These are the best hotels in the world, from sprawling medieval estates to spare, modern marvels, and California-cool beach boutiques to sky-skimming towers, all winners of the 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards.
If you’ve ever dreamed of summering at a country house, you couldn’t do much better than this stately, 20-room Georgian home, about an hour and a half north of Dublin. Beyond the regal four-poster canopy beds, gilded mirrors, and richly textured wallpapers, there are 614 acres of secluded private gardens begging to be strolled. But the real highlight? Having a butler row you out on the lake before enjoying a sumptuous lunch at the picnic house.
Courtesy Ballyfin Demesne
Perth may not have as much clout as Sydney or Melbourne, but this sleek COMO outpost—the brand’s first hotel Down Under—might just help set a change in motion. Part of the $580 million Cathedral Square development, the hotel occupies the top floors of three 140-year-old buildings, and happily embraces period accents—see the roofline’s copper trim, and reinstalled dormer windows. Jed Gerrard’s Wildflower, the hotel’s glassed-in rooftop restaurant, offers more than just an impressive experience—when you taste the kangaroo, delicately smoked over jarrah ambers and served with grilled blueberry dressing, you’ll get what we mean.
Spare and minimalist, this mod Mexico City fortress is a perfect foil for the colonial grandeur of its neighbors. Check out the hotel’s custom black-and-white prints—an extension of its subdued color scheme—by local photographer Eduardo Zaylan, and the fresh, inventive dishes at Moxi Restaurant (hello, creamy wild mushroom risotto with guajillo and red onion).
Courtesy Hotel Matilda
Even the most jaded jaws will drop on arrival at this imposing royal residence-turned-luxury hotel in the northern Indian city of Jodhpur. In fact, the royal family still occupies one wing, and it’s easy to understand why: With endless marble corridors, expansive, expertly-manicured gardens, and an outstanding Tandoori chicken dish (no tangy, vinegary impersonators, here), we’d be hard-pressed to leave, too.
Courtesy Taj Hotels
This Thomas Hardy-designed estate is practically a hallmark of quintessential English charm: Rooms decked out in florals, fabrics, and rich wallpapers; sprawling greenery; and an afternoon tea service to make the Queen jealous. Expert, unobtrusive service completes the fantasy.
Courtesy Summer Lodge Country House Hotel
Don’t take it on faith that all hotels in the Windy City are primed and polished in the art of service: Instead, head to Virgin Hotels Chicago, one of billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson’s latest endeavors, to see for yourself. Guests are especially complimentary of amenities like free Wi-Fi, well-stocked mini-bars that don’t break the bank, and mod rooms that sport separate areas for primping and sleeping, as well as the brunch options at Miss Ricky’s—don’t leave without trying the french toast.
Courtesy Virgin Hotels/Photo by Anthony Tahlier
The ivy climbing the turreted stone walls of this stately 16th-century castle should be your first clue that you’re in for a royal treat—that, in addition to the patterned brocade curtains, intricate wall tapestries, and refined Irish classics (caviar-topped smoked haddock, anyone?) at the Munster Room. Did we mention Waterford sits on its own, 310-acre private island?
Courtesy Waterford Castle
Don’t laugh: This São Paolo pad really is one of a kind, from its crazy crescent shape (it looks like the hull of a ship, portholes and all), to the towel-warming racks in its bathrooms, to its champagne check-ins. The décor is decidedly modern—think high ceilings, clean lines, and immense, floor-to-ceiling windows that allow for maximum natural light—but its quirky touches, like angular, magenta chaises, and gray cameo carpeting, plus a killer rooftop bar, are what really set it apart.
Courtesy Hotel Unique
Sitting within the magnificent 350 acres estate of Ashford Castle, The Lodge at Ashford Castle overlooks magical Lough (lake) Corrib. Originally built in 1865, The Lodge has the every element of an elegant country house but manages never to feel stuffy or unapproachable. Have dinner at Wildes at the Lodge, named for William Wilde, a renowned surgeon who owned a home in the area—and who happened to be the father of a writer named Oscar.
