Two San Diego hotels nab top spots in U.S. News’ best luxury hotels ranking

Poolside at Rancho Santa Fe's Rancho Valencia, which is ranked the No. 1 luxury hotel in California by U.S. News & World Report.
(Courtesy of Rancho Valencia)

Rancho Valencia and Fairmont Grand Del Mar are among just four California hotels that were ranked within the top 25 hotels in the U.S.


Two of San Diego County’s luxury resorts — the Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa and the Fairmont Grand Del Mar — have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as among the top 25 hotels in the United States.

The publication’s annual ranking, released on Tuesday, reflects the top tier of luxury properties, defined as falling within the 4-, 4.5- or 5-star “hotel class” ratings. In some instances, it also considers hotels with 3.5 stars.

Rancho Valencia, a Rancho Santa Fe resort that is ranked No. 1 by U.S. News among all California luxury hotels, and the Grand Del Mar, located in Carmel Valley, are perennial award winners in the various annual hotel and travel rankings generally released early in the year. Both, for example, received top five-star or five-diamond ratings from the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide and AAA.

U.S. News assembled its rankings after evaluating nearly 4,100 luxury properties in the United States, taking into account the opinions of both experts and users. Among other factors, U.S. News evaluates the number and prominence of awards and recommendations a hotel has received from expert travel industry sources. Hotels named best in their destination rank at or above the 70th percentile of all ranked 3.5-, 4-, 4.5- and 5-star hotels in that destination, according to U.S. News.

Other San Diego County hotels that received higher, gold-level rankings from U.S. News’ 10th annual Best Hotels list were The Lodge at Torrey Pines, at 50th in the U.S.; the US Grant, at 258th; and the Pendry, 297th.

While each organization that ranks hotels carries its own cachet, U.S. News Travel Editor Zach Watson said his publication’s analysis, in some ways, trumps others because of the multiplicity of sourcing it relies on.

“U.S. News is the only organization to score hotels using an extensive methodology that combines top industry awards with hotel star ratings and guest reviews,” he explained. “We evaluate how selective and prestigious each award is (in addition to how often it is updated) and assign it a weighting. We record the awards each hotel has received and that factors into the hotel’s overall score. The hotels that are the best of the best and rise to the top in the U.S. News rankings typically win numerous awards, have a high star rating and maintain a high TripAdvisor traveler rating because they continue to impress guests.”

The 45-acre Rancho Valencia, which underwent a $30 million overhaul in 2012, was also the No. 1-ranked hotel in California in U.S. News’ 2019 Best Hotels compilation. Nationally, the Rancho Valencia moved up in its national ranking from last year’s No. 9 position, while the Grand Del Mar fell to No. 22 from last year’s No. 14 ranking.