3 Top Luxury Hotels – and Their Oddest Amenities

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Luxury hotels have figured out how to get people to pay more for one night than most of us pay in monthly rent. We peek under the covers to find out how they do it.

When a hotel claims it’s luxurious, what does that really mean? At the Ritz-Carlton chain, it meant announcing last week that guests can now take photo lessons from a National Geographic photographer.

But however you define luxury, it ain’t cheap, according to two new lists of the best luxury hotels in the United States and the world.

The first list, a Top 10 from US News, based its picks on amenities, lavish decor, and the way hotels “showcase America’s diversity” – although they never explain what that means. Meanwhile, the global Travelers’ Choice Awards from Tripadvisor.com had one factor: what the well-to-do customers think.

We did a little digging to see what both lists agreed on, then researched what makes these places both expensive and interesting…

1. Waldorf Astoria Chicago (formerly the Elysian Hotel)

The Waldorf Astoria is the best U.S. hotel for Tripadvisor and the 10th-best for US News. One night there will set you back $315 to $715. Some of the perks…

  • More and more hotels have spas these days, but this one is a massive 14,000 square feet and offers a “pre-natal massage” specifically for expecting mothers and a “children’s spa” featuring “ice cream manicures and pedicures and rhinestone nails.”
  •  Ria, the in-hotel restaurant, offers a “grand cheese tasting” for $125 that features cheese made from cows, goats, sheep – and Italian water buffalo.
  • Sure, there’s a gym and a pool (“adorned with thousands of mosaic tiles”), but if those bore you, “a certified trainer will take you to a lakefront beach or park location for tai chi.”

 2. Four Seasons Hualalai, Hawaii

The Hawaiian Four Seasons came in fifth for US News and 16th for Tripadvisor.com. A night in one of these bungalows costs $1,125 to $3,225. Some of the perks…

  • A golf course that faces a local volcano and lets you swing your club on “a constantly changing environment – from stark lava fields to an exciting oceanfront group of finishing holes.”
  • A culinary course taught by celebrity chefs, with your choice of farm tours, cooking classes, and, of course, food.
  • Dinner on the beach, as long as you have fewer than 12 people and make a reservation. Private chef and grill included. What do all these cost? You have to book a room to find out.

3. Wentworth Mansion, South Carolina

At third place for US News and 24th for Tripadvisor.com, the Wentworth Mansion‘s rooms come equipped with “hand-carved marble fireplaces” and cost from $329 to $750 a night. Some of the perks…

  • The Circa 1886 restaurant, where a poached egg costs $10 and the $29 tuna steak features “Vanilla Barbeque Sauce, Avocado Chow Chow, Prickly Pear Lassi, Smashed Boniatos, Guanabana Coulis.” Whatever that means.
  • The Spa Package, including a massage, wine, breakfast, homemade chocolates – and free parking? Yep. Rates start at $650.
  • Complimentary alcohol, from sherry to brandy, every evening.

If you like hotels like these and others, you might be able to save on luxury with 8 Tips to Save at Any Hotel – Even the Nation’s Trendiest and 4 More Ways to Stay at Premium Hotels Without Paying a Premium.

Stacy Johnson

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