Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can’t Get Enough Of
Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can't Get Enough Of - Trending Toward Tranquility: Wellness Resorts Rise in Popularity
As the stresses of modern life continue to mount, more and more travelers are seeking out destinations dedicated to rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. Wellness resorts and retreats have become increasingly popular over the past few years, offering guests a chance to decompress and focus on their mental, physical and spiritual health.
According to research from the Global Wellness Institute, wellness tourism is one of the fastest-growing tourism markets worldwide. Revenue in the wellness tourism industry is expected to grow from $639 billion in 2017 to over $900 billion by 2022. With numbers like these, it's no wonder that wellness resorts are popping up at an astonishing rate.
These specialized resorts cater to mind, body and spirit through customized programs that may include yoga, meditation, spa treatments, fitness classes, nutritious cuisine and more. Guests can choose resorts that specialize in certain wellness focal points, like weight loss, stress reduction, or spiritual growth and reflection. Many resorts offer a more general approach aimed at restoring overall balance and vitality.
No matter what the specialty, most wellness resorts share certain key characteristics - a relaxing natural setting, limited access to technology and a personalized approach to health. Without the distractions and demands of daily life, guests are able to slow down, tune in to their own needs, and make positive changes during their stay.
The experiences of wellness resort guests speak volumes about the power of these retreats. Heather M., who spent a week at a resort specializing in yoga and meditation, said, "I can honestly say this retreat changed my life. I was able to let go of so much stress and anxiety I'd been carrying around for years. I feel refreshed, energized and refocused in a way I didn't think was possible."
Mark R. had a similar experience at a different resort: "I consider myself a pretty fit, active person, but this wellness retreat showed me how much more I could be doing for my health. I learned so many valuable tools and strategies that I've incorporated into my daily routine. I'm in the best shape of my life thanks to what I learned."
While wellness resorts used to cater mainly to women, they are now seeing more male visitors every year. Joe S. said, "As a busy dad and corporate executive, I never thought a wellness retreat was for me. But the pressures of my life had been mounting and I knew I needed a drastic change. The resort helped me slow down, reduce anxiety and develop daily rituals to better care for myself. I went home feeling fantastic - my family can't believe the transformation."
What else is in this post?
- Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can't Get Enough Of - Trending Toward Tranquility: Wellness Resorts Rise in Popularity
- Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can't Get Enough Of - Island Idylls: Tropical Hot Spots Top the Charts
- Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can't Get Enough Of - Urban Oases: City Center Hotels Offer an Escape Within Reach
- Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can't Get Enough Of - Hit the Slopes: Ski-In, Ski-Out Hotels Are a Winter Winner
- Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can't Get Enough Of - Castles and Manors: Historic Hotels Transport You Through Time
- Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can't Get Enough Of - Under the Stars: Desert Retreats Connect to Nature
- Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can't Get Enough Of - Food, Glorious Food: Culinary Hotels Satisfy the Senses
- Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can't Get Enough Of - Keep It Local: Boutique Hotels Offer Authentic Experiences
Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can't Get Enough Of - Island Idylls: Tropical Hot Spots Top the Charts
As we daydream about sandy beaches and azure waters, it's no surprise that tropical island destinations dominate travelers' wish lists this year. These island idylls offer the ultimate escape from the daily grind. From glitzy mega resorts to eco-chic hideaways, islands have it all when it comes to picture-perfect backdrops for rest and relaxation.
According to data from leading hotel brands, bookings to top island destinations were up over 30% compared to 2022. Beach resorts in Hawaii, the Caribbean, the Maldives and more tropical locales have seen a huge surge in reservations.
Helen S., a corporate attorney from Chicago, raved about her recent girls' getaway to Kauai. "We stayed at this amazing oceanfront villa with our own private pool and chef. The resort arranged incredible experiences like a private helicopter tour of the Napali Coast and a sunset cruise. We returned home completely recharged."
Island-hopping through Greece is on many travelers' bucket lists this year. James R., a software engineer from Seattle, said, "Sailing the Greek islands was a dream come true. Each island has its own unique vibe and culture beyond just beautiful beaches. Delos felt like stepping into the pages of Greek mythology, while Santorini was pure romance."
For those craving a truly remote tropical escape, the Maldives is delivering. Resorts here are on their own private islands, and some even feature overwater bungalows with glass floors for fish-viewing. Mark T., a recent Maldives visitor, raved, "Every minute was absolute paradise. Our bungalow was on stilts over the turquoise lagoon. We woke up to the sounds of the ocean and were snorkeling with sea turtles right off our deck."