Courtesy The Lodge at Ashford Castle
Like a fine Barolo, this iconic Italian hotel just gets better with age. The hotel passed the 50-year mark in 2015, and most guests would agree that there’s a lot to celebrate here—not least the stunning, saltwater swimming pool overlooking the Mediterranean, or the restrained, old-school glamour of the bar, with its striped yellow awning. Even the bird-print wallpaper, flanked by faux fruit and leaf wall sconces, reads more romantic than cheesy.
Courtesy Hotel Il Pellicano/Photo by Stepeh Ringer
It would be easy to take pristine, lakefront views for granted at this grand dame in central Lucerne—after all, it’s easy to keep so busy with rose petal-filled baths and dining on world-class cuisine that you forget to go outside. Those who do, though, are in for a treat: At night, the exterior is illuminated by a swath of different colored lights, which reflect off of the lake.
Courtesy Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern
There’s so much more to Santorini than clear blue skies and craggy hillsides awash in pristine white homes—though we’re certainly not complaining about either of those. At Canaves Oia Santorini, the draw extends to a cliffside infinity pool that overlooks the Aegean, and dinners whipped up from freshly-caught fish, plus a sampling of some of Greece’s finest wines.
Courtesy Canaves Oia Santorini
This Relais & Chateaux property in South Africa’s Bantry Bay is adults-only—need we say more? Head to this Edwardian-era mansion for an inside look at a fabulous private art collection, and breathtakingly beautiful views from your room’s private balcony. A complimentary breakfast, perennially-stocked pantry, and farm-to-table restaurant ensure that you’ll never go hungry.
Courtesy Ellerman House
It’s hard to actually find superlative hotel experiences these days—everyone claims to have a stellar restaurant, top-notch amenities, and attentive, but not overbearing, service. Yet the Thompson Chicago, a 247-room hotel in the heart of the city’s Gold Coast neighborhood, may actually over-deliver on those points. Indulge in an absurdly large and luxurious shower and gratis REN products, and don’t stray too far for dinner: Nico Osteria offers refined Italian seafood specialties (try the salt crusted Branzino with pickled shallots and pesto butter for one hell of a palate pleaser) that’ll leave you wondering, “What’s deep dish, anyway?”
Courtesy Thompson Hotels
This hip London hotel, actually a series of five townhouses in the leafy Pimlico neighborhood, is about as posh as they come—from marble, herringbone-patterned floors, to the dark romance of twinkling black chandeliers in the narrow lobby. And we’d be remiss not to mention the in-room iPad, which serves as a one-click wonder for ordering anything from toothbrushes to takeout.
Courtesy Eccleston Square Hotel
Gibb’s Farm, with its colonial farmhouse on the wooded slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater, was built as a coffee plantation in 1929. Sadly, you can no longer harvest a good roast from its grounds—but you can enjoy a classic English meal prepared with vegetables, fruits, and meats foraged straight from the farm. Retire to a charming cottage, fit with a private verandah, wraparound windows, and a fireplace once you’ve gotten your fill of farm life.
Courtesy Gibb’s Farm
Overlooking the island’s caldera, this boutique hotel and its 22 (nearly) all-white rooms epitomize all that Greek island life is about: Breezy, bright, and simple, they manage to flush out any memory of city grit from back home. After a hard day of watching the clouds pass over pristine blue waters, tuck into a flaky slice of spinach pie at the hotel’s CHROMA restaurant, and wait for one of Santorini’s legendary sunsets. The views from the hotel’s clifftop infinity pool alone are worth the trip.
Courtesy Chromata Hotel/©Christos Drazos Photography
This hotel’s fantastical, otherworldly exterior is certainly one of its more striking features—but in fact, it’s everything inside that seems over-the-top. With an art collection featuring the likes of Dalí and Warhol, a 43,000-square-foot spa with impressive views of the Alps, and an eight-course tasting menu courtesy of Michelin-starred chef Heiko Nieder, we wouldn’t even need to book one of their junior suites, with floor-to-ceiling windows at the foot of our beds, to be impressed.
