Best Hotels Of 2013, As Ranked By US News & World Report

The latest rankings from U.S. News & World Report are out, and this time, we’re not talking about the best jobs or colleges; it’s all about the hotels. While we’d normally be more inclined to trust a travel publication with these rankings, we like that U.S. News has a tendency to base their rankings on methodology rather than review roundups we’ve seen.

“This is our third year ranking hotels, and the bar continues to climb for luxury properties,” said Chad Smolinski, Vice President of Rankings and Reviews at U.S. News & World Report in a release. “Desirable amenities and hotel loyalty programs will no longer suffice. People are seeking hotels that go above and beyond to give their guests an unforgettable experience. Hotels that consistently meet the high expectations of experts and travelers are recognized in our rankings.”

Of course, we’re always eager to add to our hotel bucket lists as well!

Here are some of the tops:

United States:
Out of the 1,639 U.S. luxury hotels across the United States evaluated for the 2013 rankings, 164 properties scored high enough to earn a place on the list of the Best Hotels in the USA . The top three are:
1. Amangani; Jackson, WY
2. Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, The Lodge at Koele; Lanai, HI
3. The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, An Auberge Resort; Bluffton, SC

For the first time, the magazine has ranked these island hotels. Of the 273 luxury properties analyzed, 27 scored high enough to be named Best Hotels in the Caribbean by U.S. News. The top three are:
1. Tortuga Bay; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
2. Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France; Baie des Flamands, St. Barts
3. Eden Rock, St. Barths; Baie de Saint Jean, St. Barts

By Brand:
U.S. News has also released its first-ever ranking of the 2013 Best Hotels by Brand to help travelers select the best brand-backed hotels across the United States and the Caribbean. From New Mexico to Boston, some of a brands’ “best” may surprise you.

What do you think? Have you stayed at these properties and are the rankings fair?

[Image Credit: Four Seasons Magazine]

Expedia Releases 2012’s Best Reviewed Hotels List

This week, Expedia released their findings for their 2012 Insiders’ Select rankings, an annual list put out based on more than 500,000 customer hotel reviews. Only 650 of the 150,000 Expedia properties are designated as Insiders’ Select hotels. Likewise, selected hotels are the ones that consistently offer competitive pricing, immaculate amenities and distinguished customer service.

Of the hotels found across 74 countries, there are 28% in North America, 25% in Europe, 3% in South America, 19% in Asia and 25% elsewhere. Moreover, there is an array of star ratings and accommodation styles. For example, 35% are luxury, 17% are sustainable, 11 are ski-friendly, 87 are for families and 116 provide beach settings.

The top 10 properties chosen for this year’s list include:

1. Marrol’s Boutique Hotel (5 Stars, Bratislava, Slovakia)
2. Hotel Al Codega (4 Stars, Venice, Italy)
3. Hotel Royal Corin (4 Stars, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica)
4. Hilton Garden Inn Aberdeen (4 Stars, Aberdeen, Scotland)
5. Four Seasons Miami (5 Stars, Miami, Florida)
6. Madison Hotel Hamburg (4.5 Stars, Hamburg/Hanover, Germany)
7. Element Omaha Midtown Crossing (3 Stars, Omaha, Nebraska)
8. Sonnenalp Resort Of Vail (4.5 Stars, Vail-Beaven Creek, Colorado)
9. Taj Lands’ End (5 Stars, Mumbai, India)
10. Mr. C Beverly Hills (5 Stars, Los Angeles, California)

Click here to see the full list.

10 hotels celebrating centennial birthdays in 2012

The year 2012 marks a very special year for many hotels, as some of the world’s most prestigious properties turn 100 and join the Century Club. Everyone loves birthdays, and lucky for travelers these properties are celebrating by offering guests discounts, prizes, packages, and parties.

