Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.
Old Hollywood glamour is on display throughout Hotel Bel-Air. Ranked as the No. 3 Best Hotel in Los Angeles for 2018, this chic property resides in the exclusive Bel Air Estates neighborhood and is home to a spa, an outdoor pool and a lake with four white swans. In addition to the hotel's quiet atmosphere, guests rave about the property's stunning accommodations, which let in ample natural light and offer high-end features, such as marble bathrooms and private entrances. Many also praise the hotel's attentive staff. (Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air)
The people of Quebec City are hardy and quite used to the harsh weather that is typical in the long winter months. Rather than mope and complain they tend to turn lemons into lemonade, or rather snow and ice into sculptures and other works of art. The city holds a winter carnival every year, officially known as Le Carnaval de Quebéc. Despite the brisk temperatures that are experienced at this time, this carnival is as popular among travellers as events held in the summer months. In fact it is the largest carnival of its kind in the world, with more than one million people drawn to view the ice sculptures, take part in winter sports and attend parades and masquerade balls. Bonhomme, a stylised giant snowman, is the delightful official mascot. Those looking for a unique and beautiful place to stay in the deep winter months should head a few miles to the north of the city where the Hôtel de Glace, North America’s only ice hotel, is open from January to March each year. The spectacular suites are carved out of the ice by artists and have to be seen to be believed.
The Bahama House is the millennial child of Harbour Island, and a fashionable one at that; a relative newcomer among a clutch of older hotels that have been around for generations. To be fair, this Bahamian outpost needed the provocation this slick upstart has brought. The unremarkable exterior along the main drag of Dunmore Town, with its buzzy street-life where roosters roam free and locals play dominoes at sundown, feels no different from the surrounding low-level houses. But inside the New Orleans-style courtyard, leafy vegetation conceals super-smart interiors. There’s more than a nod to an old-school Palm Beach aesthetic – beautiful patterned fabrics, bamboo mirrors and antique wicker chairs, Martinis made to perfection at the sunken bar and a discreet shaded pool providing welcome relief during the intense heat of the afternoon – but with an infrastructure that is reassuringly slick. There is no restaurant and yet the best food on the island is made to order by chefs whenever and wherever you want it. The hotel is part of Eleven Experience, a group that specialises in one-off adventure trips – if it’s kite surfing on wild beaches or fishing in secret coves that you want, or a beautifully curated picnic in an isolated seaside spot, you only have to ask. It’s the perfect vantage point, between the pretty harbour front with its pastel cottages and the unimpeachably perfect Pink Sands Beach, from which to people watch and experience this brilliant Bahamian find. By Vassi Chamberlain
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.
According to previous visitors, the No. 3 Best Hotel in Chicago offers a refined atmosphere and proximity to the shops, restaurants and nightlife of the city's Magnificent Mile. Inside this Travel + Leisure World's Best-awarded property, guests will find numerous facilities to take advantage of, including an indoor swimming pool, 24-hour fitness and business centers, a game-filled lounge for kids and the Allium Restaurant and Bar, which dishes up contemporary American cuisine. What's more, rooms and suites feature neutral color palettes with jewel-tone accents, Malin + Goetz bath amenities, flat-screen TVs and minibars. (Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Chicago and Peter Peirce)
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
The Four Seasons Resort Maui is a tranquil retreat located on Wailea Beach. The No. 2 Best Hotel in Maui offers spacious rooms and suites appointed with lanais, access to three golf courses and many kid-friendly amenities, such as lawn games, arts and crafts and hula lessons. What's more, guests can enjoy the hotel's picturesque location, as they lounge on the beach or by one of the three pools, including an adults-only pool with underwater music and a swim-up bar. (Peter Vitale/Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea)
Not only do Mr and Mrs Robert Wtterwulghe share an extraordinary surname, they also hold the world record for the most visits made by paying guests to One&Only Le Saint Géran. The Belgian couple made their 88th pilgrimage here this past year. Few hotels inspire such loyalty. When it opened in 1975 it was, if not the only place to stay in Mauritius, the only one you would have wished to stay in. Its proprietor, South African Sol Kerzner, announced his intention to ‘blow the guests away’. In a sense, he achieved the opposite. They came in droves. They are still coming in droves. These days it is not uncommon for three generations from the same family to arrive simultaneously. Now Mauritius has the greatest concentration of five-star hotels of any island in the Indian Ocean and yet Le Saint Géran has in no way been overtaken. The changes made during a 2017 makeover were uncontroversial, either merely cosmetic or merely sensible. The number of rooms has decreased, and they are the very definition of tasteful neutrality, taupe and teal, as soothing as a sea breeze. The spa has expanded and there’s a new pool. But the essentials remain the same. The location – on 60 acres with a mile of flawless beach – is unbeatable. The spangled Alice Temperley teepee is still available for seaside revels. The adored tree in the lobby continues to grow. By Steve King
This LEED Platinum-certified boutique property in Yountville, California, is dedicated to protecting the environment while providing a high-end experience for travelers. Not only does the No. 2 Best Hotel in Napa Valley place guests close to the area's vineyards and top-notch restaurants, it's also home to its own highly praised "field-to-fork" eatery, Lucy. Travelers also rave about Bardessono's rooftop pool, accommodations and spacious bathrooms. (Courtesy of Bardessono)
Experience the unique Hôtel de glace “Ice Hotel” just 10 minutes away from downtown. The ephemeral work of art is renewed winter after winter. You’ll be enchanted by the magic of its majestic snow-capped vaults, crystalline ice sculptures and thematic rooms and suites each one more original than the next. If you cannot spend the night over spend at least an unforgettable evening at the ice bar. Many couples are eager to celebrate their wedding in its fairytale chapel built for this purpose. The hotel takes care of your comfort with appropriate bedding; a fireplace or private spa in suites; and an outdoor area with sauna and spa to relax under the stars!
Guest feedback was taken very seriously when andBeyond rebuilt its flagship camp in early 2018, in the same plum position in the Kichwa Tembo concession (more than 800 private hectares), bordering the Mara Triangle’s National Reserve. Which is likely why the duo who designed the original 20 years ago, Debra Fox and Chris Browne, didn’t make any unnecessary changes in the redo. Nothing was changed for the sake of change: vintage silver, crystal decanters, leather armchairs and extravagantly deep sofas were reused, recycled or reupholstered, while old-world maps and brass fittings were added. Kenyan-grown roses still give a homely touch. New to camp is a family suite, gin bar and safari boutique stocked exclusively with home-grown designer labels. The Mara Triangle is the sharp edge of Masai Mara safaris, and not just during migration season. On any given day, the open plains are thrumming with memorable sightings: a 40-strong herd of elephant, a week-old giraffe galloping clumsily after its mother, hundreds of zebra and antelope, a pair of black-backed jackals trotting through the long grass, and lions snoozing on a little-used track. Being in a private concession means guests can also go out on night drives, have silver-service bush banquets accompanied by deeply resonant Maasai chanting, and the chance to do a walk or trail run with a Maasai guide. Andbeyond is a top safari outfit, known for its highly designed lodges and camps throughout Southern and East Africa and its commitment to the care of the land and local communities. Now its exceptionally located big-hitter property is back, with even more space than ever. By Jane Broughton
Tucked in the Virginia countryside amid the Blue Ridge Mountains, Primland attracts travelers looking for a mix of activity and relaxation. There is no shortage of things to do here, from kayaking and golfing to horseback riding and stargazing. The property also has a spa, and hosts yoga and meditation classes. And guests appreciate the variety of accommodation options, too, with a traditional lodge, suites, cottages and even tree houses to choose from. (Courtesy of Primland)