Courtesy The Dolder Grand
Hotel Emma, housed in an 1894 clock tower, isn’t just beautiful (see: masterfully preserved, 19th-century industrial details, like a bottle capper repurposed as a glowing chandelier), it’s also a good time, from welcome margaritas at check-in, to Malin + Goetz amenities and fancy—but not ostentatious—claw-footed tubs in the bathrooms. Head to Supper, the River Walk-facing eatery, for a standout brunch of chorizo scotch egg with green chili cornbread, and feel free to thank us later.
Courtesy Hotel Emma
The Greek island of Kos is famous for its abundance of Greek and Roman landmarks—Hippocrates’s shady tree has its home here—and you could make a strong case for Kos Aktis being added to the list. Its minimalist décor is a far cry from the fanciful flourishes of temples or forums, but what it lacks in flair, it makes up for in features like floor-to-ceiling bedside windows, and tasty, traditional Greek breakfasts comprising local favorites (try the loukoumades, sticky, honey-covered bits of fried dough, for a true taste of the island).
Courtesy Kos Aktis Art Hotel
Behind the Art Deco facade of this vaguely Oriental, perceptibly feminine palace off of Paris’s trendy rue St-Honoré, you’ll find a sleek sumptuousness in the all-white dining room by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku, the low-lit bar sculpted from a nine-ton block of gray Spanish marble, and guest rooms swathed in neutrals and the occasional splash of color. Try to snag a spot at La Table du Jardin at Camélia, the ground-floor French breakfast spot helmed by Thierry Marx: Fit for six to eight guests, this circular banquette is housed in what looks like a chic little birdcage, crowned by a confection of pink Modernist lamps.
Courtesy Mandarin Oriental
Readers can’t find fault with this funky, music-themed hotel in the historic neighborhood of Lipótváros—and neither can we. A bright, psychedelic thread runs all the way through it, from the black-and-white marbled floor in the lobby (patterned to look like a piano keyboard), to rooms with wacky, seemingly-sky high tufted magenta headboards, and a rooftop view that’s frankly out of this world. Satchmo’s Bar and Lounge offers a little Hollywood glamour—check out the blue velvet walls—with a little pop art mixed in, a fun spot for a pre-dinner drink or two.
Courtesy Aria Hotel Budapest
This beloved Vermont hotel is something of an institution—to those in the know, of course. The 18th-century farmhouse once belonged to Nobel Prize-winning author Sinclair Lewis, who, no doubt, needed a true reprieve from city life, and it shows here. Take advantage of the hotel’s on-site tour guide, who can lead you through the surrounding woods on a nature walk, and the champagne-and-caviar hour that precedes dinner. When it’s time to dine, be prepared to be flexible: chef Nathan Rich changes up the menu every night.
Courtesy Twin Farms
Two are undoubtedly better than one at the Belmond Hotel Splendido and Belmond Splendido Mare, a dual-hotel entity perched high above Portofino cove. About 45 minutes from the Genoa airport, and up a winding set of streets not for the faint of heart, the hotel complex isn’t the easiest to reach—but it’s definitely worth the hassle. Lush, fragrant bundles of wisteria and straight-backed juniper bushes flank its winding cobblestone walkways, and a narrow, gleaming pool hangs perilously over the waves below. Enjoy a steaming cup of cappuccino on your own terra cotta-tiled terrace, and grab a bite to eat at La Terrazza, where local seafood specialties (sautéed, Ligurian-style squid and a creamy potato puree, anyone?) rightfully dominate the menu.
Courtesy Belmond/Photo by Roberto Bonardi
This five-hotel, 1,005-guestroom complex in Indianapolis’s central downtown is a mammoth—but we’re glad it can accommodate all the guests who’d want to stay here. And why wouldn’t they? The glimmering (and gargantuan) tower is close to sightseeing musts like White River State Park, Military Park, and the wildly underrated Eiteljorg Museum. Osteria Pronto serves up rustic Tuscan dishes like Straw & Hay—chive & egg noodles, lardo, English peas, garlic cream, pine nuts, and—what else?—a runny, soft-boiled egg come together for a delicious, but light, meal.
Courtesy Marriott International Inc.
