100 most beautiful hotels in the world 2016 – introduction
So what’s this list of the world’s 100 most beautiful hotels 2016 all about? Don’t we already have enough lists of great hotels to choose from? Well yes, and no. There are excellent lists of the best new hotels each year from Conde Nast Traveller, and Travel+Leisure, and Tatler and Conde Nast Traveller also publish lists of the world’s best hotels each year. And then there are any number of lists of the best hotels selected by the readers of this or that magazine or website. What’s missing is a focus on beautiful hotels. The other professional lists take a wide range of criteria into account – some explicit and some a little more difficult to tie down – and I’m yet to be convinced by the value of a popularity contest when selected a great hotel. For me, as an experienced traveller with an eye for beauty, the level of service a particular reviewer received, the facilities available for kids and the number of Michelin starred restaurants available in a hotel are not the criteria I use to work out where I want to stay. Simply put, I want a beautiful hotel with stunning interior design and wow factor bursting out all over the place. Life is too short to stay in the wrong hotel.
100 most beautiful hotels – the criteria for inclusion
How has this list been compiled? Have I stayed in all 100 hotels? Glad you asked! I have personally paid to stay in 36 of the hotels on this list. I’m not rich, I don’t have connections in the industry and I don’t do this for a living. I’d love to stay in all of the other hotels on the list, and over the next few years I intend to tick off as many as I can. What I am is a passionate fan of beautiful luxury, design and boutique hotels. Over the years I’ve built up a lot of experience of what a beautiful hotel looks like, who the best designers are and which brands you can rely on. So think of this as ‘the passionate amateur expert’s choice’. What this means is that you won’t see hotels included in this list because I’m trying to sell advertising to a particular brand, or that I’m looking for, or receiving, some special treatment. Hotels are included in this list because they rank the highest amongst the thousands of hotels considered against my criteria for a beautiful hotel. Period.
And what are the criteria?
The list doesn’t favour any particular style of hotel or design. There are boutique hotels, design hotels and luxury hotels and resorts. Styles range from contemporary through retro, minimalist, asian-inspired and opulent-decadence. What you won’t find are frills and chintz. This isn’t a list of hotels your grandparents would love. There are plenty of lists of those around, and many of the other lists include (at least) several examples of this ‘genre’. This is a no frills zone.
A beautiful hotel starts off with a lobby or reception oozing with ‘wow factor’. This is your introduction to your experience, and it needs to stay ‘congratulations, you’ve arrived, you’re a rock star’. And a little bit of ‘have you lost weight? you’re looking fabulous’ wouldn’t go amiss, just quietly. Welcome superstar, enjoy our beautiful bubble.
In a beautiful hotel you’re going to be spending some time in your room or suite. An important criteria in selecting a beautiful hotel is that the entry-level rooms need to be beautiful as well as the presidential penthouse suite. There are plenty of hotels that focus their creative and marketing efforts on a few amazing suites – and there’s certainly a place for those hotels – but it isn’t this list.
A beautiful hotel also needs to have at least one beautiful bar and at least one beautiful restaurant. A beautiful hotel is a D*sn*yl*nd for adults, and eating and drinking in stunning surroundings are two of the ‘rides’ we queue up for.
In addition to these core criteria, a hotel can earn bonus points for a beautiful swimming pool. Some of the world’s most beautiful hotels are bereft of a pool, and I think it unfair to exclude them from the list on that basis, but there’s no doubt that a beautiful pool, indoor or outdoor, adds to the experience. And finally a hotel can earn bonus points for a stunning setting and/or great views. As above, not essential, but certainly an enhancement.
You’ll have worked out from the above that the list tends to favour the larger hotels and resorts – those that have both a bar and a restaurant and that may or may not also have a pool. There are some gorgeous boutique and design hotels in the world that offer a few rooms and maybe a bar – and again there’s a place for these – but this list isn’t that place.