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Welcome to the gently refashioned and reformatted edition of the escapist. In line with some of our recent editorial tweaks, our annual travel journal offers more in the way of grand tours and plenty of leads for long weekenders. Plus, carrying on from the release of The Monocle Guide to Hotels, Inns and Hideaways, there’s also plenty of inspiration for industry professionals or those who fancy a twirl at front desk.

This issue also sees us name our top 50 in the travel industry, from aircraft to hotels, lounges to flight attendants. With a shortlist drawn from the journeys of our writers and editors over the past 12 months, our ranking is 100 per cent free of PR influence, gratis flights and press trips. As with everything you come across in monocle, we pay our own way.

When it comes to naming the people, products and businesses we admire in the world of travel, we go out of our way to sample the new or recently relaunched, while also ensuring that our list is relevant to our core audience. Sure, we can be swayed by extra perks and a well-timed gin and tonic, as that is the point of fine hospitality: reading the room, anticipating desires and delivering on what you promise the passenger, guest or member.

On the topic of well-timed G&Ts, this year’s flight attendant of the year stands out not only because she’s a seasoned pro whose career goes back to the golden days of Swissair but also because she’s a stellar example of what it means to be an ambassador for a nation’s flag carrier. On a flight to Los Angeles late last year, your editor in chief was feeling particularly fragile after a weekend of big celebrations, and perhaps wasn’t at the top of his game at midday on a Monday. While settling in and hoping it wouldn’t be too long before I could throw the seat into full bed mode, a charming woman with bouncy blonde hair and a twinkle in her eye appeared. She decided that the best remedy for my condition wasn’t a question like, “What would you like to drink after take-off?” but more of a suggestion that bordered on an order: “I think you need a gin and tonic, no?”

Not only did this sort me right out but it also set the tone for the rest of the flight. At a time when many carriers are only too happy to cut out pricier seniors in favour of youth that might have enthusiasm but lacks experience, we’re only too happy to award our prize to Ms Zumofen (please see page 122). It acknowledges her thorough understanding of the human condition and how to accurately read it.

monocle believes that hotels, airlines and restaurants could all do with a bit more of the sharp and seasoned (rather than beards and braces) behind the bar and at reception. Of course it’s important to bring in a younger audience and ensure there’s a new generation of consumers. But it’s even more important to respect the customers who got you there in the first place – and make sure they stick with you.

We hope you agree with our 2019 ranking; stay tuned for our announcement on where we’ll be handing out this year’s awards. Thank you for your support.
If you have any seats or suites you feel we might have missed from our line-up, please drop me a note at tb@monocle.com.

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