The Best Hotels
Africa & the Middle East
These vast and diverse regions seemingly have something for everyone. Whether it’s a deep dive into history, a longing for up-close-and-personal wildlife sightings, or a penchant for absorbing vibrant cultures through food, arts, and traditions, you’re unlikely to go home the same person as when you arrived.
It’s impossible to distill the accommodation landscape of an entire continent and distinct region down to a couple of sentences. So, we won’t try. The hotels on this list are undeniably sophisticated and quite often opulent, too. But we’d have nothing to write home about if not for the gracious hospitality evident through all.
Al Moudira Hotel
Secreted away on the quiet west bank of the Nile, Hotel Al Moudira is Luxor’s most personality-filled stay. As you walk beneath high ocher-colored entrance arches into a serene arcaded courtyard punctuated by palm trees, a tinkling tiled fountain, and a cushioned seating nook, you’ll easily understand how Al Moudira mirrors the ancient opulence and atmosphere of the UNESCO-listed city that’s been dubbed the world’s largest open-air museum.
A showcase of Middle Eastern architecture and design, Al Moudira was a labor of love for owner Zeina Aboukheir—the hotel’s name means “boss lady” in Arabic. The Lebanese jewelry designer scoured the souks of Cairo, Damascus, and Beirut to furnish the property, and the result is a masterpiece of mashrabiyya (wooden lattice screens), vaulted brickwork, domed ceilings, and antique furniture softened with Egyptian-cotton linens hand embroidered by disadvantaged women. A 2023 upgrade saw extensive refurbishments, including marble bathroom fixtures reclaimed from soon-to-be-demolished historic buildings in Alexandria.
This year, Aboukheir stepped away from the hotel’s day-to-day operations, opening her once-private residence on the grounds for bookings. Filled with art and antiques from her world travels, Villa Zeina offers five bedrooms with a private pool and an on-demand butler and chef for you to live out your own pharaonic fantasy just a few miles from the Valley of the Kings.
Atlantis The Royal
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The world is filled with truly jaw-droppingly awe-inspiring places: usually they’re natural (the Grand Canyon), sometimes manmade (Petra), but rarely, if ever, are they hotels. Sure, hotels can be many things: luxurious, charming, stunning, outrageous. But jaw-droppingly awe-inspiring? Nope, not really.
And while Atlantis the Royal, which opened earlier this year with a much-ballyhooed Beyonce concert, may not rise to the level of the Wonders of the World, it’s in the running for the most impressively constructed hotel on earth. The hotel is a massive and intricately created Lego-block building that’s sure to make guests feel like they’ve woken in an unknown Escher-esque Wonderland.
Situated on the equally impressive man-made Palm archipelago of Dubai, surrounded by the Arabian Sea, the property’s scope isn’t limited to its structure. The rooms drip in ostentatious luxury, with views to match. And the Royal’s abundance of impeccable restaurant offerings—a veritable Avengers line-up of fine-dining chefery, featuring Heston Blumenthal, Gaston Acurio, and Jose Andres—is practically unmatched anywhere else in the world.
Banyan Tree AlUla
AlUla, Saudi Arabia
Travelers and traders have passed through AlUla since time immemorial, their camel caravans weighed down with exotic spices from distant lands, fragrant frankincense, and other precious goods. Millennia later, the extravagance now stops in this Arabian oasis, though the tented villas at Banyan Tree AlUla are an upgrade far beyond what those long-ago visitors could comprehend.
Opened in 2021, the property brings a new level of luxe to this dramatic corner of the Saudi desert. Its 47 standalone villas have airy rooms with high ceilings, wall-height windows, and ancient-inspired design elements in their rugs and furniture. While many have their own private pools, the spectacular infinity pool sandwiched between two natural canyons is not to be missed.
You might not want to leave, but history and culture are right on Banyan Tree’s doorstep. Within walking distance, the mirage-like Maraya, the Guinness-certified world’s largest mirrored building, is a multi-discipline arts space crowned by a rooftop restaurant from Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton. And it’s just a 20-minute drive to Hegra, the kingdom’s crown jewel and the second city of the ancient Nabataeans, who built their immaculate capital at Petra in nearby Jordan.
