Travel & Leisure Readers on Crack

I love ‘best of the best’ hotel lists, and this year’s Travel & Leisure‘s 500 best hotels around the world — as voted on by readers of the magazine — is no exception. (Hat tip HotelChatter.)


This one, I love to hate. While there are lots of wonderful properties on the list, the rankings are truly bizarre.


If you believe this list, there are more top luxury hotels in the United States than in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Carribean, Australia, New Zealand (and the rest of the South Pacific) combined. This has to be a function of the limited travel experience of T&L readers.

Some of the stranger U.S. listings:


  • The St. Regis isn’t the best hotel in Manhattan. And the Pierre isn’t better than the Ritz-Carlton Central Park, the Peninsula, and the Mandarin Oriental.

  • The Hay-Adams is a nice hotel, but not even in the top 5 for DC — let alone the best! The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, the Mandarin Oriental, and the Four Seasons are probably the three best (in that order). This list doesn’t even include the Mandarin Oriental, and includes the St. Regis and the Willard above the Georgetown Ritz!

  • Does the Westin Hilton Head really belong on this list at all? The Grand Hyatt Seattle? (Or for that matter, any hotel in Seattle?)

  • The Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa is not better than the Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain or even the Phoenician.

  • The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, even post-renovation, is not superior to the Montage.

  • Little Nell shows up as the best in Colorado. True enough. But the Broadmoor nearly bests them in this survey, and the Broadmoor is one of the most overrated properties in America — a convention hotel that offers little true luxury.

And that’s just the US!


At least they get some stuff right: The Peninsula Beverly Hills is the best hotel in the LA area. And the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is the best hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii.

But their analysis of the rest of the world is just as strange.


  • Bora Bora Lagoon Resort, Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort, and InterContinental Le Moana Resort — hardly tops in Bora Bora. Where’s Bora Bora Nui?


  • The Asia listing is, in general, a bit more reasonable, though I don’t know how they can list the Royal Orchid Sheraton as among the tops in Bangkok… and not for the first time, either. Oddly, last year’s list apparently included the ROS but not Sukhothai.


  • Cruising on over to their Carribean rankings, let me just say that Sandals Ocho Rios (or any property with ‘Sandals’ or ‘Beaches’ in the name) does not belong on a list alongside Sandy Lane and Parrot Cay.

Leave the rankings you find most bizarre in the comments!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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