By Sarah Bruning
July 08, 2020
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This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on Mar. 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come—whenever they may be.

The best hotel brands in the world share several qualities, but chief among them is sterling service — specifically, the ability to intuit guests' needs and desires, then execute on them flawlessly to create a truly unforgettable stay. And as luxury travelers continue to crave destination-driven experiences, T+L readers also prioritize brands whose properties marry setting, architecture, and décor into a deep sense of place.

Every year for the World’s Best Awards survey, Travel + Leisure 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. Readers rated hotel brands on their locations, rooms/facilities, food, service, and overall value.

To create a sense of hospitality, hotel brands rely heavily on their staff members, who often go above and beyond to ensure guests feel welcomed and well cared for. The storied Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, which maintains a collection of 36 properties and came in at No. 21 this year, inspired a sense of “belonging” in one traveler, who also said guests are treated “like royalty at any of their hotels.” Readers also waxed poetic about Aman, this year’s No. 6, saying the ultra-luxe brand’s 32 locations all offer an “unreal level of service” and are “worth the splurge.” Of course, achieving the highest levels of hospitality is no simple feat. In the case of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts (No. 16), one reader attributed its success to striking “the appropriate balance of execution, authentic delivery, sophistication, and luxury.”

Several reader favorites are buoyed by new additions to their portfolios. No. 3 Oberoi Hotels and Resorts and No. 15 Mandarin Oriental both opened new properties that landed on this year’s It List of best new hotels around the world. The former welcomed its new Marrakesh location — a 28-acre spread inspired by the city’s 16th-century Islamic college (Ben Youssef Madrasa) and set against a backdrop of fruit groves and the Atlas Mountains — while the latter rooted itself in Doha’s emerging Msheireb Downtown neighborhood with a modern, 158-room outpost.

But this year’s winner wrested the top spot from last year’s repeat winner — Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, which now sits at No. 7 — through a combination of consistently irreproachable service and sumptuous accommodations. Read on to find out which brand reigns supreme.

1. The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts

Credit: Sivan Askayo

Score: 96.82

More information: theleela.com

Though the brand has just nine properties, this India-based collection managed to leap from the No. 10 spot in 2019 to take this year’s No. 1 position. Perhaps Leela’s focus is one of its greatest strengths. “I love small brands like these,” wrote one reader. “They can consistently give you high-quality accommodations and service.” Of course, the allure of India might also have played a role, as travelers have long felt drawn to places like Delhi’s Red Fort and Udaipur’s Lake Pichola. Multiple people enthused that Leela's properties are in “the best locations,” which include many of India’s major tourism hubs. Cases in point: two of the brand’s hotels also secured spots on this year’s list of top 100 hotels in the world: the Leela Palace New Delhi at No. 32 and the iconic Leela Palace Udaipur at No. 19, which was also crowned this year’s top resort in India.

2. Capella Hotels & Resorts

Credit: Courtesy of Capella Hotels, Resorts, and Spas

Score: 96.36

More information: capellahotels.com

3. Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

Credit: Courtesy of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

Score: 95.16

More information: oberoihotels.com

4. Red Carnation Hotel Collection

Credit: Courtesy of Red Carnation Hotels

Score: 94.29

More information: redcarnationhotels.com

5. One&Only Resorts

Credit: Courtesy of One&Only

Score: 94.22

More information: oneandonlyresorts.com

6. Aman

Credit: Courtesy of Aman

Score: 93.74

More information: aman.com

7. Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas

Credit: Christopher Wise

Score: 93.66

More information: sixsenses.com

8. Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris

Credit: Courtesy of Taj Hotels

Score: 93.45

More information: tajhotels.com

9. Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas

Credit: Courtesy of Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas

Score: 93.01

More information: anantara.com

10. Rocco Forte Hotels

Credit: Courtesy of Rocco Forte Hotels

Score: 92.83

More information: roccofortehotels.com

11. Belmond

Credit: Courtesy of Belmond

Score: 92.69

More information: belmond.com

12. Inkaterra Hotels

Credit: Courtesy of Inkaterra Hotels

Score: 92.24

More information: inkaterra.com

13. The Peninsula Hotels

Credit: Courtesy of The Peninsula Hotels

Score: 92.22

More information: peninsula.com

14. Sofitel Legend

Credit: Courtesy of Sofitel Legend

Score: 92.17

More information: sofitel.accor.com

15. Mandarin Oriental

Credit: Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

Score: 91.95

More information: mandarinoriental.com

16. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

Credit: Courtesy of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

Score: 91.43

More information: rosewoodhotels.com

17. Auberge Resorts Collection

Credit: Courtesy of Auberge Resorts Collection

Score: 91.23

More information: aubergeresorts.com

18. The Luxury Collection

Credit: Courtesy of The Luxury Collection

Score: 90.69

19. Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

Credit: Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Score: 90.57

More information: fourseasons.com

20. Montage Hotels & Resorts

Credit: Courtesy of Montage Hotels & Resorts

Score: 90.47

More information: montagehotels.com

21. Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts

Credit: Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts

Score: 89.95

More information: hilton.com

22. St. Regis

Credit: Courtesy of St. Regis

Score: 89.88

More information: st-regis.marriott.com

23. Hyatt Ziva

Credit: Courtesy of Hyatt Ziva

Score: 89.79

More information: hyatt.com

24. Langham Hotels & Resorts

Credit: Courtesy of Langham Hotels & Resorts

Score: 89.77

More information: langhamhotels.com

25. Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts

Credit: Courtesy of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

Score: 89.63

More information: shangri-la.com

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.