T+L's features director, Nilou Motamed, announces the 2013 winners of Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards, as voted by readers in our annual survey. Whether it's a rustic safari hideaway or a river cruise line, these hotels, destinations, and travel companies represent the best in travel. For all the winners, click here.
Jennifer Flowers is the Travel News Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.
Procrastinators, rejoice! There’s a slew of new apps aimed at snagging a last-minute hotel deal. Here, our tech expert’s road-tested favorites.
HotelTonight(Android, iOS): The pioneer of same-day booking apps, HotelTonight features staff-vetted properties in more than a hundred cities around the world, with tags like Hip, Luxe, or Charming to guide your search. Expect trendy boutique hotels and even some splashy new openings—but don’t get too attached to any one spot. Deals change daily and can be reserved only from noon onward.
It seems like a new hotel opens every other day in New York City, but one nabe with a surprising dearth of places to stay is downtown’s Union Square, which hasn’t seen a debut in ten years. Enter the new 178-room Paul Vega-designed Hyatt that launched in May. The oft-delayed property—it took over five years to complete—is challenging the notion that a corporate chain can showcase the kind of edge that so many travelers lust for when they touch down in the globe’s style capital—the sort you find south of 14th Street.
The Eiffel Tower has reopened today following a two-day workers’ strike—a perfect excuse for me to start fantasizing about that next trip to Paris. Coincidentally, there’s a spate of hotel news coming out of the City of Light. Here’s a highlight reel:
In the posh 16th arrondissement, the Seine-facing Shangri-La Paris just launched a summer terrace with Eiffel Tower views. If you’re not lucky enough to be staying here, the terrace is open to the public from 5 to 11 p.m. this summer—stop in for a glass of Rosé and watch the sun sink into the horizon. The property also just opened its Garden Wing, adding 20 rooms and suites (half of which have Eiffel Tower views) and a private landscaped French garden.
Between his Craft restaurants and his role as head judge on Top Chef, Tom Colicchio is one of the food world’s biggest stars. Now he has a new title: innkeeper. At Topping Rose House, an 1842 Greek Revival mansion in Bridgehampton, New York, he oversees 22 rooms and cottages with interiors by Alexandra Champalimaud. The food, of course, takes center stage, and the locavore menu reinforces Colicchio’s passion for fresh and sustainable ingredients. His inspiration? European country inns with restaurants: “It’s all an extension of hospitality. We want this to be the place where once you’re here, it’s a warm embrace.” $$$$
What’s the easiest way to get the most out of your next hotel room? Extend your stay by arriving early and checking out late. Fortunately, hotels are making it easier for you to hold onto that room key as long as possible.
If you’re angling for an early arrival, some properties will let you pay for the privilege. For $30, you can check in as early as 9 a.m. at Aria and the Bellagio, in Las Vegas. Guests at the Peninsula Beverly Hills get their room whenever they like and stay as late as they please—even if it’s more than 24 hours later—just by calling in advance. Similarly, Starwood’s most loyal guests (those who log 75 nights a year) can check in at any time and keep the room for a full 24 hours. Top-tier members of the GHA Discovery Program (which includes Omni Hotels and Kempinski Hotels) are rewarded with a 9 a.m. check-in when available. Even if you don’t have elite status, it never hurts to ask. Phone ahead with a polite request and you may be accommodated.
Hotel ZaZa, a Texas mini-chain of boutique hotels, retains a fleet of vehicles available to guests at their Dallas and Houston properties. The kooky lineup includes an art car, a hearse, a car with Texas longhorns mounted on the grill, and a police cruiser.
If you want to make a dramatic entrance, the ZaZas will squire you there in idiosyncratic style. No one will forget your name after you pull up to a trade show in a hearse.
Why settle for a plain old limo when you could join the ever-growing list of former teen stars slumping in the backseats of patrol cars?
Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.
For those who make a habit of frequenting the concierge desk before a day on the town, there’s a new way to tap into the local scene—no fold-out map necessary. These four hotel brands are putting the concierge in your pocket. What could be more convenient?
Conrad This all-in-one concierge app handles wake-up calls, dinner reservations, valet parking, bath amenities, and even check-in. Android, iPad, iPhone.
Hyatt When you use the tag @hyattconcierge on Twitter, you will get a response from a concierge within 15 minutes.
InterContinental Concierges from each of InterContinental’s 127 destinations package their little black books for your smartphone in an app that has tips on where to shop, what to eat, and what to pack. iPad, iPhone.
Ritz-Carlton Along with location-based suggestions for sites and activities, this app includes QR codes that unlock anything from cocktail recipes to kid-friendly scavenger hunts. Android, iPhone.
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
Our informal poll of luxury hotels found that taking one set of toiletries a day is generally acceptable—even expected. (They know us well.) But don’t be surprised if the hotel—especially a mid- or lower-tier property—cuts you off during a longer stay. if that happens, you’ll just have to dig some of that shampoo back out of your suitcase.
17: The percentage of U.S. hotel guests who admit to taking linens and towels from their rooms in a Hotels.com survey.
The 1,980-room hotel, New York City's largest, isn't the first hotel to discontinue that amenity, but it's probably the biggest. It's all part of a lodging industry trend to cut the frills and concentrate on basic service—a trend that the airlines pioneered with the introduction of controversial fees.
Around the nation and across the globe, hotels are curtailing such extras as business centers, minibars, bellhops, doormen and even traditional front desks for checking in. Yotel New York in Midtown Manhattan, for instance, asks guests to check themselves in at kiosks in the hotel's "Ground Control." And if their rooms aren't ready, Yotel's guests check their suitcases with a robotic baggage storage system.