Who knew you could find peace and quiet (and plenty of lakefront real estate) just ten minutes outside of Raleigh? At The Umstead, guests can cast off the grit and grind of city living (at least temporarily), and in its place, enjoy views of a three-acre lake; attentive, downright amenable service; and refined New American cuisine (try the foul course, a savory trio that includes quail, squab, and duck) crafted by a James Beard Award-nominated head chef.
Courtesy The Umstead Hotel and Spa
You might be surprised to learn that this is the Ferragamo family’s (yes, of the storied fashion house) first foray into the bustling Eternal City hotel market—if only because the details are so chic, and so meticulous, that it seems they’ve been in the game forever. Unlike some of their more distinctive (read: louder) sartorial choices, the décor is surprisingly pared down: Suites sport blonde hardwood floors and furniture, and a muted color palette of grays and blues (and the occasional hot pink cashmere throw) makes it an appealing place to crash after a day of sightseeing. Snuggle up next to the fireplace on the rooftop terrace for prime views of the city.
Courtesy Lungarno Collection
A good hotel offers everyone, from the fresh-faced first-timer to the jaded fifth-generation traveler, the chance to see a city anew—and nowhere is this truer than at Tokyo’s Mandarin Oriental outpost, in the old-school Nihonbashi neighborhood. From its dizzying, 37th-floor lobby—all floor-to-ceiling plate-glass windows and brisk efficiency—to its 178 tastefully appointed rooms and suites, to clever utilitarian details (see the hallway-accessible “service closets,” into which unseen maids deposit daily newspapers or freshly polished shoes), it’s a sure bet for business travelers and families alike. Don’t miss the painstakingly prepared tapas at the Molecular Bar.
Courtesy Mandarin Oriental
A stay at a Shangri-La hotel always feels like a breath of fresh air—and their five-star Singapore outpost, surrounded by lush gardens and tropical foliage, is no different. Book the Dîner de Fleurs at The Orchid, a conical, nearly 23-foot tall open-air greenhouse, where fresh orchids weave through the warmly-lit walls, and a delectable eight-course prix-fixe meal is served to a lucky few guests.
Courtesy Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts
One thousand feet above the Bay of Naples, this former Russian prince’s mansion has a particularly jaw-dropping set of views—especially from the bi-level infinity pool. It’s a five-minute walk from Anacapri’s town center, where shops sell local pottery, made-to-measure sandals, and Capri’s limoncello liqueur, using the island’s lemons. We can already feel the warm breeze blowing through the balcony doors.
Courtesy Caesar Augustus/©Alessandra Farinelli
If you’re determined to do some first-class shopping while in this age-old city, you’re in luck: The Egerton House Hotel is just a brisk walk from Harrods, that mecca of fine goods. But there are equally exciting ways to pass the time inside this Georgian town house, like gawking at their exquisite art collection—say hello to the Picasso in your room, and the Matisse in a nearby suite—or taking a classic afternoon tea at the Drawing Room, where the scones are fresh-baked, and the clotted cream cold and thick.
Courtesy Egerton House Hotel
Sometimes, a little simplicity goes a long way—and that’s our favorite feature of this sweet Santorini hotel. Awash in a sea of fresh white linens and furniture, from the end tables, to the bed frames (and even the wall sconces), it’d be easy to clear your tired mind here. Take a table at Anthós Restaurant, hewn right from the rocky cliffside, where views of the cerulean waters below are best appreciated with a glass of Grecian red.
Courtesy Kirini Suites & Spa/©Christos Drazos Photography
If you’re going for baroque, The Montague on the Gardens should be your first choice. This string of nine connecting townhouses in London’s Bloomsbury neighborhood is chock-full of heavy, gilded details, from the candelabras on the mantle to the portraiture flanking the fireplace—though it never quite verges into “gauche.” Rooms offer more of the same: If you’re into velvet bedding and wrought-iron four-poster bed frames, then this is the place for you.
