How to Find the Best Hotels

best hotels

The best hotels can evoke a sense of wonder and delight. They may be centuries old or open just a few years, city center hideaways or country estates, exemplars of bleeding-edge contemporary design or reassuringly retro. What they have in common is a dedication to exemplifying the highest levels of luxury hospitality. This year, Robb Report is proud to name the world’s finest hotels, in a first-ever ranking based on a global survey of hoteliers and travel industry experts.

These hotels stand out from the pack because of their superiority in one or more key areas: guest rooms, dining, service and amenities, including spas. They have something to offer all types of travelers, from the luxury sophisticate seeking an inner-city oasis to the budget explorer looking for a great deal.

When it comes to choosing a place to stay, ratings and reviews play a major role. While the lines between hotels have blurred thanks to “amenity creep,” and the fact that some hotels are offering formerly exclusive services to all their guests, there are still basic differences in what it takes to be a good hotel.

User reviews remain the most popular source of information, but they can be misleading. In a recent survey by CivicScience, more than half of respondents said they trusted none of the top review sites. We suggest parsing the reviews you read carefully to weed out bogus ones, and always check the fine print to see how the site verifies comments.

There are other sources of unbiased hotel rankings and reviews, including professional journalists and organizations. The American Automobile Association, for example, began its hotel ratings in 1917 and started field inspections in 1937. Its starred system of one to five diamonds first appeared in the AAA Travel Guide and TourBook in 1977, and is also found on its Web site and in TripTik and TourBook travel guides.

In addition to its starred ratings, the Travel Guide also offers reviews of hotels and restaurants. Its reviewers, who are anonymous, consider 70 factors when judging hotels and award a pearl if the property excels in most categories. Reviews are followed by photos and a list of amenities. Its Web site features hotel deals and highlights newly rated hotels.

Other hotel-ranking sources include the Luxury Hotel Guide and the Forbes Travel Guide. Both rank hotels based on a combination of factors, including location, design, service and amenities, and the latter offers a more comprehensive list of hotel amenities than the Travel Guide does. Both have their own booking engines. The Luxury Hotel Guide also includes a photo gallery, a detailed description of each hotel and its amenities, maps, booking functions and a list of recommended activities in the area. A new feature, the Luxury Hotel Guide Live, allows you to chat with a member of the staff who can answer questions about a hotel. The site also has a forum for members to discuss hotels they’ve visited.