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This year's World's Best Awards survey was open for voting January 11 through May 10, 2021, as destinations around the world were lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Survey rules have always allowed readers to reflect on their travel experiences over a three year period. We hope that this year's honorees will inspire your own travels as you get back out into the world.

There's no doubt the past year has been challenging for the hospitality industry — especially for hotels in urban areas. But it's clear that the best city hotels in the continental United States rose to meet the moment, welcoming guests graciously while going above and beyond to protect the health of staff and visitors alike. 

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L invites its readers to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

The standout hotels this year, which ranged in size from 316 rooms to just 18, impressed T+L readers with exceptional service. This year's No. 3, The Lowell in New York City, was a prime example. "They not only upgraded us to a fabulous room with terrace and fireplace — but also brought us champagne," raved one voter. Another guest praised the tony hotel for two other qualities that travelers prized this year: "It's low-key and private, which are two things that I find stand out among the rest of the Upper East Side hotels. The staff are at the highest level."

The pool at the Viceroy Chicago hotel, voted one of the best city hotels in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of Viceroy Chicago

Similarly, the No. 5 Peninsula Beverly Hills has an "accommodating, friendly, and anticipatory" staff, one voter said. "Just absolutely gorgeous," wrote another. "Love the lobby and areas that segue to the outside. Rooms do not disappoint — large and fabulously decorated." Also earning high marks for design: No. 9 the Crossroads Hotel in Kansas City. "The hidden gem of the Midwest," wrote one reader. "Everything from the service to the rooms feels unique. Even during the pandemic, quality of service was never altered. I truly felt personalized attention."

But the Viceroy Chicago claimed the No. 1 spot this year. Among all the stellar hotels across the U.S., the four-year-old property set the standard for excellence with its contemporary design, ideal Windy City location, and superlative service. Read on to see what readers had to say.

1. Viceroy Chicago, Chicago

The lobby at the Viceroy Chicago hotel, voted one of the best city hotels in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of Viceroy Chicago

Located in the upscale Gold Coast neighborhood, this majestic hotel — which incorporates a landmark building from the 1920s into its facade — didn't miss a step, even during a tumultuous year. "Service is amazing and rooms are well-appointed and luxurious," wrote one reader, who praised the Viceroy's "superb" location and "wonderful" restaurant and rooftop bar. "It's right in the middle of one of the best neighborhoods in the city, with shopping, dining, and nightlife just steps away." Another reader echoed the praise for the food and drinks at the hotel, saying that the property's "cool vibe" is best enjoyed at the rooftop lounge, which has stunning views of Lake Michigan.

Score: 97.66
More information: viceroyhotelsandresorts.com

2. Inn of the Five Graces, Santa Fe, New Mexico

A colorfully-tiled bathroom at Inn of the Five Graces, voted one of the best city hotels in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of The Inn of the Five Graces

Score: 97.41
More information: fivegraces.com

3. The Lowell, New York, New York

The reception desk at The Lowell, voted one of the best city hotels in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of The Lowell/The Leading Hotels of the World

Score: 96.24
More information: lowellhotel.com

4. The Georges, Lexington, Virginia

A chic guest room at The Georges, voted one of the best city hotels in the United States
Credit: Sera Petras/Courtesy of The Georges

Score: 95.76
More information: thegeorges.com

5. The Peninsula Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California

A sitting area at The Peninsula Beverly Hills, voted one of the best city hotels in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of The Peninsula Beverly Hills

Score: 95.52
More information: peninsula.com

6. The Langham, Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

The pool at The Langham, Chicago, voted one of the best city hotels in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of The Langham, Chicago

Score: 95.39
More information: langhamhotels.com

7. Hotel Emma, San Antonio, Texas

Brick exterior of the Hotel Emma, voted one of the best city hotels in the United States
Credit: Dustin Wenger/Courtesy of Hotel Emma

Score: 95.27
More information: thehotelemma.com

8. Windsor Court Hotel , New Orleans, Louisiana

A sitting area at the Windsor Court Hotel, voted one of the best city hotels in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of Windsor Court Hotel

Score: 95.14
More information: windsorcourthotel.com

9. Crossroads Hotel, Kansas City, Missouri

A guest room at Crossroads, voted one of the best city hotels in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of Crossroads

Score: 95.03
More information: crossroadshotelkc.com

10. Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles, California

The pool at the Hotel Bel-Air, voted one of the best city hotels in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air

Score: 95.03
More information: dorechestercollection.com

11. Oceana Santa Monica, Santa Monica, California

, voted one of the best city hotels in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of LXR Hotels & Resorts

Score: 94.73
More information: hoteloceanasantamonica.com

12. John Rutledge House Inn, Charleston, South Carolina

Sitting area at the John Rutledge House Inn, voted one of the best city hotels in the United States
Credit: Courtey of John Rutledge House Inn

Score: 94.56
More information: johnrutledgehouseinn.com

13. The Alida Hotel, Savannah, Georgia

A guest room at the Alida Hotel Savannah, voted one of the best city hotels in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of The Alida Hotel Savannah, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel

Score: 94.52
More information: thealidahotel.com

14. Viceroy Santa Monica, Santa Monica, California

The pool at Viceroy Santa Monica hotel, voted one of the best city hotels in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of Viceroy Santa Monica

Score: 94.32
More information: viceroyhotelsanresorts.com

15. The Chatwal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, New York, New York

A terrace at The Chatwal, voted one of the best city hotels in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of The Chatwal

Score: 94.12
More information: thechatwalny.com

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2021.