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Once again, we find ourselves confused by a World's Best list from Travel + Leisure. The magazine has just released its 2011 T+L 500 guide which always makes us giddy as we love seeing which hotels are hot and which are not. But when we noticed that the best hotel in Los Angeles is the Hotel Bel-Air, it felt like someone popped the pretty balloon we had been holding. And then knocked over our ice cream too.
That's because the Hotel Bel-Air has been closed for over a year for extensive renovations. It is not expected to reopen until July.
So, how did this happen? According to T+L, the 2011 T+L 500 guide is "based on 2010 World's Best Awards readers' survey results. As part of the survey, Travel + Leisure readers rated hotels on several characteristics including rooms/facilities, location, service, restaurants/food, and value."
So this must mean that T+L readers are voting based on their pre-2010 experiences at the hotel. And we're not so sure that those experiences are ones we'd like to have.
The list-makers at Travel + Leisure don't strictly cater to single jetsetting types. There's an active sect of family travelers out there, and those that don't consider Disneyland the Alpha-Omega of getaways. Sorry, Mickey.
Their survey of the "World's Best Hotels and Cruises for Families" in the U.S. and Canada is topped by the Enchantment Resort of Sedona, Arizona (which, coincidentally, sounds Disney-esque). It's no rough-it campsite or—shudder—Comfort Suites, but a luxury resort where adults are known to enjoy playtime as much as their young counterparts.
The hotel's site explicitly tells prospective travelers not to "worry about the kids," citing activities like Camp Coyote exploration as a selling-point. The Camp is an educational program designed for kids aged 4-12, where they can partake in "scavenger hunts, outdoor games and Southwestern-inspired cooking classes," with a full day of Camp priced at $70.
Before we stayed at the Hollywood Roosevelt last week, we jotted down the property's few haunted room numbers in the hopes of avoiding them (Marilyn Monroe in 246 and Montgomery Clift in 928). Still, infamous hotel rooms aren't restricted to the ghosts of Hollywood; they're to be found all around the world, and Travel + Leisure wants to direct you to their list of the Most Notorious Hotel Rooms, which features mostly US properties (with one exception for Michael Jackson).
Mimicking previous lists like the truly international one from AskMen, the T+L rundown is entertaining, but a bit weakwhere is the Lorraine Hotel where Martin Luther King Jr was murdered, or room 552 at Edinburgh's Balmoral Hotel where JK Rowling wrote?
And we thought the Telegraph's Best 50 Cozy Hotels had us dizzy this morning. Travel and Leisure has released their annual T+L 500 list for 2009. We are always a bit mystified by these lists. Are they the best hotels? Or are they the most expensive hotels?
For instance, take a look at the New York City winners. These are old-school luxury hotels. Granted, we love The Carlyle so much we want to die there but this list just reads like the phonebook for luxury hotels in the city. It's as if some rich man asked his butler for hotels in New York that cost more than $400 a night. Are they great hotels? Sure. But do you really want to just stay at a hotel because it's the most expensive? Ok, maybe those of you who didn't invest your money with Bernie Madoff do but we know of a few gems in the Big Apple that don't cost that much.
As far as the top 25 hotels in the world, anyone looking for a luxury hotel in India or a luxury safari hotel in Africa will like this list. And anyone who is a loyal follower of Oberoi Hotels and Peninsula Hotels which each have three hotels in the top 25 list alone.
Another group that will like the 500 list? The Dorchester Collection. Six out of the seven hotels in it's portfolio made the list. Same goes for the Ritz-Carltons and Four Seasons around the world. The list is more than peppered with these chain hotels. Different strokes for different folks, we guess.
If you're heading to Seattle this fall and looking for a cool place to stay, then consider the Inn at the Market, a small boutique hotel located right at Pike's Place Market. The Inn at the Market was the only Seattle hotel on T+L's Top 100 World's Best Hotels 2008 list and we can see why.
From fantastic views from nearly anywhere in the hotel--city skylines, gardens, waterfront, Pike's Place, and on and on--to the intimacy of a home base with only 70 guests rooms we suddenly can't imagine staying anywhere else.
[Ed Note: Alex Salkever is the editor and founder of Hawaiirama, a Hawaii travel blog.]
Hotels in Aloha Land have long been perennial placeholders on Travel + Leisure's annual World's Best Awards.
