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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.

From the rocky cliffs of Malibu to the seashore of Miami Beach, the settings that lay claim to the best resort hotels in the continental United States are as varied and dynamic as the discerning readers of Travel + Leisure. And while the hotels that emerged as voter favorites are also incredibly diverse in size and style, there's one major takeaway that unites them: They've all provided unparalleled hospitality, even amid the most difficult of circumstances. 

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.

Guest room with water views at Nobu Ryokan Malibu, voted one of the top resorts in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of Nobu Ryokan Malibu

In a year where travelers wanted to enjoy a domestic vacation but needed to remain socially distant, character-packed resorts that offered ample privacy and space earned the highest marks from T+L readers. Four boutique properties in New York State earned coveted spots on this year's list, including the Roundtree, Amagansett, which came in at No. 5. Opened in June 2020, this intimate Hamptons hideaway was named to T+L's 2021 It List of best new hotels in the world on the strength of well-appointed accommodations (a mix of 15 rooms, suites, and cottages) and pristine grounds. "It's exceptional," summarized one voter. "It's a beautiful hotel inside and out," said another. "The service is beyond amazing — will be back here more often in the summer and in the winter."

Upstate New York was also well-represented with the Lake House on Canandaigua, at No. 2, and the Point, which was one of three properties tied for the No. 11 spot. The latter, a former Rockefeller retreat set on 75 acres in the Adirondacks, is "an unbelievable experience," one reader recalled. "You can relax the second you arrive."

Resorts in the western part of the U.S. also earned high marks this year, thanks in large part to their stellar employees. "From service to attention to detail to the wide range of activities to the spa, such an amazing property," gushed one fan of Utah's Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection (No. 15). The Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa (No. 4) in San Diego also had its share of enthusiastic fans. "My wife and I are both seasoned travelers and agree that Rancho Valencia was the best experience we have had in many years. Our stay fell while California had strict COVID-19 protocols in place. However, the resort went above and beyond to ensure that we felt safe."

But it was another Southern California resort that took the top honor this year. Read on to find out what set No. 1 Nobu Ryokan Malibu apart from its peers and made it the top resort hotel in the continental U.S. for 2021.

1. Nobu Ryokan Malibu, California

A serene guest room at Nobu Ryokan Malibu, voted one of the top resorts in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of Nobu Ryokan Malibu

Opened in 2017, this 16-room oasis is fashioned after a traditional Japanese inn and embodies the serenity and understated elegance that so many travelers craved during a tumultuous year. The resort's minimalist aesthetic — deep teak soaking tubs, limestone walls — and its thoughtful amenities like custom yukata robes helped readers tap into a sense of peace. Nobu Ryokan's embrace of nature, in the form of lush gardens and stellar ocean views, was another asset that voters appreciated over the past year. "It's the number one place in Malibu," commented one prescient reader. Though the property lacks any formal, on-site dining or wellness facilities, guests can visit the epnoymous chef's Malibu restaurant just steps away; the resort's savvy partnership with Cure Spa provides for in-room treatments or priority bookings at its venue across the street.

Score: 98.59
More information: malibu.nobuhotels.com

2. The Lake House on Canandaigua, Canandaigua, New York

The pool at The Lake House on Canandaigua, voted one of the top resorts in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua

Score: 98.14
More information: lakehousecanandaigua.com

3. Pickering House Inn, Wolfeboro, New Hampshire

The exterior and gardens of Pickering House Inn, voted one of the top resorts in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of Pickering House Inn

Score: 98.11
More information: pickeringhousewolfeboro.com

4. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, San Diego

Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, San Diego, California
Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, hotel pool, San Diego, California
| Credit: Courtesy of Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa

Score: 98.03
More information: ranchovalencia.com

5. The Roundtree, Amagansett, New York

Exterior of The Roundtree, Amagansett, voted one of the top resorts in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of The Roundtree, Amagansett

Score: 97.87
More information: theroundtreehotels.com

6. The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga, Wyoming

A guest room at The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, voted one of the top resorts in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of Brush Creek Luxury Ranch Collection

Score: 97.56
More information: brushcreekranch.com

7. Deer Path Inn, Lake Forest, Illinois

The private wine cellar at Deer Path Inn, voted one of the top resorts in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of Deer Path Inn

Score: 96.50
More information: thedeerpathinn.com

8. The Setai, Miami Beach, Florida

The pool at The Setai, Miami Beach, voted one of the top resorts in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of The Setai, Miami Beach

Score: 96.41
More information: thesetaihotels.com

9. Edgewood Tahoe Resort, Stateline, Nevada

View of the water from the restaurant at Edgewood Tahoe Resort, voted one of the top resorts in the United States
Credit: Thomas Hart Shelby/Courtesy of Edgewood Tahoe Resort

Score: 96.22
More information: edgewoodtahoe.com

10. Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California

A guest room with water views at Post Ranch Inn, voted one of the top resorts in the United States
Credit: Kodiak Greenwood/Courtesy of Post Ranch Inn

Score: 96.18
More information: postranchinn.com

11. Twin Farms, Barnard, Vermont

An art-filled room at Twin Farms, voted one of the top resorts in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of Twin Farms

Score: 96.00
More information: twinfarms.com

11. Sunset Key Cottages, Key West, Florida

Exterior of a cottage at Sunset Key Cottages, voted one of the top resorts in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of Sunset Key Cottages

Score: 96.00
More information: sunsetkeycottages.com

11. The Point, Saranac Lake, New York

The Boathouse at The Point, voted one of the top resorts in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of The Point

Score: 96.00
More information: thepointresort.com

14. The Rockaway Hotel, Rockaway Beach, New York

Guest room at The Rockaway Hotel, voted one of the top resorts in the United States
Credit: Kyle Knodell/Courtesy of The Rockaway Hotel

Score: 95.98
More information: therockawayhotel.com

15. The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection, Park City, Utah

Exterior view of The Lodge at Blue Sky, voted one of the top resorts in the United States
Credit: Courtesy of The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection

Score: 95.85
More information: aubergeresorts.com

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