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Favorite hotel of the rich may come as a surprise

The Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton and Mandarin Oriental all have plenty of class. But when it comes to the favorite hotel of the rich, an unexpected name tops the list: The Bellagio in Las Vegas.

A new survey of more than 800 millionaires around the world, released by South Africa-based wealth research firm New World Wealth, ranked the Bellagio the No. 1 hotel in the world among millionaires.

The Plaza Hotel in New York City ranked second, followed by the Mandarin Oriental in London, the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, France, and Raffles Hotel Singapore.

Aside from its famed fountain and pool, the Bellagio boasts loads of high-end restaurants, clubs, luxury suites and a central location.

The Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Eleanor Scriven | Getty Images
The Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

"The Bellagio is not really a name we expected, but a lot of the wealthy like going there," said Andrew Amoils, head of research at New World Wealth.

Granted, large hotels such as the Bellagio had an advantage in the survey, since more wealthy customers would have had the chance to stay there. Smaller boutiques — even though they may be better-liked — wouldn't get as many votes, since respondents wrote in their top hotel choice. Newer hotels were also at a disadvantage, since they've had less time to acquire fans.

Still, Amoils said the survey is fairly representative, and wasn't influenced by any sponsors.

"It's completely objective," he said.

When it comes to favorite airlines, Singapore Airlines topped the list. Australia's Qantas ranked second, followed by Japan Airlines, Germany's Lufthansa and Air France. While Singapore has long topped luxury-flier lists, Amoils said he was surprised at one name that was missing from the top five: Emirates, which is famed for its plush first-class cabins and in-flight spas.

"Maybe it was just a question of not as many high-net-worth individuals flying on the Emirates routes," he said.

As part of the new demand among the wealthy for unusual travel experiences, New World Wealth also looked at the favorite train rides of the rich. They preferred the Eastern & Oriental Express, which rolls from Singapore to Malaysia to Thailand and features sumptuous silk-lined cabins and stunning views of Buddhist temples, palm plantations and the famous Bridge over the River Kwai.

The Blue Train in South Africa ranked second, followed by the Pride of Africa, which travels throughout that country. The Maharajas Express, in India, and the Orient Express, which travels through Europe and Turkey, rounded out the top five.

"The wealthy have always liked to travel," Amoils said. "But now they want to do things that haven't been done much before. They want unusual experiences."