5 Great Travel Coffee Table Books of 2018

Dec 15, 2018

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As 2018 draws to a close and flyers turn their attention to planning 2019 adventures, there may be no better way to inspire a new journey than with an excellent travel-themed “coffee table” edition. These travel books (I use the term loosely, as these tomes were meant to excite rather than guide) also make great last-minute gifts for the globetrotters on your holiday shopping list. From stunning hotels to satellite images of Earth, these are five of the best travel coffee table books released this year.

The Monocle Guide to Hotels, Inns and Hideaways

From The Monocle Guide to Hotels, Inns & Hideaways. (Image via Monocle).
(Image via Monocle).

“A manual for everyone from holidaymakers to hoteliers. We sidestep the humdrum haunts in favor of stays with substance,” the book proclaims on its cover. Indeed. In 2018, Monocle released a guide to their favorite hotels worldwide. It’s a great edit, and the guide features the top 100 hotels worldwide, a how-to guide I wish every hotelier would read on how to improve the hotel experience and essays on what makes hotels tick.

I’d buy this book, published by Gestalten, for someone who enjoys dreaming of sipping espresso in Milan while enjoying their Sunday morning coffee routine back home. Buy: Amazon.com

Mr & Mrs Smith Presents: The World’s Sexiest Bedrooms

Sexy bedrooms at hotels worldwide.

Self-styled as “the travel club for hotel lovers,” Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a high-end hotel booking service. Late this year, they published a new coffee table book detailing their point of view on the world’s most interesting hotel rooms: sexy, if you will. And the book delivers. It carefully avoids being an advertisement for their booking agency and instead is an aspirational guide for travelers and hoteliers alike. From Six Sense Ninh Van Bay in Vietnam and Singita Lebombo Lodge in South Africa to the Williamsburg Hotel in Brooklyn, it’s a nice flip through to spot where you might want to stay next.

Published by Thames & Hudson, known for books that pique the interests of the jet set, this high-quality tome makes for a perfect gift for any extravagant traveler. Buy: Amazon.com

Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips

Journeys of a Lifetime.
Journeys of a Lifetime.

This is the second edition of the National Geographic classic, and it features six pounds worth of spectacular adventures. “Journeys of a Lifetime” takes times to thoughtfully explore the grandest and most intrepid trips you can undertake by land, sea or air. Think: a journey aboard a Finnish icebreaker, the ride from Seattle to Alaska or wine tasting in Hungary. If it’s a great trip and one that should be on your bucket list, it’ll be in this book.

Intrepid travelers seeking their next great adventure will love this hefty hardcover. Buy: Amazon.com


The Supersonic cover.

TPG readers knows that getting there in style is half the adventure: What seat you choose, the aircraft you select, the carrier you fly and how to maximize your points. So, I would be remiss not to include “Supersonic” in a list of fantastic travel books published in 2018. It’s a celebration of one of the most majestic and powerful means of travel from the last century.

This is one your AvGeek friends will immediately gravitate to when they spot it on your coffee table. Buy: Amazon.com

Atlas of the World

To be sure, it has a less sexy title than the “World’s Sexiest Bedrooms,” but no matter. If you’re like me, you’ve spent countless hours spinning a globe or perusing an atlas, looking at coves, inlets, airports and just how someone gets from Anchorage to Iliamna Lake. The grand dame of atlases is the “Atlas of the World,” from Oxford University Press, now in its 25th edition. This is no ordinary atlas, either. It is meticulously updated annually, including new images from the Landsat 8 satellite. Buy: Amazon.com

Monocle Travel Guide Books

2018 releases by Monocle. Now including Barcelona. (Image via Monocle.)
2018 releases by Monocle. Now including Barcelona. (Image via Monocle.)

That cool friend of yours who always knows what’s hot? That’s the Monocle Travel Guide Series. These guide books are short, sweet and always relevant. Launched in 2015, they are a must-read to understand a city: not just where to stay and what to eat, but also its cultural nuances and zeitgeist. In 2018, Monocle released guides to Athens, Helsinki, Zurich, Mexico City, Beirut, Melbourne, Barcelona (finally!), Seoul, Kyoto, San Francisco and Milan. Buy: Monocle.com, $15 each

Mike Arnot is the founder of Boarding Pass NYC, a New York-based travel brand.

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