- 1 BEST BIG CITY SLEEP
- 2 BEST STYLE STEAL
- 3 BEST BOUTIQUE
- 4 BEST FOR ROMANCE
- 5 BEST DESIGN
- 6 BEST ON THE BEACH
- 7 BEST ALL INCLUSIVE
- 8 BEST OVER-THE-TOP LUXURY
- 9 BEST LOOKING GUESTS
- 10 BEST NIGHTLIFE
- 11 BEST POOL SCENE
- 12 BEST COMEBACK
- 13 BEST SAFARI-LODGE
- 14 BEST BUSINESS-MEETS-PLEASURE
- 15 BEST FOR COMMUNING WITH NATURE
- 16 BEST FOR WELLNESS
- 17 BEST FAR-FLUNG ESCAPE
- 18 BEST GROUNDS
- 19 BEST FOR FAMILIES
- 20 AUDIENCE FAVORITE
- 21 NOTABLE MENTIONS
2016 Best of the Best Hotel Awards
The results are finally in, people! And picking this year's winners wasn't easy. We debated the quirky, the high design, the affordable luxe and over-the-top; we grilled our network of more than 200 global correspondents; we polled experts and insiders; and we had a few in-office shouting matches (it all ended well, thankfully). Here, our picks for the 20 best new hotels on the planet.
BEST BIG CITY SLEEP
THE FINALIST Hotel Emma, Texas
It's been a while since a hotel debuted in Barcelona that wowed us this much. But the second the Cotton House opened its doors we fell hard. A former stomping ground for Barcelona's cotton barons, the property dazzles from the moment you step into the lobby, where the air is filled with the hotel's custom cotton scent. Original marquetry floors, a sweeping marble staircase and a stately Neo-Classical facade are all nods to the building's 19th century roots, while a sexy rooftop pool, buzzy eatery, cocktail bar and lush terrace—all conceived of by interior designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán—provide modern thrills. The hotel's location in Eixample is the perfect base for taking in all things cultural, architectural and gastronomical—don't miss the nearby La Boqueria Market for tapas and the finest Jamón ibérico you'll ever taste, or the Passeig de Gràcia—one of Barca's main shopping avenidas. Once you've explored the city, unwind with a great read in the hotel's library, or retire to your elegant, all-white guestroom, with oversized windows that look out onto the city rooftops.
BEST STYLE STEAL
THE FINALIST Casa Fayette, Mexico
THE WINNER The Hoxton, Amsterdam
Gorgeous canal views. A posh address in 'Dam's coolest 'hood. Instagram-ready interiors that blend one-of-a-kind vintage pieces and sleek, masculine décor. It's easy to see why we're crushing on The Hoxton. This affordable, design-conscious stay comes with a cool cocktail den, a brick-walled library, and a buzzy Italian-inspired restaurant where the in crowd convenes to hear local and international DJs spin Thursday through Sunday. Even the lobby, which doubles as an after-hours lounge, is a place to be see-and-be-seen. Upstairs, entry-level rooms are shoebox-sized, but never feel overly snug, thanks to high ceilings and windows that look over the Herengracht canal. We love the herringbone floors, wood-paneled walls, industrial fixtures, geometric mirrors and super plush beds with leather headboards. When you're ready to do some exploring, rent a set of wheels from the hotel and pedal off to see the sights. The Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House and Rijksmuseum are all 10 minutes away.
Hôtel Providence Paris, France
G-Rough is the new 'rough-luxe' Roman sleep from Italian hoteliers Emanuele Garosci and Gabrielle Salini. The duo converted a former 16th-century residential palazzo into a stripped-back boutique hotel and the results are breathtaking: shabby-chic common areas with mirrored tiles, retro Italian furniture and plaster walls, and guestrooms kitted out with contemporary art, original oak beams and cast-iron bathtubs. It's a daring, fashion-forward fusion of old and new, with a cool clientele and slick amenities to match. Order an Aperol spritz and people-watch in the trendy, ground-floor bar, where you'll see sophisticated Italian men sipping espresso and hipsters snapping selfies. You're in the heart of Rome, so there's plenty to see and do nearby, but we'd recommend taking advantage of the hotel's 'unconventional luxury tours' program, which offer an insider look at lesser-known attractions like the Palazzo Altemps museum and the Stadio di Domiziano.
BEST FOR ROMANCE
andBeyond Benguerra Island, Mozambique
The beauty of Barbuda Belle lies in its seclusion. A collection of just six beachfront bungalows on Barbuda, Antigua's rugged sister island, the hotel is ideal for couples looking to get way off the grid (you could spend a week here and almost never see another soul). The accommodations are rustic-chic (think: peaked bamboo ceilings, four-poster beds and wicker furnishings) with sexy outdoor showers and private balconies that look out on turquoise waters. Spend your days kayaking among the mangroves at the nearby Codrington Lagoon Park or walking the glorious 17-mile stretch of pink sand hand-in-hand. Then head back to the hotel for a romantic dinner a deux at the open-air French restaurant.
