Rough Guides Readers' Awards 2015

The results are in….

After four weeks and more than a thousand votes, the results of the inaugural Rough Guides Readers’ Awards are in. These are the brands, people and places that shaped your year of travel in 2015.

⋆ Best travel gear brand ⋆

WINNER – Osprey

Osprey, with their environmentally conscious approach and ever-reliable packs, stormed into first place to be crowned your favourite travel gear brand of 2015. Founded in 1974, the company recently marked their forty year anniversary but their speed of innovation shows no sign of abating.

Off backpacking soon? Make sure you’ve got these 20 essential items on your checklist.

RUNNER-UP – North Face

On a mission to support the preservation of wild places and encourage outdoor exploration, North Face came a close second in this year’s vote. Under their tagline “never stop exploring”, they’ve inspired and enabled travellers, adventurers and athletes alike.

Want to embrace their philosophy? Meet the man who thinks adventure is a state of mind.

⋆ Best airline ⋆

WINNER – British Airways

You’ve been among the 40 million customers who travelled with BA in the last twelve months – some of you probably even drunk one of the 35 million cups of tea or 3.7 million bottles of wine they served – and you voted them the best airline the year.

Want to get a glimpse behind the scenes at BA? Read about how you can become one of their pilots for the day.

RUNNER-UP – Virgin

Virgin soared into second place to take the runner-up spot for best airline in 2015. With an expanding fleet of brands that includes Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Australia and, of course, Virgin Galactic, they plan to be part of your travels for years to come.

Wondering where to fly to next? Take this quiz to find your perfect holiday destination.

 

⋆ Best tour operator ⋆

WINNER – Intrepid

Focusing on small groups but big adventures, Intrepid’s approach takes you right to the heart of the local culture. Whether you joined them for trekking, wildlife-watching, cycling or an epic overland trip, they got your vote as 2015’s best operator.

Into adventure travel? Check out these 20 places to travel if you like a challenge.

RUNNER-UP – Explore

A list of 500 trips in 120 countries means runner-up Explore has a tour to almost anywhere you could want to go. Their new 2016 routes include family trips to Ecuador and the Galapagos, New York City walking tours and a winter adventure in Romania.

Still need travel inspiration? See if you’ve ticked everything off our list of 50 things to do before you die.

⋆ Best hotel ⋆

WINNER – The View, Monument Valley

We love The View, with its unparalleled vistas of Monument Valley’s dramatic buttes – and we’re not the only ones. The only hotel actually within Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, it doesn’t disappoint.

Want to learn more about the region? Find out what Monument Valley means to the USA’s largest Native American tribe.

RUNNER-UP – Mama Shelter, Paris

Philippe Starck’s cool design hotel continues to turn heads with its iMac-equipped rooms and bold decor. Plus with rock-bottom starting prices, there’s a lot to like about this Parisian pad, now one of a small but growing chain across Europe and the US.

Need more reasons to take that trip to Paris? This collection of magical photos by Kaamna Patel will convince you.

⋆ Best hostel ⋆

WINNER – CODE, Edinburgh

Relative newcomer CODE, which opened its doors on Edinburgh’s Rose Street North Lane in 2014, got your vote for hostel of the year. This modern, welcoming hostel prides itself on its modern design, warm welcome and sophisticated ‘pod’ beds.

Been backpacking recently? We bet you’ll have learned at least one of these 14 lessons on your trip.

RUNNER-UP – Urban House, Copenhagen

Copenhagen’s Urban House describe themselves as a place to sleep, relax, be social and throw back a few beers. It seems you loved their inclusive attitude, plus their on-site tattoo studio, bar, games room and cinema.

Planning a trip hostelling through Europe? Check out these 12 essential tips before you go.

⋆ Best attraction ⋆

WINNER – The Blue Lagoon, Iceland

The Blue Lagoon stormed into first place, proving it’s not just one of the top Icelandic experiences but one of the best attractions worldwide. If you’re heading to Iceland in 2016, be sure to make time for a relaxing dip in this trumpeted geothermal spa.

Sound like your kind of holiday activity? Here are 9 more hot pools to visit while you’re in Iceland.

RUNNER-UP – The Grand Canyon

Few superlatives or statistics can prepare you for the sight of Arizona’s Grand Canyon, measuring 1 mile deep, 10 miles wide and 277 miles long. There’s little wonder you chose this momentous natural wonder as one of the attractions of the year.

Need more ideas for getting outdoors in the USA? Here are 20 places to get you started.

⋆ Best blogger ⋆

WINNER – Nomadic Matt

Matt Kepnes has been blogging about budget travel for over 7 years, building up a huge following among Rough Guides readers and beyond with his insider tips and tricks. Whether you want to travel the world on $50 a day, book a cheap flight or just get some inspiration, his blog is a great place to start.

Looking for more travel wisdom from Matt? Check out our Q&A interview on budgeting, splurging and more.

RUNNER-UP – Legal Nomads

Blogger and photographer Jodi Ettenberg focuses on telling stories through food, living and eating her way around the world. Her blog, Legal Nomads, is a must-read for any food-loving traveller, and led to her first book, The Food Traveler’s Handbook.

Dream of following in her footsteps? Get inspired with this round-up of the world’s best street food.

 

⋆ Best tweeter ⋆

WINNER – Humans of New York

Global Facebook phenomenon and wildly popular blog Humans of New York was started by Brandon Stanton in 2010 when he set out to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers. Today, his pictures and stories inspire millions and he’s the Tweeter you thought was most worth following in 2015.

Want to explore more of New York? Start with these five little-known sights.

RUNNER-UP – World of Wanderlust

The Twitter feed of travel and lifestyle blogger Brooke Saward certainly evokes the spirit of her handle @worldofwanderlust. She’s on a “mission to inspire, intrigue and inform readers to travel to more places, more often”, and she’s got lots of you hooked on the ride.

Is your wanderlust getting out of control? Find kindred spirits in these 50 travel quotes.

⋆ Best Instagrammer ⋆

WINNER – Young adventuress

“Storyteller. Adventuress. Hurricane.” is how Liz Carlson describes herself and she’s recently topped 100,000 followers with her beautifully shot pictures of her life on the road. She gets your vote for the best Instagram account of the year.

Instagram addict? There’s a big dose of cute that you also need to add to your feed.

RUNNER-UP – Do You Travel

24-year-old Brit Jack Morris lives the Instagram dream, travelling continuously for four years by chronicling his life in pictures. Just a quick scroll through his recent adventures takes you from Thailand to Madagascar to Jordan – this is envy-inducing social media at its finest.

Looking to improve your travel photography? Listen to Paul Goldstein’s tips on how to take accomplished, original pictures.

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