By Ryan Craggs When it comes to high-end hotels, it's the amenities that separate the "Well, this is a nice room", from the "HOLY CRAP, CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS PLACE?!?!". Sean Connery wouldn't have enjoyed his time in San Francisco quite so much in The Rock, for example, if he didn't have a personal barber or the ability to toss John Spencer off a balcony. It's all about the details. Details that, in today's internet age, translate into glowing online reviews. And online reviews that, when effectively mined, can be used to determine the top hotels in the country. Which is exactly what we did, aggregating both expert- and user-generated ratings from travel sites across the web. We compared apples to apples as much as possible, but made sure the final numbers passed the sniff test (i.e., that the Plainfield HoJo didn't somehow make the list). It's not an exact science, but it's pretty damn close. The result: Our list of the 21 best hotels in America.
Beverly Hills, California Montage Beverly Hills only opened in 2008, but just like Valerie Malone on 90210, it made waves as soon as it joined the scene. And it really is something of a scene, plopped right in the middle of the the country's most exclusive zip code on Canon Drive. Sure, the hotel has incredible views, but the real action's at the 24/7 rooftop pool, where you've got as good a chance of seeing a celebrity slinking around as you do one of the dudes from TMZ. And you won't even risk getting punched in the face for being there. Continue Reading
Park City, Utah If you dreamt up the perfect ski lodge -- outfitted with loads of powder, a town full of people ready to party, and all the pampering you'd ever possibly want -- Stein Eriksen Lodge would be it. Named after a Norwegian gold-medal skier who invented aerials, this ski-in/ski-out spot with access to Deer Valley Resort boasts suites with fireplaces, private decks & hot tubs, and even a bike partnership with Fezzari if you're staying during the warmer months.
New York, New York While all the other luxury kids were busy eating their chicken nuggets together in Midtown, Conrad scoffed at the idea -- of eating chicken nuggets in a group, that is -- and set up its own lunch table in the Financial District. That's not to say the hotel has anything against meetings — in fact, the views of the waterfront from the rooftop Loopy Doopy bar are stunning enough to bring people together for an evening of libations.
Cincinnati, Ohio Most hotel art skews toward the kind of compositions that Bob Ross elegantly whipped together in 12 publicly sponsored minutes. 21c is not most hotels. In fact, it's as much a place to experience art as it is a place to lay your head — hence the name, 21c Museum Hotel. Designed by famous architect Deborah Berke, the hotel -- which also has locations in Louisville, KY and Bentonville, AR -- features a rotating cast of art exhibitions.
San Diego, CA From Sept 19th–21st, we’re turning the legendary party palace Hard Rock San Diego into an all-out Thrillist extravaganza called Hotel Thrillist San Diego, sponsored by Malibu Rum, complete with a rooftop pool party, late-night debauchery, a wildly inventive smorgasbord from San Diego’s best chefs, and more. And we want to send a few of you lucky cats for free, including airfare, accommodations, party access, and souvenir sunburns. Enter the Hotel Thrillist sweeps now. Things will escalate quickly.
St. Louis, Missouri Roll over in bed and you'll be rewarded with one of America's great landmarks, the Gateway Arch, peering in at you through the bedroom window. But not, like, in a creepy kinda way. Four Seasons St. Louis shows that Midwestern sensibilities can take you all the way to the top — of the Lumiere Casino, that is. 'Cause, you know, it's on the top floor.
New York, New York Acclaimed designer Jacques Grange (tapped previously by Yves Saint Laurent and Princess Caroline of Monaco) gave the interiors a complete makeover as part of a $150 million dollar overhaul a few years back; meanwhile, culinary legend Jean-Georges Vongerichten helms the kitchen at The Mark Restaurant, which means you'll have to wait a while to get that coveted 7:30pm OpenTable booking.
Aspen, Colorado Maybe you and your buddy are there to return Mary Samsonite's briefcase. Or maybe you just have enough good sense and the financial wherewithal to enjoy one of the most elite ski resorts in the world. Whatever your reason, St. Regis Aspen will be your respite between runs down the mountain. And there will be hot tubbing. Do not forget about the snow bunnies and the hot tubbing.
West Hollywood, California Sultans, celebrities, and people on vacation agree: Everyone loves pool cabanas. There really are few experiences in life quite as swanky as sipping drinks in a private cabana. And it makes recovering from a night out on the Sunset Strip a whole lot easier, too.
Chicago, Illinois The Peninsula Chicago brings the Far East to the Midwest, accenting pretty much everything with traditional Cantonese touches. If you book a suite, you can zip around the city in a complimentary Mini Cooper S, and the hotel's location hugging the Magnificent Mile puts you just a few pumps of the accelerator from the Museum of Contemporary Art and the John Hancock building.