La Fiermontina Urban Resort, Italy
Brown Beach House by Brown Hotels, Israel
Sure, it’s the only boutique hotel on Tel Aviv’s seafront, but that’s not the only reason that Brown Beach House caused a major splash when it opened in July 2015. It's called style, and the hipster pad has it in spades. Credit Isreali-born Aline Langlieb, whose playful, colorful look infuses common areas with a beach club vibe. In the lobby, there are canary-yellow sofas, potted palms and lamps fashioned as golden pineapples, plus edgy design wares like gilt mirrors, a crosshatch bookcase and black-and-white geometric carpeting. The same tropical-kitsch aesthetic extends to the guestrooms, all 40 of which have balconies with cocoon chairs and sea or city views. But the most, er, eye-catching scenery can be found at the indoor beach-themed lounge, where beautiful people sip mojitos on striped yellow loungers, a sensual bossa nova mix plays and a floor-to-ceiling mural of a racy Playboy cover is splashed against one wall. Welcome to the Israeli Riviera.
BEST ON THE BEACH
Amanera Resort at Playa Grande, Dominican Republic
Zemi Beach House Resort & Spa, Anguilla
When it opened in February 2016, not only was Zemi Beach House the first resort to hit Anguilla's East End—it was also the first new hotel to open on the island in six years. Talk about pressure! But the property rose to the occasion, debuting 69 stunning rooms and suites with expansive oceanfront balconies and the island's only hammam, which occupies a 300-year-old authentic Thai house. Fronting Shoal Bay East's two-mile stretch of fine white sand, the hotel has an array of water sports including snorkeling, kite surfing and boat racing. Personally, we'd recommend pulling a Bey and Jay and chartering a yacht—just one of many customized concierge services at your disposal. Back on land, get a heavenly taste of the island's flavors at 20 Knots, where fresh-caught seafood and Tiki-style drinks come with a side of ocean breezes.
BEST ALL INCLUSIVE
BodyHoliday, Saint Lucia
A luxe, wellness-centered resort on St. Lucia’s northwest tip, BodyHoliday may not be brand-new but it continues to be a favorite among our global JS correspondents. The beachfront resort offers endless outdoor diversions, from scuba and spinning to sailing and tai chi, plus three pools (including a hilltop infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean) and direct access to a velvety, white sand beach. Meals are all organic and primarily grown on the 42-acre grounds—highlights include the Asian-Caribbean flavors at TAO and the fruity drinks and small bites at The Deli, a casual spot on the beach. Spa treatments are also included, so don't think twice about booking a pampering ayurvedic massage treatment at the sprawling 33-treatment room wellness center.
BEST OVER-THE-TOP LUXURY
Baccarat Hotel & Residences New York
Faena Hotel Miami Beach, Florida
Just when we thought Miami couldn’t get anymore over-the-top, the Faena Hotel Miami Beach opened in the haute Mid-Beach 'hood. Film director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge) and his wife, costume designer Catherine Martin, designed the lavish interiors which trade the usual white-on-white SoBe aesthetic for an extravagant, '50s-inspired style. The centerpiece? A gold leaf column-lined lobby that feels like a stage set, thanks to a Hollywood-worthy red carpet, floor-to-ceiling neo-Baroque murals and 623,000 shimmering mosaic tiles by Argentinian painter Juan Gatti. Upstairs, the 169 guestrooms and suites are just as sumptuous, with red velvet armchairs, turquoise carpeting, bold artwork and dedicated butler service. If you need a break from the grandeur, you won't get it here. Even the amenities are all about opulence. We're talking a 22,000-square-foot spa, a dazzling 150-seat-cabaret-style theatre and Damien Hirst's 24-karat wooly mammoth skeleton in the hotel's pool area. Casual.
BEST LOOKING GUESTS
Fendi Private Suites, Italy
Soho House Istanbul, Turkey
DJ’s, fashion designers, and film directors—these are the creative types you’ll run into at Soho House’s latest (and largest!) outpost in Istanbul's fashionable Beyoğlu district. Set in the restored Palazzi Corpi, a stately Italian-style mansion built in 1830, the hotel features original details like marble floors, rosewood doors, original frescoes and soaring, 16-foot ceilings. Soho House's design team tempered the building's lovely bones with Turkish-influenced décor (think: colorful ikat cushions, vibrant tiles and threadbare Turkish carpets), injecting the historic space with a vibrant, youthful energy. It's Insta bait at every turn, but don't even think about reaching for your iPhone; as with the brand's other houses, there's a strict 'no camera' rule in place to protect high-profile guests' privacy. It's no wonder celebs like Eddie Redmayne and Jamie Dornan have been spotted partying at the swanky rooftop.
