Choosing the right hotel for your next stateside getaway is no easy feat: A property's quality can be difficult to measure until you're standing at check-in with luggage in tow. That's where U.S. News & World Report's annual Best Hotels in the USA rankings come in. In recent years, high-end hotels have been upping their game and making strides in defining new standards of luxury. This year's rankings reflect increased competition and an ever-improving guest experience.
U.S. News' travel editors analyzed a wide assortment of travel resources -- including guidebooks, travel websites, guest reviews and expert ratings -- to compile a comprehensive list of the best places to rest your head in the United States. Our editors used an unbiased methodology to evaluate nearly 1,700 luxury hotels across the country. From Hawaii's most paradisiacal escapes to the towering high-rise hotels of Chicago, this collection of properties showcases the diversity of lodging options across America.
The 10 top hotels in the USA for 2014 stand out among a varied landscape of great American properties. High-end amenities, excellent customer service and gourmet restaurants contribute to the distinguished reputations of each of these hotels.
10. Waldorf Astoria Chicago
The Waldorf Astoria Chicago's convenient location near Michigan Avenue places the hotel within walking distance of the city's top things to do, but guests of the lavish property can also opt for private transportation via the hotel's in-house Mercedes Benz sedan. It's the exclusive access to exceptional amenities like these that both guests and experts praise. Travelers also hold this Waldorf Astoria hotel in high esteem for its stylish accommodations that feature Bowers & Wilkins speaker systems, 500-thread-count sheets and sweeping views of the Chicago skyline. Plus, this Hilton-affiliated property brings all the perks that accompany its brand: Think exceptional service and state-of-the-art amenities, such as an extensive spa, well-equipped fitness center and gourmet European restaurant, Balsan. The Waldorf Astoria slipped one spots to No. 10 in this year's ranking, but it still holds on to its distinction as one of the country's top 10 hotels.
9. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa
Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
Seated among gardens and olive groves, the 49 casitas at the Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa offer private balconies, multiple rooms and touches like fireplaces, deep soaking tubs and high-tech sound systems. The Mediterranean-inspired Relais & Châteaux property located about 25 miles north of San Diego took a spot among the top 10 U.S. hotels this year following a $30 million renovation. The updates earned Rancho Valencia recognition among industry leaders: The hotel received a Forbes Travel Guide Five Star rating and a place on the 2014 Condé Nast Gold List. But it's not only experts who note the hotel's standout quality: Guests praise Rancho Valencia for its gracious service, expansive spa and scenic grounds.
8. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka'upulehu
Big Island, Hawaii
The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka'upulehu brings a taste of Hawaii's Golden Age to the reputable Four Seasons brand. With seven pools, a renowned spa, a golf course that overlooks the Pacific Ocean and guest rooms with bamboo canopy beds, the Four Seasons Hualalai is lauded by visitors who say that the manicured landscape creates a private paradise and the welcoming staff makes the resort feel like home. The hotel garners praise from experts, and this year is no exception: The Four Seasons Hualalai earned several industry accolades, including the coveted AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star awards, as well as a spot on the Travel + Leisure 500 World's Best Hotels list.
7. The Grand Del Mar
Sweeping terraces, open-air walkways and the acclaimed Addison restaurant are some of the noteworthy amenities that helped The Grand Del Mar nab its highest spot yet on our Best Hotels in the USA ranking. The resort raked in awards this year thanks to its 21,000-square-foot spa, Tom Fazio-designed golf course and oversized guest rooms and suites. Visitors are reluctant to leave the Mediterranean-inspired estate in the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve after experiencing its tranquil setting, accommodating staff and extensive list of indoor and outdoor activities.
Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Amangani earned the No. 1 spot on last year's Best U.S. Hotels list, but slipped to the sixth spot after receiving fewer awards in 2014. That's not to say Amangani's draws aren't as abundant as ever. The resort sits on the East Gros Ventre Butte in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and is home to a heated outdoor pool with panoramic views of the Teton Mountains. Guests offer shining reviews of the full-service spa, the spacious suites (equipped with fireplaces and separate living areas) and the highly attentive staff. Although it can be tough to leave the resort grounds, Amangani offers year-round recreation opportunities, such as fly-fishing in the warmer months and cross-country skiing during winter.
5. Four Seasons Resort Lana'i, The Lodge at Koele
On Hawaii's most exclusive island, the Four Seasons Resort Lana'i, The Lodge at Koele has all the makings of a tropical resort. With access to a greenhouse, two golf courses (designed by Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus), poolside service and a full repertoire of outdoor recreation, guests find it hard to check out of the estate-like property. Visitors love the hotel's staff members, whose kindness and attentiveness is consistent with the brand's reputation. Travel experts also find this property noteworthy -- The Lodge at Koele earns a spot on the 2014 Travel + Leisure 500 World's Best Hotels and Condé Nast Traveler Gold lists, among others. Though this resort dropped a few spots from its No. 2 rank last year, the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele continues to shine.
4. Four Seasons Hotel Seattle
Located within walking distance of many of Seattle's best things to do and see -- like Pike Place Market and the Seattle Art Museum -- this stylish Four Seasons hotel wins praise from travelers for convenience, comfort and high-quality customer service. This urban escape is home to a rooftop infinity pool, a 6,000-square-foot spa and the swanky ART Restaurant and Lounge. Meanwhile, the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle -- a Forbes Five Star award-winning hotel -- has spacious accommodations equipped with complimentary wireless Internet access, TVs embedded in bathroom mirrors and floor-to-ceiling windows for views of the city.
3. The Allison Inn & Spa
The Allison Inn & Spa didn't come close to cracking the top 10 in 2013, but the hotel soared to the No. 3 spot this year due to its excellent concierge services, guest rooms outfitted in rich earth tones and 35-acre swath of Oregon's wine country. Guests describe the hotel's employees as detail-oriented in how they care for both the property and its visitors. Wine enthusiasts will find plenty to do with 200 wineries located in the surrounding Willamette Valley. And with a 15,000-square-foot spa, an indoor pool and the JORY signature restaurant (complete with live jazz entertainment and an 800-label wine list), all types of travelers can find respite at The Allison Inn & Spa.
2. The Inn at Palmetto Bluff
The Inn at Palmetto Bluff's 50 cottages and suites sit alongside the May River west of Hilton Head Island. Travelers and experts praise this property's Southern charm and hospitality, citing a notably gracious staff and a wide range of easily accessible amenities. Guests of the inn have numerous activities at their fingertips, including golfing on a Jack Nicklaus signature course, touring nearby Daufuskie Island, participating in fitness classes and playing tennis, croquet and bocce. And with spacious accommodations that boast private porches, fireplaces and wet bars, it's no wonder The Inn at Palmetto Bluff earns awards like Forbes Travel Guide's Five Star rating year after year.
1. The Lodge at Sea Island
Sea Island, Ga.
Surpassing all other U.S. News-ranked hotels in the United States, The Lodge at Sea Island earns the top distinction of 2014's Best Hotel in the USA. Though The Lodge has been recognized as a Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond property for several years, the hotel skyrocketed to the top after gaining further recognition among experts and guests alike. Guests laud just about everything at the hotel -- from the seven restaurants to the three 18-hole championship golf courses to the 65,000-square-foot spa (located at its sister property The Cloister, which is also on Sea Island grounds). Guest rooms are also met with praise for their waterfront views, wood furnishings, spacious patios and large bathrooms with rainfall showerheads and deep soaking tubs.
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-- Allison Michaels