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An Inside View of World’s Best Hotels

Here’s a snapshot of my recent visits to some of the high-end hotels that made the cut.

Congratulations to The Four Seasons Milan, another hotel in a select group of Four Seasons properties to be voted as the best in Institutional Investor’s 2009 ranking of the World’s Best Hotels, and following on from a long line of fabulous properties in the 28 year history of the survey.

So Four Seasons, Hyatt and Peninsula dominate the top 10 hotels on the list, with Mandarin oriental doing consistently well yet again, which shows that even in the tough economic times, the international financial community stays with the hotel brands it knows best. Many of this year’s top 100 hotels have been on the list for 2 decades, proving that while form may be temporary, class is permanent.

Its been a tough year for the international financial community – and likewise for the many great hotels who count on these frequent travelers. So it’s a great relief to see some of the great hotel brands on this famous list that was started as a bit of fun at an Institutional Investor conference in 1981 following a familiar after dinner conversation comparing favourite hotels with worst ever travel experiences. The top 10 hotels list is now the top 100 and it is still a very prestigious club.

Here’s a brief snapshot of some of the properties in the top 100 that I have recently stayed in.

Grand Hyatt Shanghai
Now dwarfed by its sister Park Hyatt next door, the Grand Hyatt is still up in the clouds literally and metaphorically. Looking at a view of the booming city of Shanghai some 60 floors below — although you can’t always see it, you really feel that you are on a different planet. The Grand Hyatt Shanghai’s terrific 40-square-meter rooms with floor to ceiling windows offers a real experience for even the most jaded of travelers. So if you are heading for Shanghai and the World Expo in 2010 try the hotel ranked second best in the world – and if you have a head for heights go for a drink on the 101st floor. Some say its the only way to see Shanghai.

Park Hyatt Paris Vendome
This hotel has done tremendously well in the survey in recent years, regularly outshining its more illustrious Parisian palace neighbors, and for good reason. Contemporary style mixed with seamless service and a stunning location mean that you can’t go far wrong. The rooms are superbly comfortable and once you step outside the front door of the hotel you are in the heart of Paris.

Peninsula Chicago
Trust “The Pen” group to keep pushing the barriers of hotel-room technology. How many times have you spent longer than you would have liked searching for that elusive light switch? No such problems at The Pen Chicago where accomodation seems to include cutting edge technology so you always feel in control. There’s a two-way box by the door for shoe-shine, morning papers and messages so you won’t be bothered with constant knocking at the door from room service. And with the location of the property a few paces away from Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, this is still the best place to stay in the Windy City.

Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow
Now a fixture in the top 100, the Ararat Park Hyatt is considered the bankers HQ for Moscow. Perfectly positioned next to Red Square in the middle of Moscow, the hotel continues to fend off all newcomers to maintain the title of best hotel in Moscow. Great service, comfortable rooms and a strong management team continue to impress.

Four Seasons George V Paris
A former holder of the mantle “World’s Best Hotel,” The George V is truly one of the greats. Whether you are in Paris for business, shopping or fine dining, The George V is the place to be. Minutes from the Champs Elysee and a short walk to the Seine, this hotel is still one of the great experiences for any guest. Dinner at Le Cinq is an experience you can never forget, but the devil is in the detail – down to the legendary flower arrangements.

Mandarin Oriental Tokyo
Mandarin Oriental Tokyo has done well in this year’s survey. It always used to be The Imperial and The Okura on top in the annual survey. Now it’s the big global brands’ turn and the Mandarin Oriental is indeed one of them. Staying in a room that towers above the financial district of Nihonbashi is a great way to experience Tokyo. Mandarin Oriental is an enduringly consistent brand that seems to be able to deliver in any city. Yes, I’m a fan.

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