Things to do · Destinations · Asia · Northern Europe
September 20, 2019 Words: Bill Bradley and Noah Davis

The Most Luxurious Cities for Travel

Treat yourself with trips to these five lavish and modern locales


Sometimes, when it comes to vacation, you need Michelin restaurants, full-service hotels, shopping, and more. In other words, luxury.

We’re here to help. To determine the most luxurious cities in the world, we looked at six different factors: 1) Hotels—which places have the most five-star lodgings per square mile? 2) Dining—where are the most Michelin-starred restaurants per square mile? 3) Weather—how many days per year are above 70 degrees? 4) Spa—what’s the availability of a Forbes-rated spa? 5) Geography—is there an urban center, a beach, and/or mountains? And 6) Shopping—how many visitors come to shop, based on Google search patterns? Then, we weighted each factor, according to its relative importance, added it all up, formulated a top 50, and came up with the following results.

1. New York, New York

It’s the city that never sleeps because there’s something to do, right around every corner. New York (for the purposes of this study confined to just Manhattan Island) is the smallest city on the list—just 22.8 square miles—but it packs luxury into every street and avenue. Among the top 50, the Big Apple boasts the third-most five-star hotels per square mile and the most Michelin-starred restaurants per square mile. It offers the most shopping among the top five, and there’s also a highly-rated spa. Even the climate in New York is somewhat favorable, as about a third of its days per year (122) break the 70-degree mark. The only thing you won’t find in New York: a beach or a mountain.

2. Barcelona, Spain

There’s no beach in New York, but our no. 2 city sits right on the water in the northeast of Spain. Barcelona isn’t necessarily a go-to destination for any one thing. Instead, it offers an above-average amount of everything. Just five other cities have more five-star hotels per square mile; the city has 22 Michelin-starred eateries; there’s plenty of shopping; and nearly half of the year (153 days) see the temperature rise above 70 degrees. You won’t find the top luxury spa experience in Catalonia, but Barcelona can give you just about everything else.

3. Denpasar, Indonesia

You go to the capital of Bali if you want a luxurious experience that also promises great weather (every day is above 70 degrees) and a diverse landscape, with an urban center, beaches, and nearby mountains. Denpasar has 20 five-star hotels, and four Michelin-starred restaurants. In Denpasar, which is over twice the size of New York City (at nearly 45 square miles), you’ll have to look a little harder to find the great food and excellent shopping, but don’t worry: it’s still there.

4. Paris, France

This will not shock you: There’s great food in Paris. Only Shanghai (234) has more Michelin-starred restaurants, and the French capital has more (121) than the three cities before it on this list... combined. Only New York has more elite eating establishments per square mile. Unsurprisingly, Paris also offers incredible options for where to stay, as it has the most five-star hotels among the top five (97). When you’re not eating or sleeping, the city doesn’t lack for shopping either. The only reason it’s not higher on this list: The weather gets chilly—only about a quarter of the year eclipses the 70-degree mark—and there’s no mountains, or nearby beach.

5. Milan, Italy

One of the unofficial fashion capitals of the world, Milan has shopping to rival Paris or New York, but it’s also a food-lovers dream: 107 Michelin-starred restaurants, making it one of just four cities in the top 50 to hit triple digits. At 70 square miles, Milan’s the biggest city in the top five and the only one above 50 square miles. Like Paris, the weather isn’t always agreeable, but Milan does have nearby mountains and lots of other nearby nature-filled day-trips.


Current looked at the 50 most visited cities in the world as defined by Euromonitor. In total, these cities saw over 460 million visitors in 2018. This report delves into the level of luxury travelers could experience in each of the designated cities. “Luxury” is a subjective concept and will vary from person to person. For the purpose of this report ‘luxury’ was used as a metric of comfort and convenience and not necessarily a factor of expense. The luxury of a city was determined by the following metrics:

1. Number of 5 Star Hotels per Square Mile (35 Points):

Source: Google Hotels

2. Number of Michelin Star Restaurants per Square Mile (35 Points):

Source: Michelin Guide

3. Number of Months Above 70 Degrees (10 Points)

Source: Wikipedia Climate Data
Notes: For this metric the average temperature for a month

4. Whether a Forbes Rated Spa is Available ( 5 Points)

If a city had one Forbes rated spa it was given 5 points.

5. The Number of Available Settings Within the City (5 Points)

Notes: ‘Settings’ are defined as beach, urban, and park/mountainous. These settings had to be located within 20 miles of a city to qualify.

6. The Strength of the City as a Center for Shopping (10 Points)

Source: Google search volume data
Notes: The strength of a city’s shopping culture was judged on the
number of people searching on Google about shopping in a city --
adjusted for a city’s number of annual visitors

Entrance to Abbey of Santa Maria de Poblet in Spain
Balinese Dancer in Indonesia
Rice pads in Bali
Paris, France (Seine River)
Scooter in Italy

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