louis also specializes in romantic packages for couples, ensuring a true taste of Québec City’s culture.
Amidst the noise and bluster of so many new British hotel openings, with their sushi chefs and foraging sessions, shiny sit-up-and-beg bicycles to borrow and pristine racks of Hunter wellies, it is worth remembering the enduring classics that are well-loved for a reason. Lucknam Park has serious pedigree. It is deliciously, reassuringly old fashioned. The deeply pretty Georgian manor house, all honeyed Bath stone, sits at the end of an avenue of sky-high beech and lime trees, surrounded by exquisite gardens like a Jane Austen film set. In the grounds there’s a personable cottage for weekending families, a world-class equestrian centre and a serious cooking school. But you don’t have to whip up your own supper. Chef Hywel Jones (who has retained his Michelin star for a 14th year) plates up exquisite food in his eponymous restaurant. That in itself is a reason to stay. As are the roaring fires, the panelled libraries, the swagged four-poster beds and the moody oil paintings. Yet it's not stuffy. A purposeful drive in recent years to make the place feel less formal has resulted in a cheery bounce in the staff's step, a raising of chatter levels to almost a hum in the evenings and a relaxed atmosphere where you can wear your robe down to the ESPA spa and back again without feeling like a terrible slob. Eagle-eyed guests will spot the curious Greek elements dotted around – the urns in the bathroom, the Acropolis paintings in the dining room, the Hellenic motif on the plates. The owners also have Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens in their stable but this country retreat feels resonant and rooted, delightfully British to the core. By Issy von Simson
Proximity to all the attractions in Old Quebec of our interests. Comfortable, spacious room with ample storage; quiet, effective air conditioning. Nighttime silence despite location on the main street into the central location for street performers in front of the famous Hotel Frontenac and promenade overlooking the Saint Lawrence River. Helpful staff willing to haul our heavy suitcases up the steep and narrow stairs to our room.
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On paper it shouldn’t work. An entire Puglian village, built from scratch. A reimagining of townhouses and a square, a colonnade of shops, villas dotted around the grounds, a little farm area with horses and chickens and rabbits. How could it possibly be anything other than pastiche? And yet… at the grand old age of 10, Borgo Egnazia has carved a name for itself as one of the loveliest places to stay in all of Italy. It is dreamily beautiful, the way the harsh Mediterranean sun hits the mellow tufu limestone from which the buildings have been honed, the shock of bougainvillea that has crept up every wall, the softness, the shadows, the dusky lanes between the hotel rooms. It is of course a hotel, but feels far from formulaic. Rooms are soaring and elegant, cool stone underfoot, mini posies of dried lavender on shelves, huge linen cushions and sun-trap terraces. They are retreats in themselves, some with their own little kitchens, others with swimming pools, or sea views from the rooftops. The restaurants are smart, with the most covetable traditional Italian splatterware plates and bowls, and food made straight from the fields you see around you: broccoli, tomatoes, aubergines, pasta made with the local semolina flour, very good olive oil. There is the sweetest children’s club you’ll ever stumble across, and a supremely cool beach hangout, and a spa that is mesmerising and magical. At night the entire place is lit by citronella lanterns, smoking into the warm air. Sometimes a bonfire crackles in the central square. A deeply special place. By Issy von Simson
At first sight, Tetiaroa looks like a trick of the light, almost an aberration: it has a sci-fi glow. A pale blue of such luminosity, the remote, entirely private French Polynesian atoll’s water can be seen from outer space – astronauts orbiting the earth have enquired what it was. You leave from Tahiti (30 miles away, but it might be 3,000) and descend in a private six-seater directly into the Technicolor incandescence: a four-and-a-half-mile lagoon surrounded by a subterranean wall of living coral reef and circled by 12 cute green islands. Just one is used for the hotel’s 35 villas, the others solely occupied by frigate birds and ancient pandanus trees and honey bees. Tahitian royalty once lived here through the summers, prettifying their daughters for marriage, feeding them giant sea snails and sweet potato. All the islands are hemmed by white sand and shallow water rippling with baby fish. In deeper water are coral cathedrals for giant clams with mouths full of an algae in a trippy neon. The one-, two- and three-bedroom villas