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london houses of parliamentWhich destination would you choose as the best in the world?

It’s a tough question for any globetrotter, but travel agents across the world came together to vote on just that in the 2010 World Travel Awards, announced yesterday. London took the title of the World’s Leading Destination for the fourth time in six years (other recent winners have included Dubai, Las Vegas and Orlando — though how the Mouse beat out cities like Paris and Rome in 2006 is a mystery to me).

In addition to selecting a “leading destination,” the annual awards highlight the cream of the crop in a heap of other categories including airlines, hotels, cruise lines, tourist boards and more.

To no one’s surprise, the fee-happy U.S.-based airlines were barely represented in the “world’s leading” list — Etihad Airways took top honors for the best overall airline, while Cathay Pacific earned a nod for its economy-class experience (Virgin Atlantic won for business class and Etihad racked up another trophy for first class). However, there was one lonely U.S. airline on the list: Frontier, which beat out JetBlue and several other discounters for the title of the world’s best low-cost carrier.

Given the perennial complaints about the lack of comprehensive train transportation in the U.S., I was a little shocked to see Amtrak take top honors as the World’s Leading Rail Service — beating out Eurostar, which had won the award every previous year since 1998. Dare we hope this means that U.S. train travel is on the rise?

Other highlights from the list: InterContinental Hotels & Resorts was named the world’s best hotel brand, Royal Caribbean ruled the seas as the top cruise line and the self-proclaimed “seven-star” Burj Al Arab in Dubai took the “best hotel” crown for the sixth year in a row. Click the link above to see the full (and lengthy) list of winners.

–written by Sarah Schlichter

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