Best Hotels in Central & South America: World’s Best 2021


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.

Whether you’re headed to the bustling seaside metropolis of Rio or the historic city of Cuzco, Peru, the cities of Central and South America all have a unique draw, each with its own signature blend of captivating scenery, delicious food, and vibrant culture. And as Travel + Leisure readers point out, the top city hotels in the region provide travelers with myriad ways to access the best aspects of each destination.

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.

Hotel Fasano São Paulo, indoor pool, São Paulo, Brazil.
Hotel Fasano Sao Paulo /Courtesy of The Leading Hotels of the World

Three spots on this year’s list went to Peru hotels, and two of them are in the ancient Incan stronghold of Cuzco — unsurprising, given that the city is almost always travelers’ jumping-off point for exploring Machu Picchu, the Urubamba Valley, and the Andes. Belmond Palacio Nazarenas earned the No. 2 spot, with readers praising its “central location” and “outstanding service.” Palacio del Inka, a Marriott Luxury Collection property that occupies a 500-year-old landmarked mansion, came in fourth. Though its own art collection is worth exploring, the hotel is also a short stroll from Qorikancha, the ruins of a significant Inca temple, and the Jardín Sagrado, an adjacent greenspace once used for ceremonies.

Three Colombia properties appear this year, with the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena rated No. 3. “Right in the heart of the city,” as one voter noted, it channels a sense of understated luxury, with simple-but-elegant décor that puts the focus on the building’s classic architecture (it was a nunnery in the 17th century). Still, modern touches like “the best pool in the old city” don’t hurt either.

But it’s Brazil that bookends this year’s list, with the JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro securing the No. 10 position — its beachfront real estate in Copacabana undoubtedly played a role — and the flagship Hotel Fasano São Paulo ascending to the top spot. Find out why, and which other hotels made this year’s list, below.

1. Hotel Fasano São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Hotel Fasano São Paulo, guest room, São Paulo, Brazil.
Hotel Fasano Sao Paulo /Courtesy of The Leading Hotels of the World

The marquis property of Brazil’s most upscale hotel brand is a showstopper, from the grandeur of its sleek wood-paneled façade to more subtle details, including the staff’s hospitality and the lauded Italian cuisine at its signature restaurant. “Wonderful décor and lovely service,” summarized one Travel + Leisure reader. An enviable location on the shopping thoroughfare of Rua Oscar Freire puts the clientele right in the thick of the city’s posh Jardins neighborhood, where you’ll find boutiques from Alexandre Herchcovitch and other top-tier designers, plus the Michelin two-starred restaurant D.O.M. Even amid all of the district’s excitement, it’s worth carving out time to luxuriate at the hotel’s spa, set high on the second-to-top floor.

Score: 96.33
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2. Palacio Nazarenas, a Belmond Hotel, Cuzco, Peru

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, hotel guest room, Cuzco, Peru.
Courtesy of Palacio Nazarenas, A Belmond Hotel, Cusco, A Belmond Hotel, Cusco

Score: 95.83
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3. Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena, Colombia

Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena, hotel terrace, Cartagena, Colombia.
Courtesy of Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagen

Score: 95.46
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4. Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Cuzco, Peru

Score: 95.36
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5. Casa Gangotena, Quito, Ecuador

Casa Gangotena, hotel guest room, Quito, Ecuador.
Courtesy of Casa Gangotena

Score: 94.56
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6. Casa San Agustín, Cartagena, Colombia

Hotel Casa San Agustin, hotel guest room, Cartagena, Colombia.
Courtesy of Hotel Casa San Agustin Cartagena

Score: 94.14
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7. W Bogotá, Colombia

W Bogotà, hotel lobby, Bogotá, Colombia.
Courtesy of W Bogotà

Score: 94.00
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8. W Panama, Panama City, Panama

W Panama, hotel guest room, Panama City, Panama.
Courtesy of W Panama

Score: 93.69
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9. JW Marriott El Convento Cusco, Cuzco, Peru

JW Marriott El Convento Cusco, hotel courtyard seating, Cuzco, Peru.
Courtesy of JW Marriott El Convento Cusco

Score: 93.05
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10. JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro, hotel lobby, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Courtesy of JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro

Score: 93.00
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See all of our readers’ favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World’s Best Awards for 2021.


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