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TripAdvisor announced the winner of its Travelers' Choice™ award last week with London rising from a sixth position last year to take this year's top spot. There was a fair amount of shuffling inside the top locations with Istanbul leapfrogging Marrakech into the second spot while the Moroccan hotspot dropped into third. Paris jumped five places to fourth and Siem Reap dropped one spot to round out the top five.
Overall, it was a familiar list of skylines that made up the whole list of 25 and you could be forgiven for thinking someone at TripAdvisor had shuffled last years results and laid them back on the table with the odd wildcard thrown in to keep it interesting. But the reality is, these destinations make it onto the list every year because they consistently provide a positive travel experience with interesting attractions, shopping and great food thrown into the mix.
So with all this in mind, we have put together a sample of 15 luxury stays available in the TripAdvisor top 5 Travelers' Choice™ Destinations, and the outlay in both US dollars or the required reward points from each respective loyalty program.
As we are only including three examples for each destination and there are thousands of hotels in London alone, this is by no means a complete representation of what your points can redeem. But as a small sample, hopefully, it will give you an idea of what's available in each market and spark your curiosity to look deeper into the most popular destinations of the last 12 months.
1. London, UK
Best known for its historical attractions and boutique hotels points redemption can be steep in London so it's essential you do your homework to find the best mix of neighborhood and value for money.
- Hyatt Regency Churchill – World of Hyatt
US$343 or 25000 Points
Close to Hyde Park and walking distance to Oxford and Bond St shopping districts.
- Le Meridien Piccadilly – Starwood Preferred Guest
US$385 or 20000 Starpoints
Convenient access to Heathrow, West End, The Mall and London City. Walking distance to Piccadilly Circus, Soho, Bond Street, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and Oxford Street.
- Hilton Tower Bridge – Hilton Honors
US$187 or 70000 points
Cheaper than the central hotels, the Hilton is in the heart of old London near the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and St Pauls Cathedral, and is only a few stops on the underground to the center city.
2. Istanbul, Turkey
Straddling the divide between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is an eclectic mix of two thousand years of religious history combined with western European influences and the remains of old empires.
- St Regis Istanbul – Starwood Preferred Guest
US$373 or 25000 Starpoints
Located in the Nisantasi district, the Art Deco-influenced St Regis Istanbul is full-form luxury featuring award-winning signature suites and restaurants in a quiet, trendy location.
- Grand Hyatt Istanbul – World of Hyatt
US$192 or 21000 Points
In the heart of Istanbul, Taksim Square, and an easy walk to the culture and nightlife districts.
- Intercontinental Hotel Istanbul – IHG Rewards
US$192 or 50000 Points
Overlooking Bosphorus Straight and also in Taksim Square, a short walk to the shopping districts and Dolmabahce Palace
3. Marrakech, Morocco
Marrakech is a little hard to find good redemption deals on the bigger loyalty programs with IHG, Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton all lacking options here (Ritz Carlton and Park Hyatt both have properties due to open in 2017). That said, it's as exotic as a destination comes and should slot in high on the list of places to visit.
- Le Meridien N'Fis – Starwood Preferred Guest
US$118 or 3000 Starpoints
Buried in L'Hivernage, the residential area of Marrakech, Le Meridien is just a few minutes away from La Menara Garden and Koutoubia Mosque and walking distance to two of Moroccos best golf courses.
- Sofitel Marrakech Lounge and Spa – Le Club Accorhotels
US$258 or 12000 Points
A contemporary Riad, the Sofitel Marrakech exudes the natural charm of Morocco in a chic and stylish setting designed to reflect and complement its surroundings with views out to the Atlas Mountains.
- Radisson Blu Marrakech Carre Eden – Club Carlson
US$206 or 44000 Gold Points
The latest edition to the luxury hotel scene in Marrakech the Radisson Blu is due to open in a matter of weeks, however, won't be accepting arrivals until 11 July 2016. Located in the Gueliz quarter it provides walkout access to great food and nightlife with internationally recognized stores close at hand.
4. Paris, France
The capital of France is a staple of these lists and possesses a charm that most cities can only dream of. With landmarks like the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysees and a solid cultural offering of art, fashion and amazing food, it's likely to stay on this list for the foreseeable future.
- Paris Marriott Champs Elysees Hotel – Marriott Rewards
US$447 or 45000 Points
The only 5-star hotel on the boulevard, the Marriott has the best views of the Champs Elysees. Walk out the front door into the vibrant cafe culture before exploring the city's elegant boutiques and attractions.
- Intercontinental Paris Le Grand – IHG Rewards
US$293 or 60000 Points
At the heart of Parisian society, the beautifully renovated Intercontinental Paris Le Grand has graced Paris since 1862 and defines old world charm and elegance. Close to the Louvre Museum, the theater and Paris' best shopping.
- Hilton Paris Opera – Hilton Honors
US$291 or 80000 Points
The refurbished Hilton sits in Paris' Opera quarter and is home to some of the gastronomic capital's best dining options, stylish suites and first class business amenities.
5. Siem Reap, Cambodia
In northwest Cambodia, Siem Reap is the gateway to the largest religious monument on the planet. With more than 1000 temples, the UNESCO World Heritage area rates in the world's top destinations every year.
- Park Hyatt Siem Reap – World of Hyatt
US$176 or 15000 Points
Recognized as one of the world's top 100 hotels, the Park Hyatt Siem Reap is located near the ruins of Angkor and is considered the cities most exclusive address.
- Le Meridien Angkor – Starwood Preferred Guest
US$114 or 3000 Starpoints
Located a short walk from the best of Siem Reap's culinary and shopping areas with a full complement of sightseeing options.
- Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort – Le Club Accorhotels
US$212 or 10600 Points
Featuring mammoth rooms at over 350 square feet, the Sofitel Angkor is a great choice for families looking for an exotic trip away. Five restaurants, a world class golf course and the largest free-form pool in Cambodia will keep everyone happy after a day spent sightseeing.
As a quick side note. Yes, an odd result seeing Istanbul still inside the top three after two terrorist attacks have rocked the tourist mecca this year, but, TripAdvisor noted when releasing the results that the selections are based “on the quantity of positive traveler feedback shared on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period from November 2014 – November 2015.”
So until next year's result, where I suspect it will tumble down the list, we have included it in our results. London, UK – Best known for its historical attractions and boutique hotels, points redemption can be steep in London so it's essential you do your homework to find the best mix of neighborhood and value for money.
Not all the destinations supplied need necessarily to be used to redeem points. The cheaper locations, Marrakesh and Siem Reap, are great options for paying cheap rates and earning loyalty points to spend at more expensive destinations like London and Paris. And if you are aiming for the higher category hotels in expensive destinations, using a mix of points and cash is always worth investigating.
Have you visited any of the destinations that made the top five?
Let us know in the comments.
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