Around here we’re not generally overly interested in “best of” lists since our definition of “best” is a very … individual … form of “best,” but we’ll make an exception for Condé Nast Traveller’s
More than 300,000 travelers took part in our 30th annual Readers’ Choice Awards survey —setting yet another new record — submitting millions of ratings and more than 100,000 comments to help us create a list of winning favorites.
The breadth of your top-rated experiences was impressive, from elegant castles in the Irish countryside to tented safari camps trailing the Great Migration across the Serengeti. You chose tiny private islands in the tropics, small culture rich cities in Europe, and intimate river cruises.
Most notably, you declared a passion for the authentic, the personalized, the unexpected—finding all three in both newcomers and stalwarts around the world. Here are all the results, including our web-only exclusive list of the 50 Best Hotels & 50 Best Resorts in the World…
300,000? Sure, that’s a number we’ll give a listen to … if only to figure out what we should be writing about here!
OK, let’s see what #1 is on their Best Hotels list…
When we imagine Old World opulence—like, say, wood-paneled libraries, 19th-century furniture trimmed in velvet, and Haussmann-style apartments outfitted with brocade silk wallpaper and fresh flowers—it’s La Réserve that first comes to mind. A stay at this 40-room hôtel particulier, just a block from both the Champs-Élysées and the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, is a splurge, but you’ll get Carrara marble bathrooms, anti-aging spa treatments, and two Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Gabriel, in exchange…
And rooms there start at $1300 a night. You know, in Thailand, that’s living expenses for a month, not a night.
Well, obviously there’s lots of people who think that sounds like a wonderful way to spend their money, but it would be pretty far down our list. Let’s take a look at the other 49 … yep, “opulence” would definitely be the most common factor among them. There’s a few we might consider a night at for a really special treat for the girlfriend, but that would be about it.
(Plus, being a practical sort, she’d probably prefer another few weekends diving, for the cost of a night at any of these places, pretty much…)
Right then; let’s take a look at the Resorts list — these have a better chance of interesting us, because resorts tend to be out in places you can’t get to any other practical way, so if we want to go badly enough, well …
So yep, #1 is a Maldives private island … those are very very nice yes; we’d made our choice last we were there based on the diving opportunities available, but if you planned to actually stay on the island all day the facilities and service would be of some import yes.
Then we have a Kenyan lodge on the Mara River, and some bungalows on a Uruguayan beach, and more of that sort… oh, what’s this at #9? One just down the coast here?
Anantara Hua Hin Resort, Thailand
Just south of Bangkok, the Anantara Hua Hin Resort, set in a sleepy seaside town once frequented by Thai royals as their summer playground, still looks the regal part. Rooms have hand-crafted wooden armoires, luxurious silk accents, and the occasional private terrace that overlooks either the tropical gardens or the Gulf of Thailand. The roughly 14-acre garden dreamt up by architect and landscape designer Bill Bensley is designed to resemble an ancient Thai village, and water features like lagoons and lotus ponds fill the deeply lush property. With nine restaurants and lounges, there’s a lot to choose from: Readers recommend Rim Nam for Thai and fusion cuisines, or Spice Spoons, to school you in the art of perfectly balanced curries.
OK, that actually does sound pretty nifty. Next time we have some weekend plans fall through, maybe we will go take a look at these gardens!
Wait, what? #17 is up by Chiang Rai, where we are, in fact, flying in two weeks?
Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, Thailand
With birdwatching and foraging expeditions all on site, guests don’t have to scrounge for ways to wile away the hours at the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle. The jungle resort shares its name with the surrounding region—where the Mekong River borders Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos—and is a little over an hour from the Chiang Rai airport. Dinner at Nong Yao, a breezy, open-air thatched-roof pavilion, is memorable; the only thing hotter than the spicy Thai-style beef salad is the double-sided fireplace dividing the dining room…
OK, that’s interesting enough to go take a closer look...
However, the most truly memorable moments are spent with the six elephants, some rescued and all selected for their people oriented personalities. Guests should come prepared to fall in love, with the Nellies that is, thanks to river bathing sessions and long treks through the bamboo bush. Fourteen patient mahouts lead first time ‘trainers’ through the day’s program that turns this five star resort into a once in a lifetime opportunity, particularly for those who approach these graceful creatures with trepidation…
Yep, that would be just the kind of thing that would convince us to pay more for a night than our monthly rent, it would.
Flipping through the rest here, yep there’s a bunch of these that we’ll give some serious consideration to, particuarly in Africa where we’ve only nibbled at the edges pretty much so far.
However, we do see that there’s another spa in Hua Hin on the list too. Really? 4% of the best resorts in the world are just a couple hours drive away? Well, if Condé Nast readers say so, guess we’ll have to go check those out!