Travel + Leisure - Special Hotel Issue World's Best Service

« Return to News Articles


At the heart of a great hotel are the people who work there. In this year's World's Best survey, our readers told us which hotels have staffs that consistently go above and beyond. Here, the winners from around the globe in eight regional categories.

Plus: concierges at top properties share their insider tips.

Excellent Service isn't easy to define or measure—it's the sort of thing that falls in the category of "you know it when you see it." And you have seen it: the hotels listed on the following pages won votes in year's World's Best Service reader survey by providing guests with formal, thoughtful, and above all, discreet service. Or was it warm, responsive, intuitive service? Or was it indeed, whatever the moment required? Good service is a kind of alchemy, a rigorous yet perfectly unscientific art form, and just as difficult to get right.

Any number of luxury hotels provide the requisite high-thread-count sheets, acres of Italian marble, and teams of butlers, but great serves is something else. It should be more or less invisible—except when you want it. And then, of course, it should be at your fingertips instantly. A bit of prescience is required—so as to know what guests want before they ask for it—and resourcefulness is also key. At London's Milestone Hotel, the top hotel overall, when a guest expressed interest in rare antique toy soldiers and tanks, the concierge located a dealer they next day. At another property on the list, One & Only Palmilla, in Los Cabos, a guest's loose button was fixed within minutes, and with thread that matched her jacket perfectly.

The best hotels recognize that no two travelers want the same thing: the couple in the Pool Villa may expect a conspicuous display of the three-to-one staff-guests ratio and preprogrammed iPods, while the mother and daughter in the Ocean View room want to fell like they are utterly alone. To each his own—at these winning properties, you can't go wrong. –MARIA SHOLLENBARGER

1. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Hawaii 96.01