The Top 15 City Hotels in the Continental U.S.
This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on March 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be.
One is fast-paced, the other sweet and slow. One is packed with glass and steel skyscrapers, the other with charming, low-slung inns and mansions. New York and Charleston may not seem to have much in common, but both are East Coast cities with important harbors — and some of the best city hotels in the contiguous United States.
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.
Three of the 15 best city hotels in the U.S. are in New York; two are in Charleston. The Surrey, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, is No. 7 on the list. Though not as edgy as some other New York hotels, it’s undeniably cosmopolitan, with a robust collection of modern art and clean-lined rooms designed in neutral tones. Wentworth Mansion in Charleston is tied with the Surrey for seventh place. Built in the 19th century for a wealthy family, its columns, ornate ironwork, and Tiffany stained glass both stand out and fit right in with Charleston’s lacy architecture. Its 21 guest rooms have opulent moldings and velvet swags above the beds.
Related: The World's Best Awards 2020
As different as they are, they both made the list in part because they strongly reflect the personalities of their respective cities. The same goes for other hotels on the list, such as the Hotel Emma (No. 15) in San Antonio, which proudly showcases its past as a landmark brewery and stocks its mini-bars with South Texas treats. The rooms at the Inn of the Five Graces (No. 11) may be peppered with Silk Road finery instead of Southwestern textiles, but that dovetails perfectly with the artsy, freewheeling spirit of Santa Fe.
In addition to staying true to local culture, the best city hotels also offer all-important proximity. Most people travel to cities not to stay cloistered in a hotel, but to experience the shopping, dining, museums, and bars. New York’s top hotels are a short stroll from world-famous museums; the Kimpton La Peer Hotel (No. 4) is in L.A.’s walkable Design District. You may have to travel far to reach these top spots, but once you get there, everything else is right outside your door.
This year’s No. 1, The Mark, epitomizes the glamour for which Manhattan’s Upper East Side is famed. Read on more about what makes it so popular with T+L readers, as well as the full list of the best city hotels in the United States.
1. The Mark, New York City
More information: themarkhotel.com
Manhattan’s Upper East Side is known for being elegant and packed with culture, but there’s a lingering misconception that the neighborhood can be a bit old-fashioned or snoozy. That’s hardly the case, especially at this year’s winning hotel: “The atmosphere is hip and fun, and the staff was very warm and accommodated all of my family's requests,” shared one reader, who also went on to praise the food (“top notch”) and rooms (“fresh and specious, with one of the most comfortable hotel bathrooms I've ever seen”). Several travelers also pointed to location as a key attribute, noting that the property is a short walk from Central Park, among other marquee attractions. Guests also tout the “happening” bar, which like the restaurant, is overseen by Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
2. The Georges, Lexington, Virginia
More information: thegeorges.com
3. Santa Monica Proper Hotel, Santa Monica, California
More information: properhotel.com
4. Kimpton La Peer Hotel, West Hollywood, California
More information: lapeerhotel.com
5. The Row Hotel at Assembly Row, Somerville, Massachusetts
More information: therowhotelatassemblyrow.com
6. The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown, Houston
More information: thepostoakhotel.com
7. (tie) Wentworth Mansion, Charleston, South Carolina
More information: wentworthmansion.com
7. (tie) The Surrey, New York City
More information: thesurrey.com
9. Kimpton Hotel Born, Denver
More information: hotelborndenver.com
10. The Bristol Hotel, Bristol, Virginia
More information: bristolhotelva.com
11. Inn of the Five Graces, Santa Fe, New Mexico
More information: fivegraces.com
12. John Rutledge House Inn, Charleston, South Carolina
More information: johnrutledgehouseinn.com
13. The Art, a Hotel, Denver
More information: thearthotel.com
14. The Lowell, New York City
More information: lowellhotel.com
15. Hotel Emma, San Antonio, Texas
More information: thehotelemma.com
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.