Why do I let hotel rankings bother me so much?

Travel and Leisure has come out with its 2006 list of the world’s best hotels.

Every year these lists come out, and even though I should know better I allow them to frustrate me. Why is it that people who know little about hotels get treated as experts? How could they make such monumental ranking blunders?

Indulge me by allowing me to point out just a few absurdities:

  • The Royal Orchid Sheraton in Bangkok — listed as the #36 hotel in Asia — isn’t even the best Sheraton in the city and certainly isn’t better than the Grand Hyatt Erawan (#42), whose bungalows vault the hotel into the same league as Bangkok’s Peninsula and Oriental properties.


  • The Inn at Little Washington is nice, though more worthwhile for dinner than for lodging and more notable in the dining room for outstanding service than for the food (which is good, even excellent, but I’m not sure it’s truly great). It’s listed as the #12 ‘small hotel’ which presumably makes it a better property than the Four Seasons Golden Triangle Tented Camp which doesn’t make the list. But then the editors of Travel and Leisure seem think it’s the 21st best property in the World. They need to get out more.


  • Hotel Villa Cipriani is ranked #29 in the world and #4 in Europe. Nice enough, and a good redemption value in Starwood points at Category 4, but this is hardly the nicest hotel in Italy. Who exactly decided this was a better property than the Four Seasons George V (#13 in Europe)? I guess the same people who decided that George the V isn’t even the best Four Seasons in Europe (they list Budapest at #2)…


  • The Bora Bora Lagoon Resort is listed as #3 in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. This isn’t even the 3rd best hotel on the island of Bora Bora. The order on that island would arguably be the new St. Regis, the new Intercontinental Thalasso, the Bora Bora Nui, and then the Hotel Bora Bora. Is Bora Bora Lagoon Resort #5 on that island? Even that’s far from clear. (It would get competition from the Intercontinental Le Moana, the Meridien, the Pearl Beach.. Just for the title of #5!)


  • At least in Sydney they pick respectable properties. Sure, I’d place the Observatory at #1 and the Park Hyatt at #2 (rather than #2 and #3, respectively). And having stayed at both I’m not sure the Westin is nicer than the Intercontinental (or even that both are better than the Sheraton). But their rankings are at least defensible.


  • Their list of top hotels under $250 betrays their lack of knowledge about what a hotel costs. They list the Peninsula Bangkok as the #4 hotel in the world, and I can book it for $180 a night most of the time but certainly an entry level room should run less than $250. But it’s not on the list of under $250 luxury. They obviously know about the hotel — they just aren’t familiar with the rates?

On to more tilting at windmills…

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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