The Standard High Line, New York
The Miami Beach EDITION, Florida
There’s no shortage of raging pool parties and velvet-rope nightclubs in Miami. But a subterranean disco-themed ice skating rink? The only place you’ll find that is The Miami Beach EDITION—Ian Schrager's sceney party pad on South Beach. The hotel's underground nightclub (aptly named The Basement) also has a bowling alley, a lounge and a Studio 54-inspired dance floor decked out in disco balls, neon wall art and multicolored lights designed by Patrick Woodroofe—yup, the same guy who choreographed the lights for Michael Jackson, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga concerts. It's all very Saturday Night Fever, but if you forgot your dancing shoes, Matador, the hotel's sultry cocktail bar, has candlelight, lounge music and just as much of a scene.
BEST POOL SCENE
Halcyon House, Australia
You won’t find DJ-led pool parties or a let-it-all-hang-out crowd at this super-luxe Palm Springs stay. Instead, the pool scene is a more civilized mix of fedora-d studio execs and Trina Turk-wearing socialites—all reclining around the stunning infinity edge pool as the sun hangs heavy against the San Jacinto mountains. Secure a breezy poolside cabana and hear about Hollywood's latest nude-photo scandal or blockbuster flop. You'll be offered everything from a mint julep to a deep tissue massage by the attentive pool attendants.
Esperanza Resort, Mexico
Ritz Paris, France
Coco Chanel lived there for 34 years. Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway were regulars at its saloon. And Sophia Lauren once described it as “the most romantic hotel in the world.” We’re talking about the Paris Ritz, of course—the mythic, five-star hotel that closed its gilded doors after a 114-year run for renovations in 2012. Four years and $200 million later, and the grand dame reopened this month, with new features like a large garden designed like a private park and a tunnel built to help the rich and famous come and go unnoticed. Philippe Starck has also given the hotel's restaurants and bars a small facelift, retouching the frescoes at Bar 228, redesigning Le Dali's draped ceiling and opening the ceiling at Vendôme Bar. And if that didn't sell you on a stay at this landmark gem, the hotel's new spa (the first Chanel spa in the world) will.
THE FINALIST Makanyi Private Game Lodge, South Africa
THE WINNER Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa
Singita Ebony Lodge first opened 22 years ago, but thanks to a recent top-to-toe renovation, the iconic safari lodge has never looked better. South African design firm Cécile & Boyd have revamped the interiors, knocking down heavy lodge walls and replacing them with canvas and glass to give the impression of 'tent-style' accommodations. Each of the 12 suites also have their own en suite bathroom, heated private swimming pool and outdoor pavilion deck, which looks out over the banks of the Sand River and the surrounding ebony and jackalberry trees. Activities are as epic as ever and include game drives, archery, guiding walks and stargazing, but in our opinion, it doesn't get much better than sitting on the lodge's breezy deck, cab sauv in hand, and watching the animals drink from the river 10 feet in front of you.
Chicago Athletic Association, Illinois
The Knickerbocker Hotel, New York
Forget conference rooms and high-speed internet. Fresh off a $250 million renovation, New York’s historic Knickerbocker Hotel is redefining business luxury with celebrity-driven amenities, design-forward interiors and an unbeatable location in the heart of Times Square. Traveling on the company's dime? A Charlie Palmer restaurant serves American fare with a twist (think: Scottish salmon in a foie and carrot reduction and on a bed of forbidden rice) in a thoroughly modern glass and marble space. After, you can entertain clients at the hotel's bustling rooftop, St. Cloud, where the dirty martinis are accompanied by panoramic views of the city's skyline. Next morning, jump-start your day with a workout with New York Knicks star Larry Johnson, who offers private and group fitness instruction at the hotel's gym, or skip the sweat sesh altogether and get beautified by celebrity hair stylist Ted Gibson at his eponymous on-site Beauty Bar.
