Luxury brand

What Are The World’s Best Luxury Hotel Brands?

What Are The World’s Best Luxury Hotel Brands?
Want to receive extra benefits for stays at virtually any luxury hotel brand, including a room upgrade, complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, and more? Contact [email protected] for more
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Here’s a fun topic that I’ll share my thoughts on, and then I’m curious to hear how OMAAT readers feel — what are the best luxury hotel brands in the world? It goes without saying that there’s no right answer as to what the best hotel groups are, given that it really is dependent on the specific property and what you’re into.

Below I figured I’d share my overall impressions of major luxury hotel groups, and I’ll put them into three categories:

  • Major hotel groups that belong to major loyalty programs, which you can book with points
  • Major hotel groups that you can’t book with points; while this is arbitrary, I’ll define “major” as hotel groups with 15 or more properties
  • Boutique hotel groups that you can’t book with points; once again this is arbitrary, but Ill define “boutique” as hotel groups with fewer than 15 properties

Why am I splitting up major and boutique hotel groups in this way? Well, because I think it’s difficult to compare the overall offerings of Four Seasons to Cheval Blanc, for example, since they have totally different footprints.

Hotel brand consistency is a problem

The challenge with ranking the world’s best luxury hotel groups is that there’s huge variance in terms of quality between properties. Generally speaking:

  • A city hotel may offer a totally different experience than a secluded resort
  • Geography can greatly impact hotel quality — hotels are better in Asia than in the United States, for example
  • A hotel may be significantly different based on whether it’s a converted property from another brand, or a new build
  • The competitiveness of a hotel market also impacts how hard some hotels choose to try

Just to give an example, while the Four Seasons Miami Brickell is a perfectly nice city hotel…

Four Seasons Miami Brickell

…it would give you a very different impression of the brand than the Four Seasons Surfside, for example.

Four Seasons Surfside

Before I share my rankings, let me also note that I’m only including brands I’ve stayed at. Admittedly even that makes it tough to rank hotels, since it’s possible I’ve stayed at the best hotel of a brand, or the worst hotel. But I’ll try to take a hybrid approach here, and rank based on my actual experience at a hotel, combined with my overall impression of the brand’s portfolio and service based on everything I know.

Best luxury hotel brands bookable with points

I have six favorite major luxury hotel brands that can be booked with points. Given the points angle here, I think it’s only fair to consider elite recognition and loyalty perks, since this can play a major role. With that in mind, here’s my ranking:

1. Park Hyatt

For me, Park Hyatt strikes the perfect balance between luxury and incredible loyalty participation (including great elite recognition). Not only do I love the (typically) minimalist decor of Park Hyatt properties, but you really get the best of both worlds thanks to World of Hyatt — as a Globalist member you can use a suite upgrade award to confirm an upgrade an advance, you receive complimentary breakfast, etc.

I’m always excited when I see there’s a Park Hyatt at the destination I’m traveling to. Admittedly not all Park Hyatts are created equal, as there’s a difference between the Park Hyatt Paris and the Park Hyatt Hamburg. In general Park Hyatt’s city hotels are also much better than the resorts, which is a downside of the brand, in my opinion.

If you’re booking a paid stay at a Park Hyatt, I’d recommend doing so through the Hyatt Privé program, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a $100 hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme

2. Waldorf Astoria

The Waldorf Astoria brand has really grown on me. This is Hilton Honors’ most premium brand, and I’ve had consistently exceptional experiences, from Amsterdam, to Beverly Hills, to Dubai, to Los Cabos, to the Maldives.

Best of all, as a Hilton Honors Diamond or Hilton Honors Gold member, all elite perks are honored at these properties. This status is also really easy to earn with credit cards.

If you’re booking a paid stay at a Waldorf Astoria, I’d recommend doing so through the Hilton Impresario program, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a $100 hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

3. St. Regis

St. Regis is my favorite luxury hotel brand belonging to Marriott Bonvoy. For the most part I’ve had excellent experiences at St. Regis properties, from resorts to city hotels. Best of all, St. Regis is the only “true” luxury Marriott brand where Marriott Bonvoy Platinum members receive perks like complimentary breakfast, suite upgrades (including the ability to use suite night awards), and more. I’ll almost always seek out a St. Regis over a Ritz-Carlton, for example.

If you’re booking a paid stay at a St. Regis, I’d recommend doing so through the Marriott STARS program, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a $100 hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

St. Regis Maldives

4. Alila

Alila is one of Hyatt’s newer hotel brands, and it has a focus on nature. So far Alila only has three properties in the United States (all in California), though I appreciate the World of Hyatt connection. Alila’s biggest market is Asia, and I look forward to checking out those properties over time.

The catch is that Alila isn’t a very consistent brand. For example, Alila Ventana Big Sur is incredible, while Alila Marea Encinitas is… confusing. Alila Jabal Akhdar has an amazing location but lackluster service, while Alila Hinu Bay has amazing service but an odd location.

