The Top 10 Resort Hotels in the Midwest

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.

With vast swaths of nature reserves, forests, rivers, and lakes, the American Midwest is a dream for travelers in search of peace and serenity in the great outdoors. Each state offers a different experience, and the best hotels in the Midwest know just how to capitalize on everything the region has to offer.

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.

Deer Path Inn
Courtesy of Deer Path Inn

Hotels across Michigan made the biggest impressions on T+L readers in this year's survey. The Great Lake State dominated the list with four properties, including three on the popular summer destination of Mackinac Island: Hotel Iroquois (this year's runner-up), Grand Hotel (No. 5), and Mission Point (No. 6). "Each room is unique and beautifully decorated," said one reader of the Grand Hotel. "Nothing beats sitting in the rockers and people watching!" With its grand columned facade, horse-drawn carriages, afternoon tea service, and croquet and bocce courts, the property can feel like a portal to the past. Guests especially love the Esther Williams Swimming Pool, named after the actor and competitive swimmer who starred in the 1947 film This Time for Keeps, which was partially shot at the hotel.

Over in the Missouri's Ozarks, Big Cedar Lodge clocked in at No. 8 this year. One reader described it as "one of the most scenic places I have ever visited. The cabin-in-the-woods feel was perfect, considering the abundant nature surrounding you." Another felt that the resort is "one of a kind" for its "location overlooking the lake. The grounds and landscaping are exceptional. Rooms are beautiful and unique—and all tied to the Ozarks experience. Food is excellent. What a find."

For the third year in a row, Illinois' Deer Path Inn takes the winning spot. Continue on to find out what gives it that staying power — and for the full list of the best resort hotels in the Midwest.

1. Deer Path Inn, Lake Forest, Illinois

Deer Path Inn
Courtesy of Deer Path Inn

"The Deer Path Inn is in a class above the rest," enthused a reader about this perennial top-scoring hotel in the tony Chicago suburb of Lake Forest. "Every detail is considered for your comfort and enjoyment. Never stuffy, the inn is elegant without being overbearing. The staff is responsive and friendly." Although it's only a 40-minute drive from Chicago, it has the feel of a country retreat, with its Tudor-style facade and cozy fireplaces. The property's 2016 renovation totally reimagined its guest rooms, updating them to a palette of soothing pastels and white. One reader raved that the "exceptionally friendly service, combined with charming and cozy rooms, plus excellent food make this small hotel in the heart of a leafy suburb worth a visit."

Score: 96.50

2. Hotel Iroquois, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Hotel Iroquois
Courtesy of Hotel Iroquois

Score: 94.49

3. Inn at Bay Harbor, Autograph Collection, Bay Harbor, Michigan

Inn at Bay Harbor
Courtesy of Inn at Bay Harbor, Autograph Collection

Score: 91.34

4. Madden's on Gull Lake, Brainerd, Minnesota

Madden's on Gull Lake
Courtesy of Madden's on Gull Lake

Score: 90.13

5. Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Grand Hotel
Courtesy of Grand Hotel

Score: 89.94

6. Mission Point, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Mission Point Resort
Ilene MacDonald / Alamy Stock Photo

Score: 89.70

7. The American Club at Destination Kohler, Kohler, Wisconsin

The American Club at Destination Kohler
Courtesy of Kohler Co.

Score: 89.29

8. Big Cedar Lodge, Ridgedale, Missouri

Big Cedar Lodge
Courtesy of Big Cedar Lodge

Score: 88.48

9. The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

The Osthoff Resort
Courtesy of The Osthoff Resort

Score: 88.33

10. Sundara Inn & Spa, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Sundara Inn & Spa
Courtesy of Sundara Inn & Spa

Score: 86.21

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

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