Michelin Reveals Its List of Top Hotels in the USA

The famous French restaurant guide is rating hotels now with a new key-rating system, similar to its star ratings for restaurants. Only a handful of hotels in New York and California received three keys.

Iconic pink cabanas line a large pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel, with tall palm trees in distance

The Beverly Hills Hotel is one of 11 hotels in the United States that received three keys from Michelin.

Courtesy of the Beverly Hills Hotel

Only 11 hotels in the United States were awarded Michelin’s highest distinction as part of the company’s newly announced hotel rating system.

The system is similar to Michelin’s restaurant guide but instead of stars, hotels are given “keys”: three denoting the top honor, or an “extraordinary stay”; two marking hotels that are deemed “exceptional”; and one key for those properties providing “a very special stay.”

In total, 124 U.S. properties received keys (33 were given two keys, and 80 were awarded one key) with another 826 included under the category: “Selected: A high-quality stay.”

The “extraordinary” three-key hotels in the U.S. were announced Wednesday at a press conference at the Museum of Arts and Design in Columbus Circle in New York City. U.S. destinations considered for the new hotel guide are states that already have Michelin restaurant guides: California, New York, Georgia, Colorado, Washington, D.C., Florida, and Illinois.

The U.S. announcement comes after Michelin debuted its new rating systems for properties in France earlier this month, of which 187 total hotels were added (23 of them were awarded three keys), including properties such as Airelles Château de Versailles-Le Grand Contrôle and Four Seasons George V in Paris.

An aerial view of Meadowood Napa Valley, with many tall trees

A nature-filled oasis in Northern California’s wine country, Meadowood Napa Valley received three keys.

Courtesy of Meadowood

In total, Michelin will be rating some 5,000 hotels across 120 countries with Spain’s announcement slated for April 29, Italy’s on May 7, and Japan’s on July 4. Other destinations will follow during the year.

Price ranges and hotel styles run the gamut, but true to the Michelin way of ranking, set criteria for determining what establishments merit a coveted key are as follows: The hotel must be a destination unto itself; the hotel must contribute to the local experience; it must display excellence in architecture and interior design; quality and regularity of service, comfort, and maintenance are needed; the hotel must reflect the personality of the establishment and its unique character; and there needs to be consistency between the quality of the experience and the price paid.

The inspection team consists of international experts, some of whom scrutinize and rate both restaurants and hotels and others who focus on one of the two categories, confirmed a Michelin spokesperson.

The Michelin Guide hotels list is the culmination of four years of work and is meant to be “a clear, reliable indication for travelers,” said Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guide in an October announcement. “Just as the Michelin star distinguishes those restaurants that are at the peak of their art, the Michelin key recognizes the most exceptional hotels throughout the world. It is also an acknowledgment of the teamwork of committed enthusiastic hospitality professionals.”

The lack of regulation around hotel star ratings and what they translate to in a stay can make it difficult for travelers to know what to trust when it comes to a five-star hotel versus a four-star property and so on. Systems like Forbes Travel Guide and affiliations with hotel groups, such as the Leading Hotels of the World and the Set Collection, can offer some insight in an accommodation landscape where hotels can self-select their star ratings with no government regulation, as is true in the United States and in other destinations around the world. With no global system in place, it can be unclear what the star ratings that come up on Google and appear on hotel websites really mean.

Kaushik Vardharajan, Boston University’s real estate program director who previously spent 20 years consulting for hotels, says credible ratings systems—including now Michelin keys—are a good thing because “they recognize great establishments for excellence and inspire others to excel.” They enhance guests’ trust in the hospitality industry too, says Vardharajan.

Vardharajan, who sees Michelin’s hotel ratings as a natural extension of the brand, says its reputation around restaurant ratings gives its new key system credibility—“and a loyal following.”

The 65-foot indoor swimming pool at the Aman New York, with daybeds and fireplaces

The 65-foot swimming pool at the Aman New York, one of the properties awarded three keys by Michelin

Courtesy of Robert Rieger / Aman New York

Michelin’s three-key U.S. hotels

  1. The Beverly Hills Hotel, Dorchester Collection, California
  2. Post Ranch Inn, California
  3. SingleThread Inn, California
  4. Hotel Bel-Air, Dorchester Collection, California
  5. Auberge du Soleil, Auberge Resorts Collection, California
  6. Meadowood Napa Valley, California
  7. Canyon Ranch Woodside, California
  8. Crosby Street Hotel, Firmdale Hotels, New York
  9. The Whitby Hotel, Firmdale Hotels, New York
  10. Aman New York, New York
  11. Casa Cipriani New York, New York
Wide, high-ceilinged hallway lined with potted palm trees at the Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club

The list of two-key hotels includes the Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club in Surfside, Florida.

