This year’s World’s Best Awards survey was open for voting January 11 through May 10, 2021, as destinations around the world were lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Survey rules have always allowed readers to reflect on their travel experiences over a three year period. We hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your own travels as you get back out into the world.
During a year that upended the entire world — and, with it, the entire hospitality industry — hotel groups large and small have demonstrated incredible perseverance. They’ve navigated lockdowns, donated rooms to first responders, found ways to support their staff, and, as conditions improved, welcomed back guests with service that may have looked a bit different but felt no less gracious. In fact, T+L readers awarded hotels even higher marks, on average, than last year, which is especially impressive given all of the COVID-19 safety protocols brands had to implement.
Every year for the World’s Best Awards survey, Travel + Leisure 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. Readers rated hotel brands on their locations, rooms/facilities, food, service, and overall value.
Belmond, with its collection of 34 properties, made this year’s list at No. 22, earning raves for sterling service and elegant properties that deeply reflect a sense of place. “Every trip I take, if there is a Belmond option, I splurge for a few nights,” wrote one reader. “Worth it every time. Each property is different and feels unique based on the location — but they’re all consistent in their commitment to quality.”
Generally speaking, more and more travelers are gravitating toward hotels that support guests’ well-being and follow responsible business practices. It’s no wonder then that T+L readers gave two of this year’s spots to brands known for their efforts on both fronts. Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas earned the No. 6 rank, while Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts came in at No. 19. One reader touted Six Senses as a “good example for sustainability and wellness.” Of Banyan Tree, a fan wrote, “You can definitely fully relax and recharge your energy.”
Small brands also won big this year. With 11 hotels in Europe, the Caribbean, and South America, No. 4 Oetker Collection captured hearts and votes with warm, gracious service: “They make me feel like family every time I visit one of their magnificent places,” wrote one reader. No. 2 Capella Hotels & Resorts, which also took second place last year, swayed readers with the “top-notch” service at its eight “beautiful” hotels, readers said.
But it was The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, an India-only brand with just nine properties, that ranked No. 1. Keep reading for details on what makes it so special to T+L readers — and which other hospitality groups made this year’s list of best hotel brands.
1. The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts
Maintaining the top spot for the second year in a row, this nine-property brand proved that it’s not always a globe-spanning footprint that makes the difference for travelers. Though India has been hard hit by COVID in the past year, the country remains a bucket-list destination for travelers eager to experience its one-of-a-kind draws, including the jewels and handicrafts of Jaipur, the beaches of Goa, and the historic sights of Delhi. In each of those destinations, The Leela’s hotels provide top-tier accommodations with “excellent staff and beautiful rooms and suites,” one reader wrote. In fact, “excellent” was the most common adjective used by T+L readers to describe the brand.
More information: theleela.com
2. Capella Hotels & Resorts
More information: capellahotels.com
3. The Red Carnation Hotel Collection
More information: redcarnationhotels.com
4. Oetker Collection
More information: oetkercollection.com
5. Oberoi Hotels & Resorts
More information: oberoihotels.com
6. Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas
More information: sixsenses.com
7. One&Only Resorts
More information: oneandonlyresorts.com
8. Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris
More information: tajhotels.com
9. Auberge Resorts Collection
More information: aubergeresorts.com
10. Raffles Hotels & Resorts
More information: raffles.com
11. The Peninsula Hotels
More information: peninsula.com
More information: aparium.com
13. Rocco Forte Hotels
More information: roccofortehotels.com
14. Viceroy Hotels & Resorts
More information: viceroyhotelsandresorts.com
15. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts
More information: rosewoodhotels.com
16. Montage Hotels & Resorts
More information: montagehotels.com
17. Mandarin Oriental
More information: mandarinoriental.com
18. Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts
More information: shangri-la.com
19. Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts
More information: banyantree.com
20. COMO Hotels and Resorts
More information: comohotels.com
More information: aman.com
More information: belmond.com
23. Swire Hotels
More information: swirehotels.com
24. Park Hyatt
More information: hyatt.com
25. Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts
More information: fourseasons.com
See all of our readers’ favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World’s Best Awards for 2021.