Introducing the world's best hotel 2011: Singita Grumeti Reserves (Sasakwa Lodge, Sabora Tented Camp, Faru Faru Lodge)
Yep, this stunning hotel in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, has snapped up the top spot in Travel + Leisure magazine's renowned World's Best Hotels list for 2011.
Faru Faru has six chalets overlooking the Grumeti River, and channels a Swahili beach resort vibe; a swimming pool curves in front of an open-air lounge, where guests sip sunset cocktails as elephants gather at the watering hole below.
The reserve's flagship is Sasakwa, an East African ranch house set on a plateau with panoramic views of the plains. The lodge's wood-panelled libraries have an English country club feel, and there are seven cottage residences, each with a garden and plunge pool. Tennis courts, a spa, and a yoga centre occupy guests between twice-daily game drives, where sightings include wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles.
Unfortunately, you have to scroll all the way through to number 24 to reach an offering from Britain: the full-of-wow-factor Kempinski-run Stafford Hotel in London's Green Park.
In fact, this year's World's Best Hotels results reflect a growing preference for the exotic. Six of the year's Top 10 hotels overall are safari lodges in Africa, while the number of winning hotels in the top 50 located in Mexico and Central and South America has increased fivefold since 2010.
And then there's Asia. Bangkok - once again voted the No. 1 city in the world - is home to the legendary Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok (rising from No. 57 to No. 23 this year). North of Bangkok in Chiang Mai, the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi surged to No. 7 on the list, up from No. 45 in 2010. This resort was designed to re-create the experience of staying within a historic Thai village; farmers and wood-carvers work on-site. Similarly, a stay at the grand Oberoi Udaivilas (No. 5), a domed palace on the shores of Lake Pichola in Rajasthan, feels like a trip back in time, according to Travel + Leisure.
We particularly love the look of the Triple Creek Ranch (No. 6) in the Montana Rockies, where you can trace the Lewis and Clark trail on a horse-riding tour before unwinding in renovated log cabins complete with wood-burning fireplaces and hot tubs.
See the full Travel + Leisure World's Best Hotels 2011 here
Check out our round-up of the hottest new hotels of 2011: