By Terry Trucco
Not long ago Trip Advisor posted its crowd-sourced list of the top hotels in the US. New York City fared badly with not one property in the top 25.
Another day, another survey. AAA has released its 2012 list of Five Diamond hotels and restaurants, and New York City cleaned up with eight hotels and one hotel restaurant landing the coveted diamonds, the goldest star AAA’s professional raters award. Only Las Vegas scored higher in the hotel category, with a nod for ten properties.
Five Diamond properties are pricey, predictable and fearlessly luxurious. An exclusive group, they comprise less than one third of one percent of the 31,000 properties AAA reviews. Every year each receives an unannounced visit from a reviewer who follows a strict check-list provided by AAA.
Making the cut sounds a lot like landing a spot in a super-selective college. Getting in is a killer, but once you’re there, you’ve got a good chance of staying. Of the 125 properties tapped this year, nine were newcomers. Just seven were booted out. Three hotels have been on board for 36 consecutive years, though none are New Yorkers.
So – drumroll, please – the eight Five Diamond New York hotels with the year they first joined this select group are the Four Seasons New York (1994), Mandarin Oriental (2005), the Peninsula New York (1999), the Pierre New York – a Taj Hotel (2009), the Plaza Hotel (2009), the Ritz-Carlton New York Battery Park (2002), the Ritz-Carlton New York Central Park (2002) and the Trump International Hotel & Tower (2010).
The lone hotel restaurant included among the five New York City restaurants to make the cut is Jean-Georges (1998) at the Trump International. A total of 58 restaurants garnered Five Diamonds.
If you’re planning on sampling Five Diamond fare in New York, now is a great time to book. Rates drop to their lowest in January and February, and though super-luxe hotels don’t give their rooms away this is the one time of year you just might score some semblance of a deal.
Prices start around $400 to $600 for the least pricey rooms at the midtown properties, unheard of in September. But we found weekend rate rooms at the Ritz-Carlton New York Battery Park for $295, not exactly a give-away but doubly sweet since even the smallest rooms at this hotel are large. The downside is you’re at the bottom tip of Manhattan, not so great if you plan to see lots of theater, but divine if you want to see the Statue of Liberty from your room.