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This year's World's Best Awards survey was open for voting January 11 through May 10, 2021, as destinations around the world were lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Survey rules have always allowed readers to reflect on their travel experiences over a three year period. We hope that this year's honorees will inspire your own travels as you get back out into the world.

Even as Italy's borders were closed for much of the past year and a half, travelers' love never wavered. And now they are returning in full force to its coastal regions, stunning lakes, and grand countryside. And these visits naturally involve stays at some of the best hotels, including cliffside retreats, grand lakefront palazzos, and Tuscan estates.

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.

Exterior view over lake at Il Sereno Lago di Como
Credit: Courtesy of Il Sereno Lago di Como

Amalfi's sparkling coast nabbed three spots on this year's list. With terraced gardens, multicolored cliff-hugging towns, fragrant lemon trees, and an azure sea dotted with boats, it's no wonder this picturesque southern region also has some of the best hotels. Caruso, a Belmond Hotel, in charming Ravello, took fifth place. "This is a truly romantic place with stunning views and an easy walk to the village," said one voter. The sixth spot went to Il San Pietro di Positano, an "extraordinary hotel built into the side of a mountain," according to one guest.

Some crave less of a scene, and their favorite hotels can often be found along other waterfronts, such as the northwestern coast in Liguria. "A stunning hotel in the Italian Riviera," one reader said about Grand Hotel Miramare, which captured the No. 10 spot. "The area is beautiful and a great alternative to the Amalfi Coast and French Riviera."

The property that snagged this year's No. 1 spot may not be coastal, but it's found along the shores of another popular waterfront destination: Lake Como. Read on to see what readers thought made Il Sereno Lago di Como so special, and which other spots joined it on this year's list of the best resort hotels in Italy. 

1. Il Sereno Lago di Como, Torno

Exterior view of Il Sereno Lago di Como
Credit: Augusta Leigh/Courtesy of Il Sereno Lago di Como

"A breath of fresh air in old Lake Como," according to one voter, this hotel, which boasts a sleek design by Patricia Urquiola, brought contemporary style to the shores of the storied destination when it opened in 2016. Rooms feature expanses of hardwood, marble, and, of course, floor-to-ceiling windows for views of the water. The hotel has three custom Riva boats at guests' disposal, as well as two Jettos and Urquiola's take on a Vaporina del Lago, the classic Lake Como watercraft. Voters appreciated the accommodating staff, and one reader wrote that it's the "perfect hotel for a relaxing stay."

Score: 98.50
More information: serenohotels.com

2. Hotel Il Pellicano, Porto Ercole

Breakfast in the the terrace of the Cormoran master bedroom at Hotel Il Pellicano in Porto Ercole
Credit: Stefano Scatà/Courtesy of Hotel Il Pellicano

Score: 98.32
More information: hotelilpellicano.com

3. Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, Sorrento

Living room view at Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria
Credit: Roberto Bonardi/Courtesy of Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria

Score: 97.71
More information: exvitt.it

4. Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como

Lake Como Suite Penthouse Bedroom at Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como
Credit: Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

Score: 96.24
More information: mandarinoriental.com

5. Caruso, a Belmond Hotel, Ravello

Table and chairs looking out from Belmond Hotel Caruso
Credit: Courtesy of Belmond

Score: 95.98
More information: belmond.com

6.  Il San Pietro di Positano

Looking out from Il San Pietro di Positano
Credit: Courtesy of Il San Pietro di Positano

Score: 95.87
More information: ilsanpietro.com

7. Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como

Lake View Prestige Room at Grand Hotel Tremezzo
Credit: Roberto Bonardi/Courtesy of Grand Hotel Tremezzo

Score: 95.61
More information: grandhoteltremezzo.com

8. Castello di Casole, a Belmond Hotel, Casole d'Elsa

Aerial view of Belmond Castello di Casole
Credit: Tyson Sadlo/Courtesy of Belmond

Score: 95.58
More information: belmond.com

9. Splendido Mare, a Belmond Hotel, Portofino

Table looking over the water at Belmond Splendido Mare
Credit: Courtesy of Belmond

Score: 95.35
More information: belmond.com

10. Grand Hotel Miramare, Santa Margherita Ligure

Exterior view of Grand Hotel Miramare
Credit: Courtesy of Grand Hotel Miramare

Score: 94.44
More information: grandhotelmiramare.it

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2021.