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Best hotels of 2013

Emily H. Bratcher

Guidebooks, magazines, websites, apps ... There are legions of travel resources out there, all aimed at helping you find the best hotel. Some rely on in-house experts to provide firsthand accounts of cleanliness and customer service, while others gather guest reviews, seeking the truth from the masses.


But with so many opinions cluttering the bookshelves and the Internet, researching accommodations can gobble up a large chunk of time. And even after you've put in the legwork, how do you know who to trust?

That's where we come in: Our editors analyzed recommendations from many sources, comparing reviews, accolades, and ratings for nearly 2,000 luxury hotels throughout the United States. Using this unbiased methodology, we found the hotels that consistently come out on top—those are the properties that have earned places on the U.S. News 2013 Best Hotels in the USA rankings.

Below, you'll find the 10 hotels that have wowed guests time and time again. The properties on this list are winners not only for their luxurious amenities, fine service, and lavish décor, but also for the way they showcase America's diversity:

10. Triple Creek Ranch
Darby, Mont.

Cozying up to Trapper Peak in western Montana, Triple Creek Ranch is like an upscale cowboy camp for adults. Guests bunk down in the rustic (yet luxurious) cabins, cast lines into the fishing lakes, and hit the trails on horseback. In fact, this Relais & Châteaux property offers just about everything an adventurer could want, from dog sledding in the winter to cattle driving in the summer.

"Most people come here for cowboy culture, beautiful scenery, and luxury accommodations," said General Manager Bill McConnell. "But after they arrive and unwind from their travels, they become engrossed in the special attention paid to their specific interests and goals, whether it be riding horses, driving cattle, hiking the mountains, spotting wildlife, fly fishing, or rest, relaxation, fine dining, and fine wine."

9. Waldorf Astoria Chicago

The Waldorf Astoria Chicago is not just a pretty face. Yes, the décor is splendid—the lobby is fashioned with Carrera marble and the guestrooms are fitted with Italian linens. But this esteemed member of the Waldorf Astoria family earns the No. 9 spot for its deep commitment to customer service. In fact, the Waldorf Astoria Chicago has just started a new initiative called True Waldorf Service.

"The concept is to provide authentic, personalized service from the moment guests book their trip through the time they depart," General Manager Rick Evanich said, This service can include anything from a Lava Shell Massage at the hotel's Elysian Spa & Health Club to dinner at the Waldorf's upscale European bistro, Balsan. The hotel staff, on occasion, has even organized personalized itineraries for guests.

8. The Inn of the Five Graces
Santa Fe, N.M.

Centered in the heart of historic Santa Fe, The Inn of the Five Graces delights guests with "a unique visual experience," according to General Manager Sharif Seret. Lush, ivy-draped courtyards connect the guest suites, some of which date back to the early 1600s. But these suites don't show their age: They have been updated with plush textiles, Far East antiques, and mosaics to create a stunning display of color and texture.

When it comes to dining, guests are happy to note that a full breakfast is included in the room rate, and they say the French fare at Bistro 315 is worth sampling. The spa is a perfect bookend to days filled with art-gallery hopping along Canyon Road or shopping the kiosks at Santa Fe Plaza.

7. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu
Big Island, Hawaii

Stretching out along the Kona-Kohala Coast on Hawaii's Big Island, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka'upulehu complements the gorgeous setting with elegance, luxury, and the requisite Hawaiian warmth. This Four Seasons property stuns with seven pools (one of which is carved from lava rock), a renowned spa with treatments like a Polynesian Niu (Coconut) Scrub, and a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The guestrooms are fitted with private lanais (balconies) and deep soaking tubs.

6. Four Seasons Hotel Seattle

Seattle might be known for its gray skies and frequent showers, but the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle certainly isn't. "Everyone on our staff—from the bellman and the concierge team to the housekeeping staff and our spa therapists—are the best at what they do,” said General Manager Ilse Harley. “They know how to anticipate your needs and they keep up to date with what's new in the city so you have the very best travel experience."

Located within walking distance of Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, the financial district, and the convention center, this stylish Four Seasons hotel appeals to both business and leisure travelers. And its amenities enchant all types of guests, too: Here, you'll find a rooftop infinity pool, a 6,000-square-foot spa, and the swank ART Restaurant and Lounge. The hotel even offers babysitting services, so Mom and Dad can enjoy a fancy evening out.

5. Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort
Calistoga, Calif.

Occupying 157 acres in a northern Napa Valley canyon, Calistoga Ranch has moved up several spots on our 10 Best list from last year. We imagine that its popularity stems not so much from its new offerings, but from its top-notch amenities.

Take the wine, for instance: The resort has its own label and vineyard. When it comes to the accommodations themselves, you'll find 48 luxurious lodges outfitted with fireplaces, indoor and outdoor living rooms, and original artwork. And The Bathhouse spa offers signature treatments, like lavender honey facials and mud and mineral salt baths.

4. The Setai Fifth Avenue
New York City

The Setai Fifth Avenue's Midtown location gives it a certain prestige, but the high-end hotel's resolve to make every guest's stay near-perfect is what gives it such renown. Anne-Juliette Maurice, who directs sales and marketing for the hotel, praised the Setai's personal assistants, who get in touch with guests before their stay to ascertain their needs. "Whether it be reserving a helicopter tour of the Hamptons, a proposal atop the Empire State Building, tickets around the world ...  our personal assistants offer it all." Speaking of "offering it all," The Setai also features an 11,000-square-foot spa and the Michelin-rated Ai Fiori restaurant.

3. The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, An Auberge Resort
Bluffton, S.C.

Just west of Hilton Head—at the end of a road canopied by old oak trees—sits The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Lowcountry escape unlike any other. Amid the property's forests and alongside the May River, you'll find 50 cottages and cottage suites fitted with chic-yet-comfortable décor, private screened-in porches, fireplaces, and even bikes with customized baskets and headlights. The Inn also features a full-service spa that offers indulgent treatments, like sweet milk and rose bud scrubs and warm river stone massages.

2. Four Seasons Resort Lana'i, The Lodge at Koele

Lanai, Hawaii

Spreading out over the rolling hills on Hawaii's most exclusive island, the Four Seasons Resort Lana'i, The Lodge at Koele is an oasis holding court in a paradise. You can stop to smell the orchids in the greenhouse; you can lounge poolside and enjoy a refreshing Evian spritz; you can swing clubs at a Greg Norman-designed golf course (or the one designed by Jack Nicklaus); and you can also relax with a fragrant pineapple-citrus massage.

And that's not all: The resort's staff will also take you on special excursions to secluded surfing spots or colorful snorkeling bays.

1. Amangani
Jackson, Wyo.

After nabbing the No. 6 spot in 2012, this Wyoming resort has made its way up the list, claiming the title of 2013's Best Hotel in the USA. It's not hard to see how: Amangani crowns the breathtaking East Gros Ventre Butte in Jackson Hole with grace and luxury. The resort's redwood ceilings, slate floors, and regional artwork achieve a mélange of elegance and naturalism. And opportunities for indulgence abound at nearly every corner. There's the heated outdoor pool with stunning views of the snow-capped Teton Mountains; the decadent spa that offers everything from mud wraps to massages; and the delicious Grill restaurant that serves local meats and fish and farm-to-table produce.

But Stuart Campbell, the hotel's general manager, said that the best thing about Amangani (which means "peaceful home" in Shoshone) is its staff: "Guest after guest tells me they feel like they've come home when they're here."