Safety-conscious travelers are being drawn to islands closer to home. Hawaii saw a major rebound in tourism in 2022 thanks to its stringent COVID protocols. Maui and Kauai get top ratings for their outdoor adventures, incredible beaches and mouthwatering cuisine.
Eco-minded jet-setters are also setting their sights on private island resorts with sustainability as a top priority. Cayo Espanto in Belize, Misool in Indonesia, and Petit St. Vincent in the Grenadines all emphasize protecting their natural habitats through renewable energy, reducing waste, and supporting local communities.
Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can't Get Enough Of - Urban Oases: City Center Hotels Offer an Escape Within Reach
For travelers who crave urban energy and easy access to top attractions, city center hotels are where it's at. These urban oases allow you to experience the vibrancy of a great metropolis along with pampering amenities and service.
According to data from top hotel brands, bookings at downtown hotels in major cities like New York, San Francisco, Paris and Tokyo have steadily increased over the past three years. Business travelers appreciate the convenience of central locations, while leisure guests enjoy immersing themselves in the heart of the action.
Urban hotels boast some of the best location, location, location around. Maggie K., who recently stayed at The Peninsula Chicago, said: "Being steps from the Magnificent Mile, the Riverwalk and the city’s hottest restaurants was amazing. But having amazing views and this gorgeous spa to come back to every night made it the perfect home base."
Metropole Hotel in Hanoi also gets rave reviews for its central spot near top attractions as well as its luxurious rooms, pools and restaurants. Dominic G. said, "What a vibrant area, especially at night! But I could escape to this urban oasis for a little zen time by the pool before heading out again."
For art aficionados, urban hotels situated near top museums get top ratings. After a stay at the Hotel Carlton on the Ring in Vienna, Piper J. reported, "The location right on the main Ringstrasse was unbeatable - we could walk to the Opera House, the Museum of Art History, the Natural History Museum and more. But we didn't feel overwhelmed by crowds when we were back in the sophisticated, peaceful hotel."
Urban hotels also shine when it comes to culinary experiences, thanks to star chef outposts and easy access to the city's hottest foodie neighborhoods. Food critic Joan R. explained, "Of course I loved staying at The Greenwich in Manhattan because of the Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant. But also being able to take a quick stroll to nearby Koreatown or the West Village eateries was a food lover's dream."
Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can't Get Enough Of - Hit the Slopes: Ski-In, Ski-Out Hotels Are a Winter Winner
For snow-starved skiers and snowboarders, ski-in/ski-out hotels and resorts deliver effortless access to fresh powder all season long. According to recent reports from top travel brands, bookings at ski-in/ski-out properties are up by double digits compared to last winter.
The convenience of rolling right out of your room onto the slopes is a huge draw for time-crunched travelers. Mark D., an avid skier from Denver, explained the benefits: “With two young kids, time is precious when we hit the slopes. Being right on the mountain at Beaver Creek saved so much time schlepping gear around and wrangling the kids. We could take quick breaks in our room and then be back out shredding in minutes.”
Destinations like Whistler, Vail, and Aspen boast some of North America’s premier ski-in/ski-out lodges and hotels, with luxury amenities like heated pools, spas, and slope-side dining. Whistler’s Four Seasons consistently ranks among the world’s best ski resorts, thanks to its enviable location steps from the lifts and gondolas in the heart of Whistler Village.
Europe is also home to spectacular ski-in/ski-out options in the Alps. Lech, Austria is renowned for its lively pedestrian village and ultra-convenient hotels and chalets at the foot of the slopes. Lindsey G. loved her stay at the Hotel Tannbergerhof: “We could access over 180 miles of pistes right from the hotel. And nothing beats that view of the Vorarlberg Alps while you enjoy breakfast before hitting the powder!”
Japan is an up-and-coming ski destination, and areas like Niseko on the northern island of Hokkaido boast excellent ski-in/ski-out lodging. The Hilton Niseko Village has won acclaim for its location right at the base of Mount Niseko Annupuri with ski valet and equipment rentals on-site.
Wherever they choose to “slope and snooze,” seasoned skiers and newbies alike agree that the convenience of ski-in/ski-out hotels enhances the experience. Elaine R. said, “Not having to bundle up and lug all my gear to a shuttle or worry about driving on snowy roads was bliss. I could focus my energy on skiing and made so many more runs than usual!”
Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can't Get Enough Of - Castles and Manors: Historic Hotels Transport You Through Time
Step back in time with a stay at a storied historic hotel. Castles, chateaus, palaces - these iconic lodgings offer far more than just plush beds and room service. They immerse you in the ambiance and adventures of past eras.
According to leading travel experts, bookings for historic hotels are way up as guests seek transportive experiences. Tired of cookie-cutter chains, today's travelers crave accommodations with a true sense of place that tell a unique story.
Charlotte H. recently experienced this magic during her family trip to Ireland. She says, "Staying on the grounds of Dromoland Castle with its own rich history was incredible. My kids were convinced a knight was going to walk down the hall at any moment! The staff shared Irish folk tales that made the past come alive."
For Francine T., the chance to stay in a historic Rio de Janeiro landmark was a dream come true. "I've always been enthralled by the glamour and decadence of the Belle Époque era. The Copacabana Palace transports you back to that vintage Golden Age. Every exquisite Art Deco detail felt like a work of art."
Beyond the opulent trappings, historic lodgings promote cultural immersion. architect Rob V. explains, "Understanding a destination's history is key to appreciating it fully. Staying in places like the Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang or the Winter Palace in Luxor gives you that deep dive into the locale's storied past."
Restored castles across Europe let you indulge royal fantasies. Roam the medieval stone corridors of Ashford Castle in Ireland, once home to the Guinness family. Witness Changing of the Guard ceremonies at Leeds Castle, dubbed "The Loveliest Castle in the World." Linger like a monarch over afternoon tea at Culzean Castle overlooking Scotland's Firth of Clyde.
For history buffs, a stay in antique-filled hotels where iconic figures actually slept and dined holds huge appeal. Retrace Winston Churchill's steps through the halls of the Hotel Majestic in Paris. Channel literary legends like Hemingway and Fitzgerald at Hotel Nacional de Cuba, the 1930s celeb hotspot. Play cards in the salon at Tokyo Station Hotel, where Imperial Family members once gathered before voyage.
Art aficionados gravitate toward architectural gems like La Mamounia in Marrakesh, known as the "Palace of the Arts." Get an intimate glimpse of how European aristocracy lived at The Michelangelo Hotel in Johannesburg, a stately Beaux-Arts mansion.
Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can't Get Enough Of - Under the Stars: Desert Retreats Connect to Nature
For travelers seeking to unplug and reconnect with the natural world, desert retreats offer a minimalist yet illuminating experience. As urban lifestyles become increasingly busy and filled with screens, desert escapes provide the perfect antidote. Time seems to slow down in the desert, allowing you to become more mindful and present.
According to leading travel experts, interest in desert retreats has steadily risen over the past decade. These remote hideaways attract visitors looking to de-stress, meditate, reflect, and absorb the power of untamed landscapes. The wide open vistas, star-filled skies, and profound silence can be transformative.
Regina F. recently returned from a life-changing experience at Miraval Austin set among the Texas Hill Country canyons. She shares, "The dawn hot air balloon rides over the desert were magical - so peaceful floating above the landscape. My meditation and yoga sessions brought a new focus I haven't felt in years. I gained so much clarity under those endless starry skies."
Adventure-seekers are drawn to desert locales like Wadi Rum, Jordan where they can camp under the Milky Way after days spent camel trekking, hiking iron-red canyons, and discovering ancient rock art. Michael Y. describes his time here: "Wadi Rum's raw, elemental landscape made me feel small but also more connected to the Earth. Sleeping under the desert stars was the most profound natural high."
For those who prefer a comfier camp, high-end 'glamping' options are on the rise in desert destinations from Dubai to Arizona. Amangiri in Southern Utah receives top acclaim for its luxury tented suites tucked into the rocky bluffs of Canyon Point. Guests unwind at the spa overlooking surreal sandstone sculptures before gazing upward at dazzling night skies untouched by light pollution.
Desert dwellings like Cal-a-Vie in Southern California integrate the arid ambiance through design details like firepits, dry saunas, and outdoor showers. Maureen D. recounts her stay: "Each evening we would practice yoga on the scenic hills at sunset then gather for meditation around an open fire under more stars than I thought possible. The simplicity was so grounding."
For less mobile travelers, destinations like Sedona, Palm Springs, and Tucson offer access to the restorative powers of the desert from world-class resorts. Guests can nourish the mind through art and spiritual workshops by day, then contemplate the cosmos after nightfall during new moon stargazing sessions, astronomy talks, and evening desert walks.
Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can't Get Enough Of - Food, Glorious Food: Culinary Hotels Satisfy the Senses
For travelers who live to eat, culinary-focused hotels are the ultimate sites for indulgence. Far beyond basic room service, these food-centric properties entice guests with celebrity chef restaurants, bespoke in-house eateries, epicurean cooking classes, wine and spirit tastings, and more.
According to surveys by leading hotel chains, bookings at culinary hotels have steadily increased over the past decade. Today's travelers seek out immersive experiences that engage all the senses - and what better way than through amazing cuisine and libations?
Susan R., a self-proclaimed "foodie", explains the trend: "I used to plan entire vacations around restaurant reservations and food tours. Now I look for hotels that offer those food experiences right on-site so I can fully immerse myself in culinary delights."
The real draw is not just devouring gourmet fare, but connecting more deeply to the locale and culture. Maggie S. stayed at the Hotel Santa Caterina in Amalfi and raved: "Learning to make fresh pasta with the chef using eggs from the hotel's chickens and herbs from the on-site garden gave me such insight into traditional Italian cooking."
For wine aficionados, vinotherapy hotels like Entre Cielos in Mendoza practically guarantee oenophile nirvana. Sommelier-led tastings and blending workshops allow deeper understanding of local varietals. Zach K. said, "I thought I knew Argentine wine, but the sommelier helped open my senses to nuances in Malbec I'd never detected. It completely enhanced my trip."
Culinary inclusiveness is also key - hotels are catering more events and services to vegans, vegetarians, and guests with food allergies. JW Marriott Phu Quoc offers a dedicated vegan restaurant and cooking school spotlighting local Vietnamese produce and traditional dishes.
Eco-conscious foodies appreciate resorts focusing on farm-to-table sustainability. Navarino Bay in Greece works with local fisherman and farmers to supply its restaurants and beach bar. They also host foraging walks and olive harvesting experiences.
For some guests, the biggest draw is market tours and cooking classes with renowned chefs. Cavallo Point in Sausalito attracts foodies hungry to pick up pro tips from its rotating roster of celebrity chefs. Hands-on workshops range from vegan tamale-making to seafood master classes.
Your 2023 Hotel Hit List: 15 Crowd-Pleaser Stays Our Readers Can't Get Enough Of - Keep It Local: Boutique Hotels Offer Authentic Experiences
For travelers seeking insider access to a destination's culture, boutique hotels deliver an immersive local vibe you won't find at cookie-cutter chains. These intimate, independently owned lodgings reflect the spirit of their surroundings through design details, personalized services, neighborhood connections and authentic amenities you won't get from a mega-brand franchise.
Boutique hotels shine for their focus on community. Kimpton's Sawyer Hotel in Sacramento sources artwork, craft cocktails and music from area artists to showcase the city's creative energy. In Louisville, 21c Museum Hotel features exhibitions from local painters and sculptors, while the menu highlights regional specialties like Benedictine and Derby Pie.
By staying at a family-owned riad in Marrakech or a beachfront bungalow resort in Costa Rica, guests feel they are supporting small businesses and getting to know the real owners. As Nikki S. said after her stay at Hotel Matilda in San Miguel de Allende, "I loved that the hotel recycled rainwater and used local products in the spa. The owner was so friendly and helped me really understand the culture."
The intimate size of boutique hotels also fosters bonding between guests and staff. Mark T. explains: "At Acre Baja in Cabo, we got to know all the staff during the daily breakfast meetings. They felt like family and gave us incredible hidden gems to explore locally."
Boutique hotels can provide insider access and VIP treatment at local sights. Guests at The Ritz Carlton New York Central Park are escorted to a private entrance at the Museum of Modern Art. Visitors to Soho House Chicago have their own floor - including an art gallery and screening room - at the Second City comedy club.
Immersive cultural programming is a boutique hotel hallmark. Nizuc Resort & Spa in Cancun offers Mayan-inspired spa rituals along with classes on ancient hieroglyphics, natural textile dying, traditional cooking and more.
Novel dining experiences also allow guests to dive into the local food scene. At the Moinho Velho in Madeira, the chef sources his menu almost entirely from the hotel's organic garden. Dunton Hot Springs near Telluride, Colorado has guest chefs create tailor-made meals showcasing local ingredients from farmers markets and purveyors.