For U.S. News & World Report, the road from weekly news magazine to publisher of company rankings has been a long and winding one. The key, though, to its shift toward data-driven ratings of companies and institutions was its 1983 publication of “America’s Best Colleges.”
The enormous success of that publication, combined with the withering of its general news-reporting business, led the company to expand its best-of rankings to include hospitals, cars, jobs, mutual funds, and travel suppliers. Today, reflecting that focus on rating consumer goods and services, U.S. News’s tagline is “Life’s decisions made here.”
If the decision in question involves choosing a hotel, U.S. News’s newly released “Best Hotels” study may indeed be helpful, depending on your travel budget.
Based on a combination of TripAdvisor data, class rating, and awards and recognition from industry experts, U.S. News has picked the best luxury hotels in four geographic areas, the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, and Mexico. It’s possible to drill down into the findings, to find the best hotels in the Napa Valley area (Auberge du Soleil, with a nightly rate of $1,125 in early February), for example.
Following are the 10 highest-rated U.S. hotels, together with their nightly rates for an early-February stay:
- The Lodge at Sea Island, Georgia ($400)
- The Jefferson, Washington D.C. ($475)
- ARIA Sky Suites, Las Vegas (online prices not available)
- Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Hawaii ($945)
- The Peninsula Beverly Hills ($575)
- Montage Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina ($645)
- The Langham, Chicago ($350)
- Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas ($249)
- Waldorf Astoria Chicago ($319)
- Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford ($1,125)
While none of the listed hotels is cheap, some are significantly more affordable than others. So there are relative bargains to be had, even at the top of the luxe range.
As for the Auberge du Soleil, you might want to do what I did several years ago. Enjoy a leisurely lunch at the hotel’s restaurant. Terrific Cal-Med food, outstanding service, and a spectacular view. And unlike a night’s stay, the bill wasn’t a budget-breaker.
Reader Reality Check
What’s your upper spending limit when splurging on a hotel stay?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.