“World’s Best” points-bookable hotels & resorts in the continental United States 2020

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Travel & Leisure recently published their World’s Best Awards for 2020.  Using survey data, they rated the world’s best destinations, airlines, resorts, etc.  For this post, I targeted the best hotels and resorts in the continental United States.  Which of the best hotels & resorts are bookable with points?  And which of these offer the best value with points?

I compiled this list by researching every hotel on each of the following lists from the Travel & Leisure article:

For each of the 45 hotels found in the above lists, I determined whether or not they were bookable with hotel points.  Almost all are bookable with bank points (such as Chase Ultimate Rewards points), but my goal was to find those bookable specifically with hotel points: Marriott points, Hilton points, IHG points, etc.  Bank points usually give you a fixed value based on the hotel price.  Hotel points, though, sometimes offer the opportunity to get outsized value.  That’s what I wanted to find…

Top 10 Domestic Points-Bookable Hotels & Resorts

The following are the top 10 points-bookable hotels & resorts in the domestic U.S. that made the Travel & Leisure World’s Best Awards for 2020.  The properties are sorted from best value for your points to worst:

#1) Kimpton Hotel Born, Denver

#2) Santa Monica Proper Hotel, Santa Monica, California

  • #3 of Travel & Leisure’s Top 15 City Hotels in the Continental U.S.
  • Bookable with: Marriott Bonvoy
  • Average nightly rate: $616.70
  • Average points per night: 53,333
  • Worth booking with points? Yes: Excellent Value
    • Deal Metric: 61%
    • Cents Per Point: 1.16
    • RRV: 0.72
  • Greg’s Notes: Marriott offers Stay for 5, Pay for 4 awards.  Since I looked only at 5-night stays, Marriott comes out looking better than it would for four-night stays.

#3) Miraval Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

  • #9 of Travel & Leisure’s Top 15 Domestic Spas
  • Bookable with: World of Hyatt
  • Average nightly rate: $1,395.36
  • Average points per night: 65,000
  • Worth booking with points? Yes: Excellent Value
    • Deal Metric: 43%
    • Cents Per Point: 2.15
    • RRV: 1.50
  • Greg’s Notes: Both cash and point prices are based on double occupancy.

#4) Wentworth Mansion, Charleston, South Carolina

  • #7 of Travel & Leisure’s Top 15 City Hotels in the Continental U.S.
  • Bookable with: World of Hyatt
  • Average nightly rate: $569.72
  • Average points per night: 30,000
  • Worth booking with points? Yes: Good Value
    • Deal Metric: 27%
    • Cents Per Point: 1.90
    • RRV: 1.50

#5) Kimpton La Peer Hotel, West Hollywood, California

#6) Miraval Austin, Texas

  • #13 of Travel & Leisure’s Top 15 Domestic Spas
  • Bookable with: World of Hyatt
  • Average nightly rate: $1,150.18
  • Average points per night: 65,000
  • Worth booking with points? Yes: Good Value
    • Deal Metric: 18%
    • Cents Per Point: 1.77
    • RRV: 1.50
  • Greg’s Notes: Both cash and point prices are based on double occupancy.

#7) Hotel Emma, San Antonio, Texas

  • #15 of Travel & Leisure’s Top 15 City Hotels in the Continental U.S.
  • Bookable with: Choice Privileges
  • Average nightly rate: $483.74
  • Average points per night: 55,000
  • Worth booking with points? Yes: Fair Value
    • Deal Metric: 9%
    • Cents Per Point: 0.88
    • RRV: 0.81
  • Greg’s Notes: Choice points can be used to book some (but not all) Preferred Hotels & Resorts properties. You can find eligible hotels and award availability here. Note that I was not able to find award availability for this property.

#8) The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown, Houston

  • #6 of Travel & Leisure’s Top 15 City Hotels in the Continental U.S.
  • Bookable with: Choice Privileges
  • Average nightly rate: $422.29
  • Average points per night: 55,000
  • Worth booking with points? No: Poor Value
    • Deal Metric: -5%
    • Cents Per Point: 0.77
    • RRV: 0.81
  • Greg’s Notes: Choice points can be used to book some (but not all) Preferred Hotels & Resorts properties. You can find eligible hotels and award availability here.

#9) The Row Hotel at Assembly Row, Somerville, Massachusetts

  • #05 of Travel & Leisure’s Top 15 City Hotels in the Continental U.S.
  • Bookable with: Marriott Bonvoy
  • Average nightly rate: $255.79
  • Average points per night: 38,000
  • Worth booking with points? No: Poor Value
    • Deal Metric: -7%
    • Cents Per Point: 0.67
    • RRV: 0.72
  • Greg’s Notes: Marriott offers Stay for 5, Pay for 4 awards. Since I looked only at 5-night stays, Marriott comes out looking better than it would for four night stays.

#10) The Art, a Hotel, Denver

  • #13 of Travel & Leisure’s Top 15 City Hotels in the Continental U.S.
  • Bookable with: Choice Privileges
  • Average nightly rate: $179.64
  • Average points per night: 45,000
  • Worth booking with points? No: Very Poor Value
    • Deal Metric: -51%
    • Cents Per Point: 0.40
    • RRV: 0.81
  • Greg’s Notes: Choice points can be used to book some (but not all) Preferred Hotels & Resorts properties. You can find eligible hotels and award availability here. Note that I was not able to find award availability for this property.

Methodology

Finding Hotels

I compiled my list by researching every hotel on each of the following lists from the Travel & Leisure article:

For each of the 45 hotels found in the above lists, I determined whether or not they were bookable with hotel points.  Almost all are bookable with bank points (such as Chase Ultimate Rewards points), but my goal was to find those bookable specifically with hotel points: Marriott points, Hilton points, IHG points, etc.  Bank points usually give you a fixed value based on the hotel price.  Hotel points, though, sometimes offer the opportunity to get outsized value.  That’s what I wanted to find.

