In 1922, 24-year-old Mohan Singh Oberoi landed a job as a hotel clerk at the Cecil in Simla, India. From that position, an empire grew.
Oberoi rose to manager of the hotel’s sister property, then persuaded the British owner to sell it to him, mortgaging his wife’s jewelry to finance the deal. In 1934, his company became known as Oberoi Hotel & Resorts. Still family-run, it now encompasses 30 luxury hotels—and for the second year in a row, has been named the best hotel brand in the world by Travel + Leisure voters.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe—to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise lines, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated hotel brands on their locations, rooms/facilities, food, service, and overall value.
Midsize, specialty hotel brands won big in this year’s awards. Each of the top five brands has found its niche in a crowded landscape. Oberoi Hotels & Resorts has sumptuous palaces spread out across India and the Middle East, and Oetker Collection has a portfolio of nine grand hotels, including the Bristol in Paris and the Lanesborough in London. Aman—whose most hard-core fans call themselves Amanjunkies—is known for its sleek, minimalist havens in resort areas like Phuket and the Dominican Republic. One&Only’s five-star resorts are popular for family getaways and honeymoons, and Leela has opulent yet contemporary Indian hotels that appeal to both leisure and business travelers.
Some bigger, international hotel companies shone as well—perhaps because of their global reputations, strong loyalty programs, and sheer convenience. Four Seasons has hotels in just about every corner of the globe, as do Langham and St. Regis. “Four Seasons is truly the only brand that I know what I'm going to get regardless of the location—impeccable service with extremely comfortable rooms,” one reader wrote.