Maui, Hawaii Four words: Adults-only infinity pool. Hawaii has its share of posh digs, but this is one of only two to earn the AAA Five Diamond Award and the Forbes Five-Star Award. That means it's doing a lot right. And "a lot" is what you'll be doing during your stay, including paddling in a Hawaiian outrigger canoe provided by the hotel, and testing your surfing chops on the Maui tubes. This is where beach bums go to grow up.
Boston, Massachusetts In addition to being able to look out your window and see where American patriots told the British to get stuffed, the Boston Harbor Hotel also boasts some of New England's best food at Meritage. After a night of drinking at Kevin Alexander's favorite two bars, The Sevens and Eastern Standard, you're gonna want to take down the restaurant's cocoa-rubbed Kobe flank steak and soft-scrambled eggs.
New York, New York If you've been in New York longer than three days and haven't hung out at the Refinery Rooftop, then you're doing something wrong. Or at least not reading enough Thrillist. While the hotel, of course, is everything you'd expect in Midtown luxury, it's the rooftop bar that sets this place apart, serving lobster rolls, Parmesan fries, and even a three-tiered flatbread platter. Oh, and plenty of cocktails. Tourists will drop $27 to get to the top of The Empire State Building; save your money, buy another round of drinks, and enjoy the view of that famous building from here.
Charleston, South Carolina Charleston is probably the most underrated city in the U.S. Where else can you get the cheapest flights in the country, a lively bar and restaurant scene, and all that Southern charm? Nowhere else. It's a rhetorical question.
Planters Inn heaps on that Southern hospitality, is decorated in 1700s style, and sits right at the historic City Market (aka the epicenter of all Charleston culture) within walking distance to many of the area's best bars and restaurants. Don't want to walk? Take one of those quaint carriage rides, instead. They still have those. Travel + Leisure named Planters Inn the Best U.S. Small City Hotel in 2014.
Denver, Colorado You probably don't think "hot" when you hear the word Denver, unless you're talking Peyton Manning's dance moves. Truth be told, though, the city has higher average monthly temperatures than New York. Look it up. And the best way to party when it's hot out? A rooftop pool, of course. The Four Seasons Hotel Denver's pool on its third-floor terrace brings a little bit of Miami to the Mile High City — but with way more class. You know, 'cause it's not in Miami. Also, because it is the Four Seasons.
New York, New York Parked on 63rd Street between Park and Madison, The Lowell more closely resembles a posh townhouse than luxury hotel. In fact, it's one of the few hotels in New York that maintains wood-burning fireplaces. More than for any other reason, though, you'll want to book The Lowell if you're looking for a semi-secluded spot that's still close to the action. This is the hotel that people who know about hotels check into.
Salt Lake City, Utah No, strong beer is not a selling point in the annual City of the Saints tourism guide. Strong skiing and boarding is, however, as the area gets 500 inches of snowfall per year. When you're taking a break from the hills, you can't get a better location for exploring SLC (as the cool Mormon kids call it. No?) than Grand America, which sits smack-dab in the middle of downtown.
Portland, Oregon The Nines derives its name from the fact that it occupies the top nine floors of the Meier & Frank Building. Clever. But even more clever, the hotel's location adjacent to Pioneer Courthouse Square puts you, the out-of-towner, in the best position possible. Here's what you really need to know: the 12th floor is a keycard-only Club Lounge with an open bar, which serves Bloody Marys during breakfast, booze from 4pm to 9pm, and beer and wine during all service hours. You're welcome.
Oh, and Casa Diablo, the world's first vegan strip club, is a nine-minute drive from The Nines. Coincidence?
Scottsdale, Arizona Some people go on vacation to relax. Others go to do stuff. At Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, you get the best of both worlds. All the luxury hotel spa stuff, complemented by five pools, tennis courts, fishing lagoons, and two TPC championship golf courses.
Chicago, Illinois We'd say you'll flip your wig when you check out the skyline view from the Trump, but that joke's low-hanging fruit. And really, this hotel does anything but hang low: It's actually the second-tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the 12th-tallest in the world. Not surprisingly, Trump also reaches for the sky when it comes to condo prices too: A 48th-floor unit recently sold for $3.985 million, while in 2009, an 88th-floor condo sold for a building record $5.166 million.
Santa Fe, New Mexico Out of the way is the way at this resort, since, you know, we're talking about New Mexico. A 10-minute drive from Santa Fe's plaza, the Four Seasons embraced the adobe architecture indigenous to the Southwest, and that local style is what sets this hotel apart from others on the list.