The Worlds Top Hotels (and Their Web Designs)

There’s a so called gold list of the best hotels in the world that Condé Nast Traveler releases every other year. Here are the hotels they recommend for 2009: http://www.cntraveller.com/GoldList/2009/. These are their selections for hotels all around the world that have the best rooms, service, food, locations, ambiance and design, and leisure facilities.

They have winners in several categories: best for ambiance/design, best for facilities, best for food, best for location, best for rooms, and best for service.

Since we’re mostly interested in the design aspect of the hotel rankings, we decided to turn our attention to the hotels chosen for the best designs — not the hotel interior/exterior, but the website design. Having reviewed several websites, we thought it would be nice to make some kind of a contest not just for design and look, but for the website usability as well. IMHO, the most luxurious hotels should pay more attention to their online presence.

Thinking about the perfect hotel website (in my understanding) I’ve made a list of several features the judging is based on. I’ll list them below.

  • Professional photos of the hotel and surrounding area, preferably changing in flash with a version of the website with bigger fonts for aged people or just fonts big enough in general;
  • Icons to change the language of the website (except for US and UK since English is an international language;
  • An area to make a reservation on the home page (I don’t want to dig inside the website looking for the appropriate page if I already know I want to stay there);
  • A search area for quick access to the info needed;
  • Testimonials from some rich people, celebrities, or other notable customers;
  • Some kind of promotion to attract potential clients, or at least a section with some interesting news

Here are the screen shots for the websites we evaluated, followed by a table showing how each website ranked

EVASON ANA MANDARA & SIX SENSES SPA, NHA TRANG, VIETNAM

Website: http://www.sixsenses.com/evason/index.php

evason

MANDARIN ORIENTAL DHARA DHEVI, CHIANG MAI, THAILAND

Website: http://www.mandarinoriental.com/

mandarin

RAMBAGH PALACE, JAIPUR, INDIA

I couldn’t find their website, so they are out of the list.

HAYMARKET HOTEL, LONDON, ENGLAND

Website: http://www.firmdale.com/index.php?page_id=8

heymarket

FASANO SAO PAULO, BRAZIL

Website: http://www.fasano.com.br/site_hoteis_en.php

fasano

HUKA LODGE, NEW ZEALAND

Website: http://www.hukalodge.co.nz/

huka

SAINT-BARTH ISLE DE FRANCE, ST BARTS

Website: http://www.isle-de-france.com/

saint_barth

THE SETAI, MIAMI, USA

Website: http://www.setai.com/

setai

BABINGTON HOUSE, SOMERSET, ENGLAND

Website: http://www.babingtonhouse.co.uk/
This one never opened for me so it’s out of the list (a perfect example of poor usability).

babington

ONE ALDWYCH, LONDON, ENGLAND

Website: http://www.onealdwych.com/

one_ald

THE BULGARI, MILAN, ITALY

Website: http://bulgarihotels.com

bulgari

HOTEL ASTORIA, ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

Website: http://www.thehotelastoria.com/

astoria

YASAWA ISLAND RESORT & SPA, FIJI

Website: http://www.yasawa.com/

yasawa

BAY OF FIRES, TASMANIA , AUSTRALIA

Website: http://www.bayoffires.com.au/

bay_of_fires

COCOA ISLAND, MALDIVES

Website: http://www.cocoaisland.como.bz/default.asp

cocoa

G HOTEL, GALWAY, IRELAND

Website: http://www.theghotel.ie/

ghotel

SABI SABI EARTH LODGE, SOUTH AFRICA

Website: http://www.sabisabi.com/

sabi_earth

SINGITA SABI SAND, SOUTH AFRICA

Website: http://www.singita.com/

singita

These are the design parameters that we’ll be using for our contest:
– Up-to date design

– Luxury look

– Unique design approach

– Full screen or narrow

– Quality of the photos

– Colors pleasant to the eye

– The quality of photos

And the measurements are: “0”- not matching, “1”- so-so, “2”- not bad, “3”-good. There’s no “great” here — just my own opinion.

