Travel came to a standstill when the pandemic struck last year. Airplanes, trains and cruise ships emptied. Crowds deserted tourist attractions like Venice's canals, the Louvre and the Empire State Building. Most of the world hunkered down at home, waiting for conditions to improve.
The global COVID-19 vaccine rollout offers some hope for 2021, allowing stir-crazy, grounded travelers to start planning their next getaway. To help inspire those next adventures, Forbes Travel Guide presents its 2021 Star Awards for the world's best luxury hotels, restaurants and spas.
The 63rd annual list features 283 Five-Star, 576 Four-Star and 438 Recommended hotels; 73 Five-Star, 136 Four-Star and 77 Recommended restaurants; and 90 Five-Star and 200 Four-Star spas worldwide. (The winners were surveyed both before the pandemic and once regional restrictions allowed FTG's incognito evaluators to visit.)
To rate properties, Forbes Travel Guide inspectors stay at each hotel for three days and two nights, posing as regular guests and paying their own way. They test up to 900 objective, stringent standards, from modern-day luxuries—such as whether a room is set up to enhance sleep, and the food-and-beverage choices are health-conscious—to more traditional luxuries, like the quality of the interior décor and design of the staff's uniforms.
Even in the midst of a global pandemic, service remains paramount. It's more important than ever before that properties demonstrate the utmost regard for their guests' wellbeing: 75 percent of a hotel's rating is based on its service and genuine care and concern shown by the staff, while 25 percent is determined by the quality of its facilities.
When you're ready to travel again—whether it's to embark on a far-flung escape or a low-key staycation—check into one of the best hotels in the world. See the full list of Star-Rated properties here, and find out more about the newest additions to the collection below.
(Photo: The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo)