As hoteliers, it’s our mission to deliver memorable hospitality to each guest who steps through the door. That might mean swoon-worthy design or boundary-pushing dining—or both. And it could also mean providing exceptional service, or just the right location, to help guests get the most out of their trip. But the most memorable hotels don’t just rely on their own offerings: they also give back to the communities they serve. That’s why so many of our picks feature restaurants, spas and/or other community-based initiatives that aim to do more than just serve a meal or a massage.
Whether you prefer to stay at a swanky city property or a remote beach resort, this year’s best hotels offer plenty of options for your next vacation. Some are long-time favorites (like the new Nobu New York), while others are recent additions to the scene, such as the NoMad London or the glitzy Equinox New York. And while some of the top hotels may be a little expected—like European classics in Paris or Rome, or a cell phone-service-free lodge in Alaska—there are also some unexpected winners, including an elegant commune, an agroturismo farmhouse and more.
While you’re deciding which hotel to book, consider checking out the hotel’s website for more information about what makes it stand out. And don’t forget to take a look at user-generated reviews, which can help you determine how happy past guests have been with their experiences at a particular hotel or chain. You can even use apps that allow you to see satisfaction ratings for individual hotels and compare prices across chains or locations.
Then consider a loyalty program, which can save you money and earn you extra perks like free wifi or room upgrades. Travel websites and apps, such as Kayak, Travelocity and the airline- and car-rental company programs, often bundle hotel rooms with airfare and car rentals into a package, offering discounts for frequent travelers. And some hotel chains have their own programs that extend beyond loyalty status and into a variety of other benefits, such as discounted or free airport transfers.
Hotels differ from motels in that they generally provide more amenities, such as pools and fitness facilities, to appeal to a wider range of travelers. They’re also more likely to have shuttles to major attractions and often offer more convenient access to public transportation or ride-share services. And they’re often more spacious than motels, with separate living, dressing and sleeping areas in suites that feel more like private residences than hotel rooms.
And of course, there are the hotels with extra-special features, such as the one designed by the world-famous crystal company Baccarat. The hotel’s 15,000 crystal pieces (from chandeliers to glassware) and sleek, contemporary design give it the look of a modern European palace. And its coveted location, near MoMA and Rockefeller Center, doesn’t hurt, either.