Post Ranch Inn Photography by Kodiak Greenwood
World travel

World’s Best Hotels in 2012: HotelsCombined’s Top 10

Working for HotelsCombined is a tough job – every day, we’re tortured with images of stunning hotels in exotic locations, which we stare at wistfully from the confines of our desks. While this leads to plenty of daydreaming and some rather unproductive work days, it’s fair to say that at this point, our team has gotten pretty familiar with the plentiful accommodation options around the globe. And while we have a staggering 350,000 hotels in our database, there are still a handful of properties that continually stand out for their amazing amenities and breathtaking views. Without further ado, here are our selections for the top 10 hotels in the world (in no particular order):

Qualia Resort, Hamilton Island, Australia

Qualia Resort

Photo| Qualia Resort| Provided by QUALIA

Why we picked it:
This resort may have cutting-edge architecture and boast superb views of the Coral Sea and the Whitsunday Islands, but it’s the top-notch amenities here that really impress us. From infinity-edge swimming pools to private sundecks, we’re head-over-heels in love with this Aussie gem.

Accolades and awards:

  • Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards 2012 (Best Resort in the World 2012)
  • UK Conde Nast Traveller Gold List 2012 (Best Leisure Facilities)
  • TripAdvisor Travelers Choice List 2012
  • Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine 2012 Traveller Awards (Best Spa, Best Australian Island Resort)

Santa Caterina Hotel, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Santa Caterina Hotel, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Photo| Santa Caterina Hotel| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Why we picked it:
The Amalfi Coast offers up some of the most picturesque panoramas on the planet and the best place to enjoy views of its rugged coastline is undoubtedly at the Santa Caterina. The fragrant gardens on the property – which feature olive groves and fruit orchards – just make this place even more special.

Accolades and awards:

  • TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2012
  • Travel and Leisure World’s Best Awards 2012 (Top 50 Hotels)
  • UK Conde Nast Traveller Gold List 2012
  • Conde Nast Traveler Gold List 2012 Reader’s Choice Awards, Platinum Circle

One&Only Cape Town, South Africa

One&Only Cape Town, South Africa

Photo| One&Only Cape Town| Provided by LEONARDO

Why we picked it:
One&Only resorts are renowned for their spas, and the one at their Capetown property is especially extraordinary. Treatments include the likes of Chakra Body Balancing and traditional African massage techniques and guests have the option of booking a couples or thermal suite. Oh, and all the rooms at the hotel have views of South Africa’s iconic Table Mountain.

Accolades and awards:

  • Travel and Leisure World’s Best Awards 2012 (Top 50 Hotels)
  • World Spa Award (Best in Africa)
  • 2012 SpaFinder Wellness Readers’ Choice Country Award

Post Ranch Inn, California, U.S.A

Post Ranch Inn, California, U.S.A

Photo| Post Ranch Inn| Provided by POST RANCH INN, PHOTOGRAPHS – KODIAK GREENWOOD

Why we picked it:
The Post Ranch Inn is one of those rare hotels that just seem to have it all – amazing scenery, innovative eco-friendly initiatives, an acclaimed restaurant and beautiful guest rooms. If we could, we’d move in tomorrow.

Accolades and awards:

  • Wine Spectator 2012 Grand Award
  • Robb Report, The World’s Top 100 Resorts 2012
  • Travel and Leisure World’s Best Awards 2012 (Top Hotel in California)
  • 2012 Andrew Harper’s Readers’ Choice Awards (Top 20 Spa Resorts, Top 20 Food and Wine Resorts, Top U.S. Hideaway)

Wickaninnish Inn, Vancouver Island, Canada

Wickaninnish Inn, Vancouver Island, Canada

Photo| Wickaninnish Inn| Provided by LEONARDO

Why we picked it:
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting this fabulous property and can assure you that it’s one of the most incredible places I’ve ever seen – which is why it’s on pretty much every Canadian’s must-do list. And it’s also a rare Canadian destination that can be enjoyed year-round – in the summer for surfing and whale-watching, and in the winter for an awe-inspiring storm watch.

Accolades and awards:

  • Andrew Harper Readers’ Choice Awards 2012 (Top 20 International Hideaways)
  • 2012 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards (Best Resort Dining)
  • Travel and Leisure World’s Best Awards 2012 (Top Resort in Canada)
  • Conde Nast Johansens Award 2012 (Most Excellent Spa Hotel in the United States and Canada)

The Leela Palace, Udaipur, India

The Leela Palace, Udaipur, India

Photo| The Leela Palace| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Why we picked it:
We really appreciate the range of activities at this luxury, five-star hotel – there’s croquet, bocce, yoga sessions, heritage walks, cooking classes, astrology lessons and lamp lighting ceremonies to enjoy. There are also palace musicians, cultural performances, chauffeur driven BMWs, an arrival in a traditional boat, puppet shows and sunset boat cruises… Ok, we just started daydreaming…

Accolades and awards:

  • UK Conde Nast Traveller 2012 Gold List
  • Robb Report, The World’s Top 100 Resorts 2012
  • World Luxury Spa Awards 2011 (Best Luxury Resort Spa)

Four Seasons Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Four Seasons Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Photo| Four Seasons Bora Bora| Provided by LEONARDO

Why we picked it:
Let’s be honest – Bora Bora is on everybody’s bucket list. And if you’re going to take the trek to paradise, you might as well stay at the top-rated hotel in the region. Just look at the photo –those cozy over-water bungalows are all situated upon a ridiculously gorgeous private lagoon. The whole place is so perfect it nearly blinds us!