Courtesy The Montague on the Gardens
When you get right down to it, this Belle Epoque Buenos Aires landmark is all about opulence. Its dining room smacks of old-world charm, with high ceilings, twinkling chandeliers, marble floors, and a delicately appointed glass bar, and its rooms, designed in the style of Louis XIV and Louis XVI (think heavy silk drapes and ornate, Empire-style furniture) are guaranteed to make you feel like royalty. Enjoy the white-glove service and French classics at La Bourgogne, and if you have time, take a peek at the gorgeous trompe l’oeil mural in the spa while enjoying a milk and rose petal immersion, part of the Alvear Experience.
Courtesy Alvear Palace Hotel/©2013 Michelle Chaplow
This twelfth-century medieval and Baroque palace in the town’s former aristocratic quarter has long been considered the top spot in town—and for good reason. Rooms have been outfitted in handcrafted Vietri tiles, eighteenth-century Italian antiques, brass accessories, and Frette linens. At Rossellinis, enjoy dinner on one of the terraces as you look down on fishing boats a thousand feet below, sampling dishes like cod fillet with Gaeta olive crust. Caffé dell’Arte, with a black-and-white-tile floor, serves casual regional cuisine.
Courtesy Palazzo Avino
If you thought upscale options were not to be seen beyond the narrow borders of Washington, D.C., you thought wrong. This Ritz-Carlton outpost in Northern Virginia sits adjacent to the Tysons Galleria, a luxury shopping mall, and offers first-rate amenities like a full-service Day Spa (Sparkling Champagne massage, anyone?) and a José Andrés-helmed tavern. It may not be around all the action—but if you’re looking for something a little more low-key, or planning a wedding, then this should be at the top of your list.
Courtesy The Ritz-Carlton
It’s little wonder this hotel took this year’s top spot on our list of the 40 Best Hotels in New York City: From its prime location on Madison Avenue (less than a block from Central Park!), to its posh Art Deco lobby and surprisingly large rooms, The Surrey is hard to beat. Add in its Café Boulud, helmed by one of the modern-day masters of French cooking, or its in-house Art Expert and carefully curated collection of Serra, Oldenburg, and Close pieces, and the hotel is virtually unstoppable.
Courtesy The Surrey
This New Orleans hotel stands out for many reasons. Not only is it the onetime home of Antoine Peychaud, creator of Peychaud’s bitters (a crucial ingredient in the city’s unofficial cocktail, the Sazerac) as well as playwright Tennessee Williams, whose namesake suite features exposed brick, sumptuous drapes, and a small balcony that leads out to the hotel’s lush courtyard; but its kitschy décor (see: tufted metallic leather couch, tiger-print carpet) helps make it as fun and unpredictable as the city it calls home.
Courtesy Hotel Maison de Ville
Once the hub for the state’s mining and timber industries, this six-story Italian Renaissance-style hotel is filled with the shadows and stories of its former tenants (Gus Van Sant filmed portions of 1991’s My Own Private Idaho in the then-vacant building). Today, it’s a magnet for creative downtown types. Rooms are generously-sized (an average of 300 square feet) with leather wingback chairs and views of downtown Portland.
Courtesy Provenance Hotels
Since its 2015 opening, Park Hyatt Saigon has arguably been changing the country for the better: It brought back al fresco dining to the historic Lam Son Square (not seen since the Vietnam War), and Square One, an in-house restaurant with five show kitchens, is one of the hottest tables in town, serving up fresh, wok-fried lobsters and juicy steaks. Also of note are the delicate metal latticework walls inspired by Vietnamese antiquities, a 500-plus label wine collection, and a Havana Cigar Bar, the city’s first.
Courtesy Park Hyatt
Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and verdant, well-manicured grounds, this 19th-century Belle Epoque hotel is as picture-perfect as they come. Couple that with several decadent dining options (the pastel frescoes and vaulted ceilings at the Grand Restaurant are especially awe-inducing), a bowling alley, saunas, and a saltwater bath and spa, plus a favorable location near the Pontresino train station, and we’ll take happily hand over our vacation days.
Courtesy Grand Hotel Kronenhof
This downtown Austin hotspot gets votes for good reason: There’s its prime location, of course, just minutes from the Blanton Museum of Art, Lady Bird Lake, and several hundred music venues—but what’s inside is also worth mentioning. Guestrooms are spacious and well-appointed, with dark, elegant wood furniture and super-comfortable, “Revive” beds; and the rooftop pool bar offers an Instagram-worthy view of the city.
