- 1 BEST BIG CITY SLEEP
- 2 BEST STYLE STEAL
- 3 BEST BOUTIQUE
- 4 BEST FOR ROMANCE
- 5 BEST DESIGN
- 6 BEST GAME-CHANGER
- 7 BEST ON THE BEACH
- 8 BEST ALL-INCLUSIVE
- 9 BEST OVER-THE-TOP LUXURY
- 10 BEST-LOOKING GUESTS
- 11 BEST NIGHTLIFE
- 12 BEST POOL SCENE
- 13 BEST COMEBACK
- 14 BEST SAFARI LODGE
- 15 BEST BUSINESS-MEETS-PLEASURE
- 16 BEST FOR COMMUNING WITH NATURE
- 17 BEST FOR WELLNESS
- 18 BEST FAR-FLUNG ESCAPE
- 19 BEST GROUNDS
- 20 BEST FOR FOOD
- 21 BEST FOR FAMILIES
- 22 AUDIENCE FAVORITE
2017 Best of the Best Hotel Awards
Deciding this year’s Best of the Best Awards was our hardest yet. In an industry that keeps redefining where we should spend our every hour, choosing where we sleep, eat, and experience a destination has become more important than ever. After months spent culling countless recommendations from both editors and insiders, we came up with 22 worthy contenders. Whether you’re seeking a far-flung romantic retreat or a weekend getaway closer to home, consider these best new hotels in the world your ultimate 2017 bucket list.
BEST BIG CITY SLEEP
THE FINALIST The Robey, Chicago
THE WINNER The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel, New York
Not too long ago, Manhattan's Financial District was nothing more than a suit-filled hub that would empty out after business hours. You'd never have dreamed it would become a hotbed of world-class architecture, culture, and cuisine—but the debut of the World Trade Transportation Hub (and Santiago Calatrava's Oculus), Brookfield Place, and, now, The Beekman, has made the area the new place to be. An 1881 landmark building on Nassau Street was restored to its former glory, including the jaw-dropping Victorian-era central atrium bordered by 287 airy guest rooms done up with mod lighting and subway-tiled bathrooms. The den-like first floor is a nod to its own past (the building was a library, playhouse, and law firm in its lifetime). Here, guests sip old-fashioned cocktails surrounded by curiosity cabinets, leather and velvet sofas, Oriental rugs, and author portraits including Edgar Allen Poe, who penned many novels here. Don't miss the two standout restaurants: Tom Colicchio's Fowler & Wells and Augustine, Keith McNally's newest bistro, which puts a contemporary twist on French classics.
BEST STYLE STEAL
THE FINALIST Casa Bonay, Barcelona
THE WINNER Amastan Paris
This brand flagship, on a quiet street in the 8th arrondissement, sets a new bar for the Parisian boutique hotel scene—and at an unbeatable price ($250 a night). Apartment-like interiors, courtesy of French design studio NOCC, are welcoming and well-curated: think herringbone floors and blue parquet walls, leather-bound books, walnut furniture, and tasteful copper and brass accents in each of the 24 rooms. At night, neighborhood hipsters and the city’s creative class gather for gin-based drinks and tapas at Anouk before hitting up the Pop-In art gallery featuring exhibits on fashion and design. Still believe the under-$250 price tag?
THE FINALIST The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, Honolulu
THE WINNER The Dewberry, Charleston
If you, like us, pay obsessive attention to every stylish boutique hotel that pops up throughout the year, you'd know there are more than a few to consider for this list. Our top pick: The Dewberry, in Charleston. Inside the bones of a 1964 L. Mendel Rivers Federal Building overlooking Charleston's Marion Square, the Brooklyn-based firm Workstead (ever heard of the Wythe Hotel?) have perfected the midcentury-meets-Southern look. There are the vintage Danish credenzas, the Powl Kjaerholm sofas, the salvaged Georgian oak, and 1950s abstract art. But this stylish sleep doesn't rest on looks alone. The lobby's brass bar, where bartenders in white dinner jackets stir up classics with a Southern spin, is fast becoming a hang-out spot for both visitors and locals. And then there's Henrietta's, the place to go if you have a hankering (and you should) for Southernized French brasserie food.
