There are two schools of thought when it comes to choosing a hotel. In one corner, there’s the crowd who firmly believe that travel is about the destination and a hotel is but a utilitarian device—a place to lay your head and hang your coat. And, in the other corner, there’s the crowd who expects—or even insists—that a hotel is an integral part of their travels; that it personifies, or even heightens the sense of place, whether it be in Arkansas or Zimbabwe.
This list of Fodor’s 100 best hotels in the world is tailored for the believers of the latter philosophy. But, we hope it inspires those who lodge in the former, too. After all, this isn’t just a list of expensive accommodations (yes, the Four Seasons makes multiple appearances and we’ve included the St. Regis Abu Dhabi, which has a suite that’ll cost you a whopping $40,000 per night), but of hotels that make the effort to give their guests an experience. Miami’s gorgeously tropical Life House Little Havana regularly has rooms under $100, and Berlin’s minimalistic and uber-trendy Michelberger Hotel has them at $125. You don’t have to spend much to roost well.
Obviously, a list like this—one that doesn’t include a hotel in every country or every city—may not be applicable to your 2020 travels. But we hope it makes you curious about what a hotel can be. The best hotels, whether they’re on this list or not, aren’t just for sleeping—they’re enchanting and inspiring. They immerse themselves with the unique magic of a destination (and all destinations have their own unique magic). So, to the utilitarians, we ask: why not make the place you lodge a reflection of the place you’re exploring?