Rinse, repeat in 2008 but hold the coconut, surfer boy. Things may not be as glossy as they seem: several Hawaii hotels returning to the uber list actually declined in rankings.
The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, on the Big Island, ranked No. 27, down from No. 9 in 2007 -- perhaps showing its relative age?
Maui, Kauai and the Big Island were all named to the list of the World's Top 10 Islands, returning to the list, but Maui and Kauai both declined a place in the rankings, leaving only the Big Island ascendant.
So, listen, Travel + Leisure readers: we have a bone to pick with you. You seem to think quite highly of the Hotel Bel-Air, and frankly, we're not quite getting it.
See, not only did you rank the hotel #1 in Los Angeles in the World's Best Awards, but you also seem to think it is among one of the top three hotels in the United States. Really, though?
Look, we get that the grounds are gorgeous and all, but we don't sleep outside. The hotel's interior is where we spend the most time. We sleep in the rooms and eat in the dining room, you know?
All we're saying is that last time we were there, things looked a wee bit, well, to put it delicately: in need of an update.
Travel+Leisure just released its "It List 2008: The Top 30 New Hotels in the World" and overall it's pretty feh. Some of the selections are just downright obvious, like the Regent Bal Harbour in Miami, London's The Connaught, Paris' Le Meurice and The Plaza in New York. However, there are a few choices for which T+L editors deserve credit for venturing outside the safe zone ...
One particular standout is the Hôtel Nord-Pinus Tanger, in Tangier, Morocco. We visited Tangier recently (though we stayed a short jaunt across the Mediterranean in Tarifa, Spain--at a hostel, ahem) and the destination hardly struck us as something that would fall on any travel editor's radar, unless the next travel trend is constantly being harassed by guys selling Moroccan tchotchkes.
T+L says Tangier is "fast recapturing the glamour of its glory days," and with the opening of this riad, "the Old Town finally has the chic little inn it deserves." The hotel possesses just one double room and four suites, which are decorated with bronze, marble and Indian silks. During high season, the prices start at about $440, which includes breakfast, dinner and shuttle to the airport.
Yesterday we wondered if Travel+Leisure had made a mistake when they deemed the Four Seasons Sydney the #1 hotel in Australia when clearly The Observatory Hotel had achieved a higher score of 87.41 to the Four Season's 86.93.
Today we have our answer from T+L:
You're right - the Observatory Hotel in Sydney is, in fact, the number one hotel in Australia in the T+L 500 2008. We've updated the list on www.travelandleisure.com/tl500 so the correct information is available online.
To be honest, both hotels are deserving of the #1 spot. After all, the ranking scores are very close. But in the end, it depends on what you prefer. The Four Seasons rises up in the Sydney skyline to give you killer views of the opera house and the Harbour. It's also located just near Circular Quay, the central business district and the Rocks, a shopping and bar area on George Street.
The Observatory is a smaller hotel on a quiet street and has an older feel but it also has the best service we have ever encountered in a hotel. Aside from the famous high tea, not to be missed at the Observatory is the Day Spa and the large indoor pool with a domed ceiling painted to resemble a Southern Hemisphere sky "filled with twinkling stars."
[Photo: Charlie Brewer]
Travel + Leisure has put out yet another list of best hotels--this time it's the World's Best 500 Hotels for 2008 compiled by the mag's "global team of reporters and editors" from the results of the their World's Best survey.
Predictably, the lists is filled with Ritz-Carltons, Four Seasons, Peninsulas and Mandarin Oriental Hotels, although there are some small gems listed throughout.
However, there appears to be a mistake in the best hotels in Australia. In the hard copy of the magazine, T+L has listed the Four Seasons Sydney as the #1 ranked hotel in all of Down Under placing a special #1 logo next to the hotel description. But the Four Seasons only had a score of 86.93. They were actually beat out by one of our fave hotels--The Observatory Hotel (an Orient-Express hotel) which scored an 87.41. So why wasn't the Observatory listed as #1?
We've sent an email to T+L about this asking whether it was an editorial mistake or if there was some other unseen reason why Four Seasons beat out the Observatory and we're awaiting an answer.
We actually walked around the Four Seasons on our trip to Sydney last year and while it's a great luxury hotel in a great location near Circular Quay, it's also a massive building popular amongst business travelers. It just felt a little too hectic for us. We much preferred the peace and quiet and personalized service of the Observatory Hotel.