The world's best hotels: Dubai's Burj Al Arab comes first in Mena rankings

Richard Branson's Kenyan safari retreat takes the crown in the 2021 'Travel + Leisure' World's Best Awards

Dubai's Burj Al Arab ranked first in a list of top Middle East and North Africa hotels. Photo: Unsplash
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In the latest annual ranking released by Travel + Leisure magazine of the world’s best hotels, British billionaire Richard Branson's Kenyan safari retreat has taken the top spot.

Mahali Mzuri is a 12-tented luxury safari camp located in the private Olare Motorogi Conservancy in Kenya. The lodge received the most points in the 2021 Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards.

Chosen by readers over a five-month period, these annual awards list the greatest islands, cities, cruise lines, airports, hotels and more.

To compile the Top 100 Hotels in the World, travellers were asked to rank the places they had stayed over the past three years with scores awarded for hotel facilities, location, service, food and overall value.

Garnering 99.73 out of 100 points, Mahali Mzuri was commended for its knowledgeable guides and excellent service.

Part of the Virgin Limited Edition collection, the resort's futuristic tents seem to rise up out of the Mara landscape, yet also blend in with it simultaneously. Stays at the world's best hotel start from $1,410 per night.

In second place is another tented camp, this time in Costa Rica. The Nayara Tented Camp at the Arenal Volcano National Park offers clifftop tents each with a private plunge pool that give travellers impressive views of the rainforest below, and the mountain opposite.

Take a look through the photo gallery below to see the world's best hotels in 2021:

The world's third best hotel according to Travel + Leisure is The Opposite House in Beijing. Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, this emerald glass building is filled with minimalist but luxurious rooms and ranks high for its location, which is close to all of the Chinese capital city's attractions.

The remainder of hotels in the Top 10 list are spread out across India, China, Indonesia, Greece, Thailand and the Bahamas.

The World's Top 10 Hotels in 2021

  1. Mahali Mzuri, Masai Mara, Kenya
  2. Nayara Tented Camp, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
  3. The Opposite House, Beijing, China
  4. Capella Bangkok, Thailand
  5. Capella Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
  6. Grace Hotel, Auberge Resorts Collection, Santorini, Greece
  7. Kamalame Cay, Andros Island, Bahamas
  8. The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India
  9. The Temple House, Chengdu, China
  10. The Oberoi, New Delhi, India

Top 10 City Hotels for the Middle East and North Africa 2021

The travel publication also released its Top 10 City Hotels for the Middle East and North Africa in 2021. No 1 on the list is Dubai’s Burj Al Arab.

“In a city that is known internationally for laying claim to a superlative number of superlatives, the Burj is something of a standard bearer. It's unmissable on the Dubai skyline — cutting a silhouette that is truly one of the most recognisable on the planet,” said Travel+Leisure.

The Jumeirah hotel was the only one in the Middle East to make the cut for the UAE. In second and third place were hotels from Morocco, including The Royal Mansour Marrakech and La Mamounia, also in Marrakech. The sprawling Four Seasons Resort Marrakech also ranks in the top 10, listing in seventh place. Hotels in Cairo, Amman and Jerusalem make up the remainder of the Mena list.

Two Dubai properties did, however, earn a place in the travel publication's list of the top five Middle East and North Africa resort hotels.

While Morocco came out on top thanks to another Richard Branson property, the Kasbah Tamadot in the Atlas Mountains, Dubai's Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa ranked in second place.

Jordan's Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea, and the Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca ranked third and fourth, while Dubai's family-favourite, kitsch-tastic Atlantis, The Palm rounded up the top five.

Voting for the 2022 Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards will open in October, with readers able to select their favourite places from the world of travel until February next year.

Updated: October 10, 2021, 4:30 AM