If you’re booking a paid stay at an Alila, I’d recommend doing so through the Hyatt Privé program, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a $100 hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Alila Ventana Big Sur

5. EDITION

EDITION is still a fairly new brand for Marriott, and it’s essentially intended to be a younger version of Ritz-Carlton. For the most part I love the EDITION properties I’ve stayed at (like the Bodrum EDITION), so why isn’t EDITION ranking higher for me?

Well, because EDITION hotels only offer limited perks to Bonvoy elite members. I’ll stay at EDITION properties if I love them, but I don’t otherwise go out of my way to stay at them, because there’s not much of a loyalty program angle for doing so.

If you’re booking a paid stay at an EDITION, I’d recommend doing so through the Marriott STARS program, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a $100 hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Bodrum EDITION

6. Ritz-Carlton

To me Ritz-Carlton is a brand that has almost no standards. Many Ritz-Carltons outside the United States are phenomenal (like Hong Kong and Tokyo), though there’s also a lot I don’t like about Ritz-Carlton:

If you’re booking a paid stay at a Ritz-Carlton, I’d recommend doing so through the Marriott STARS program, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a $100 hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Ritz-Carlton Tokyo

Best major non-points luxury hotel brands

I have seven favorite major luxury hotel brands that aren’t bookable with major points currencies. This list is less about value, and more about which properties offer the all around best experiences, and deliver on their promises. Note that this list is limited to hotel groups with 15 or more properties. I should also mention that I’ve never stayed at a One&Only or Montage property, which is why those brands aren’t on the list.

With that in mind, here are my favorite major luxury hotel groups:

1. Four Seasons

Four Seasons is brand that has grown on me a lot in recent years. It’s like a better version of Ritz-Carlton — sure, not all Four Seasons properties are amazing physically, but:

  • Service is consistently exceptional, and you don’t deal with the annoyances you might experience at other hotel groups
  • Four Seasons doesn’t nickel-and-dime; for example, Four Seasons’ Hawaii properties don’t have resort fees, Four Seasons properties often have complimentary coffee in the lobby in the morning, etc.
  • Four Seasons is expanding at a fast pace, and has some beautifully restored historic properties with an amazing sense of place (like the Four Seasons Madrid), with many more amazing properties in the pipeline (like the Four Seasons Belize Caye Chapel)

For me the Four Seasons brand is very much trending upwards, unlike Aman (which I’ll get into below).

If you’re booking a stay at a Four Seasons, I’d recommend doing so through the Four Seasons Preferred Partner program, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a $100 hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Four Seasons Madrid

2. Rosewood

Rosewood is a brand to watch, as it’s growing at an extremely fast pace. Rosewood is not only doing an amazing job with its new city hotels, but it’s also opening some awesome resorts. I’d say Rosewood is quickly becoming Four Seasons’ biggest competitor. The catch is that I find that Rosewood isn’t as consistently good with service as Four Seasons.

If you’re booking a stay at a Rosewood, I’d recommend doing so through the Rosewood Elite program, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Rosewood Las Ventanas al Paraiso

3. Mandarin Oriental

Mandarin Oriental is another brand that’s growing nicely. I’d say Mandarin Oriental is strongest with city hotels, and there are many cities where Mandarin Oriental (almost) unarguably has the best hotel. But the group also has some fantastic resorts.

The catch is that there’s a bit of inconsistency with Mandarin Oriental’s portfolio, so not all hotels are created equal. Then again, that’s just true with most brands.

If you’re booking a stay at a Mandarin Oriental, I’d recommend doing so through the Mandarin Oriental Fan Club, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a $100 hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Mandarin Oriental Barcelona

4. Belmond

While the Belmond brand isn’t expanding as fast as some other luxury hotel groups, there’s no denying that Belmond has some incredible, historic, old-world properties. Belmond has properties in Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia. The brand’s most famous hotels are probably in Europe, and include properties like Hotel Cipriani, Hotel Splendido, Villa San Michele, and more. You won’t find luxury hotels with more charm and more of a sense of place than these.

If you’re booking a stay at a Belmond, I’d recommend doing so through the Belmond Bellini Club program, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Belmond Hotel Splendido Portofino

5. Six Senses

Six Senses was acquired by IHG back in 2019, though the resorts are only very slowly being integrated into the IHG One Rewards portfolio (hopefully I can eventually put Six Senses under the “points” section of these lists).

There’s a lot to love about Six Senses, as the group is opening hotels in all kinds of awesome remote destinations where other hotel groups wouldn’t even try. In many ways Six Senses’ current expansion reminds me of what Aman used to be. The brand is also all about nature, and in general that’s something I love.

If there were a downside to the brand, it’s that I personally don’t love the decor. It feels a bit too Flintstones-esque to me. But that’s a small price to pay for the places Six Senses has properties.