are decidedly more lustrous than the usual desert-island design in glass and ironwood, slate and silk. Each is set super-secretively in its own grounds, with a stretch of lonely white sand backed by dense trees. Your lazy eyes catch the occasional bright jags of oleander, jasmine, hibiscus and golden trumpet. Some guests stay put; some congregate at Bob’s Bar by the lodge’s restaurants (there are three, including a tiny new Japanese) and talk about the actor Marlon Brando, who bought Tetiaroa in 1967, having sailed past whilst scouting for locations for Mutiny on the Bounty (he even helped to develop the innovative 100 per cent renewable-energy seawater air-conditioning system here). A species of tilapia in the natural pond near the spa likes to gobble mosquito larvae: you won’t be bitten here. Best are the late afternoons, with the lulling sound of the Pacific crashing against the distant reef, waiting for the dusk, when the sky turns through the softest pastels into a stupefying heliconia red. By Antonia Quirke
A top-to-bottom refit of the Lambs Club, the historic thespian hangout in the heart of Midtown’s Theater District, has turned this actors’ den into a sleek 76-room hotel with Art Deco lines and ocean liner-inspired fittings that hark back to travel’s bygone era. Rooms are fitted with gorgeous steamer trunk–like wardrobes and desk-vanity combos in chocolate leather, while bathrooms come with wall-to-wall mirrors and rain showers stocked with custom Asprey amenities. Guests can find a break at the cozy Lambs Club Bar, hidden away above the lobby, and at the underground spa, with a clever "endless" lap pool and small gym—probably the only place on the property where you can let them see you sweat.
The No. 1 Best Hotel in West Palm Beach is a guest favorite thanks to its contemporary blue, yellow and white digs and secluded location in Manalapan, Florida. Situated on 7 acres, Eau Palm Beach offers water sports equipment rentals, fishing excursions and more for adventurous travelers, plus a spa and a fire pit for R&R-seekers. For those traveling with children, the resort features an unlimited drinks package for kids in addition to age-specific activities like scavenger hunts and video games. (Courtesy of Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa)
When Jasper Conran realised a lifelong dream to open his diminutive hotel in Marrakech, it heralded a new chapter in a city long beloved by designers. Yves Saint Laurent, Bill Willis and Madison Cox have all made their mark here over the years, but L’Hotel brings a new dimension, one that reflects the contemporary medina scene. Playful, Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole moments catapult you, on arrival, from a dark and brooding hallway into a garden that unfurls around a turquoise pool, scented by figs. The interior, meanwhile, is as pared-back and calming as a Scandinavian cabin. Conran’s personal collection of antiques and curios is artfully gathered together as if this were always their rightful home, curated across the five bedrooms, a grand salon in a hundred shades of yellow and a cedar-wood bar flanked by candy-cane striped armchairs. Venetian glass mirrors glint like diamonds from a tadelakt wall the colour of jade, alongside a portrait of Hindu maharajahs; exquisite Syrian chests are inlaid with mother-of-pearl; four-poster beds are draped in snowy voile and scattered with rose petals. Service is attentive yet discreet – there are no rules – but guests should definitely don their prettiest outfits when dressing for supper. Bouchra, the household’s jolly resident matriarch, is a phenomenal cook and her jewel-like salads and fragrant chicken, prune and almond tagine will have you pestering her for the recipes. Sleep late, wallow in an orange-blossom bath, come down for breakfast at noon. This is a much-loved city residence that avoids the usual clichés. By Tara Stevens
The Hôtel Manoir Victoria has a long history, dating back to the 1830s. Despite its age, the hotel has been recently renovated, and the exterior now hides an updated and contemporary interior, with sleek and modern décor. Rooms are spacious. As there are stairs leading up to the lobby, the staff is willing to help with luggage. The newly opened restaurant, Chez Boulay, comes highly recommended with its Nordic-inspired cuisine. Not only is there a spa, specializing in massage therapy, but a sauna is available as well.
The USA is as varied as it is vast. You could bask in the bright lights of one of the world’s great cities or stargaze in the great outdoors. Embark on a road trip through wine country or find yourself in a private spa retreat. It’s a country with enough A-list sights to fill the biggest Hollywood blockbuster, but still has a down-to-earth charm that you can’t help but fall for. And, when it comes to luxury hotels, America remains one of the world’s big hitters.