BEST FOR ROMANCE
THE FINALIST Montage Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina
THE WINNER Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Seychelles
The price to get to—and stay at—Six Senses’ first outpost in Africa might be steep, but it's worth it. Guests arrive by helicopter to Félicité, a wild private island in the middle of the Seychelles, where a third of the land is home to this 30-villa hideaway. Each suite, modeled after the surrounding habitat (think wood-shingled roofs, bathrooms made with quartzite green Sukabumi tiles, and deep turquoise fabrics that mimic the blue of the sea), comes with its own private pool and GEM—Guest Experience Maker—who can craft your itinerary to a tee. Just picture it: waking up with morning yoga…or sleeping in, paddle boarding before lunch, then a few more hours spent cuddling in a hammock by the palm tree-shaded pool before a soothing couple's treatment in the spa. Dinner might involve snapper marinated in banana leaves paired with house-made rum and movie night on the open deck. There are only two multi-bedroom villas on property, keeping groups to a minimum. But a short boat ride can bring you to Cocos Island for snorkeling, La Digue and its famous beaches, or the nature preserve on Curieuse Island that's ruled by giant tortoises.
THE FINALIST Mar Adentro, Mexico
THE WINNER Il Sereno Lago di Como, Italy
The first new hotel to open on Lake Como’s shores in decades is a far cry from the area’s ubiquitous grande dames. Here, Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola utilized local materials—Ceppo stone and walnut for the furniture, Como silk for staff uniforms—to create a strikingly modern take on lakeside living. Il Sereno's open-plan layout, much like its sister property in St. Barts, allows for statements of contemporary design: sculpted wood tables, geometric armchairs, a “floating” wooden staircase descending to the restaurant. Perhaps the only feature Urquiola didn’t mess with: those gotta-have-'em views of the water, which you’ll find (from your own terrace, no less) in every villa as well as from the communal deck, where a 60-foot pool and vertical garden by botanist Patrick Blanc tie it all together.
THE FINALIST 21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City
THE WINNER The Asbury Hotel, New Jersey
This year’s newest category recognizes those properties that have become beacon of change for their communities. It's safe to say the Jersey Shore was rocked when Asbury Park—a once-hip weekend retreat that over the years fell into disrepair—welcomed its first hotel in 50 years. When Anda Andrei (a designer formerly under Ian Schrager) helped transform a derelict Salvation Army building into The Asbury, the neighborhood quickly came back to life. Now, you’ll find day-tripping Manhattanites and cool young New Jerseyans hanging out in the sunny lobby lounge, playing Pinball, relaxing in the sunken living room, or spinning records in the adjacent bar. The 110 rooms upstairs are beachy and retro, with pale wood furniture and framed surfing photos. Up on the roof, space is split between a movie wall for screenings and a cocktail bar lit by hundreds of lanterns where DJs spin on the reg. That it’s all just a block away from the beach means the crowds descend even faster in high season. The Shore is back, baby.
BEST ON THE BEACH
THE WINNER Le Barthélemy, St. Barts
On St. Barts, a stunning Caribbean isle in the French West Indies, it's all about the glitz and glamour. The world's traveling elite come here for the pristine beaches, buzzy waterfront restaurants, and stunning luxury resorts. Le Barthélemy, the island’s first new build in over two decades, is as good—if not better—than the rest. The 46-room hotel is done up in sand dollar motifs and chartreuse and turquoise colors, with huge walk-in showers and Hermès amenities (some rooms even have heated plunge pools). The Instagram gold is the infinity pool, which looks out over Grand Cul de Sac beach and the turquoise blue beyond. When the sun (or sand) zaps it out of you, retreat to your terrace for a snooze, to the Le Spa for a soothing treatment using products by legendary skincare brand La Mer, or to the seaside restaurant, where you can feast on French dishes created by star chef Guy Martin.
THE FINALIST Hyatt Ziva Cancún, Mexico
THE WINNER Grand Velas Los Cabos, Mexico
The three-story open-air entryway sets the tone for stays at Grand Velas Los Cabos, the newest all-inclusive to hit the booming Mexican resort town and, in our minds, one of the best stays in all of Baja. The hotel’s ingenious half-moon design means every one of the 304 rooms has a balcony with an ocean view, while dividing walls offer both shade and shelter from the winds. Everything at this Grand Velas is designed to wow, from the sprawling bi-level spa and contemporary gallery spotlighting local artists to the five restaurants and three infinity pools serviced by personal waiters.
