By Peter Terzian
July 10, 2019
Courtesy of Palacio del Inka

If a single word could be used to sum up the best urban hotels of Central and South America, that word might be grandeur. These properties often repurpose existing buildings, both secular and spiritual. The Sofitel Legend Santa Clara (No. 3) in Cartagena, Colombia, occupies a 17th-century monastery, complete with confessionals, a chapel, and crypts that all featured in a Gabriel García Márquez novel. (The rooms, however, embody contemporary colonial luxury.) The Belmond Hotel Monasterio (No. 8) in Cuzco, Peru, is housed in a 1592 monastery, with cloistered wings that embrace a lush courtyard, and a top-notch collection of 18th-century religious artwork. Casa Gangotena (No. 5) in Quito, Ecuador, fills a sumptuous mansion that borders the San Roque neighborhood’s San Francisco square. And the Belmond Copacabana Palace (No. 10) in Rio de Janeiro evokes all the splendor and elegance of the city’s classic beachfront hotels — you almost expect to stumble across Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the lobby.

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 ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

T+L readers singled out many of these properties for their superb service. “We were a multigenerational family group visiting for my parents' 40th wedding anniversary,” one voter wrote of Hotel Casa San Agustín (No. 2), in Cartagena. “We have two young children, and I was worried that the hotel would be too posh for them, but everyone was wonderful with the children. It was an incredible family vacation.”

Scroll down to see which hotel — a stunner in Peru — captured the top spot.

10. Belmond Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro

Courtesy of Belmond Copacabana Palace

Score: 90.78

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9. Hotel B, Lima, Peru

Courtesy of Hotel B

Score: 90.80

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8. Belmond Hotel Monasterio, Cuzco, Peru

Courtesy of Belmond Hotel Monasterio

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 90.82

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7. Four Seasons Hotel Bogotá, Colombia

Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Bogotá

Score: 91.53

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6. The Ritz-Carlton, Santiago, Santiago, Chile

Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Santiago

Score: 92.00

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5. Casa Gangotena, Quito, Ecuador

Courtesy of Casa Gangotena

Score: 92.63

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4. Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, Cuzco, Peru

Courtesy of Belmond

Score: 93.76

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3. Sofitel Legend Santa Clara, Cartagena, Colombia

Courtesy of Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Caratgena

Score: 93.82

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2. Hotel Casa San Agustin, Cartagena, Colombia

Courtesy of Hotel Casa San Agustín

Score: 95.03

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1. Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Cuzco, Peru

Courtesy of Palacio del Inka

Score: 95.59

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Located in the heart of Cuzco, just across from the Temple of the Sun, this luxe property has a magnificence befitting its setting. The 203-room hotel is housed in a 500-year-old mansion, with furnishings and paintings that reflect the rich culture and history of the region. Its Inti Raymi restaurant draws upon the region’s complex tapestry of flavors — as does the on-site Andes Spirit Spa, which incorporates native ingredients and traditions into its therapies.

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2019.