With elegant chalet decor and a host of amenities, the Landing Resort & Spa offers a luxury stay across from a private beach on Lake Tahoe and near Heavenly Village and the Stateline casinos. Its 77 stylish rooms have fireplaces, mini-fridges, Keurig coffeemakers, private balconies or patios (some with lake views), and luxurious bathrooms with heated floors and toilet seats. There's a restaurant that serves Greek and Californian fare and has a lovely patio overlooking the lake, though there are reports of slow service. For a dose of pampering, guests can head to the on-site spa, which has a sauna and steam room, and there’s also an outdoor pool with a hot tub. Rates are pricey, however, plus there's a mandatory resort fee covering the facilities and services like Wi-Fi and valet parking.
Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa is an idyllic 75-acre resort in Phuket, set in lush, tropical gardens surrounded by mountains, waterfalls and golden sandy beaches located on the heart of Karon Beach and 45 minutes from Phuket International Airport.The hotel features Hilton Deluxe rooms all the way up to Royal suites with all rooms offering balconies with either sea view or garden views.Unwind with a traditional Thai massage in the Spa - cool off in one of 5 pools or just relax to the sound of the waterfalls.Sample fresh seafood and award-winning cocktails at Sails restaurant or go local at the romantic Thai Thai Restaurant. Read More...
Few hotels are as synonymous with their destination as La Mamounia. Frankly, if you don’t end up overnighting in one of this former palace’s tiled guest rooms, just behind the blush-colored walls of the medina, it’s almost as though you were never in Marrakech at all. That’s because this opulent, more-is-absolutely-more pocket of palm trees, landscaped gardens and fountains, where sultry lobby spaces and bars are draped in silks and dark velvets, has come to embody all those reasons we travel to Marrakech in the first place. Inside its hammam, a mosaic of blue, red and pine-green tiles, are cheery therapists who offer clay body wraps (head down early for a pre-treatment dip). By the utterly enormous pool, a flurry of bow-tied waiters rush between the Brits and French and, with increasing frequency, Russians and Turks, lying about all day long, with bottles of Moroccan rosé and surprisingly well-mixed Old Fashioneds, moving equally as swiftly between the languages. In the incredible bedrooms, the sweeping Moorish curves on the balcony doors are emulated in the archway to the bathrooms, themselves a symphony of tilework and gold-framed mirrors. All of this is accompanied by the 5 a.m. call to prayer carrying in as softly as a fragrance of jasmine, from the nearby mosque.
Toronto Plaza Hotel C$ 104+ Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport C$ 111+ Toronto Don Valley Hotel and Suites C$ 113+ Bond Place Hotel C$ 115+ Four Points by Sheraton Toronto Airport East C$ 117+ Super 8 by Wyndham Downtown Toronto C$ 128+ Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Toronto Downtown C$ 130+ Holiday Inn Toronto Downtown Centre C$ 134+ Holiday Inn Toronto International Airport C$ 139+ Town Inn Suites C$ 140+ Comfort Hotel Airport North C$ 143+ Delta Hotels by Marriott Toronto Airport & Conference Centre C$ 147+ Strathcona Hotel C$ 150+ Radisson Suite Hotel Toronto Airport C$ 151+ Chelsea Hotel, Toronto C$ 156+ DoubleTree by Hilton Toronto Airport C$ 156+ Radisson Hotel Toronto East C$ 158+ Courtyard by Marriott Toronto Downtown C$ 159+ DoubleTree by Hilton Toronto Downtown C$ 162+ Hotel Victoria C$ 170+ The Westin Toronto Airport C$ 172+ Holiday Inn Express Toronto Downtown C$ 176+ Radisson Admiral Hotel Toronto-Harbourfront C$ 178+ Novotel Toronto North York C$ 178+ The Westin Prince, Toronto C$ 179+ Novotel Toronto Centre C$ 180+ Hyatt Regency Toronto C$ 186+ Cambridge Suites Hotel - Toronto C$ 188+ Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel C$ 198+ Hilton Toronto C$ 199+
Twenty-six years on, Ellerman House is still everybody’s fantasy bolthole in Cape Town: minutes from the best beaches and the Table Mountain cableway, but close enough to the city and its dynamic food, art and design scene. Sandwiched between Lion’s Head and the Atlantic Ocean, the Cape Edwardian mansion looks like a private residence from the road, one of many overlooking the sea in the wind-protected suburb of Bantry Bay. And that’s exactly what keeps guests coming back. The bar, restaurant and spa are exclusive to invited and resident guests, which means it’s very private and secure. Owner Paul Harris takes enormous pride in his country – his impressive collection of South African art spans original works from the turn of the last century to current contemporary art. An informal tour of the collection with one of the in-house art experts is a fascinating lesson in the country’s socio-political history. Then there are the 7,500 bottles of rare and vintage South African wines in the cellar and the indigenous plants sourced from Kirstenbosch (Cape Town’s answer to Kew) in the one-and-a-half acre terraced gardens. Besides the main house, there are two modern, minimalist private villas built into the granite mountainside, as well as a wine gallery and an excellent little spa. Checking into one of the individually decorated rooms in the house – many with local African design elements, some on the small size – feels both comfortable and comforting. As does the open-access kitchen. Walk right in, tell the chefs what you’re craving and it is whipped up in minutes. Better yet, take a snack back to your room. The post-sunset vista from the balcony has to be one of the best views of the Atlantic found anywhere on earth. By Jane Broughton