BEST OVER-THE-TOP LUXURY
THE FINALISTS The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
THE WINNER Soneva Jani, Maldives
This past year was a smash-hit for the Maldives, which, in 2016 alone, welcomed a clutch of high-profile new properties including a Four Seasons and a St. Regis. But all eyes are on Soneva Jani. This 24-villa newcomer, on five tiny islets in the Noonu Atoll, has reinvented luxury in a place known for luxury. Yes, you can expect the same turquoise waters, sugar-white sand bars, and overwater bungalows, but it's the rest of the property that truly wows. The sheer size of the palatial villas is unprecedented: retractable roofs (operated by a push button) let you stargaze from your master bed, waterslides connect the second levels straight to the lagoon, and the only thing you'll ever have to worry about is whether to leave your own private pool for lunch. Soneva could have stopped there, but oh no, there's more. Expect temperature-controlled cheese and charcuterie rooms, Himalayan treatments at the spa, an overwater cinema that uses blue-tooth sound to respect local marine life, and renewable materials and Scandinavian-style restraint that encapsulates why minimalism can be just as impactful.
THE FINALIST Soho House Barcelona
THE WINNER 11 Howard, New York
The 11 Howard hotel may have had a quiet opening back in April, but the buzz surrounding the Soho hotel is at an all-time high. The look, courtesy of Anda Andrei, wows with its bleached oak paneling, Calder mobile in the lobby, and Scandi-chic interiors by Space Copenhagen featuring wool afghans, bamboo rugs, Giò Ponti furniture, and international art from ceramics to black-and-white photography. The Blond, the hotel's dark and sultry bar, is all smoky mirrors and velvet banquettes, while Le Coucou, the chandelier-lit restaurant helmed by chef Daniel Rose (of Paris’s acclaimed Spring) serves up classic French cuisine. Together, they draw crowds even prettier than their spaces—we’re talking Manhattan’s glamorous power players, Victoria’s Secret models, actors like Brad Pitt, and fashion fixtures including Calvin Klein, Jimmy Choo, and Mary-Kate Olsen. Even if you’re in town for just a night or two, this is one reservation you want to nail down.
THE FINALIST EAST, Miami
THE WINNER Ace Hotel New Orleans
The Ace brand has always had the power to transform lesser-known city neighborhoods into established see-and-be-seen destinations. The story’s no different with its ninth outpost, the Ace Hotel New Orleans, which is already making waves in NOLA's emerging Warehouse District. You’ll find everything people love about the brand here, from those artsy-hip details like hand-painted armoires to a James Beard Award-nominated-chef-run restaurant. The social scene, of course, is what people really gravitate here for—and we’re not just talking about the Stumptown coffee bar in the South. No, we’re talking first and foremost about Three Keys, the hotel’s bi-level music venue behind the lobby, a quality nod to the city’s roots that hosts local DJs and bands of all genres (funk; punk; jazz; swing). And we’re also talking about the rooftop pool and garden, where the city’s socialites gather for cocktails, small plates, and incredible views.
BEST POOL SCENE
THE FINALIST Nikki Beach Bodrum, Turkey
THE WINNER Casa Cook Rhodes, Greece
Each of the 90 bright guest rooms at this adults-only oasis in the Grecian village of Kolymbia has a semi-private pool of its own (complete with its own veranda and chic black hammock). But they almost seem like an afterthought once you see the real deal: the communal pool deck, also known as “The Kitchen Club.” Here, bronzed European beauties and the people who follow them sprawl out over two levels of cushy taupe loungers shaded by bark-woven umbrellas—all set against a backdrop of rocky hills. An open bar serves thirst-quenching drinks garnished with cucumber and mint while a DJ spins through sunset and into the evening hours. For a break from the sun, take a seat at one of the teak tables at the indoor restaurant and dig into grilled ostrich or saganaki, made with herbs grown in the property’s own greenhouse.
THE FINALIST The Watergate Hotel, Washington D.C.
THE WINNER Pulitzer Amsterdam
Peter Pulitzer was one of the first to repurpose Amsterdam canal houses into a hotel when he founded the Pulitzer (then a Howard Johnson) back in 1970. Four decades later, the icon was long overdue for a refresh. How best to rethink 225 rooms spread across 25 landmark buildings that have played host to everyone from Golden Age merchants to art dealers and musicians? Creative Director Jacu Strauss (you might know his work from the Mondrian London) spent a night in each guest room, then trawled markets, galleries, and even the internet before redesigning each interior. Spaces are now as stylish and eclectic as their past guests: gold-framed mirrors, Delft tiles, and oil paintings recall the moody work of Old Masters, while pieces from Maarten Baas and Piet Hein Eek keep it modern. With its artful combo of past and present Dutch design, the hotel delivers a deft look towards the future of luxury in Amsterdam.