Fairmont Copley Plaza
Boston, Massachusetts

The Fairmont Copley Plaza opened its doors on August 19, 1912, at an extravagant cost of $5.5 million. In attendance at the hotel’s reception were over 1000 guests, one of which included Boston‘s mayor at the time, John F. “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, who was President Kennedy’s grandfather. To celebrate its 100-year birthday, the hotel is featuring an array of events and promotions, including a “100 Days of Celebration” beginning May 10. During this time, complimentary period costume tours, 20th century music, and cake will be available. Moreover, a Celebration of a Century package will be available through December 31, offering accommodation in a newly renovated room, a private hotel history tour, and a history booklet.

Package rates begin at $100 per person, per night. Call 1-800-257-7544 or E-mail to book. Bar Lazy J Ranch
Parshall, Colorado

While not your traditional hotel, Bar Lazy J Ranch is a relaxing ranch that works hard to ensure the satisfaction of their guests. Even before officially opening, the ranch was going out of its way for strangers, even allowing travelers to stay the night free of charge. It wasn’t until 1912 that a debutante was hired as a secretary and the ranch required a letter of recommendation from people hoping to stay. Back then, the atmosphere of Bar Lazy J Ranch was very formal, with coffee served before breakfast in demitasse cups on the lawn, high tea, polo, and croquet matches. Today, the property is all-inclusive, allowing guests to partake in as many activity offerings as they would like without worrying about overspending. To celebrate its 100th birthday this summer, the ranch will be hosting an array of centennial activities such as “1912 nights” each Wednesday, high tea, vintage photos and old-west costumes, and music inspired by compositions from the last century.

Rates start at $1825 per week, per adult, with discounts on certain dates. Call 800-396-6279 or E-mail to book.

The Beverly Hills Hotel
Los Angeles, California

The Beverly Hills Hotel was built before there was a city called Beverly Hills, in an attempt to bring crowds of people to the area. It worked, and in 1914 Beverly Hills was incorporated into a city. Not only that, but some of society’s most affluent celebrities created history in the hotel. For example, Frank Sinatra and the rest of the rat pack loved to drink in the hotel’s Polo Lounge, and the hotel pool was the backdrop scene for Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall in “Designing Women.” To celebrate their centennial birth, the Beverly Hills Hotel is offering an array of programing and packages. Their 100-Year Birthday Package, which runs until the end of the year, features rooms and suites for $100 per night, a birthday cake amenity, a complimentary cocktail, a 100-year candle, and daily breakfast for two. There will also be a “1912 Lottery” in a chosen dining outlet each week, where a diner will be randomly selected to receive their meal at 1912 pricing.

For a full list of packages and promotions or to book a stay, click here.

Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort and Spa
Tucson, Arizona

The Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort and Spa was originally a dude ranch in 1912 and today is an 80-acre resort sitting at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains in the Sonoran Desert. While certain historic touches are still retained, the hotel underwent a $14 million renovation in 2009 to help update the look and feel. In honor of their 100th birthday, the Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort and Spa is compiling a book titled “History of Westward Look: 100 Years in the Making” that will include photos and souvenirs from past guests. This is also part of the “Call for Treasures” contest offering prizes of free hotel stays and complimentary dining packages.

Rates start at $189 per night based on double occupancy. Call 800-722-2500 or click here to book.

Kalispell Grand Hotel
Kalispell, Montana

The Kalispell Grand Hotel opened its doors in 1912 as an upscale hotel for the wealthier traveler, charging a whopping $2 per night. During its opening, the property also offered grand amenities like wake up calls, door locks, and running water, making it a popular choice. Today, their definition of grand amenities has luckily shifted with the times, as spacious rooms, plush bedding, and relaxing massages are offered on the premises. Guests can enjoy the hotel’s 100th birthday by taking advantage of a $20.12 discount on all rooms until May 31, 2012.

Room rates vary by date. Call 800-858-7422 or click here to book.

