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Forbes Travel Guide Unveils 2023 Star Awards

Nine Destinations Gain Their First Five-Star Hotel


The Spa at Ashford Castle

Forbes Travel Guide (FTG), an independent, global rating system for luxury hotels, restaurants, and spas, has unveiled its 2023 Star Awards, including its inaugural ocean cruise ratings. See the full list of honorees on

The hotel ratings expanded into new destinations, including Athens, Bodrum, Capri, Copenhagen, Cusco, Cyprus, Oslo, Sicily, Stockholm, and Tunis. The 65th annual list features 360 Five-Star, 585 Four-Star, and 433 Recommended hotels; 79 Five-Star, 113 Four-Star, and 67 Recommended restaurants; and 119 Five-Star and 195 Four-Star spas worldwide.

Here are some highlights from the 2023 winners:

  • FTG announced its first-ever ocean cruise ratings with five ships. The inaugural resorts at sea star-rated ships are Celebrity Apex, Celebrity Flora, Celebrity Millennium, Celebrity Edge, and Celebrity Summit. A second wave of cruise lines will be announced later this year, and evaluations are underway on several ships earning their star rating for 2024.
  • Nine destinations welcomed their first Five-Star hotel: Athens (Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens); Bodrum (Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum); Capri (J.K. Place Capri); Kuwait (Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait at Burj Alshaya); Lake Como (Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como); Mallorca (Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa); Osaka (The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka); Riyadh (Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre; The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh); and Shenzhen (Mandarin Oriental, Shenzhen).
  • After four years of London claiming the most Five-Star hotels in the world, Macau is the new title holder with 22 top-rated properties. This year, Macau gained more new Five-Star hotels than any other destination (Galaxy Hotel, Grand Lisboa Palace Macau, The Karl Lagerfeld, Londoner Court, The Londoner Hotel). 
  • The Maldives added four new Five-Star hotels: Joali Being; Patina Maldives, Fari Islands; The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands; and Soneva Jani.
  • No longer a mere trend, experiential dining is now a fine-dining mainstay. The Restaurant at Justin, set in a Paso Robles, CA, winery, captured its first Five-Star win. The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong’s Four-Star Somm delivers sommelier-led meals, and Bellagio Las Vegas’s Five-Star Picasso immerses diners in Pablo Picasso’s art and chef Julian Serrano’s edible masterpieces.
  • Gabriel Kreuther is the first new independent restaurant in New York City to receive Five Stars in 10 years.
  • After a two-year renovation, the legendary Raffles Hotel Singapore triumphantly returned to the Star Ratings list with a Five-Star award.
  • In Italy, Capri joined the list with one Five-Star (J.K. Place Capri) and four Recommended hotels (Capri Palace Jumeirah, Capri Tiberio Palace, Grand Hotel Quisisana, Hotel Caesar Augustus). And Sicily premiered with five Four-Star hotels (Grand Hotel Timeo, A Belmond Hotel, Taormina; San Domenico Palace, Taormina, a Four Seasons Hotel; Verdura Resort, a Rocco Forte Hotel; Villa Igiea, A Rocco Forte Hotel; Villa Sant’Andrea, A Belmond Hotel, Taormina Mare).
  • Mallorca landed its debut Five-Star achievement for Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa. The property and new Five-Star Jumeirah Al Naseem (Dubai) join the iconic Burj Al Arab (Dubai) as the Jumeirah brand’s top-rated winners.
  • Nordic countries made their first showing on the list with Four-Star Hotel d’Angleterre Copenhagen and Recommended winners Amerikalinjen (Oslo), Ett Hem (Stockholm), and Grand Hôtel Stockholm.
  • Six destinations picked up their first Five-Star spa accolades: Barbados (The Spa at Sandy Lane), Ireland (The Spa at Ashford Castle), Kuwait (Spa and Wellness Centre at Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait Burj Alshaya), Madrid (The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Madrid), Mauritius (One&Only Le Saint Géran’s Wellness Spa), and Vancouver (Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Pacific Rim).

“Travel is in an incredible position for continued growth, as people prioritize authentic, in-person experiences,” says Amanda Frasier, president of ratings for Forbes Travel Guide. “The hotels, ocean cruises, restaurants, and spas on our 2023 Star Rating list demonstrate an impressive commitment to creating memorable environments that nurture connection, joy, and sense of place as we experience the world to its fullest.”

About The Author

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures,, E! Online,, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.