From Tokyo to Texas, the Forbes travel guide’s new five-star hotels for 2021
TRavel came to a halt when the pandemic struck last year. Planes, trains and cruise ships gutted. Crowds have deserted tourist attractions like the canals of Venice, the Louvre and the Empire State Building. Most of the world has curled up at home, waiting for conditions to improve.
The global rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine offers some hope for 2021, allowing crazed and grounded travelers to start planning their next getaway. To help inspire these next adventures, Forbes Travel Guide presents its 2021 Star Awards for the world’s best luxury hotels, restaurants and spas.
The 63rd annual list includes 283 five-star hotels, 576 four-star hotels and 438 recommended hotels; 73 five-star restaurants, 136 four-star and 77 recommended restaurants; and 90 five-star spas and 200 four-star spas around the world. (The winners were interviewed both before the pandemic and after regional restrictions allowed FTG’s incognito reviewers to surrender.)
To assess properties, Forbes Travel Guide inspectors stay at each hotel for three days and two nights, posing as repeat customers and paying their own fare. They test up to 900 objective and stringent standards, from today’s luxuries, as if a room is set up to improve sleep, and food and drink choices are health-conscious, to more traditional luxuries, like the quality of the interior decoration and the design of the staff uniforms.
Even in the midst of a global pandemic, service remains paramount. It is more important than ever that establishments show the utmost respect for the well-being of their guests: 75% of a hotel’s rating is based on its service and the sincere attention and attention of staff, while 25% are determined by the quality of its facilities. .
When you’re ready to travel again, whether it’s for a distant getaway or a low-key stay, settle into one of the world’s finest hotels. Check out the full list of star-rated properties here and learn more about the latest additions to the collection below.
Tokyo rises to the top
Before the spread of Covid-19, Tokyo was preparing to host the 2020 Olympics, building stadiums, strengthening its infrastructure and improving its hotels. While the Games were ultimately postponed, the metropolis’ luxury hotels were still going for gold – Tokyo has won more new five-star hotels than any other city on our list.
The four 2021 newcomers are The Capitol Hotel Tokyu, a property with authentic Japanese decor that celebrated its 10th anniversary last year; The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, A Luxury Collection Hotel, a contemporary retreat where every room overlooks the city; The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo, which floats atop a 53-story skyscraper in the buzz of Roppongi; and Takanawa Hanakohro, an intimate 16-room ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) surrounded by a five acre Japanese garden with 230 cherry trees and 16 types of flowers.
North America celebrates its first victories
Five North American cities have hosted their first five-star hotels, including the Emerald City. The Four Seasons Hotel Seattle won the first major honor in Washington State; Located across from the Seattle Art Museum, the downtown favorite overlooks the Olympic Mountains, the Seattle Ferris Wheel, and Puget Sound (drink from the view from the patio next to the heated infinity pool and fireplace). The four-star spa treatments incorporate Pacific Northwest ingredients like juniper, cedar, and ground coffee beans, though guests can also order a steaming cup of coffee from the hotel concierge.
The Post Oak Hotel in Uptown Houston brings a dose of five-star opulence to Texas. It’s home to the state’s only five-star spa, as well as a multi-million dollar art collection with works by Frank Stella, Robert Motherwell and more, not to mention a private helipad. The garden-inspired Bloom & Bee restaurant makes a lovely Instagram shot with its blown glass flower ceiling and hot pink seating.
In Hilton Head, South Carolina, Montage Palmetto Bluff was designed for those languid days of the Lowcountry where all you want to do is sit in the shade of your cabin’s screened porch. But there is a lot to attract visitors to the outside world. A riverside location offers plenty of water activities, as well as a nature reserve and Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course.
In the City of Brotherly Love, the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center and its crystal-filled spa debuted in 2019 in a 60-story tower. Both offer stunning views, whether you toast in the high-level bar run by Jean-Georges Vongerichten or swim in the indoor pool on the 57th floor. In addition, each room offers a floor-to-ceiling view of the city.
The Four Seasons Montreal hotel and its soothing spa also won double the inaugural five-star honors. The modern hotel sports an elegant black glass facade and debuted in Montreal’s Golden Square Mile in 2019. It is home to celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s first Canadian outpost, Marcus Restaurant + Terrace.
Bali sees stars
Two new entries join the ranks of the five stars of Bali. The St. Regis Bali Resort features spectacular suites and villas that stand out as enchanting oases with private pools, gazebos and Balinese decorative touches. Other great amenities include a nearly 40,000 square foot saltwater swimming lagoon, a butterfly-themed spa set on a koi pond, and butler service for all guests.
Mulia – Nusa Dua, Bali has the island’s longest and most stunning oceanfront infinity pool, lined with 6-meter-tall statues of women holding sheaves of rice, a symbol of prosperity. The all-suite resort also offers a 20-room four-star spa with bespoke treatments and some of the best dining on the island.
Scotland is turning a corner
Scotland landed its first five-star hotel with The Balmoral, a Rocco Forte hotel in Edinburgh.
In the stately 1902 castle-like building, visitors are immersed in an all-Scottish experience, complete with kilted doormen, a Gaelic Poet in Residence, a bar offering over 500 single malt whiskeys and the must-see Number One restaurant. , which serves modern Scottish cuisine.
Los Cabos reinforces its luxury status
Mexico’s popular luxury sun and sand destination adds sister properties Chileno Bay Resort & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection and Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection to its five-star lineup. These siblings, however, have their differences. Chileno Bay offers a more modern and sensual atmosphere and is home to one of Cabo’s few bathing beaches. Its Baja-influenced spa also received a new five-star rating.
Meanwhile, the elder Esperanza is the only private resort in Los Cabos. Its cliffside setting provides a spectacular backdrop, especially when dining at Cocina del Mar, a multi-level seafood restaurant set on a rocky promontory. Not to be outdone by her little sister, Esperanza has a spa topped with a palapa that is a five-star recipient.
Other notable winners
As the Turkish landmark Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul celebrates its 30th anniversary under the Kempinski flag, it also marks its entry into the five-star echelon. But its history goes even deeper: the old palace of the Sultan dates back to the 17th century. Today you can live like a king in the large 310-room estate. And don’t miss the vast infinity pool, which gives the illusion of swimming in the Bosphorus. A waterfront hotel in the capital of the United Arab Emirates also won the top prize. At the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi’s Mediterranean architecture blends into the pristine six-mile expanse of sand. And beyond the beach, there’s the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, a kids’ club, and six restaurants.
Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing and its stylish spa both won the coveted accolade. The 73-room boutique hotel contains some of Beijing’s largest accommodations, but you won’t want to miss the expansive rooftop garden terrace, which offers incredible views of the Forbidden City.
In the United States, the St. Regis San Francisco, a newly revamped destination for art lovers, has been upgraded to five stars. Not only is the property home to the African Diaspora Museum and is located adjacent to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, but it also has its own collection of works by local artists. Each bedroom’s desk features a Californian landscape by famous photographer Ansel Adams under smoked glass.
And Montage Deer Valley in Utah is a five-star paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. During the snow season, the mountain retreat draws them in with ski-in / ski-out access and the cozy and rustic Après Lounge serving Veuve Clicquot and caviar. When the weather warms, activities shift to mountain biking, fly fishing and hiking.