Camino Real El Paso
El Paso, Texas

Listed on the Historic Hotels of America website, the Camino El Paso is a national historic landmark. Originally known as the Paso Del Norte Hotel, one of the most impressive features of the property then was the 25-foot diameter, Tiffany-style, stained-glass Dome, which can still be experienced via the Dome Bar. Other instances of history still being present are the vaulted ceilings and walls of cherry stone and gold scallion. When it opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1912 the property was thought to be the “Showcase of the West,” and still retains this prestigious reputation today. To help guests add a bit more luxury to their stay, the property is featuring a Fall Back in Time deal, which includes breakfast each morning for two people for two nights.

Package rates vary depending on travel dates. Call 800-678-8946 or 915-534-3000 to book.

Fairmont Château Laurier
Ottawa, Ontario

The Fairmont Château Laurier, Ottawa’s famous castle, officially opened its doors on June 1, 2012. While the property cost $2 million to open, rooms were only $2 per night. Like their sister property in Boston, mentioned above, the hotel will feature complimentary period costume tours, 20th century music, and cake on June 2 and 3. Moreover, in memory of the Titanic, the hotel will be recreating the last supper served on the ship followed by monthly menus featuring the best cuisine from different eras. Additionally, because the property was originally set to open on April 26, this will be the date the Fairmont Château Laurier launches their special Centennial Tea menu. If you’re looking for a deal, you can opt for the Century of Memories package, which includes accommodations, a heritage gift card set, $100 CAD dining credit, and a special 100th anniversary welcome amenity.

Package rates begin at about $340 per night based on double occupancy. Call 800-441-1414 or click here to book.

Astoria Hotel
St. Petersburg, Russia

The oldest hotel in Russia, the Astoria Hotel has survived the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, WWI, WWII, Perestroika, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the formation of the new Russian economy. On December 23, 1912, the property opened its doors as a modern hotel fit for the society’s most notable figures. Rasputin had a love affair here with the wife of a government official, while Lenin spent the night and gave a speech on the first floor, and Russian Grand Dukes threw lavish parties in the Winter Garden. What’s more, because 2012 marks the Astoria Hotel’s 100th birthday, the year will be filled with commemorative events, including a series of jazz dinner concerts to help take guests back in time. At the end of the year, there will also be an elegant jubilee party with famous attendees from all over the world coming in to celebrate.

Room rates start at $335 per night. Click here to book.

Hotel Maria Cristina, San Sebastián, A Luxury Collection Hotel
San Sebastián, Spain

The Hotel Maria Cristina opened its doors on July 9, 2012, as one of the city’s main cultural and social hubs for members of high society. During WWI, it was the hangout of politicians and artists before shifting to a more fashionable clientele, with guests like Coco Chanel and Patou Jena. When the city began to decline, the hotel refused to fold and, after WWII, underwent a massive renovation. In honor of its centennial anniversary, the property is being fixed up again and will reopen this July with a huge celebration and new Belle Epoque style with modern amenities. They will also be offering an array of packages, which you can see by clicking here.

The Stafford London by Kempinski
London, United Kingdom

Originally built as private homes for society’s nobility – including Lord and Lady Lyttelton – the property changed owners a few times before becoming an official Stafford London property. Just like during WWII when the building served as a club for American and Canadian officers seeking refuge in the wine cellars, The Stafford London is a welcoming and friendly place. Because the property is turning 100 this year, they are offering a VIP £100,000 Anniversary Package until the end of 2012. The luxurious offer includes:

  • 3 nights in a duplex Guv’nor’s suite or penthouse
  • £10,000 dining credit
  • “Effortless airport experience” including private waiting lounge, escort through customs/immigration, transfers to and from hotel
  • Chauffeur driven Bentley, Rolls Royce, or Jaguar at guest’s beck and call
  • 24/7 private butler service
  • Three or five-course wine and meal pairings in the hotel’s 380-year-old wine cellar
  • Bespoke fashions courtesy of famed tailor Henry Poole and hatters Lock & Co
  • Piece of custom jewelry by London’s top designer, Patrick Wyatt
  • Private photo shoot with celebrity photographer, Alistair Morrison
  • Traditional afternoon tea at either the Royal Academy, Highgrove House, or Kensington Palace
  • Private Champagne or Wine Capsule experience on the London Eye
  • Half day spa retreat
  • Speedboat tour of the Thames River
  • Complimentary Mahiki Armada Treasure Chest concoction

Packages start at £100,000. Click here to book.

