TripAdvisor's 2012 Travelers' Choice awards chose the 5-year-old Grand Del Mar in northern San Diego as the best U.S. luxury hotel and the second-best U.S. hotel too. Among hotels in the U.S., Southern California properties were scant in the top 25 best and luxury categories but did well among trendiest and relaxation/spa hotels.
Best hotel in the world went to the Phoenix Resort in San Pedro, Belize, and the best U.S. hotel was the Elysian Hotel in Chicago. The Shangri-La Hotel in Tokyo was chosen the best luxury hotel in the world.
Other California hotels on the U.S. luxury list include the Montage in Beverly Hills (No. 4) and the Fairmont Heritage Place at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco (No. 8), which also came in eighth for best U.S. hotel. Also, the Varden Hotel in Long Beach ranked No. 6 for best service at a U.S. hotel; SeaCoast Inn in Hyannis, Mass., took the top service spot.
The Southern California desert seems to be ground zero for laid-back fun, with seven hotels in Desert Hot Springs and four in Palm Springs making the top 25 relaxation-spa hotels in the U.S. The Bella Monte Hot Spring Resort and Spa in Desert Hot Springs took the top spot, followed by Cypress Cove Nudist Resort in Kissimmee, Fla., and Two Bunch Palms Resort, also in Desert Hot Springs.