Courtesy of Grand Velas

Upgrade your next warm-weather escape with a stay at one of these top-ranked beach hotels, according to T+L readers.

No. 6 Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

6 of 26

Located inside an 80-acre mangrove and jungle reserve, this all-inclusive resort spreads across a white-sand beach and has an exotic, faraway feel even though it’s within an easy drive of Playa del Carmen. The resort features both adult-only and family areas, and the 89,000-square-foot spa is one of Mexico’s largest, with 40 treatment rooms, some with hydromassage tubs. After a day of pampering, dine at one of eight restaurants, including Sen Lin for Asian fusion and Cocina de Autor for molecular Mexican Caribbean cuisine.

World's Best Beach Hotels

No. 6 Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Located inside an 80-acre mangrove and jungle reserve, this all-inclusive resort spreads across a white-sand beach and has an exotic, faraway feel even though it’s within an easy drive of Playa del Carmen. The resort features both adult-only and family areas, and the 89,000-square-foot spa is one of Mexico’s largest, with 40 treatment rooms, some with hydromassage tubs. After a day of pampering, dine at one of eight restaurants, including Sen Lin for Asian fusion and Cocina de Autor for molecular Mexican Caribbean cuisine.

Courtesy of Grand Velas

World's Best Beach Hotels

How to explain the difference a beachfront hotel makes? “More than unobstructed views, it’s about the freedom of not having to look both ways to cross the street before feeling sand between your toes,” says Matt Thomson, founder of Wavecation.com, a surfing-focused vacation rental company.

That’s the thrilling sense of liberation that comes with a stay at properties like Lizard Island Resort in Australia, where your suite’s private terrace overlooks the Great Barrier Reef, with only the occasional yacht breaking the kaleidoscope of blue and green waters.  

Travel + Leisure readers were so taken that they voted Lizard Island Resort the No. 3 best beach hotel in the world, as part of our annual World’s Best survey. The top-scoring hotels and resorts all offer a captivating beach setting, yet they are also culturally and architecturally distinctive. They span 13 countries and islands on four different continents, and their interiors range from minimalist to cozy and traditional.

At the historic Ocean House in Rhode Island (No. 13), for example, formal Victorian rooms have fireplaces, upholstered chairs, and Doric-columned terraces overlooking the wild Atlantic bluffs. Guests in thatched-roofed bungalows at the Four Seasons Bora Bora (No. 8), on the other hand, have direct access to Pacific waves via private decks.

Modern Mexican craftsmanship—woven palapas, cool Saltillo tiles, and a saltwater pool filled by the sea—is on display at the romantic La Casa Que Canta (No. 12) on Zihuatanejo Bay. In contrast, rooms in the rock-faced Lodge at Doonbeg (No. 10), located on Ireland’s windswept West Clare Coast, are snugly outfitted with argyle wool blankets and floral-printed curtains.

Keep in mind that not all beach hotel rooms are created equal. “Avoid partial view or ground-floor rooms that may have obscured lookouts due to vegetation or shrubbery,” reminds T+L A-List agent Manny Beauregard. Or simply go with the guarantee of the Four Seasons Resort, Hualalai in Hawaii: all 228 rooms overlook the Pacific.

Read on for more inspiring hotels, starting with the No. 1 beach vacation pick.

Stirling Kelso

Explore More