Exciting hotel packages for springtime travelers

Wondering where you should travel this spring? Take advantage of one of these season-inspired packages and enjoy fun activities in great locations for a discounted price.

De L’Europe
Amsterdam, Netherlands

The city of Amsterdam is well-known for its flower markets, lush gardens, and picturesque parks. To help visitors experience the natural beauty of the city, De L’Europe is featuring an Enchanted Gardens package from March 22-May 20, 2012. The package includes accommodations in the spacious Deluxe Room, breakfast for two each morning, and two tickets along with an all-inclusive guide to the Keukenhof, where myriad flora and fauna displays will be featured as well as over 7 million flowers including hundreds of tulip varieties.

Packages start at $595 per night based on double occupancy. Call +31 20 531 17 77 or click here to book. Troia Design Hotel
Troia, Portugal

The Troia Design Hotel is located on a picturesque peninsula on a nature reserve about an hour away from Lisbon. This spring, guests of the hotel can custom create their own packages to experience the great outdoors. Simply give your dates of travel and choose from a variety of activities, like kite surfing, diving, wine tasting, horseback riding, dolphin watching, rock climbing, visiting ancient ruins, bird watching, relaxing on the beach, indulging in the spa, scuba diving, and exploring surrounding castles.

Package rates vary depending on length of stay and activities chosen. Click here to custom create your spring package.

La Tavola Marche
Le Marche, Italy

La Tavola Marche is an organic farm, inn, and cooking school all in one. From March 29-April 2, 2012, the property is hosting a Cooking with Spring’s Wild Edibles package where guests can experience cooking and savoring the flavors of the season. The package includes four nights of accommodation, daily breakfasts, a guided wild edible walk, two half-day cooking classes as well as an apron and cookbook to keep, two wine-enhanced meals, and a five course dinner.

Packages are $641 per person based on double occupancy. Click here to book.

Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort
Solvang, California

The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is a romantic, “old-west” accommodation located in the picturesque Santa Barbara Wine Country. The property is also home to a 100-acre lake that makes for a popular fly-fishing retreat, especially with all of the Northern Strain Large Mouth Bass. This spring, the ranch is helping guests experience this relaxing past time by offering a Alisal Anglers’ Package for Two. The promotion includes a two night stay in one of the property’s deluxe accommodations, a welcome basket with fruit, cheese, wine, crackers, and fishing lures, three meals per day, an Alisal Lake hat, a $100 credit for a guided fishing trip for two, and all taxes and fees.

Packages start at $1,295 for two nights for two people. Call 1-888-4-ALISAL or e-mail

The Liaison Capitol Hill, an Affinia Hotel
Washington, D.C.

In 1912, Japan gave Washington, D.C., 3,000 cherry trees which grew into a beautiful icon for the nation’s capital. From March 20 to April 27, 2012, the National Cherry Blossom Festival will take place, marking the 100 year anniversary of the gift. To help celebrate, The Liaison Capitol Hill, an Affinia Hotel is featuring a Cherry Blossom Getaway from March 22-April 22. The package includes self-customized accommodations via My Affinia, a commemorative cherry tree branch, picnic treats from Art and Soul, chocolates inspired by cherry blossoms from Artisan Confections, and two metro passes.

Packages start at $199 per night. Call 1-866-246-2203 and mention promotional code CHER12 or click here to book.