10 Qualifying Hotels & Resorts

I determined that 10 of the 45 hotels & resorts are at least theoretically bookable with points:

  • World of Hyatt points can be used to book:
    • Two Miraval resorts
    • One Small Luxury Hotel of the World (SLH)
  • Choice Privileges points can be used to book:
    • Three Preferred Hotels & Resorts properties
      (Note though that I was only able to find award availability at one of the three)
  • IHG Rewards Club points can be used to book:
    • Two Kimpton properties
  • Marriott Bonvoy points can be used to book:
    • One Autograph Collection hotel
    • One Design Hotel

Hilton surprisingly didn’t make the list at all.  Hilton points can’t be used to book any of the 45 best hotels in the continental U.S.

The Deal Metric

With each of the 10 points-bookable properties, I looked up paid rates and point rates for each of the following date ranges:

  • December 26-31 2020
  • March 7-12 2021
  • June 20-25 2021 (Note: I had hoped to look deeper into the summer, but not all hotels are bookable yet for July 2021)

For all ten hotels, I calculated the average cents per point value one would get from using hotel points instead of cash.  I then compared that cents per point value to our Reasonable Redemption Value (RRV).  Here are the current RRVs for each of the qualifying loyalty programs:

  • Hyatt: 1.5 cents per point
  • Choice: 0.81 cents per point
  • IHG: 0.65 cents per point
  • Marriott: 0.72 cents per point

If the observed cents per point is better than the RRV, then we can say that it is a good deal to use points.  In order to decide how good of a deal, I divided the observed cents per point by the RRV to create the deal metric as a percentage.  e.g. the Deal Metric tells us what percent better (or worse) the deal is for this hotel compared to the average use of these points (RRV).  And to make this metric useful, I converted the results into words as follows:

  • > 30%: Excellent Value
  • >15% to 30%: Good Value
  • 0% to 15%: Fair Value
  • -20% to <0%: Poor Value
  • < -20%: Very Poor Value

Bottom Line

I found 10 hotels in the domestic U.S. that made it onto the Travel & Leisure World’s Best Awards for 2020 and are bookable with hotel points.  Of these, more than half offer good to excellent value when booking with points.  Hyatt and IHG consistently offer good to excellent value in this list.  Marriott was split with one property offering excellent value and one offering poor value.  Choice bottomed out the list with one property offering fair value and two offering poor value.  Hilton didn’t have any properties on the domestic U.S. lists.

While I found some great opportunities here, I was disappointed that 8 of the 10 hotels are city hotels.  The two other properties are the Miraval Spa resorts in Arizona and Texas.  It’s worth noting that there’s also a brand new Miraval Berskshires resort in Massachusetts.  Plus, Hyatt is offering two nights for the points price of one at Miraval properties through the end of this year.  That makes this a fantastic time to book a Miraval stay.

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[…] Wentworth Mansion is an SLH property in Charleston South Carolina. The inn is charming, gorgeous, offers great service, and in my opinion is well deserving of its place on Travel & Leisure’s Top 15 City Hotels in the Continental U.S. […]

Fio

I kinda disagree with the list and lack of Hilton options. Not that I would be a huge Hilton fan but a case in point is the WA BH property which is vastly superior to LA Peer. Stayed in both last Dec and was blown away by WA – limousine service, great rooms, fantastic property, great food vs LA Peer was just …. not cookie cutter, maybe quaint but a completely different league. I’d say this goes to show lists are not everything …

stvr

Your IHG and Marriott RRVs strike me as about 15 to 20 percent too high, based on current facts on the ground.

Nick Reyes

For what it’s worth, I stayed at the Kimpton La Peer last year. It was fine, but I definitely wouldn’t have it on a list of the top 15 city hotels in the US. The lobby has a swanky vibe, but the rooms were not more than average and the hotel has an awkward layout. It’s a good value if that’s where you want to be — but keep in mind that they charge a $30 per night destination charge. The restaurant was fine for breakfast, but not notable.

Again, it’s not a bad hotel. But a world where that’s the #4 city hotel in the United States and neither the Park Hyatt New York or Washington DC makes the list…..well, that’s just not the world I live in :-). I imagine that they were likely looking to highlight places that feel more “unique” than a Park Hyatt, but it still wouldn’t be near the top of the list of boutique-style hotels I’ve stayed at.

All that is to say that lists like the Travel & Leisure lists are very subjective by nature. I’m sure many others have loved La Peer. I drove past the Waldorf while staying at the La Peer and I’d check that out with a Hilton free weekend night cert or two next time.

Brant

The Hotel Emma in San Antonio is a better than fair value use of Choice points, not because of the cash valuation, rather for the unique and memorable experience you will have there. That being said, a word to the wise. When booking a Preferred Hotels group property using Choice Privileges points, ALWAYS contact the hotel directly in advance of your stay to make sure they actually have your reservation. The communication between these two programs is very poor and I learned the hard way not to show up assuming everything is ok. This also applies to reservation with Choice Nordic properties using Choice Privileges points. This is from personal experience.

Pam

Agreed about Hotel Emma, wonderful & unique property! The Austin Proper is like that as well, worth checking out right now with off-peak Marriott point pricing.

I noticed the Santa Monica Proper is on this list. Right now Proper is selling up to 25% off gift cards that can be used at any of their locations & residences. Special “chain.”

Thank you for the time, research, & good judgment compiling this handy go-to, Greg. A keeper!

Pam

Same thing Brant noted about Choice Privileges communications with PH, also with Proper Hotels & Marriott. Still on 2 different booking systems that often don’t communicate! Check & re-check your reservations/cancelations!