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Exploring The World's 50 Best Hotels

Words: Robbie Woodward

19 Sept 2023

Asian destinations dominate The World's 50 Best Hotels, but a revitalised European boutique takes the crown.


Luxury travel is a realm of opulence, indulgence, and unforgettable experiences. For those who seek the pinnacle of hospitality, the inaugural list of The World's 50 Best Hotels serves as a compass to guide their journeys. Chosen by a 580-strong anonymous panel of global travel industry leaders, these hotels are celebrated for their impeccable service, lavish amenities, and exquisite settings. Beyond the sheer luxury they offer, they also reflect broader trends in travel and hospitality globally.

Let's dive in and unearth what the 2023 rankings tell us about where's hot and where's, well, still pretty fiery. Let's face it: you wouldn't say no to any of the names on this list. These are the 50 best, after all.

Aman Tokyo - Number 5 of The World's 50 Best Hotels

Asia's Ascendence

Asia has adamantly established itself as a luxury travel hub, dominating the list with a significant presence. Cities like Bangkok and Tokyo shine as beacons of luxury, with several hotels making the cut. The Four Seasons Bangkok at Chao Phraya River (3) and the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok (10) showcase the allure of Thailand's capital, while Tokyo's Aman Tokyo (5) and the articulate Hoshinoya Tokyo (39) transport guests to the heart of Japan's elegance. With properties like Capella Singapore (28) and Soneva Jani (36), Singapore and the Maldives add to Asia's allure. Nihi Sumba (18) and Desa Potato Head (40) provide Indonesian harmony to the roll call, and high-end hotel stalwart Rosewood sees Rosewood Hong Kong (2) narrowly shadowed from the top spot.

Passalacqua - Number 1 of The World's 50 Best Hotels

European Elegance

With its rich history and cultural diversity, Europe continues to captivate luxury travellers. Iconic cities such as Paris, London, Venice, and Florence are home to timeless hotels like The Connaught (22), Aman Venice (14), and Four Seasons Firenze (9). These hotels blend historic charm with modern luxury effortlessly, demonstrating Europe's enduring appeal to discerning travellers. But it was another European destination, Moltrasio, Lake Como for the uninitiated, that would play host to The World's Best Hotel.

Passalacqua (1) only opened its doors in the summer of 2022 after an intense three-year restoration project, culminating in 24 rooms of the finest Italian craftsmanship, Baroque finesse and world-class hospitality. A place that can now call itself, officially, The Best Hotel in the World, and amidst a plethora of other grand Como villas, the first to carry such a heavyweight title.

Villas need looking after, just like people.

- Adriana and Fabio. Passalacqua Custodians

Le Sirenuse - Number 20 of The World's 50 Best Hotels

Coastal Retreats and Exotic Escapes

Perhaps expected, the list reveals a penchant for coastal and exotic destinations. While the dry end of the scale is dutifully embodied by Marrakech's La Mamounia (6) and Royal Mansour (23), showcasing North Africa's opulent hospitality magnetism. Those seeking a salty ocean breeze in their hair will not be disappointed to see Italy's Positano beckon with Le Sirenuse (20). At the same time, Greece's Athens is represented by the Four Seasons Astir Palace (35), ironically, one of four Four Seasons institutions to make the list. The Maldives' Soneva Fushi (7) and the Caribbean's St. Barths with Eden Rock (41) provide nods to tropical paradises and coconut-infused respite, if that's your thing.

The Savoy - Number 47 of The World's 50 Best Hotels

Urban Oasis

Craving cosmopolitan luxury? We got you. Global cities like New York City, São Paulo, London and Dubai offer urban escapes of unparalleled indulgence. Aman New York (25) and The Savoy (47) in London are urban sanctuaries, while Rosewood São Paulo (27) adds some South American flair to the worldly mix. Atlantis The Royal (44) in Dubai swings its 'understated' embodiment of modern luxury toward the in-crowd, but on the flip side, could this be a sign that city escapes are loosening their grip on international travellers, with all these hotels falling south of the top 25?

That might be conjecture. It's complete speculation. What do we know? - But the list don't lie.

Six Senses Ibiza - Number 49 of The World's 50 Best Hotels

Natural Retreats and Wellness Sanctuaries

Some, no, most; -wait; nearly all, travellers who are honest with themselves seek some form of communion with nature and well-being. It's a given in today's world that the luxury travel landscape is duty-bound to oblige. Many of The World's 50 Best Hotels lean into well-being and conservation - and sustainability is paramount to the entire world, never mind the hotel industry. These three form our pick of the list exemplifying these desires: Singita Lodges (15) in Kruger National Park offers an intimate connection with Africa's wildlife. At the same time, Gleneagles (32) in Scotland provides a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Six Senses Ibiza (49), set on the beautiful island of, you guessed it, Ibiza, combines luxury with wellness and sustainability at its heart.

One&Only Mandarina - Number 8 of The World's 50 Best Hotels

Historical Grandeur and Emerging Destinations

Paris, in particular, showcases historical grandeur with its iconic hotels. Le Bristol (29), Cheval Blanc (34), and Hôtel de Crillon (50) offer travellers the chance to step into a bygone era while enjoying modern comforts.

More notably, emerging destinations are also making their mark on the luxury travel scene. One&Only Mandarina (8), Puerto Vallarta, might have featured higher if we were on the panel - but we weren't. Chocholá in Mexico, too, features just outside the top ten, with Chablé Yucatán (13) and Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in France with The Maybourne Riviera (26) are prime examples of lesser-known destinations making their statements on the world stage.

In conclusion, the list of the world's 50 best hotels is more than a catalogue of excess and indulgence; it's a window into the ever-evolving world of luxury travel. From Asia's rise to prominence and Europe's timeless elegance to the temptation of coastal getaways and wellness retreats, The World's 50 Best Hotels illustrate the diverse desires of luxury travellers. Whether you seek cultural immersion, natural serenity, or urban sophistication, a myriad of experiences await.

Just think of the Air Miles.

For the full list, visit The World's 50 Best Hotels.



Exploring The World's 50 Best Hotels

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