Wolcott Hotel
New York, NY

The Wolcott Hotel is a comfortable and cozy 100-year old accommodation located near Murray Hill. It’s also in close proximity to the Empire State Building and the beloved Macy’s in Herald Square. To help guests enjoy the beauty of spring in New York, the property is lowering its rates for the season as well as inviting guests to enjoy the annual Macy’s Flower Show with free entry and a guided tour of the flower towers and floral decor.

Rates start at $150 per night. Call 212-268-2900 or click here to book.

Sunset Beach Resorts Spa & Waterpark
Montego Bay, Jamaica

Sunset Beach Resorts Spa & Waterpark is an all-inclusive beachfront property with lush gardens, a relaxing spa, and a thrill-filled waterpark. To help celebrate the coming of the warm weather, the resort is offering a Spring Madness promotion which includes beach games, pool parties, a bonfire experience, free transfers to Margaritaville, and 15% off all spa services.

Promotion rates start at $152.75 per person per night based on double occupancy. The promotion is valid for travel through April 13, 2012. Call 877-734-3486 to book.

CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa
Anguilla, British West Indies

CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa is a 5-star resort that features something for everyone, including a luxurious spa, expansive golf course, hydroponic farm, and fusion-style restaurants. In order to help their guests say goodbye to winter and welcome the changing of the seasons, the property is featuring a Tee Up & Revive package, which includes five nights of accommodation in a beachfront suite, two 50-minute spa treatments or a couples’ massage, three rounds of golf, use of tennis courts and fitness center, daily breakfast, lunch for two at Cafe Mediterraneo, dinner for two at Le Bistro at Santorini, airport/ferry pickup, and the use of non-motorized water sports.

Packages start at $5,255 based on double occupancy from now until April 13, 2012. Call 264-498-5602 to book.

10 luxury hostels from around the world

While many people think of hostels as run down hotels with cramped rooms and few amenities, there are many properties that can actually make you feel as if you’re staying at a resort. For those who want comfort on a budget, here are 10 excellent luxury hostels from around the world.

Gilligan’s Backpackers Hotel and Resort Cairns
Cairns, Australia

Gilligan’s Backpackers Hotel and Resort in Cairns is without a doubt one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in. And if you’re looking for something a little more luxurious than your average youth hostel, this is an excellent choice. Rooms offered include 4,6,8,10-bed dorms, 4 & 6-bed deluxe dorms, 6-bed all female dorms, and private rooms. The accommodation has a resort-type feel, with balconies, a lagoon-style pool with a waterfall and palm trees, a makeshift beach with volleyball nets, and even gym access. They also have swanky nightclub that often hosts theme parties and hot DJ’s.StayON Beverly
Los Angeles, California

The StayON Beverly is definitely a step up from your average hostel experience. While there are no chefs or personal butlers, the accommodation is lot more like a hotel stay at a hostel price ($50 per night). First of all, they only offer private rooms with full sized beds and memory foam mattresses, free Wi-Fi, a desk, mini fridge, iPod-compatible music player, and even a flat screen television. Free waterbottles and spacious and clean minimalist design will leave you comfortable on a budget.

Broadway Hotel and Hostel
New York, NY

As soon as you walk through the front doors of The Broadway Hotel and Hostel, you will be enveloped in a contemporary design. The ambiance in the lobby is created using rich browns, dim candle light, and a fireplace, with the atmosphere continuing into both the 2-bedroom dorms and private rooms with modern wall art, European bed linens, and polished dressers. There are no large dorms here, and single person bathrooms give guests the privacy they desire, while the massage and rain shower heads add a luxurious element to the stay.

The Backpack and Africa Travel Centre
Cape Town, South Africa

Not only has The Backpack and Africa Travel Centre been awarded a 5-star backpacker lodge rating, it’s also eco-friendly, as it’s been awarded a Fair Trade in Tourism trademark. The rooms are stylishly decorated in an “Afro-Chic” design, many with features like skylights, fire places, and wall art, and include in-room safes. Don’t expect the usual unmatched bedspread look as seen at most hostels, as The Backpack and Africa Travel Centre ensures that all the beds in the room not only look alike, but also go with the decor of the room as a whole. The best part about the hostel is actually outside, as it features an in-ground swimming pool that will literally put you in the center of nature as it is surrounded by unique flora and fauna and the breathtaking Table Mountain. Enjoy the outdoor tile mosaic designs around the pool while sipping a cocktail and soaking in the scenery.