Design Elements

Hotel Up to Date Design Luxury Look Unique Design Full Screen Quality of Photos Pleasant/Strong Colors Total
EVASON ANA MANDARA 2 1 1 2 2 3 11
MANDARIN ORIENTAL 1 1 1 2 2 2 9
HAYMARKET HOTEL 2 3 3 2 1 3 14
FASANO 0 0 0 1 1 2 4
HUKA LODGE 2 1 2 2 1 2 10
SAINT-BARTH 0 0 0 1 1 2 4
THE SETAI 3 3 3 3 3 3 18
ONE ALDWYCH 2 1 1 1 1 2 8
THE BULGARI 3 3 3 3 3 3 18
HOTEL ASTORIA 2 2 3 2 3 3 15
YASAWA ISLAND 1 1 1 1 2 2 8
BAY OF FIRES 1 1 1 2 1 2 8
COCOA ISLAND 2 1 2 2 1 2 10
G HOTEL 1 1 1 1 1 1 6
SABI SABI EARTH LODGE 3 3 3 3 3 3 18
SINGITA SABI SAND 2 1 2 2 2 2 11

Usability Elements

Hotel Hotel Photos Font Size Several Languages Reservation Form Search Testimonials/Promo Total
EVASON ANA MANDARA 3 2 0 0 0 0 5
MANDARIN 1 1 0 0 0 0 2
HAYMARKET HOTEL 1 1 0 2 0 2 6
FASANO 1 1 0 0 0 0 2
HUKA LODGE 1 2 0 0 0 0 3
SAINT-BARTH 1 2 0 0 0 0 3
THE SETAI 3 2 0 0 0 0 5
ONE ALDWYCH 1 1 0 0 0 0 2
THE BULGARI 3 2 0 0 0 0 5
HOTEL ASTORIA 3 2 0 3 2 0 10
YASAWA ISLAND 1 1 0 0 0 0 2
BAY OF FIRES 1 2 0 2 0 0 5
COCOA ISLAND 1 1 0 1 0 0 3
G HOTEL 1 2 0 0 0 3 6
SABI SABI EARTH LODGE 3 2 3 0 0 3 11
SINGITA SABI SAND 2 2 0 2 2 0 8

As we can see the absolute winner when we total the points is the SABI SABI EARTH LODGE reserve. What do you think guys?

5 Responses to “The Worlds Top Hotels (and Their Web Designs)”

  1. Michiel Says:

    Wow have to agree with the final winner choice. Some of the sites are pretty great though and I must say that just looking at some of the pictures makes me wish I could visit all of the places and check them out for real.

    I am especially interested to one day meet that great, what is it?, water buffalo! He does look like he could use another dip on the lake however!

    Great shots and article. 100% agree with the final winner!

    Rgds
    M

  2. Gerald Says:

    @Michiel – Thats not a water bufallo. Water bufallos have “softer” features. Its said the lone African bufallo is one of the meanest creatures to come across.

  3. Hotel Best Rates Says:

    I really like the Fasano design, it really strikes me. Also the Setai is beautiful.

    In regards to the winner, Sabi Sabi does look nice. It’s not my favourite, however it does have a lot of usability for the visitors and that is important.

    Good stuff.

  4. Brian Hemsath Says:

    why not, like you said if you pay for something you expect the service, had the same experience when we went over to egypt but to be fair they were excellent when faced with the delays etc. we were taken to a 5 star hotel and looked after! but the rep as you said was never there, quite quite frustrating and when we were chasing up the delays etc we had to chase for 2 hours to find anything out! it was only because there were 3 operators on the same flights home that we got answers! complain it doesnt hurt.

  5. Christopher Nondorf Says:

    Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is fundamental and everything. Nevertheless imagine if you added some great graphics or videos to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and video clips, this blog could certainly be one of the best in its niche. Amazing blog!

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