Forbes Travel Guide’s Five-Star award is the pinnacle achievement for a hotel. To earn one, the hotel gets put to the ultimate test: an incognito inspector checks in for three days and two nights and scrutinizes up to 900 objective, rigorous standards.
FTG’s independent ratings lean heavily on service, which accounts for 75 percent, and the remaining 25 percent is based on the quality of the hotel’s facilities. Those properties that triumph with the top accolade possess a team of warm, gracious and can-anticipate-your-every-need staff members, ranging from the gardener to the general manager.
In FTG’s 2022 Star Awards, the list of Five-Star hotels features 323 properties all over the globe. Here are the 10 new U.S. additions where you can experience that sterling Five-Star service:
White Barn Inn, Auberge Resorts Collection, Kennebunkport, Maine
This New England hideaway’s history stretches back more than 150 years, and it remains a beloved institution. Its staying power could lie in the quaint setting — waterfront cottages, a cozy inn and an 1860s barn are surrounded by pine and birch trees. Or perhaps it’s the intimate inn’s 27 accommodations, which showcase an updated farmhouse aesthetic with spindle beds, patterned Sister Parish wallpaper and antiques.
The Five-Star White Barn Inn Restaurant is a destination unto itself — the rustic dining room has been spotlighting local bounty since 1973.
Forget touring Newport’s Gilded Age mansions — here’s your chance to stay in one. This waterfront estate was built in 1873 as a summer home for N.Y. Congressman John Winthrop Chanler, whose family hosted guests like poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Theodore Roosevelt. Today, it contains 20 rooms — each carries a unique design, from French provincial to English Tudor — and is the only hotel on the Cliff Walk, a scenic 3.5-mile path that straddles the crashing waves and surrounding mansions.
Another reason to visit is Cara, a new Five-Star restaurant with tasting menus and Atlantic vistas.
While many are familiar with Lotte New York Palace (it’s been a backdrop for shows ranging from the original Gossip Girl to Succession), The Towers keeps a lower profile. A Five-Star hotel that occupies the top 14 floors of the 55-story Palace, it provides more opulent accommodations (the sprawling Champagne Suite houses a two-story marble parlor, wine cave and rooftop terrace with a waterfall) and offerings (perks include butlers, packing/unpacking service and entry to Rarities, an invitation-only bar hidden in the Palace).
Built in 1830, this charming boutique hotel may be the oldest inn on the Cape, but it feels modern. Its 18 rooms and suites exude tranquility with cream and ivory tones, fireplaces (in half of the accommodations) and marble and onyx bathrooms with Bulgari products. Every stay includes a gourmet breakfast — choose from seasonal dishes like crab cake Benedict or cranberry nut French toast.
This is the place for a romantic getaway — kids under 12 are not permitted to stay here.
Opened in 2019, Encore is the largest U.S. gaming resort outside of Las Vegas to snag a Five-Star honor. But its curved bronze building houses much more, including a newly minted Five-Star spa, whose 26,000-square-foot facility is one of the largest in New England; a plethora of dining options, including Four-Star Rare Steakhouse, which is one of less than 10 restaurants nationwide with certified Kobe beef; and distinctive art, like the 21-foot-tall, 25-foot-wide Ferris wheel adorned with 102,000 flowers, 12,000 jewels and 1,156 lights in the lobby.
Telluride’s only Five-Star winner emerged from a renovation last year with a contemporary alpine vibe in its 83 accommodations and new amenities, like Timber Room, an indoor-outdoor après-ski lounge with whiskey cocktails, an alfresco pool and dining terrace with sweeping mountain vistas. But it’s not just a ski destination — come for the Alpine Cookout, a summertime celebration of Southwestern cuisine. The July 2 chef lineup features Salt Lake City’s Viet Pham, Dallas’ Dean Fearing, Phoenix’s Mark Tarbell and Santa Fe’s Mark Kiffin.
This is the rare California escape that boasts accommodations right on the sand. More reasons to brag: Rosewood has Santa Barbara’s only Five-Star spa, which offers innovative sleep-focused treatments and a Gua Sha Tension Release facial, and Four-Star Caruso’s, which serves refined Southern Italian cuisine and mesmerizing ocean views.
If you don’t sip a negroni at Caruso’s, try The Manor Bar’s literature-inspired cocktails. The Invisible Man is a combination of Monkey 47 gin, clarified Campari and blanc vermouth that’s clear, just like the titular character in H.G. Wells’ 1897 novel.
Oahu’s most exclusive enclave only has nine suites, but they are more like expansive apartments with each taking up an entire floor. The bright, airy three-bedroom suites all have spacious balconies with Jacuzzis overlooking Waikiki Beach; full kitchens with five-burner stoves and dishwashers; and three bathrooms with Toto toilets as well as dry saunas and soaking tubs. And each comes with a dedicated butler.
Its Five-Star MUGEN restaurant is just as exclusive — only 18 to 36 guests can savor chef Jason Yamaguchi’s French-Japanese tasting menus nightly.
Boston gains another Five-Star addition with this 61-story gleaming glass skyscraper — the city’s third-largest building. If you can pry yourself from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the sleek room, dine at Zuma, Massachusetts’ first outpost of the international izakaya-style restaurant group, or unwind at the Five-Star spa. Four Seasons devotes its seventh floor to wellness, with five treatment suites, a state-of-the-art gym designed by celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak and a striking 64-foot curved pool with an underwater sound system and a poolside lounge.
Surround yourself in nature at this 3,500-acre retreat in the Wasatch Mountain Range. The Lodge at Blue Sky lets you revel in the great outdoors with activities like natural horsemanship lessons, high alpine heli-adventures and wildlife tracking. Afterward, refuel at Four-Star Yuta with some mountain fare or The Refectory, popular local distillery High West’s onsite restaurant.
Five-Star Edge Spa also immerses you in nature with its cliffside setting overlooking gurgling Alexander Creek, treatments that use ingredients grown onsite and alfresco yoga and guided meditation sessions.