BEST FOR COMMUNING WITH NATURE
Angama Mara, Kenya
Pumphouse Point, Australia
Located 300 meters from shore in the heart of Australia’s deepest lake, Pumphouse Point was originally constructed as a hydroelectricity station in the 1930s. Fast forward a few decades, and the remote building has been transformed into a rustic-luxe hideaway by developer Simon Currant. The 18 guestrooms are split between the aforementioned Pumphouse and the waterside Shorehouse—an Art Deco building that also houses the main communal lounge and prep kitchen. Interiors exude rugged simplicity, with exposed copper pipework, soft grey fabrics, Tasmanian timber paneling and floor-to-ceiling picture windows that frame serene views of the surrounding lake, glacial mountains and forests. Want to breathe in some of that fresh mountain air? Go on a hike or a nature walk through Lake St. Clair National Park, where you might sight wallabies, wombats, and Tasmanian Devils. After, reward your efforts with a glass of local cider around the food-burning fireplace in the atmospheric lounge.
BEST FOR WELLNESS
JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa
The Gainsborough Bath Spa, United Kingdom
Let’s be clear: There are no diet menus or mocktails here, no en-suite stairmasters or mandatory hikes. At The Gainsborough Bath Spa, "wellness" is all about the waters. Travelers have been coming to Bath, England for more than 2,000 years for its natural springs, but it wasn't until the Gainsborough, designed by New York-based Champalimaud Design, opened in 2015 that guests could tap the area's minieral-rich H2O from the comfort of their hotel rooms. (It's the only property in England with its own source of piping hot water). In the hotel's colonnaded bathing atrium, are three distinct thermal pools—each heated to a different temperature but all connected straight to the source and packed with natural minerals. Unwind in the traditional and infrared saunas and steam rooms, or indulge with pampering treatments (think: Thai lemongrass massages and ginger oil body wraps) in the spa's 11 treatment rooms. Then head upstairs to your cozy room, done up in shades of blue, brown and white, before hitting the Johann Lafer-run restaurant for a healthy plate of grilled cod filet and buttermilk Panna Cotta, if you dare.
BEST FAR-FLUNG ESCAPE
Phum Baitang, Cambodia
Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam
You’ll need to endure a long-haul flight and a car and boat transfer to get to this luxury boutique hotel. But once you've arrived at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, it's all about pampered relaxation. The 58 villas are set amid massive rock and boulder formations and overlook the South China Sea; those along the beachfront are extra luxurious, with paths running directly to the sand. Days are spent scuba diving at the nearby Five Island Reef, exploring the surrounding jungles and mountains and lounging around private plunge pools, which are built into rocks and appear to spill directly into the ocean. The vibe is secluded and peaceful, and you could easily spend weeks here and never see another guest, but you don't to miss out on all the group-centered activities on tap, including cooking classes and sunset cruises. For a romantic evening, book a dinner for two in the Wine Cave, which is in a hillside rock cavern.
Six Senses Douro Valley, Portugal
Ashford Castle, Ireland
Set on 350 acres of verdant Irish countryside, the nearly 800-year old Ashford Castle looks straight out of the pages of a fairytale—its manicured lawns, formal gardens and bucolic greens more resplendent than ever thanks to a recent $75 million renovation. While you won't have time to stroll the grounds' full expanse, the concierge can arrange horseback riding tours, fly-fishing excursions and falconry to showcase some of the landscape's best assets.
BEST FOR FAMILIES
Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort, St. Lucia
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Hawaii
If the thought of jumbo waterslides and mass buffets makes your skin crawl, this is the place for you. Consistently praised by sun-seeking Jetsetter members, the beloved Hawaiian resort delivers thrills for guests of all ages, but with serious style. There are seven swimming pools (freshwater and saltwater; adults-only and family-friendly), direct ocean access, a private oceanfront Jack Nicklaus golf course and 5 eateries, from an oceanfront seafood restaurant to a sushi bar. From 8AM to 5PM, the children's program organizes activities like sting ray feedings and sand-castle building for younger children and snorkeling and canoe lessons for teens. Parents can steal away to the temple-like, open-air spa, which delivers decadent body treatments with local ingredients like black lava salt, hibiscus and crushed macadamia nuts.
Blue Diamond Riviera Maya, Mexico
It’s no surprise that JS members voted Blue Diamond Riviera Maya their favorite hotel. Spread across 36 acres of mangrove, lagoon and powdery beachfront, the luxurious adults-only resort is comprised of 128 thatch-roofed limestone bungalows with bamboo floors, 400-thread count linens and private beach access. Complimentary activities include scuba instruction, Spanish lessons and mangrove treks, but if you'd rather kick back and relax, there are also two oceanfront pools—one for floating, one for laps—where you can laze under shady white umbrellas and sip tequila cocktails. Unlike many full-service hotels, Blue Diamond has seven bars and restaurants, including an intimate chef's table and a buzzy waterfront tapas bar. Don't miss Ambar, where a jazz guitarist strums and mouth-watering fusion fare (think: cognac-flamed quail with chile risotto) is served with island views.