In the travel world, ranking hotels is a controversial endeavor. What’s a five-star property to one person is a three-star property to another, and even the simplest rating system can get murky. And that’s not to mention the fact that there are no universal criteria for assessing hotel quality. In the absence of a standard, there are a wide variety of rating systems—from AAA’s star-spangled rankings to TripAdvisor’s 900-pound gorilla reviews to the way hotels use diamonds and pearls to bolster their prestige.
For the second year running, the hotel review site TripAdvisor has published its list of best hotels around the globe, called Traveller’s Choice Best Hotels 2023. The results were based on review data from 2022 and took an enormous number of accommodations into account. To make matters more complicated, TripAdvisor does not require a verified booking to post a review, which savvy travelers complain about on a regular basis.
The resulting list, which was unveiled this week, includes some familiar names from last year’s top 10, including the Belmond El Nido Resort in Indonesia and the Aman Zurich in Switzerland. But this year the list was dominated by properties in Asia, with nine out of the top 10 and 21 of the 50 overall spots.
It also featured two New York City hotels, both from the Aman and Equinox chains. Outside of the two big-city entries, independent hotels far outnumbered branded entities. The likes of Marriott and Hilton claimed zero entries while Aman and Four Seasons each nabbed four. On the boutique front, the Maybourne Hotel Group and Oetker Collection nabbed three apiece.
As a result, the best hotels on the list were an interesting mix of styles and locations. From a yoga pavilion and outdoor pool at the Amangiri in Mexico to an all-inclusive resort in the Maldives, each of the top-10 properties offers a different take on luxury.
Of course, as the map below shows, there’s no such thing as a single definition of luxury. What might feel luxe in La Jolla might seem plain-jane in New York City, and what’s glitzy in Miami could be considered downright ho-hum in Boston. This is why it’s so important to read real-life hotel reviews and look beyond the flashy marketing material. It might just help you find the best hotel for your next trip.