Only one Australian hotel named in top 50 list

The process by which World’s 50 Best compiles its rankings is based on the first-person experience of 580 jurors assigned to their roles by regional division heads called academy chairs. These jurors each file votes for the top seven hotels, in order of preference, that they have stayed in over the past 24 months (in future iterations of the list the window will shrink to 18 months). Jurors can work within the industry as hoteliers, staff, travel agents or journalists – including those who are typically hosted for free on press trips and familiarisation trips – or be deemed experts simply for having a particularly itinerant lifestyle.

In addition to the 50 best hotels, special awards were given to six properties: among them, Soneva Fushi in the Maldives was named Lost Explorer Best Beach Hotel (the best hotel within 20 metres of a beach) and Capella Bangkok was distinguished as the Nikka Best New Hotel, a recognition of the top-ranking hotel that opened during the inaugural two-year voting window, from May 2021 to May 2023.

The Calile was designed by architects Richards and Spence, who blended 1950s design with elements of brutalism.

The Calile was designed by architects Richards and Spence, who blended 1950s design with elements of brutalism.Credit: Sean Fennessy

William Drew, director of content at William Reed, said despite the ongoing effects of the pandemic still being felt throughout the travel industry, with some countries experiencing a late start to borders reopening, he had faith in the system.

“I’m confident that it’s pretty even-handed and that the parts of the world that were slower to come out of lockdowns have caught up a bit because of pent-up demand,” said Drew. And indeed, Asia performed spectacularly.

But geographic diversity was a challenge. Drew said a strong emphasis was placed on establishing a jury with geographical diversity, to ensure that the list had the potential to reflect the entire globe and not just the major capitals that see the largest number of international visitors. Yet he conceded this was a tall order.

“It’s never going to be a perfect, entirely equitable system. It’s not possible to do that. This is the best we can make it.”

The world’s top-ranked hotel Passalacqua sits on the serene shores of Lake Como.

The world’s top-ranked hotel Passalacqua sits on the serene shores of Lake Como.Credit: Ruben Ortiz

The academy chair position for the Oceania region, which includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, is helmed by Melbourne-based food and travel critic Michael Harden, however it’s not known how many of the 580 jurors voting in the awards are Australian or Oceania-based.

Other comparable annual hotel rankings have exhibited varying degrees of interest for Australian stays. US-owned Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards for 2023 didn’t feature a single Australian accommodation in its top 100. While Condé Nast’s 2022 Best Hotels in the World Reader’s Choice list featured three Australian hotels in the top 50: The Tasman, Hobart (No.21), The Calile Hotel, Brisbane (No.23), and COMO The Treasury, Perth (No.34).

The World’s 50 Best lists have drawn widespread criticism for their lack of diversity, as well as being accused of favouring European venues. Measures have been taken to address some of these shortfalls, including mandating a 50/50 gender balance among jurors.

The 2023 World’s 50 Best Restaurants list saw Australia experience its worst outcome in the history of the awards, with Australian restaurants completely dropping off the top 100 rankings. Food critic for this masthead Callan Boys condemned the snub at the time, attributing Australia’s poor outcome in the awards on the “tyranny of distance”, and a judging system weighted to the northern hemisphere.

The World’s 50 Best Hotels for 2023

1. Passalacqua, Lake Como, Italy
2. Rosewood Hong Kong
3. Four Seasons Chao Praya River, Bangkok
4. The Upper House, Hong Kong
5. Aman Tokyo
6. La Mamounia, Marrakesh, Morocco
7. Soneva Fushi, Maldives
8. One & Only Mandarina, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
9. Four Seasons Firenze, Italy
10. Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
11. Capella Bangkok (Nikka Best New Hotel Award)
12. The Calile, Brisbane
13. Chablé Yucatan, Chocolá, Mexico
14. Aman Venice
15. Singita Lodges Kruger National Park (Flor de Caña Eco Hotel Award)
16. Claridge’s, London
17. Raffles Singapore
18. Nihi Sumba, Indonesia
19. Hotel Esencia, Tulum, Mexico
20. La Sirenuse, Positano, Italy
21. Borgo Egnazia, Savalletri, Italy
22. The Connaught, London
23. Royal Mansour, Marrakesh, Morocco
24. Four Seasons Madrid
25. Aman New York
26. Maybourne Riviera, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France
27. Rosewood Sao Paolo
28. Capella Singapore
29. Le Bristol, Paris
30. Park Hyatt Kyoto
31. La Reserve, Paris
32. Gleneagles, Auchterarder, Scotland
33. Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, Antibes, France
34. Cheval Blanc, Paris
35. Four Seasons Astir Palace, Athens
36. Soneva Jani, Maldives
37. The Newt, Bruton, UK (Best Boutique Hotel Award)
38. Amangalla, Sri Lanka
39. Hoshinoya Tokyo
40. Desa Potato Head, Bali
41. Eden Rock, St. Barth
42. The Siam, Bangkok
43. Badrutt’s Palace, St. Moritz, Switzerland
44. Atlantis The Royal, Dubai
45. Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, India
46. Nomad London
47. The Savoy, London
48. Equinox New York
49. Six Senses Ibiza
50. Hôtel de Crillon, Paris

with Bloomberg