Hermanus, South Africa
Hermanus sits on the coast of South Africa, about an hour and a half driving from Cape Town. It’s a small seaside town with a major tourist draw: whales. Considered one of the best places on earth to watch whales, southern right whales are known to flock to the waters of Walker Bay.
The 5-star Birkenhead House sits atop a cliff overlooking the ocean. The hotel’s main dining and lounge area is positioned in front of the ocean with large floor-to-ceiling windows and a huge outdoor terrace and infinity pool where your chances of catching a whale breaching, waving its flipper, or slapping its tail are very good.
Birkenhead House offers 11 individually designed rooms in three separate houses. Rooms are spacious and airy, emphasizing sea or mountain views. Being a hotel within the woman-owned Royal Portfolio, it is no surprise that Birkenhead House mirrors the flawless details of Liz Biden’s other South African properties. The use of bold colors, vintage furniture, artwork, gilded gold accents, and antique items lends a flair to each of the suites.
In the bustling core of Marrakesh’s medina lies El Fenn, a boutique oasis for the artist’s soul. Drawing its moniker from the local term for “art,” El Fenn has become a muse for creatives from professional photographers to designers.
Conceived from art collector and entrepreneur (and sister to Richard) Vanessa Branson’s vision, El Fenn seamlessly weaves Marrakesh’s time-honored traditions with modern panache. Once a grand 1815 merchant’s abode, El Fenn was rediscovered in a state of disrepair brimming with original features; the meticulous year-long restoration not only revived its former glory but has continually expanded, evolving suite by suite in what Branson terms “mission creep.” Under her guidance, El Fenn emerged as a testament to Marrakesh’s illustrious legacy and contemporary design. The property showcases 41 beautifully designed rooms, each echoing Moroccan opulence and a splatter of mid-century European flair: vivid colors, ornate patterns, and sumptuous décor. And no two are the same.
Every curated detail tells tales of Marrakesh’s grand past, from its indulgent spa with a hammam to its family of resident tortoises (seriously!). El Fenn’s crowning jewel is its expansive 7,000-square-foot roof terrace, offering unparalleled vistas of the majestic Koutoubia Mosque and skyline (best paired with the city’s most creative cocktail offerings!). Today, this luxurious haven resonates with both the trendsetting traveler and the adventurous family, standing as a testament to Marrakesh’s melding of history, innovation, and sheer luxury.
Tel Aviv, Israel
The Hotel Montefiore overflows with so much contemporary trendiness that it can’t help but convince guests that Tel Aviv must be one of the coolest towns in the world. But of course, trendiness is nothing without comfort, and despite this property’s quirks—the front desk is pretty much the maître-d stand for the very posh and very popular hotel restaurant—it’s an oasis of calm in a buzzing corridor of the frenetic city.
Each of the 12 rooms within the apricot-shaded Bauhaus building, which is flourished with splashes of creeping green vines, is a supremely comfortable hideaway, all brimming with shelves of books. As for that aforementioned restaurant—in a city dedicated to wondrous cuisine, it deserves all its fame and reputation.
It’s always delightful to stumble into a hotel as a visitor and feel suddenly like a local, which is exactly what you can expect from your Montefiore sojourn.
In the pulsating heart of Marrakesh, silhouetted against the iconic Koutoubia Mosque, stands La Mamounia Hotel—a bastion of luxury, history, and legend since 1923. Enveloped in verdant gardens and echoing fountains, this five-star emblem of Moroccan grandeur offers 206 sumptuously adorned rooms and suites, including three garden-sequestered riads, each a sprawling 700-square-meter sanctuary with private pools and terraces. Ornate Moroccan motifs, scenic balconies, and multiple therapeutic hammams promise guests an immersion in authentic luxury. Each corner of La Mamounia whispers tales from yesteryears: the hushed conversations of Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Nelson Mandela, and cinematic memories from Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much to the recent Netflix phenomenon Inventing Anna.
