The top 10 most luxurious holiday destinations might surprise you

Simon Blish

According to a new survey from luxury holiday specialist Sovereign, the British public is woefully unaware of the leading luxury destinations worldwide.

The top ten most luxurious destinations were ranked by comparing the percentage of all hotels in a resort that are five stars or above on These rankings were then compared to the public’s own ideas of where the most luxurious holiday spots are. The study looked at hotel data of over 225 countries and territories and also surveyed 2,000 adults – aged 35 and under or 65 and over.

After crunching the numbers, Colombia came out top, with a whopping 860 five-star hotels out of the 4,143 hotels listed on the site – a 21 percent luxury rating. Colombia has seen a substantial 290 percent increase over the past decade and a 12 percent rise between 2015 and 2016; in that same period the increase of tourism in The Maldives stands at just 2 percent.

The Maldives came out second, with a luxury rating of 16 percent. At third was Singapore; fourth was the United Arab Emirates; and fifth was New Zealand.

The public, however, put the Maldives first with 65 percent of the votes. Caribbean nation Barbados came second with 56 percent. Third was the Seychelles, fourth was Mauritius and fifth was Bali.

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Sovereign said, ‘Clearly, there is an obvious difference in what data and public perceptions tell us here. It’s no surprise to us that the public rated The Maldives as the most luxurious destination in the world; it’s an incredibly beautiful destination with its white sugary sand and tranquil blue surrounds.’

Sovereign’s spokesperson said, ‘The rating of a hotel is clearly something people look for in a luxury holiday, but there is a lot more to also think about when considering the perfect getaway, including location, facilities and those special luxuries that stand out from the norm.

‘Therefore, we created “Lead me to Luxury”, a site that shows those rated luxury by data, but more importantly real-life perceptions and experiences that are considered luxury and make it so special.’

The study also found that 94 percent of people believe the idea of luxury has evolved over time, with 96 percent believing things once considered a treat or rarity are now seen as normal and essential.

20 percent of under-35s consider a holiday within the UK as a necessity rather than something to enjoy if they have the money, while more than one in ten say this about a holiday abroad.

First or business class travel is also an essential element to making a trip luxurious, along with an all-inclusive food and drinks package, a bed which is at least king-size and free dressing gowns and slippers.

Sovereign added, ‘Times have changed over the last few decades and things which were once seen as out of reach for many people are now very much part of normal life for most.

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‘Many have more disposable income than they did in previous generations, and technology has evolved so much that access to these things is much easier than it used to be.

‘The same can be said for holidays – there was a time when a holiday abroad was something most people could only dream of, but now many view one as an essential way to relax and unwind each year.’

Top 10 luxury destinations by percentage of five-star hotels

  1. Colombia – 20.76%
  2. Maldives – 15.93%
  3. Singapore – 15.74%
  4. United Arab Emirates – 15.16%
  5. New Zealand – 9.86%
  6. Dominican Republic – 9.59%
  7. Mexico 9.46%
  8. Panama – 7.48%
  9. Hong Kong – 7.47%
  10. Mauritius – 7.28%

Top ten most luxurious destinations as voted for by public

  1. Maldives – 65.15%
  2. Barbados – 56%
  3. Seychelles – 55.25%
  4. Mauritius – 47.60%
  5. Bali – 39.75%
  6. Monaco – 38.35%
  7. Fiji – 32.50%
  8. New York – 29.25%
  9. Los Angeles – 23.35%
  10. Australia – 20.05%

Top 20 essential elements for a luxury holiday

  1. First or business class air travel
  2. An all-inclusive food and drinks package
  3. A king size bed or above
  4. Free dressing gowns and slippers
  5. A free mini bar
  6. Air conditioning in the room
  7. A free spa
  8. Your own sauna
  9. Your own plunge pool
  10. Butler service
  11. Temperature above 25 degrees
  12. Porters or bell hops
  13. A swim up bar
  14. Valet parking
  15. A long-haul flight
  16. TVs in the bathroom
  17. Palm trees
  18. A gym
  19. iPod/docking station in the room
  20. Games console in the bedroom

About Simon Blish

Writing, drawing, editing - Simon loves it all.