BEST SAFARI LODGE
THE FINALIST Meghauli Serai, a Taj Safari Lodge, Nepal
THE WINNER andBeyond Matetsi River Lodge, Zimbabwe
For decades, the only stylish place to stay near Zimbabwe’s greatest natural wonder was the grand Victoria Falls Hotel, but just in the last few years, the best safari groups in the business have begun setting up camp upriver. Some 25 miles up, you’ll find the newly renovated Matetsi River Lodge, whose 18 riverfront rooms and private villa fronting the Zambezi provide complete access to the surrounding 123,500-acre reserve. Here, you’ll bear witness to the best of African wildlife—zebra, giraffe, elephants, sable, buffalo—on game drives and sunset boat cruises, but you also have every reason to never leave the property grounds. Rooms come with their own candlelit bathtubs, plunge pools, and indoor-outdoor showers, while the lodge has a picture-perfect lap pool and serves exceptional food paired with South African wine from the cellar.
RELATED: The World's Most Spectacular Safaris
THE FINALIST Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown
THE WINNER The Peninsula Beijing
If ever there was a hotel brand that could rest on its credentials, it would be Peninsula. But not the Peninsula Beijing. Already one of the city’s most well-known luxury hotels, the property is now even better thanks to a year-long, $123 million overhaul. The number of rooms was reduced from 525 to 230, meaning sleeping spaces are brighter and roomier, but they retain their distinct Peninsula aesthetic (soothing neutral palettes; cushy carpeting). Glimpses of China’s past can be seen everywhere from the Ming dynasty porcelain-inspired paintings in the restaurant to the hand-embroidered floral wallpaper and Zhang Du bronze statues. The service is just as impressive as the design: check-in happens in your room, and everything else—concierge services, temperature controls, check-out—is done on your in-room tablet.
BEST FOR COMMUNING WITH NATURE
THE WINNER Nekupe, Nicaragua
It boggles the mind to think that Nekupe, an hour and a half south of the capital city of Managua, is the first mountain resort to open in Nicaragua, a country blanketed by cloud forests and dormant volcanoes. But therein lies the beauty of this untapped, sparsely populated region. At Nekupe, there are just four rooms and four villas and each comes with its own local guide and all-terrain vehicle for navigating the jungle. The animals that live on the 1,300-acre reserve include forest dwellers like howler and spider monkeys, lizards, and wild boars, and guests can choose from a menu of heart-pumping activities like horseback riding, mountain biking, or clay shooting. Two of the villa suites share an infinity-edge pool but the communal one, surrounded by views on all sides, is the real showstopper.
BEST FOR WELLNESS
THE WINNER Amanemu, Japan
Amanemu is the antithesis of its sister hotel in Tokyo. Instead of a sleepless capital city, you get the dreamy Ise-Shima National Park. Instead of a soaring skyscraper, there are 24 low-hanging suites and four villas—all minimalist bamboo, wood, and stone with their own garden courtyards. The property is modeled after Japan’s centuries-old onsens: on the grounds, mineral-rich spring water feeds its thermal pools. In addition to a glassed-in yoga studio, there's four treatment rooms where ingredients like mineral water and salts from the nearby bay rejuvenate skin, while an outdoor infinity pool lined with daybeds looks out over the serene surrounding forest and distant Ago Bay. Even the design has a kind of healing power—a harmonious blend of clean-lined architecture, natural hues (timber shutters; woven fabrics), and floor-t0-ceiling window views of leafy maple trees and cherry blossoms.
BEST FAR-FLUNG ESCAPE
THE FINALIST The St. Regis Langkawi, Malaysia
THE WINNER Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar, Oman
It's difficult to see past the excess of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but if you do, you're duly rewarded: just beyond lies Oman, a land of low-rise buildings, tropical beaches, sweeping landscapes of desert and rock, and one of the Middle East's most ancient cultures. And if you think Oman is out there, wait until you get a load of this Anantara, two and a half hours south of Muscat, the capital city. Looking out from the hotel, which was built on the edge of the Saiq Plateau overlooking the 10,000-foot Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar mountain peaks, feels, quite frankly, like balancing on the edge of the world. Its the highest five-star hotel in the Middle East—and it makes good work of its real estate: infinity pools (including one for every villa) jut over over the rim, and three of its six restaurants offer floor-to-ceiling (or alfresco) views of the surrounding valley. To stay here is to let the rest of the world fall to the wayside.
