Passalacqua in Italy tops list of 50 best hotels in the world for 2023

The Passalacqua Moltrasio.
The Passalacqua Moltrasio. Photo credit: Courtesy Passalacqua

By Tamara Hardingham-Gill of CNN

It opened just over a year ago, but a luxurious 24-key Italian property has already been named the best hotel in the world.

Passalacqua, which overlooks Lake Como, beat off stiff competition to receive the top spot on the first-ever edition of the World's 50 Best Hotels list, which was announced at an awards ceremony in the UK this week.

Open since June 2022, the boutique hotel owned by the De Santis family - local hoteliers - was one of 21 Europe-based hotels included on the list, along with the Four Seasons Firenze in Florence, which came in ninth place.

Asia also did well in the rankings, with 18 hotels from the region making the list, including second, third, fourth and fifth place, awarded to Rosewood Hong Kong, Four Seasons Bangkok at Chao Phraya River, The Upper House in Hong Kong and Aman Tokyo, respectively.

'Big recognition'

Taking the No. 25 spot, Aman New York, another relatively new addition to the hotel scene, was the highest US entry, while the five-star Equinox New York, located at Hudson Yards, came in at No. 48.

Host city London was well-represented, with stalwarts like Claridge's (No. 16), The Connaught (No. 22) and The Savoy (No. 47) making the list, along with the more recent NoMad London (No. 46), the first international outpost from the NoMad Hotel brand.

Rosewood São Paulo, a former medical complex turned luxury hotel, was the only South American to make the list, coming in at No. 27, while urban resort The Calile in Brisbane was the sole Australian entry at No. 12.

The highly-anticipated list honoured 50 hotels from 35 destinations across the world.

"It's a big recognition," Valentina De Santis, owner of winning hotel Passalacqua, told CNN Travel at the ceremony, which was held at London's historic Guildhall building.

"Because we are a family-owned independent hotel. And we're quite small. We just opened one year ago."

"It was really unexpected. And it was beyond our wildest dreams to get to the top part of the top 25. So we couldn't be prouder."

The hotel's general manager Silvio Vettorello said the award was "the best gift."

The De Santis family, who also own Lake Como's Grand Hotel Tremezzo, purchased the 18th-century property, a former home of composer Vincenzo Bellini, in 2018.

It opened last year after undergoing a three-year renovation and has earned rave reviews.

"It was a villa where a very noble family from Lake Como were spending holidays," says De Santis, who describes Passalacqua as a "love affair."

"And this is what we want to bring guests. So the biggest compliment that we can receive is that they feel at home (there)."

Special awards

Several hotels received special awards, including two UK properties. Gleneagles (No.32) an 850-acre estate located in the heart of Scotland, received the Art of Hospitality Award. The Newt in Bruton, Somerset, which came in at No.37, was given the Best Boutique Hotel Award.

Capello Bangkok.
Capello Bangkok took the No.11 spot and was also named Best New Hotel. Photo credit: Courtesy Capella Bangkok

At No. 11, The Capella Bangkok, set along Bangkok's Chao Phraya River, was the highest-ranked hotel to open within the two-year voting window, and subsequently received the Best New Hotel award.

The smallest property to make the list was Singita Lodges in the Kruger National Park in South Africa, which came in at No.15 and also received the Eco Hotel Award.

The Lodge at Blue Sky, a remote lodge in the Wasatch Mountain Range in Utah, was named "One To Watch," an award given to hotels that the 50 Best organisation believes have the potential to appear on the list in the future.

"After seeing the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry, it's been especially fulfilling to see so many hoteliers from around the world gather in London to celebrate each other's achievements under one roof for the first-ever awards ceremony of The World's 50 Best Hotels," Tim Brooke-Webb, managing director for the World's 50 Best Hotels, said in a statement.

"Our heartfelt congratulations go out to each and every hotel on the list, and we hope this list inspires travel lovers to book somewhere truly spectacular for their next trip."

The World's Best Hotel list is decided by the World's 50 Best Hotel Academy, which is made up of 580 hotel industry experts, including hoteliers and travel journalists, from across the globe.

The World’s 50 Best Hotels: Full list

  1. Passalacqua (Moltrasio, Italy)
  2. Rosewood Hong Kong
  3. Four Seasons Bangkok at Chao Phraya River
  4. The Upper House (Hong Kong)
  5. Aman Tokyo
  6. La Mamounia (Marrakech, Morocco)
  7. Soneva Fushi (Maldives)
  8. One&Only Mandarina (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico)
  9. Four Seasons Firenze (Florence, Italy)
  10. Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
  11. Capella Bangkok
  12. The Calile (Brisbane, Australia)
  13. Chablé Yucatán (Chocholá, Mexico)
  14. Aman Venice
  15. Singita Lodges (Kruger National Park, South Africa)
  16. Claridge’s (London)
  17. Raffles Singapore
  18. Nihi Sumba (Wanokaka, Indonesia)
  19. Hotel Esencia (Tulum, Mexico)
  20. Le Sirenuse (Positano, Italy)
  21. Borgo Egnazia (Savelletri, Italy)
  22. The Connaught (London)
  23. Royal Mansour (Marrakech)
  24. Four Seasons Madrid
  25. Aman New York
  26. The Maybourne Riviera (Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France)
  27. Rosewood São Paulo (São Paulo, Brazil)
  28. Capella Singapore
  29. Le Bristol Paris
  30. Park Hyatt Kyoto (Kyoto, Japan)
  31. La Réserve (Paris)
  32. Gleneagles (Auchterarder, Scotland)
  33. Hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc (Antibes, France)
  34. Cheval Blanc Paris
  35. Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens
  36. Soneva Jani (Maldives)
  37. The Newt in Somerset (Bruton, United Kingdom)
  38. Amangalla (Sri Lanka)
  39. Hoshinoya Tokyo
  40. Desa Potato Head (Seminyak, Bali)
  41. Eden Rock (St. Barths)
  42. The Siam (Bangkok)
  43. Badrutt’s Palace (St. Moritz, Switzerland)
  44. Atlantis The Royal (Dubai)
  45. The Oberoi Amarvilas (Agra, India)
  46. NoMad London
  47. The Savoy (London)
  48. Equinox New York
  49. Six Senses Ibiza (Balearic islands, Spain)
  50. Hôtel de Crillon (Paris)