Courtesy Marriott International Inc.
Modeled after Mount Vernon, on the shores of Lake Massawippi, Manoir Hovey provides secluded and exclusive comfort a quick hour and fifteen minutes from Montreal. It’s an especially cozy option during those chilly winter months, with an ice rink to boot—but don’t count it out for summer, when gratis beach access and boat and bike rentals can make or break a warm weather vacation.
Courtesy Manoir Hovey
This Kimpton outpost is as funky as the city it calls home, and the proof is largely in the 84, eccentrically decorated guest rooms, where tartan blankets, spotted throw pillow, and grid-lined wallpaper come together in surprising harmony. Evidence of Portland’s thriving artisanal food and drink scene can be found here, too, from the locally-sourced goodies in the minibar, to the in-house restaurant that focuses on waterside bounty and fresh produce (go for the house-cured salmon and bacon-wrapped oysters). Don’t miss the generous daily wine tastings—from nearby Willamette Valley vineyards, of course—in the lobby.
Courtesy Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
If you want a taste of the hustle and bustle of the Windy City, the Hotel Monaco Chicago is a good place to the start: Situated right along the Chicago River in the Loop business district, this Kimpton outpost calls at least four theaters its neighbors (among them, The Chicago Theatre and the Goodman Theatre). Even better? It’s just a 15-minute walk across the water to the Magnificent Mile. Head down to South Water Kitchen for some refined Midwestern food and drink, like a milk-braised pork shoulder, or a locally-brewed craft beer.
Courtesy Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants/©2015 Whit Preston
On a bluff overlooking Mendocino Bay, the Brewery Gulch Inn represents the pinnacle of the northern California bed and breakfast experience. Rustic and laid-back, without sacrificing any of the modern amenities typical in upscale lodgings, the Inn is pure coziness and comfort. Enjoy the rugged California coastline as well as the many outdoor activities that abound in the area—hiking or horseback rides on the beach are on the shortlist—and be sure to soak in the view of the garden and the water while sipping on a glass of the local vintage.
Courtesy Brewery Gulch Inn/©2003 Jay Graham
Located inside a restored 19th-century mansion in the center of Mallorca, this historic hotel has just about everything going for it, from its romantic, spare design—see the black-and-white marble checkered floors in the lobby—to the simple, free-standing porcelain bathtubs in the guest rooms. Enviable extras include a well-lit rooftop terrace and pool, perfect for an evening dip.
Courtesy Sant Francesc Hotel Singular
Highway 29 may flow a short distance away, but what of it? Escape into one of four distinct “neighborhoods,” all vineyard adjacent, including romantic “The Vineyards,” where jacuzzis are a dime a dozen. Charlie Palmer’s locavore Harvest Table, which serves up clean, California cuisine (try the gorgeous pan roasted Diver scallops, joined by bits of shishito and young squash, and set in a silky romanesco sauce) will satisfy honeymooners and corporate retreaters alike. Stroll the sculpture garden, repair to the spa, lounge by the pool—vineyard living, indeed.
Courtesy Harvest Inn
You wouldn’t expect to find this Mediterranean mansion in the middle of Silicon Valley, but then again, that’s part of the fun of the Hotel Valencia. Other surprising, but welcome features include a lovely, well-manicured courtyard, a standout weekend brunch, and bar Cielo, where the only thing more impressive than the cocktails are the views of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Courtesy Hotel Valencia Santana Row
The chic, intimate modernist interiors of this hotel in Beacon Hill may contrast with its exterior, a turn-of-the-century, ten-story Beaux Arts building of iron, limestone, and brick—but it all adds up to part of the charm. The lobby has an original cage elevator, while individually designed rooms in taupe, creams, and espressos come with fireplaces, mahogany built-in cupboards, and contemporary canopied beds. Order up a prime piece of meat at Mooo—and if you can score a seat in the restaurant’s vaulted-ceilinged private dining room in the wine cellar, even better. Take advantage of the fleet of chauffeured Lexuses for complimentary trips around downtown Boston.
Courtesy XV Beacon