The Most Beautiful Places in the World Aren’t Where Travel Writers Say They Are (or: “How Many Travel Writers Actually Travel?”)

I wonder whether the people who write articles like this have ever even visited the places they trumpet?

Or perhaps, they trumpet the only places they’ve ever visited?

The Lonely Planet author says that Paris is one of the most beautiful places to wake up. Now, plenty of people would be thrilled to wake up in Paris, because then they’d, well, be in Paris! But daytime is hardly Paris’ best face. The Champs-Élysées at night lights up beautifully, there’s sometihng about the juxtoposition of lights and dark sky that makes the glow of the Eifel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe special. But the morningtime…?

And I was just in Mumbai last week. There are many, many things that can be said about Mumbai, but among the 10 most beautiful places in the world to wake up in is certainly not one of them. Marine Drive has its charms but does not offer pretty waters. Most of the city wakes up in slums that offer anything but beauty. I suppose if you’re in a suite at the Taj Palace looking out at the Gateway of India then… perhaps. But we can all name impossibly expensive spots that offer just a sliver of beauty amongst things less than beautiful.

And speakking of impossibly expensive spots, how can any list of this sort not include an overwater bungalow off Bora Bora facing Mt. Otemanu?

Instead they offer the most beautiful beaches of … Maui. Does Maui even offer the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii? (Not in my opinion, anyway.)

They mention Hong Kong, but like Paris seem to get their clocks confused. Perhaps it’s jetlag. Would anyone argue that Hong Kong is more beautiful in the morning, than at night looking out at the light show from either side of Victoria Harbour?

I do have to agree about the Great Barrier Reef. And yet.. it still strikes me that a travel list which contains three of ten spots in the United States is a bit, well, under-traveled.

The disclaimer at the bottom of the article says,

This content was independently commissioned by Lonely Planet and is proudly supported by Hyatt.

And I just have to think, someone paid money for this?

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, 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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  1. What a surprise to see Hyatt’s sponsorships and that all of the locations which are the “most beautiful places in the world to wake up in” have Hyatts. Including places I find a bit random, like Mendoza (PH Mendoza) and Big Sur (Hyatt Carmel Highlands).

  2. The problem with all these lists is that after a while they all tend to blend together.

    I’ve found some of the most amazing places to wake up to are ones in the middle of nowhere – the plains of Africa in a small hut overlooking the migration of thousands of animals. The mountains outside of Calgary (many resorts there). Many European ski resorts (both Courchevel and Chamonix come to mind quickly. Or, to include the more exotic places as you mentioned – Bora Bora (or for that matter the Maldives, or many other locations in Tahiti). I’ll give them Bali – but that’s highly dependent on where you’re staying…and how much they’ve shielded it from the reality of the local scene.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. That has to be one of the most poorly written travel pieces I’ve read. The writer needs to take a refresher course in composition.

  4. Big Sur – “You’ll sleep so well in these laidback parts that it’s easy to wake up smiling – and if you’re here in fog season, dawn can be one golden glow.”

    I wake up smiling quite frequently here on the Central California Coast, but in fog season, 270 days a year, dawn is usually quite grey.

    Jesse Colin Young put it better –
    “It’s a grey day
    And the pine trees are drippin’
    In a grey mist and I fell like I’m trippin’
    In a grey world my reality’s slippin’
    Lost in a fog on such a grey day”

  5. Maybe not THE most beautiful but there is nothing wrong with the list. No list is perfect. At least these places are relatively accessible and give some ideas for travel. And as someone said earlier, camping in the middle of nowhere (however exotic or local you want to define it) is going to be pretty beautiful, but what’s the point if you can’t spare three days of hiking into the backcountry or spend a week on safari before you get to that place. With travel so easy and affordable these days (versus just 10-20 years ago), it’s these hard trips that I treasure most.

  6. I’ll agree with you that the Champs-Élysées looks best at night, but I do enjoy waking up in Paris to walk to a nearby boulangerie and then picking up some cheese for breakfast. It’s a nice time of the day to be out because it’s usually pretty peaceful.

    I’m more inclined to question the idea that you’ll have a “sumptuous Turkish breakfast” in Istanbul. I’m fond of Istanbul and think the food in Turkey is great, but — as a Westerner — I’ve never had a breakfast in an Islamic country that I thought was “sumptuous.” And that includes buffet spreads at 4 and 5 star hotels.

    Mendoza would also not crack my top 1000 places to wake up in. Now the nearby Argentine wine country would easily make the top 100, but the city of Mendoza? I only stay there for convenience — either business or because I have a travel connection. For leisure, I get myself out-of-town ASAP.

  7. I like waking up looking out over the dune to the sea from the 2nd floor of a rented house in Corolla, NC…all the while with about 20 kids running rampant through the house. It’s the best place to wake up!

  8. Hi there,

    This is Vivek, the Head of Editorial for Lonely Planet Digital.

    It’s really useful to read opinions and comments such as these, so we know how we’re doing by our readers.

    I think that two issues have been raised here – first, the quality of the article; and second, the Hyatt sponsorship.

    I have to note that I stand by the content produced by our author. By its nature, any list such as this one will provoke dissent and debate. Indeed, that’s part of the fun! So I’m not surprised that there’s disagreement over the chosen destinations. I do, however, want to emphasize that the article was written by a decorated Australian-based travel writer who has been to the majority of the destinations she includes. She arrived at the others by consulting fellow Lonely Planet staff and authors (as few people have been everywhere). Indeed, some of the more controversial inclusions in this list are destinations with which she has extensive personal experience. And, as with any such list, she owns the opinions contained in the article.

    It is true that this article was sponsored by Hyatt. The labelling in the article cited here is not clear enough, and we will rectify this. Because Hyatt hotels are more or less ubiquitous, we believe that the sponsorship did not unduly constrain the article’s editorial. However, in not being perfectly transparent to our users in this case, we did them a disservice. We’ll fix this up immediately.

    We take great pride in the fact that ALL our travel writers do travel and understand the world as experts. We strive to reflect this philosophy in all our editorial, sponsored or not.

    Thanks again for provoking this discussion.


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