THE FINALIST Helena Bay, New Zealand
THE WINNER Leeu Estates, South Africa
You only need to head less than an hour outside Cape Town to find one of the world’s most beautiful wine valleys. Franschhoek, one of South Africa’s oldest towns, is a hub of world-class cuisine and wine, and has a host of beautiful hotels from which you can enjoy both. The latest, Leeu Estates, lies within a verdant 168-acre working wine farm. There’s no bad angle to be found at this 19th-century manor house turned 17-room hotel...not at the 50-foot swimming pool or spa set among the vines...or at the hedge-lined sculpture garden, which features a striking bronze and granite piece by local craftsman Angus Taylor. Spend your days exploring the surrounding trails, which wind their way through sun-dappled vineyards planted with Sauvignon blanc, and make sure to stop for dinner at the Dining Room, where locals and visitors come together to eat traditional dishes like karoo lamb "skilpadjies" and fish masala with lentils and coconut.
RELATED: Where to Stay in Cape Town Now
BEST FOR FOOD
THE FINALIST SingleThread Farm - Restaurant - Inn, California
THE WINNER Coombeshead Farm, England
The rise of the restaurant inn is upon us. This was a difficult category to nail down—especially because of how excited we were when SingleThread hit California’s Sonoma Valley—but the allure of Coombeshead Farm proved too strong to ignore. Cornwall, England, had already been attracting rising chefs thanks to a newfound interest in its fertile land and culinary traditions, but when big-name British toques April Bloomfield and Tom Adams transformed this tiny 18th-century farmhouse, it became the year’s biggest food story. The real magic happens at the communal table and open kitchen, where flavors of unrefined country life (celeriac served in a rich butter sauce with roasted pumpkin seeds; breakfast spreads featuring sourdough toast, hog’s pudding, and bowls of scrambled eggs) bring the experience home. This is still a working farm, but there's also a cozy library and five admirably simple bedrooms done up with plaid wool throws and home-made lavender soap. After foraging for meal ingredients (blackberries; sorrel) on the property’s 66 acres and collecting eggs from the henhouse, you're sure to feel more like being a family member than a paying guest.
BEST FOR FAMILIES
THE FINALIST Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
THE WINNER Four Seasons Resort Lanai, Hawaii
When it comes to finding a hotel the whole gang can enjoy, we understand your fears: too-crowded pools, bland buffets, a serious lack of age-appropriate activities. The revamped Four Seasons Resort Lanai may not be an all-out party (there are no teen nightclubs or sprawling pool and waterslide facilities), but its distance from the crowds that swarm Maui and Oahu is precisely why we love it for families. Huge and spacious guest rooms are done up in Hawaiian teak and koa and come with balconies or terraces. The pool for kids (the other is adults only) stays open 24 hours, while the hotel’s bay setting means calm waters are perfect for younger swimmers (plus its proximity to a marine reserve means you don't need to go off-property for stellar snorkeling). For dads, there’s a Jack Nicklaus golf course, while moms can take advantage of the spa. Meals are on the pricier side, but the freebies make up for it, including the full-day kids’ club (think art classes, lei-making, exploring tidal pools, and building mini volcanoes), complimentary beach and pool toy rentals, and young-family necessities like cribs, high chairs, play pens, and strollers.
THE WINNER PUBLIC Chicago
Of all the hotels in the world, PUBLIC Chicago won our readers’ hearts in 2016. Why so many clicks? We chalk it up to its trifecta of stellar design, exclusive atmosphere, and pitch-perfect service. A top-to-toe redo of the landmark Ambassador East building, steps from the Magnificent Mile, by Ian Schrager transformed PUBLIC into an unpretentiously chic escape in the heart of the city. Expect a sexy-yet-sophisticated “no color” palette, from classic columns in the lobby to the tranquil and bright guest rooms, with their no-fuss walls and white bathrooms. The revitalized Pump Room, a onetime drinking den for the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart, now has a menu by culinary heavyweight Jean-Georges Vongerichten that's made it of the city’s hottest tables. Combining it all with the perennial appeal of Chicago, a hotbed for award-winning cuisine and hotels no matter what the season, makes choosing this stylish sleep a no-brainer.
Disclaimer: All winners included in Jetsetter’s Best of the Best Awards are hand-chosen by our editors according to their merit, and in no way influence, pay for, or receive compensation for, the final results.
Be sure to check out our 2016 Best of the Best Awards to see who made last year’s cut.