By Sarah Bruning
July 08, 2020

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

Sivan Askayo

Score: 96.82

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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

Courtesy of Capella Hotels, Resorts, and Spas

Score: 96.36

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3. Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

Courtesy of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

Score: 95.16

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4. Red Carnation Hotel Collection

Courtesy of Red Carnation Hotels

Score: 94.29

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5. One&Only Resorts

Courtesy of One&Only

Score: 94.22

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6. Aman

Courtesy of Aman

Score: 93.74

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7. Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas

Christopher Wise

Score: 93.66

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8. Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris

Courtesy of Taj Hotels

Score: 93.45

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9. Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas

Courtesy of Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas

Score: 93.01

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10. Rocco Forte Hotels

Courtesy of Rocco Forte Hotels

Score: 92.83

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11. Belmond

Courtesy of Belmond

Score: 92.69

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12. Inkaterra Hotels

Courtesy of Inkaterra Hotels

Score: 92.24

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13. The Peninsula Hotels

Courtesy of The Peninsula Hotels

Score: 92.22

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14. Sofitel Legend

Courtesy of Sofitel Legend

Score: 92.17

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15. Mandarin Oriental

Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

Score: 91.95

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16. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

Courtesy of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

Score: 91.43

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17. Auberge Resorts Collection

Courtesy of Auberge Resorts Collection

Score: 91.23

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18. The Luxury Collection

Courtesy of The Luxury Collection

Score: 90.69

19. Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Score: 90.57

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20. Montage Hotels & Resorts

Courtesy of Montage Hotels & Resorts

Score: 90.47

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21. Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts

Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts

Score: 89.95

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22. St. Regis

Courtesy of St. Regis

Score: 89.88

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23. Hyatt Ziva

Courtesy of Hyatt Ziva

Score: 89.79

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24. Langham Hotels & Resorts

Courtesy of Langham Hotels & Resorts

Score: 89.77

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25. Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts

Courtesy of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

Score: 89.63

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