For the 33rd Condé Nast Readers’ Choice Awards, readers have chosen the hotels that brought them comfort, that they still feel connected with long afterwards, and that got them through the months without travel. These are the enduring gems that can withstand the test of time and the vicissitudes of circumstances.
So here are the top 10 Asian hotels nominated by their readers as ranked by their points awarded:
1. The Peninsula, Bangkok – 99.70
World Ranking – 8
Courtesy The Peninsula Bangkok
It feels like you might be in London when you’re at The Peninsula, in Bangkok’s Thonburi neighborhood, thanks to the British racing vehicles parked out front. But the hotel’s custom tuk-tuk reminds you that you’re in Thailand. Rich, warm, toffee tones carry throughout the lobby and lounges; the space offers grand views over the Chao Praya and the Thai river homes across the water. The Peninsula swimming pool is among the best in the city; there’s no better way to beat the heat in this famously hot capital than by taking a dip right on the river.
2. Rambagh Palace, Jaipur – 99.60
World Ranking – 15
Courtesy Rambagh Palace
Guests may be surprised to hear that this exquisitely restored 1835 palace in Jaipur, with all its courtyards and pageantry, wasn’t built for a queen—but rather, for the queen’s favorite handmaiden. Later on, it was used as a royal guesthouse and hunting lodge, though it’s since comfortably taken its place as one of Rajasthan’s most luxurious hotels. Enjoy an evening of Champagne, moonlight, and candles in a private dining tent illuminated by flaming torches and pitched on the palace greens, and make sure you get to the Steam bar inside a restored train.
3. Waldorf Astoria, Beijing – 99.58
World Ranking – 17
Courtesy Waldorf Astoria Beijing
The Waldorf Astoria Beijing is a 2014 arrival in a gold-box building in the Wangfujing neighborhood. When you pull up to the entrance, you’re greeted by an exterior resembling one of Beijing’s temple palaces—but the interior is pure, intimate hospitality. Instead of a flashy, bustling lobby, the concierge desk sits in a space surrounded by high, gray walls painted with flowers, while bolder art pieces surprise you as you turn the hallways to your room. The 171 rooms delight with soft teal and tangerine accents and views across heritage rooftops.
4. Four Seasons Hotel, Kuala Lumpur – 99.51
World Ranking – 37
Courtesy Four Seasons
It’s only been open since late 2018, but the Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur is already a prominent feature on the skyline of Malaysia’s bustling capital city, reaching nearly as high as the adjacent Petronas Twin Towers. Its location in the middle of the Golden Triangle neighborhood is certainly part of the appeal, with its jaw-dropping views and proximity to shopping malls and restaurants. True to the Four Seasons brand, the design here is contemporary and sleek: varying shades of gray walls and furniture, stories-high stretches of gold and glass in the lobby, and floor-to-ceiling windows in every one of the 209 guest rooms. Shared spaces—like the infinity pool and gym, both on the seventh floor—boast stellar views of the surrounding skyscrapers and KLCC Park, while the all-day restaurant is decked out in warm lighting and orchids.
5. The Oberoi Udaivillas, Udaipur – 99.49
World Ranking – 41
Martin Harvey/Courtesy The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur
Rising like a great gilded cake from the western shores of Lake Pichola, magnificent Udaivilas is just the spot to wash up after a dusty Rajasthan road trip. This particular pleasure palace is a relatively recent arrival, but, like the 18th-century mansions it overlooks, it was built to showcase the craftsmanship of the Rajput era: marble-carved lotus ponds; glittering thikri mosaics; delicate miniatures painted on pale gold walls hand-plastered with lime, crushed marble, egg white, and tamarind. The spectacular Candle Room contains a dome set with thousands of pieces of mirrored glass. Udaipur’s busy market streets are only a few miles away, but Udaivilas has the luxury of space: 30 acres of what used to be the Maharana of Mewar’s hunting estate, with bird-filled grounds and views of the pretty lake and its floating mansions. All this grandeur could feel cold and overwhelming if it weren’t for the excellent staff. Guests are greeted off the motor boat by doormen with great twirling mustaches, and within minutes everyone knows your name. Small, personal interventions include gifts of a metal-wrought tea light or beaded bag, say, left in your room alongside a handwritten note. In the most romantic city in India, this is the most spectacular place to stay.
6. RAAS Jodhpur, Rajasthan – 99.40
World Ranking – 48
Courtesy RAAS Jodhpur/Andre J Fanthome
It’s a challenge to get to RAAS through the confusion of old Jodhpur’s narrow, congested streets. You at last reach an unprepossessing door in a cement facade that opens onto a leafy courtyard and a modern structure housing 39 guest rooms and suites. Through the alchemy of inspired design, the bold lines of the building blend harmoniously with the elegant remnants of the eighteenth-century haveli (courtier’s palace) on whose grounds it sits. Through minimalist decor, the accommodations make adroit use of space, texture, and pattern (including pink sandstone lattice screens that, recalling traditional jalis, bring shade and privacy), which compensates for the fairly modest size of the rooms and bathrooms, with handsome tubs set in stone. Room terraces have not just a view, but grand theater: In the foreground, a swimming pool with gauzy-curtained cabanas is set in a garden, and reflecting pools lead up to a graceful old pavilion, now the dining room. To your left, an ancient structure accommodates pillowed seating alcoves. And the Maharajah of Jodhpur’s massive pink sandstone Mehrangarh Fort looms as a dramatic backdrop. The quality of the cuisine, with both Indian and international offerings, can be uneven, and the calls to prayer from the minaret next door can be jarringly loud. Mercifully, double glazing and the hum of the air-conditioning silences the 4 a.m. loudspeaker crackle.
7. Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund – 99.29
Courtesy Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund
Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund and Waldorf Astoria Spa have been rated Five-Star by Forbes Travel Guide 2018. The hotel is also a recipient of 2013-2020 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award, 2020 Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Award as Top 2 hotel in all of China, 2019 Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Award as Top 3 hotel in all of China, 2019 KOL Golden List City Classic Hotel Award.
8. The Temple House, Chengdu – 99.24
The Temple House is a celebration of historic architecture and contemporary design. Its brick façade is inspired by Chengdu’s brocade weaving traditions. The courtyard’s landscaped light wells echo Sichuan’s sloped rice terraces. An ever-evolving art collection complements the space, invoking local stories, beliefs and mythologies to give you a taste of the city’s culture.
9. RAAS Devigarh, Rajasthan – 99.23
Much more than just a place to stay, RAAS Devigarh sets a template for next-generation India. Nestled in the Aravalli Hills under an hour away from Udaipur, the 18th-century palace is an outstanding heritage property which looks to the future. Responsibly updated, eco-minded, and environmentally conscious, it smoothly meets the needs of the modern traveller, whilst remaining a stunning testament to the beauty, charm, and magic of old-world Rajputana.
10. Rosewood Luang Prabang – 99.18
Courtesy Rosewood Luang Prabang
World-renowned designer Bill Bensley and his eponymous studio, BENSLEY, conceived Rosewood Luang Prabang as the reincarnation of a home of an expatriate host of a century ago, with every room, suite, villa or luxury tent reflecting a unique personality and the romanticism of a golden age of travel and adventure. The resort’s array of accommodation choices includes four Riverside Rooms, four Riverside Suites, three Riverside Villas, six Waterfall villas and six luxury Hilltop Tents.