It’s not a Rorschach test. Don’t dwell too long on Brazilian architect Ruy Ohtake’s uncommon structure sitting on a grassy patch in São Paulo’s refined Jardim Paulista neighbourhood. Is it a watermelon slice? An ocean liner? Step inside the gargantuan belly of a sunlit lobby, then spread out on one of the International Klein blue cushion couches to imbibe a glass of Champagne. More liquid satisfaction is found along The Wall, the lobby bar with its 60ft high stash of spirits (for bibliophiles, 300-plus titles hide alongside). Guests are sent on a sensory adventure, from the unlit lift and barely illuminated corridor to 95 white-on-white cabin-like guestrooms, where an oversized porthole window continues to play with a sense of scale even as an abundance of natural light flows through (highly effective blackout panels close it at the touch of a button). Most fun are those rooms running along the building’s elongated curve, featuring floors that could almost double as a skateboard park. Surround-sound speakers are hidden in headboards, and in the see-through bathroom is a tub with whirlpool jets; less hi-tech but highly coveted are the complimentary Havaiana flip-flops in the closet. Save your appetite for the plump pink salmon sashimi, spicy Amazonian cassoulet and Portuguese arroz de pato (duck rice) at Dijon-born chef Emmanuel Bassoleil’s rooftop Skye restaurant with its 360-degree metropolitan panorama and ruby-red lacquered swimming pool. Commandeer one of the white double daybeds and order Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha, colour-coordinated with the pool with fresh strawberries and raspberries. By Cynthia Rosenfeld
Situated about 25 miles north of San Diego, Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa is a little off the beaten path. But even with its removed location, the resort is a hit with guests, thanks to its carefully manicured gardens, Mediterranean-style rooms and suites and fine dining at Veladora. The No. 1 Best Hotel in California wows visitors with its top-notch service and many luxury amenities, including a tennis facility, an expansive fitness center and two outdoor heated pools and hot tubs. What's more, the resort organizes daily complimentary activities (think: tequila tastings and lawn games) for guests. (Courtesy of Rouse Photography)
This pioneering camp of 10 elegant, khaki-green Rajasthani tents marooned on a grassy island on the edge of the Makgadikgadi salt pans has remained a standout hit for years. Here the intermittent rustling of the mokolwane palm trees is often the only sound breaking the utter silence. Lunar-like, the pans stretch for thousands of kilometres in all directions and are littered with fossils and Stone Age artefacts. Founded by fifth-generation safari operator, explorer and naturalist Ralph Bousfield, in memory of his crocodile-hunting late father Jack, the camp is a place to be adventurous and also educated. The guides are all long-standing experts in their fields, from zoology to palaeontology, and walkabouts are led by a resident bushmen clan. Jack’s is big on the classic, old-school East African safari experience, with Persian rugs, paraffin lanterns, brass fittings, mahogany campaign furniture, antique four-poster beds and raucous, communal dining in a mess tent. But it’s the choice of experiences, some dictated by the dramatic seasonal changes to the landscape, that ultimately thrill the most. In the dry season, meerkats and brown hyena are the unlikely stars of the show and zooming across the pans on quad bikes is obligatory. After the summer rains, lush grasses attract migrating herds of zebra and flamingos in their thousands. At any time of the year, it’s a photographer’s dream. Those who get to camp out under the stars near Kubu Island can consider themselves members of an elite club. By Jane Broughton
The chic accommodations at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto reflect the charm of its Yorkville backdrop. The property's rooms and suites – designed with elegant decor and modern amenities like an in-room iPad to access Four Seasons services and bathrooms equipped with deep soaking tubs and TVs – hold views of the downtown neighborhood's surrounding shops and cafes. Despite the abundance of nearby restaurants, guests suggest enjoying a meal on premises; both Café Boulud and d|bar lounge offer French-inspired menus from Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud. Serenity-seekers rave about the spacious, sleek setting in the spa, which comes outfitted with an indoor pool, a steam room, a salon and a long list of treatment options.