Accolades and awards:

  • TripAdvisor 2012 Traveler’s Choice Romance Awards (Best Romantic Hotel in the World)
  • Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2012 (Best in French Polynesia)
  • UK Conde Nast Traveller 2012 Readers’ Travel Awards (Best in Australasia and South Pacific)
  • Travel and Leisure World’s Best Awards 2012 (Best in French Polynesia)

Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia

Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia

Photo| Song Saa Private Island| Provided by ICE PORTAL

Why we picked it:
In addition to being a picture-perfect spot, this fab hotel – which has the distinction of being Cambodia’s first luxury private island resort – is also the Mecca of sustainable travel. They’ve established the country’s first protected marine area, they work to conserve local wildlife and they’ve partnered with local villages to improve water quality. What’s not to love?

Accolades and awards:

  • 2012 Virgin Responsible Tourism Awards (Best Accommodation for the Environment)
  • 2012 Travel and Leisure Global Vision Awards (Sustainability)
  • Elite Traveller 2012 (Top 101 Best Hotel Suites of the Year)
  • International Hotel Awards (Best Small Hotel in Cambodia, Best Sustainable Hotel in Cambodia, Best Hotel Interior in the South Pacific)

Le Blanc Spa Resort, Cancun, Mexico

Le Blanc Spa Resort, Cancun, Mexico

Photo| Le Blanc Spa Resort| Provided by ICE PORTAL

Why we picked it:
This idyllic Mexican haven really goes the extra mile to ensure its guests are being taken care of – the property boasts a ration of nearly one staff member per guest. Add to that in-room Jacuzzis, pool concierges, top-notch restaurants and BVLGARI bath products and we’re hooked.

Accolades and awards:

  • TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice 2012 (Best in Cancun)
  • Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2012 (Best in Cancun)
  • AAA Five Diamond Award 2012

Kauri Cliffs, New Zealand

Kauri Cliffs, New Zealand

Photo| Kauri Cliffs| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Why we picked it:
Private beach barbeques, land-based fishing, guided bird watching, boar and possum hunting, mountain biking and clay pigeon shooting make this scenic Kiwi escape a must for outdoor enthusiasts. Then there’s that luscious waterfront golf course of theirs… Fore!

Accolades and awards:

  • Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2012 (Best in New Zealand)
  • Travel and Leisure World’s Best Awards 2012 (Ranked Number 16 in the World)
  • Golf Digest 2012 Top 100
  • UK Conde Nast Traveller Gold List 2012

Are there any hotels you think we should have included in this list? Let us know!

Featured image: Provided by Post Ranch Inn| Photographer – Kodiak Greenwood

World travel See all
Canadian Pacific Railway Train through Banff National Park Canada

8 Spectacular Scenic Train Rides You Need to See to Believe

Sometimes it’s the journey, not the destination, that makes traveling really special. This is especially true when it comes to scenic train rides. Seriously, we challenge you to think of anything more dreamy than losing yourself in a rolling display of dramatic mountain valleys, glacial lakes, and emerald hills as you trundle onward from A to B. Best of all, scenic train rides require minimal effort.
Sebastian Morgan
Australia, Queensland, Whitsunday Island, carefree man jumping at Whitehaven Beach

TOP 9 Secluded Beaches That Will Take Your Breath Away

Admittedly, it might be some time before responsible for international travel is back on the cards. Once it is though, you can be sure that the world’s top bucket list destinations—you can be sure—are going to be heaving with tourists. If you want to escape the crowds, your only shot for some real respite will likely be on the world’s most secluded beaches.
Sebastian Morgan
Velvety desert

Ultimate Travel Bucket List – 14 Ideas to Inspire Your Wanderlust

Catching a sunrise at Angkor Wat, hiking Machu Picchu or visiting the ancient city of Petra – what’s on your travel bucket list? While bucket lists seem a bit cliche, there’s never been a better time to dream up new destinations to explore. The world is full of incredible destinations and life-changing experiences that are just begging to be explored.
Charity De Souza
Destinations See all
The Atlantic City Boardwalk.

Best Atlantic City Boardwalk Hotels for Every Budget

Atlantic City boardwalk hotels may be known for their high-rolling casinos. But there’s much more on the cards for those who hit up the resorts along this historic strip. Built in 1870 (we hear) to keep sandy feet out of the town’s swisher establishments, AC’s boardwalk is the neon-soaked center of Jersey beach life.
Sebastian Morgan
Portland Head Light - Cape Elizabeth, ME., USA

Top 14 New England Resorts for Families from $127

New England offers a ton of activities for families, from hiking and fishing to sailing, skiing and swimming. The region’s outdoor activities make it the perfect multi-generational destination.
Charity De Souza