Passalacqua, an intimate, five-star boutique hotel on Lake Como, has been named the world’s best hotel in a new ranking overseen by William Reed Ltd, a multimedia company known for its annual roundups of the “world’s best” bars and restaurants.
The announcement came on September 19 during a ceremony at Guildhall in London that brought together travel industry insiders from around the world.
Three other Italian accommodations secured spots: the Four Seasons Florence (#9), the Aman Venice (#14) and Le Sirenuse in Positano (#20).
Put another way? 20% of the top 20 hotels in the world are in Italy — at least according to this particular jury.
Passalacqua, which only opened in June 2022, is owned and operated by the DeSantis family, and has earned a reputation for feeling like a (very extravagant) private home. Occupying a villa that once hosted guests as illustrious as Vincenzo Bellini and Napoleon Bonaparte, Passalacqua hugs the banks of the glassy-calm Lake Como, offering lucky guests stunning views from its tiered gardens.
Offering his congratulations, Managing Director for The World’s 50 Best Hotels Tim Brooke-Webb called the win “a true testament to the vision of the DeSantis family, who have created this sublime sanctuary for guests with painstaking devotion to design detail, exquisite hospitality and distinctive magic.”
The DeSantis family are also the proprietors of another Lake Como icon, the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, which didn’t make the list — this year, anyway. (Open since 1910, it hardly needs an introduction, having been immortalized on and offscreen by 1932, when Greta Garbo called it “that happy, sunny place” in Grand Hotel.)
About the World’s 50 Best Hotels
The 2023 list of the World’s 50 Best Hotels is the first of its kind from William Reed Ltd, and comprises hotels from 35 destinations across six continents. Hotels were voted on by a group of 580 independent figures with expertise in the hospitality sector — 50% travel journalists, 30% hoteliers and 20% “seasoned luxury travelers.”
While the guide aims to be a definitive authority in the travel space, its organizers duly note that superlatives are always subjective. In contrast to the carefully regulated voting process — which involved a 50/50 gender split, anonymity and a zero-tolerance policy for pay-to-play attempts — what constituted “best” was left nebulous. Industry experts were trusted to come up with their own criteria and definitions.
William Reed Ltd has been publishing the “best of” list for restaurants since 2002 and for bars since 2009, but this is their first foray into the travel game.
Brooke-Webb said that after the devastating impact of COVID-19, he hopes the list will become a reference point for the best hospitality experiences worldwide. “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,” he said.