If you’re booking a stay at a Six Senses, I’d recommend doing so through the Virtuoso program, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Six Senses Shaharut Israel

6. Aman

I used to rank Aman as my favorite luxury hotel group, but I simply can’t do that anymore in good conscience. In the past I absolutely adored Aman. While the hotels are expensive, they really tried to deliver a special experience with boutique properties that were unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere.

Those properties still exist, and some are fantastic and worth visiting. However, ever since Aman’s ownership change, the soul of the company has changed as well. Aman used to open properties in the middle of nowhere, where other hotel brands wouldn’t dare build. Now Aman’s upcoming developments are in Bangkok, Los Cabos, Miami, New York, and Saudi Arabia, which is hardly what the brand was initially founded for.

If you’re booking a stay at an Aman, I’d recommend doing so through the Virtuoso program, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Amanruya Bodrum

7. Shangri-La

Shangri-La has some phenomenal flagship properties (like the Shangri-La Paris), while the brand also has a lot of mid-tier properties, many of which retail for well under $200 per night. So it’s hard to say that the chain on the whole can compete with some of other brands, but there are some great properties.

Some might note that Shangri-La has its own loyalty program, and it should be included under points hotels. While that’s indeed true, the reality is that Shangri-La has few partners, and there aren’t many avenues for earning these points. So for a vast majority of OMAAT readers, I think the points angle here isn’t too compelling.

If you’re booking a stay at a Shangri-La, I’d recommend doing so through the Shangri-La Luxury Circle program, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Shangri-La Paris

Best boutique luxury hotel brands

I have five favorite boutique luxury hotel brands, which I’m defining as hotel groups with 15 or fewer properties. Just as above, this is less about value, and more about the overall experience offered. I should mention that I’ve never stayed at an Oetker Collection property, or else that would probably also be on my list.

With that in mind, here are my favorite boutique luxury hotel groups:

1. Singita

I think a safari is one of the coolest trips you can take, and to this day my most memorable trip ever was taking my dad on a safari for his “big” birthday. Singita is known for being one of the best safari companies out there, and we had an amazing experience at Singita Boulders Sabi Sands and Singita Lebombo.

What a perfect hospitality experience, and Singita has lodges in several other countries in Africa that I’d love to visit as well.

If you’re booking a stay at a Singita, I’d recommend doing so through the Virtuoso program, so you can receive perks like a hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Singita Lebombo Lodge

2. Cheval Blanc

Cheval Blanc is owned by LVMH, and offers both style and substance. Currently Cheval Blanc’s portfolio consists of five properties, and I’ve stayed at Cheval Blanc Paris and Cheval Blanc Maldives, and both were spectacular. What impresses me most about Cheval Blanc is the food & beverage focus, plus the incredible attention to detail with amenities.

If you’re booking a stay at Cheval Blanc, I’d recommend doing so through the Virtuoso program, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Cheval Blanc Paris

3. Airelles

I recently stayed at Les Airelles Courchevel, and I’m now obsessed with this hotel group. Airelles is a French hospitality brand, with a strong focus on food, wine, and service. Airelles has some pretty amazing other properties, like Airelles Château de Versailles and Airelles La Bastide de Gordes.

If you’re booking a stay at Airelles, I’d recommend doing so through the Virtuoso program, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Les Airelles Courchevel

4. Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Ritz-Carlton Reserve is a distinct brand from Ritz-Carlton, and is on a completely different level. I’ve enjoyed my stays at Zadun, the Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Los Cabos, and Dorado Beach, the Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Puerto Rico. One exciting thing is that as of recently it’s possible to earn and redeem Bonvoy points at Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties.

If you’re booking a paid stay at a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, I’d recommend doing so through the Marriott STARS program, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a $100 hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach

5. Peninsula

Peninsula has roughly a dozen hotels, with half of them being in Asia, and the rest being equally distributed between Europe (Istanbul, London, and Paris) and the United States (Beverly Hills, Chicago, and New York). Peninsula is a great brand with an awesome flexible check-in and check-out policy that you won’t find at any other hotel brand.

If you’re booking a stay at Peninsula, I’d recommend doing so through the Virtuoso program, so you can receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more.

Peninsula New York

Bottom line

There’s no right or wrong answer as to what the world’s best hotel chain is, though the above are some of my favorites. I hope breaking it down by points hotels vs. non-points hotels, plus major hotel groups vs. boutique hotel groups, makes this information a bit easier to digest.

Of course this is highly subjective, since it’s based on the properties I’ve stayed at, and there are significant differences in terms of the quality of properties. Obviously this is a huge list, but I figured it would be fun to share my thoughts and hear how OMAAT readers feel.

What are your favorite luxury hotel groups?

Want to receive extra benefits for stays at virtually any luxury hotel brand, including a room upgrade, complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, and more? Contact [email protected] for more
details. He may even be able to help if you already have a stay booked.