It takes a village to stay on top — perhaps that’s why two of the world’s busiest metropolises shone so brightly on February 20 when Forbes Travel Guide announced the 61st edition of its annual Star Awards.
Long a beacon of luxury with storied properties like Forbes Travel Guide Five-Stars The Savoy and The Goring, London emerged in 2019 with more top-rated hotels than any city in the world, unseating last year’s most decorated destination, Macau.
The British capital leads the global pack with 13 Five-Star hotels thanks to four distinctive new additions. Design-centric Bulgari Hotel London brings a sleek, stylish stay to Knightsbridge, along with a 47-seat movie theater and a cigar room.
Housed in the tallest building in Western Europe (the 1,016-foot-tall Shard), Shangri-La Hotel, At the Shard, London affords some of the best views in the city from the luxurious rooms’ floor-to-ceiling windows.
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London had to shutter after a 2018 fire, but it reopened with a new look and a new rating. The hotel also boasts one of only two Five-Star spas in the city (the other is The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane).
Opened in 1865, The Langham, London was hailed as Europe’s first grand hotel, but the property keeps things fresh with contemporary European fare in Roux at The Landau and innovative drinks at Artesian bar (a menu of cocktails evokes key life moments, like when you took your first steps or when you had your first child).
According to U.K.-based market research company Euromonitor International, Britain’s capital remains the world’s third most popular destination (behind Hong Kong and Bangkok) with just under 21 million international tourists hitting the city streets in 2018. And with new openings (February’s Belmond Cadogan Hotel) and highly anticipated projects (The Peninsula London in 2021) in the works, the excitement will only continue around England.
Not to be overshadowed in the opulence, longtime luxury leader Macau also had a stellar showing with 12 Five-Star properties.
The Las Vegas of the East has more than earned its sheen, boasting the world’s highest concentration of Five-Star restaurants (17), and an array triple (hotel, restaurant and spa) Five-Star winners Banyan Tree Macau, Mandarin Oriental, Macau and Star Tower at Studio City Macau; quadruple (hotel, spa and two restaurants) Five-Star winner Altria Macau; and quintuple (hotel, spa and three restaurants) Five-Star winner Nüwa Macau.
Most impressively, Macau is also home to two of the three properties to achieve a Five-Star award for their hotel, spa and four restaurants: Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace (Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong received the other honor).
But the Cotai Strip proves it will continue to be a formidable force in the luxury travel sphere. 2018 saw the opening of the $3.4 billion MGM Cotai, whose 300-plus-piece permanent art collection is the largest in Macau; the addition of the Zaha Hadid-designed Morpheus and its Alain Ducasse-helmed restaurants to the City of Dreams complex, and the debut of the long-awaited Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge connecting the cities and Hong Kong International Airport.
With Macau and London continuing to draw crowds and showing impressive growth in the luxury sector, perhaps it’s time to rediscover some old favorites.
This week, we revealed our 2019 Forbes Travel Guide Star Awards. Click here to see the complete list of winners.