Photo by Christian Horan Photography

Michelin’s two-key U.S. hotels

  1. L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, California
  2. The Maybourne Beverly Hills, California
  3. The Peninsula Beverly Hills, California
  4. Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort, California
  5. Bernardus Lodge & Spa, California
  6. The Stavrand, California
  7. Montage Healdsburg, California
  8. The Madrona, California
  9. Montage Laguna Beach, California
  10. Rosewood Miramar Beach, California
  11. Milliken Creek Inn & Spa, California
  12. Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco at Embarcadero, California
  13. The Battery, California
  14. Cavallo Point Lodge, California
  15. Pendry West Hollywood, California
  16. Chateau Marmont, California
  17. North Block, California
  18. Bardessono, California
  19. Rosewood Washington, D.C.
  20. The Jefferson, Washington, D.C.
  21. Mayfair House Hotel & Garden, Florida
  22. The Setai Miami Beach, Florida
  23. Faena Hotel Miami Beach, Florida
  24. Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club, Florida
  25. Pendry Chicago, Illinois
  26. The Langham, Chicago, Illinois
  27. The Peninsula Chicago, Illinois
  28. The Fifth Avenue Hotel, New York
  29. The Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel, New York
  30. The Mark Hotel, New York
  31. Hotel Barrière Fouquet’s New York, New York
  32. Nine Orchard, New York
  33. Pendry Manhattan West, New York
The Founders Suite at the Chicago Athletic Association, with ornate white ceiling and stone fireplace

The Founders Suite at the Chicago Athletic Association, one of the hotels to receive one key from Michelin

Courtesy of the Chicago Athletic Association

Michelin’s one-key U.S. hotels

  1. Four Seasons Resort Napa Valley, California
  2. Harbor House Inn, California
  3. Downtown LA Proper Hotel, California
  4. Soho Warehouse DTLA, California
  5. The Aster, California
  6. The Paramour Estate, California
  7. The Prospect Hollywood, California
  8. Stanly Ranch, Auberge Resorts Collection, California
  9. Pendry Newport Beach, California
  10. Dive Palm Springs, California
  11. Holiday House Palm Springs, California
  12. La Serena Villas, California
  13. Sparrows Lodge, California
  14. Rancho Caymus Inn, California
  15. 1 Hotel San Francisco, California
  16. Hotel Drisco, California
  17. Hotel San Luis Obispo, California
  18. San Luis Creek Lodge, California
  19. El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel, Santa Barbara, California
  20. Casa Del Mar, California
  21. Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, California
  22. Santa Monica Proper Hotel, California
  23. Shutters on the Beach, California
  24. The Georgian, California
  25. The Sea Ranch Lodge, California
  26. Chamberlain West Hollywood, California
  27. Hotel 850 SVB, California
  28. Palihouse West Hollywood, California
  29. Soho House Holloway, California
  30. Sunset Tower Hotel, California
  31. The Charlie, California
  32. Hotel Jerome, Auberge Resorts Collection, Colorado
    View of a snowy mountainside from the pool at the Little Nell in Colorado

    View from the pool at the Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado.

    Shawn O’Connor

  33. The Little Nell, Colorado
  34. Mollie Aspen, Colorado
  35. Clayton Hotel & Members Club, Colorado
  36. Four Seasons Denver, Colorado
  37. The Crawford Hotel, Colorado
  38. Sonnenalp Hotel, Colorado
  39. Four Seasons Vail, Colorado
  40. Eaton DC, Washington, D.C.
  41. Pendry Washington DC – The Wharf, Washington, D.C.
  42. Riggs Washington DC, Washington, D.C.
  43. The Dupont Circle Hotel, Washington, D.C.
  44. The Hay-Adams Hotel, Washington, D.C.
  45. Mandarin Oriental Miami, Florida
  46. Mr. C Miami – Coconut Grove, Florida
  47. 1 Hotel South Beach, Florida
  48. Esmé Miami Beach, Florida
  49. Hotel Greystone – Adults Only, Florida
  50. The Betsy – South Beach, Florida
  51. Ette Hotel, Florida
  52. Lake Nona Wave Hotel, Florida
  53. The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, Florida
  54. Palihouse Hyde Park Village, Florida
  55. The Tampa Edition, Florida
  56. Stonehurst Place Atlanta, Georgia
  57. The Candler Hotel Atlanta, Georgia
  58. Hotel Clermont, Georgia
  59. Chicago Athletic Association, Illinois
  60. Nobu Hotel Chicago, Illinois
  61. The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Michigan Avenue Chicago, Illinois
  62. Viceroy Chicago, Illinois
  63. Waldorf Astoria Chicago, Illinois
  64. 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, New York
  65. Ace Hotel Brooklyn, New York
  66. Wythe Hotel, New York
  67. 1 Hotel Central Park, New York
  68. Baccarat Hotel & Residences, New York
  69. Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park, New York
  70. Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad, New York
  71. The Beekman – a Thompson Hotel, New York
  72. The Bowery Hotel, New York
  73. The Greenwich Hotel, New York
  74. The Hotel Chelsea, New York
  75. The Lowell, New York
  76. The Ludlow Hotel, New York
  77. The Mercer, New York
  78. The Peninsula New York, New York
  79. The Wall Street Hotel, New York
  80. Warren Street Hotel, New York
Prior to becoming a full-time freelancer, Stacey Lastoe won an Emmy for her work on Anthony Bourdain’s Little Los Angeles while working as a senior editor at CNN. In addition to freelance editing gigs at Red Ventures and Fodor’s Travel, Stacey writes for a variety of publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New York Post, Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, and Robb Report. She splits her time between Brooklyn and Vermont.
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