The Best Destinations in the World: The 2021 Gold List

This is our editors’ annual rhapsody of their favorite hotels around the world. In this year’s incarnation, we’ve gone beyond places to stay; to include a range of experiences that we consider truly exceptional – cruises, flights, restaurants, bars, destinations – as well as the deeply personal reasons for which we love them.

It was what we dreamed of when locked out; and a few places we got to visit – all of which supported us through a year of reduced travel. Here, our Best Destinations destinations in the world.

Washington DC.

The Best Destinations in the World travel 2021

The city has it all, on a very manageable scale, which I appreciate. Architecture: you have neoclassical at the best of brutalists. Hotels: There are the Old World haunts – the Willard Intercontinental and the Hay-Adams; and the fancier ones like the Dupont Circle and the Thompson.

I’m going to skip the bars and restaurants in town as it would take too long, but the options – high; low, and mid – are endless. The 17 museums that make up the Smithsonian? They are all free to enter. And there’s an international airport practically inside the city limits that plunges you right into the city center; where you have access to plenty of neighborhoods, all with their own unique color and style to explore. And don’t even get me started on the D.C. music scene. Finally, don’t overlook Rock Creek Park, the Mall, and Haines Point, where the National Park Service is headquartered.

Kauai, Hawaii

The Best Destinations in the World travel 2021

As the temperatures start to drop, my desire to return to Kauai increases. To me, this is absolutely stunning nature. It’s known as Hawaii’s ‘Garden Isle’, and it lives up to its name, with lush rainforests and hiking trails, not to mention other natural wonders like the rugged Ne Pali coast and the canyon.

of Waimea, whose splendor rivals even that of the Grand Canyon. . The beaches are teeming with life – you are bound to see sea turtles; monk seals, and whales straight from the shore.


The Best Destinations in the World travel 2021

Rome is the only place in the world I would go back to instead of seeing a new place. I love his flaws, his misplaced ego, the fact that he is so imperfect, and yet he has this attitude of not caring because it is the place that gave everything to the world and now it doesn’t.

owes him nothing more. But, despite all of this – or maybe because of it – Rome is the most beautiful place.

Waiheke Island, New Zealand

The Best Destinations in the World travel 2021

I would fly to New Zealand just to spend a single day on Waiheke Island. Its golden sands, vineyards, and sheep-strewn hills make it a mini version of the country’s biggest hits; just a short ferry ride from Auckland.

My dream day ends with a glass of Syrah at the Man o War Vineyard; on the north coast of the island, overlooking the Hauraki Gulf.

Philadelphia cream

The Best Destinations in the World travel 2021

There really is something special about Philadelphia, about the way she doesn’t care about pretenses or what other people think of them.

One place I return to in both reverie and reality is Fairmount Park; behind the famous art museum and the mile-long trail that circles this part of the Schuylkill River.

I think of the Italian market and its little world of vendors, of the mosaics glistening in the sun, the digestible chaos of Chinatown; the essential, if imperfect, sense of American history, of the beautiful dilapidated row houses that speak of the promise of equality that we have not yet achieved as a country. Spiritually, this is my city.


The Best Destinations in the World travel 2021

In this era of social distancing, I mostly yearned for the Peruvian Andes. Anyone who has visited can probably guess why. It’s not just the beauty of the people, the culture; and the food, but the feeling of calm that comes from among those mountains that pierce this limitless sky.

St. Barts

The Best Destinations in the World travel 2021

For a couple who couldn’t tell you whether the wood is for a fifth anniversary or a 50th; traveling to a Caribbean island over Valentine’s Day had a high schmaltz risk factor.

But St. Barts, with its hike-in private coves and low-lit restaurants, tucked into an alley in Gustavia or facing a silver-pink sea on Saline Beach at sunset; all under the aegis of absolute French indifference to a hyped holiday—was beyond romantic.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

The Best Destinations in the World travel 2021

When my partner and I got engaged late in December of 2019, after nearly 12 years together; we knew that we wanted to forgo some of the contrivances of big American weddings and we started planning an autumn ceremony on Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

What could be more effortlessly beautiful, more blessedly unfussy? (And, most important for my fiancé, more delicious?) We plan to exchange vows next fall during golden hour with the Tyrrhenian Sea as the backdrop while 30 of our closest family and friends look on; before sitting down to a feast of grilled lobster and slices of Chantilly-cream-lined sponge cake chased with limoncello.

If everything goes according to plan; our honeymoon will be a slow meander through Tuscan vineyards, just then closing out the harvest season.

Related Article: 10 romantic cities to find love

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