Popular hotel review website TripAdvisor has announced the winners of their 2009 Travellers' Choice Awards, for the world's best hotels as determined by their readers. Fittingly this year they've highlighted the Top 100 Best Bargain Hotels along with the Top 10 Family Favourites and Top 10 Hidden Gems among others. You can download the list here.
In light of their announcement I thought I'd put together my own 'Top 10' list of favourite hotels based on places I personally stayed in this last year (these are in no particular order and cover everything from homely pensions to luxurious tented safari camps and hotels):
1. MeetingPoint Tanga, Tanga, Tanzania
Run by the indefatigable Mama Ruth this inspiring new community-integrated centre is the ideal place for socially conscious travellers interested in more than just your average beach holiday. The focus here is all about the community experience with all profits reinvested into various local projects such as HIV/AIDS education and guests encouraged to "make a difference" by sharing their knowledge and skills during their stay. Find out more here.
2. Tunza Lodge, Mwanza, Tanzania
This lusciously laidback lodge is located right on the edge of Lake Victoria around 8km from the town of Mwanza. Between the beach, the bar, the staff and the sunsets over the lake, I found it hard to tear myself away. Find out more here.
3. Mkoma Bay Tented Lodge, Mkoma Bay, Tanzania
This is fabulous tented camp run by a lovely Danish/American couple has a stunning location in large, landscaped grounds that sprawl down to a swimming pool on a low cliff overlooking the deserted beach at Mkoma Bay..... Bliss! Find out more here.
4.Casa de Jorge Coalla Potts, Havana, Cuba
In my humble opinion, this homely place is one of the best casa particulares in Havana. It's located in Vedado, just two blocks from the infamous Hotel Tryp Habana Libre. And owner Jorge, his wife Marisel, and their daughter Jessica are such great hosts. Find out more here
5. Inn and Spa at Loretto, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Sadly, I only stayed here one night, but the Inn and Spa at Loretto certainly lived up to its reputation as an oasis of tranquilly and style. Just one block from the historic heart of Santa Fe, it's noted for its traditional pueblo architecture. Find out more here.
6. Utengule Coffee Lodge, Mbeya, Tanzania
Located on a rambling 500 acre property about 20 km west of Mbeya, in the shadow of the 2,834m Mbeya Peak, this attractive lodge is situated on one of Tanzania's oldest coffee estates. The estate is centred on a delightful manor house built and whitewashed in the classic colonial style, reached via a long dirt driveway lined with rows upon rows of fragrant coffee trees. Find out more here.
7. Ruaha River Lodge, Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
Run by the Fox family Ruaha River Lodge is the longest-serving camp in Tanzania's second-largest national park. All the chalets here have balconies that literally overhang the Great Ruaha River, so you don't even have to leave your room to go game viewing! Find out more here.
8. Hideaway Resort, Coral Coast, Fiji
A tropical island, azure seas, swaying palms, colourful cocktails, pampering spa treatments; need I say more? Find out more here.
9. Vuma Hills Tented Camp, Mikumi National Park, Tanzania
Also run by the Fox family this classic tented camp is set on a wooded hillside in the southern half of Mikumi National Park. Find out more here.
10. The Knutsford Court Hotel, Kingston, Jamaica
This cookiecutter business class hotel in the heart of Kingston wouldn't have made my list if it wasn't for the staff. They went above and beyond the call of duty when I arrived at their hotel sick, with one staff member in particular not only personally taking me to hospital but staying with me until I was admitted (some five hours later!) and then coming to visit me during my three-day stay. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Find out more: here.