This is our editors’ annual rhapsody on their forever-favorite hotels from around the globe. In this year’s incarnation, we went beyond places to stay, including a range of experiences we consider truly exceptional—cruises, flights, restaurants, bars, destinations—along with the deeply personal reasons why we love them. This was the stuff we daydreamed about in lockdown, and a few places we were actually able to visit—all that sustained us in a year of curtailed travel. Here, our favorite destinations in the world.
Read the complete Gold List here.
- sborisov/GettyWashington, D.C.The city’s got it all—just on a very manageable scale, which I appreciate. Architecture: you’ve got Neoclassical to the best of the Brutalists. Hotels: There are the Old World haunts—the Willard Intercontinental and the Hay-Adams—and the posh ones like the Dupont Circle and the Thompson. I’ll skip over the city’s bars and restaurants because it would take too long, but the options—high, low, and in between—are endless. The 17 museums that make up the Smithsonian? They’re all free to enter. And there’s an international airport practically inside city limits that plops you right downtown, where you’ve got access to ample neighborhoods all with their own color and flair to explore. And don’t even get me started on D.C.’s music scene. Finally, don’t overlook Rock Creek Park, the Mall, and Haines Point, where the National Park Service is headquartered. —Corina Quinn
- sorincolac/GettyKauai, HawaiiAs temperatures start to dip, my longing to return to Kauai rises. For me, it’s all about the absolutely astounding nature. It’s known as Hawaii’s “Garden Isle,” and it definitely lives up to the name, with lush rainforests and hiking paths—not to mention other natural wonders like the rugged Ne Pali coast and Waimea Canyon, whose splendor rivals even that of the Grand Canyon. The beaches are teeming with life—you’re bound to see sea turtles, monk seals, and whales right from the shore. —Jessica Puckett
- MasterLu/GettyRomeRome is the only place in the world where I would go back to instead of seeing somewhere new. I love its flaws, its misplaced ego, the fact that it is so imperfect and yet has this attitude of not caring because it is the place that gave the world everything and now it owes it nothing. But, despite all of this—or maybe because of it—Rome is the most magnificent place. —Erin Florio
- Waiheke Island. Its golden sand beaches, wineries, and sheep-dotted hillsides make it a mini version of the country’s greatest hits, and all just a ferry ride from Auckland. My dream day ends with a glass of syrah at Man o War vineyard, on the island’s north coast, with views of the Hauraki Gulf. —Erin Florio
- Philadelphia, about the way it doesn’t care for pretense or about what anyone else thinks of it. One place I return to both in daydream and reality is Fairmount Park, behind the famed art museum, and the miles-long pathway that traces a circle around that part of the Schuylkill River. I think about the Italian Market and its small world of vendors, about the mosaics glinting in the sun, the digestible chaos of Chinatown, the essential, if flawed, sense of American history, the beautiful, dilapidated row houses that speak to the promise of equality we haven’t yet reached as a country. Spiritually, it’s my city. —Betsy Blumenthal