The Seven Hostel
Sorrento, Italy

The Seven Hostel is a property that is nothing like a hostel, aside from the budget-friendly prices. Inside, the decor is modern and trendy infusing neutral and Earthy tones with unique textures and furnishings. The rooftop terrace and bar is similar to something you’d find in New York City, with plush white couches and breathtaking views of the city, Gulf of Naples, and nearby mountains. Other amenities of The Seven Hostel include a trendy bar, a 24-hour reception and concierge for tour booking, a library and game room, free internet and satellite TV, and an outdoor solarium on the top floor for sunbathing.

Oasis Palace Hostel Seville
Seville, Spain

I’ve actually stayed in both the Oasis Palace Hostel Seville as well as the Oasis Hostel Lisbon and found both to be both comfortable and luxurious. The Seville location gets extra points, however, as it has a rooftop terrace and pool. There are also a lot of free perks, like Wi-Fi, city and cultural tours, linens, luggage room, a welcome drink, and a delicious breakfast including pancakes, crepes, breads, spreads and cereals. At night for a small fee (about 5 Euros), the resident chef creates local dishes like paella and grilled meats.

The Green Saman
Cali, Colombia

The Green Saman
is more than just a hostel; it’s also a spa, yoga center, and “gastronomic sanctuary”. The venue is actually a renovated mansion that features a swimming pool, sauna, and gardens for outdoor relaxation, while clean and spacious dorms and private rooms are available inside. The hostel also offers unique and worthwhile experiences, like language immersion courses, salsa dancing lessons, cooking classes, molecular gastronomy workshops, and free multicourse breakfasts served with upscale presentation during the week. Guests will also enjoy the healthy cuisine found at the on-site restaurant, which was voted one of the best backpacker restaurants in South America.

Hostel International Point
Calafate, Argentina

When staying at a luxury property most people expect great views, and Hostel International Point provides some of the best I’ve ever seen. What’s great about this hilltop hostel is that you don’t have to go outside to see the lake and countryside, but instead have access to panoramic views from everywhere in the hostel, including dorm rooms. The accommmodation offers spacious 4-bed dorms as well as private rooms, all with bathrooms so clean you won’t be affraid to soak in the bathtub. And in the morning, a delicious breakfast is literally served to guests, allowing them to eat without having to clean up or move from the table.

Eco Resort Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Eco Resort Chiang Mai is one of the most upscale hostels I have ever seen. It’s immersed in the center of a massive, jungle-like garden in a quiet setting, giving guests access to a peaceful, majestic atmosphere right at their doorstep. An expansive cystral-clear in-ground pool set among dangling palm trees add to the ambiance, which takes on a romantic atmosphere at night when everything is all lit up. Inside, the spacious and immpecibly clean rooms are decorated in a contemporary Thai design, and guests can choose from private spaces or small dorms. Free Wi-Fi, cooking classes, tour bookings, outdoor art sculptures, a movie theater, gym, and library are also offered on premises. In fact, the place is so luxurious they even offer wedding packages.

Siem Reap Hostel
Siem Reap, Cambodia

The Siem Reap Hostel is more like like a resort than a hostel, as it offers both dorms and private rooms as well as an on-site spa that features massages, facials, mani/pedis, body wraps, and scrubs for $35 or less. There is also a poolside bar and restaurant so that guests can go for a swim or relax in the water with a fruity cocktail, Asian-style meal, or Western comfort food. Other amenities and facilities include outdoor gardens, free airport pickup, free Wi-Fi, a game room, tour desk, daily happy hours in the on-site bar, and a $2 all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast each morning in a beautiful setting.