Our winning resort hotel is also our youngest, completed just one year ago in summer 2017. But the new 154-room lodge, with its prime lakeshore location, has already gained some loyal lifetime fans. One respondent said, “They are right on the shores of the gorgeous Lake Tahoe, surrounded by stunning views of snow-covered mountains. There are no other properties in the area that come close to the luxury accommodations and location.” The Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe is ideal for a summer lake getaway, but it also garnered praise from ski vacationers: “I loved the cozy fireplaces that are in every room. The heated pool and hot tub was a big plus after long days skiing…I could spend the entire day there if it wasn't for the plethora of activities that awaited outside.”
This 32-room hotel may appear traditional thanks to its colonial facade, but guests know that the sleek Hotel Matilda is anything but: there’s a crazy video installation installed behind the front desk, and the hallways are lined with contemporary artwork. Once you get to your room, you’ll discover crisp white beds dressed with Egyptian cotton linens and adorned slate gray accents, and marble-clad bathrooms hstocked with Malin + Goetz products. The infinity pool and the rooftop bar, though, are the true standouts.
The No. 1 Best Hotel in Los Angeles has been a fixture on the Hollywood entertainment scene for years. A haven for celebrities and the inspiration behind The Eagles' hit song "Hotel California," this Beverly Hills property exudes Old Hollywood glamour inside its guest rooms and suites. All accommodations offer garden or city views, Bang & Olufsen televisions, minibars and marble-accented bathrooms with separate showers and bathtubs. Guests are also treated to chic on-site amenities like an outdoor pool with underwater music, a polo-inspired lounge and a spa that hosts complimentary yoga classes. (Courtesy of The Beverly Hills Hotel)
Europe had 18 winners — including first-timer Six Senses Douro Valley, in the heart of Portugal’s stunning wine country — while Mexico can boast of 10. No surprise that Rosewood San Miguel de Allende made the cut, surely in part thanks to its location in the No. 1 city in the world. “The rooftop bar was our go-to place for drinks,” said one reader. “A very special place.”
Québec City not only has a fantastic Old Town which one can spend days exploring, but is in the centre of lovely countryside that offers an excellent range of scenic daytrips. The attractions are nearby, so no change of hotel will be necessary for any of these trips. Orleans Island is just 15 minutes drive from the Old Town. Aside from some great views of the St. Lawrence, Orleans Island is best known as a gourmet destination, with a number of great restaurants focussing on top quality local produce. Jacque Cartier National Park is just 30 minutes drive north and is known for its deep river valleys, pristine trails and extensive wildlife, including moose and red fox. Families and keen photographers may enjoy a trip on the Charlevoix Railway, which travels from Quebec City to La Malbaie, with much of the track running along the lovely St. Lawrence River.
When Indian hotels do opulent, they really do opulent. And every inch of this palatial spot in the calm, tree-lined boulevards of Delhi’s Diplomatic Enclave is gilded, mirrored, plumped, embroidered and topped with not-a-petal-out-of-place flower arrangements (14,000 blooms are delivered daily). But while it channels the vibe of the grand residence of a globetrotting Maharaja – huge Murano chandeliers from Venice, hand-woven carpets from Turkey, intricate Rajasthani miniature paintings, sandstone elephant statues carved in Qatar (no wonder if cost hundreds of millions to build) – it was actually all brand spanking new when it opened in 2011, so also has a stealthy undercurrent of techie and green credentials. The 260 gold-hued rooms and suites are some of the largest in the city, treatments at ESPA spa draw on India’s ancient Ayurvedic traditions and the whole hotel is stuffed with so much contemporary Indian art that there’s a dedicated guided walk to take it all in, past Seema Kohli’s layered storytelling canvases, Satish Gupta’s lotus murals and Laxma Goud’s bronzes. An army of ultra-attentive staff fall over themselves to open doors, take bags and present garlands. And at the restaurants (there are four, and two bars), the menus are equally extravagant: hand-cut black truffle fettuccine in black truffle sauce at Italian Le Cirque; lobster nerulli curry at Indian Jamavar; sashimi made with cuts direct from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market at Japanese Megu. A new species of grand hotel, and hugely influential. By Fiona Kerr