Dining transcends mere gastronomy here; it’s an art. With four restaurants—Moroccan, Italian, Asian, and Mediterranean—uniquely reflecting the seasons, culinary journeys become their own story. Yet, what truly sets La Mamounia apart is its legacy as a confluence of luxury, history, and Moroccan allure. Beyond a mere hotel, it’s an epic voyage—traversing eras of timeless elegance and contemporary grandeur.
Franschhoek, South Africa
Found in South Africa’s Winelands, the best way to describe La Residence is as if Versailles had a baby with a charming Loire Valley chateaux. The result is a hotel that feels palatial and cozy, Baroque and down-to-earth, elegant and accessible. A drive-up gate opens onto a sprawling 30-acre private property surrounded by vineyards and mountains, where a winding driveway brings you past shetland ponies and springbok (South Africa’s national animal) before you reach the main house.
Doors open to reveal a stunning main space with plush sofas and chairs nestled around sprawling fireplaces resting beneath impressive chandeliers. Composed of private suites and standalone villas, each room is simply extravagant, with sprawling Persian carpets, soaring ceilings, marble floors, chandeliers, French and Asian antiques, original artwork, and hand-painted furniture. The attention to detail and use of color at La Residence sets this hotel apart, as all of the rooms differ in decor, giving the spaces a distinct personality. As if the rooms, views, cuisine, and wine weren’t enough to make travelers swoon—La Residence has wild peacocks roaming about the property, adding to the overall magic of this truly idyllic stay.
La Sultana Marrakesh
A study in opulence, La Sultana aims to emulate the experience of being welcomed into a sultan’s home. Brimming with antiques and precious paintings, marble columns and fountains, copper basins and stained-glass windows, it’s a palace for those who revel in excess. Even the smallest details are accounted for in the form of carefully chiseled cedarwood accents and zellij (mosaic tilework).
The property consists of five lavish riads and courtyards (as well as a swoon-worthy pool) nestled within Marrakesh’s Kasbah district. It also boasts a rooftop terrace that’s perfect for enjoying a sunset beverage—the bar menu features an assortment of signature cocktails infused with Moroccan spices.
La Sultana’s service matches the environment: Upon arrival, guests are given a mobile phone so they can contact their private butler at any time to arrange everything from booking a spa appointment to simply running a bath. Surely even a true sultan would approve.
Sala’s Camp, Maasai Mara
Maasai Mara, Kenya
At the heart of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve is the luxurious intimate getaway property, Sala’s Camp. As one of the four Safari Collection properties, this camp offers personalized service for a magical Mara experience. Sala’s Camp’s location along the banks of the Sand River overlooking Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park allows you to watch the great wildebeest migration unfold.
Accommodations in glass-fronted tents are both elegant and comfortable. The tented camps are designed with privacy in mind; private plunge pools and an enclosed area for sundowners and cook-outs are intimate features yet in the wild of it all. Day and night game drives help bring The Lion King to life through the privately guided safari. You cannot beat the feeling of being fully immersed in nature.
The eco-rated camp (a distinction recognized by Ecotourism Kenya) boasts of its commitment to ensure sustainable management through fostering close relationships with the Maasai community, serving fresh farm produce that is locally sourced, and other sustainable practices.
The Silo Hotel
Cape Town, South Africa
Along Cape Town’s VA Waterfront, the Silo Hotel gives a nod to the Silo District, the city’s epicenter of style and design. Housed in what was a silo building for South African grain, the stunning hotel has been converted into something magical.
What truly makes it stand out are the floor-to-ceiling geometric windows that awash each of the 34 bespoke rooms in natural light, offering unbelievable views of Cape Town. The windows are so unique that it’s already earned the hotel multiple design awards. Not only does each room come with its own balcony, but the rooms are decked out with chandeliers, plush fabrics, and special decorative items.
If this were Fodor’s Finest Hotel Bathrooms, the Silo Hotel would snag a top spot. The bathroom comes with heated black and white checkered floors, a rain shower, a private toilet room, and a stand-alone tub perfectly positioned in the center of the space alongside a velvet bench, facing a wall of windows overlooking the VA Waterfront and Table Top Mountain.