America's 50 Best Hotels is part of the Forbes Traveler 400 list of the world's best luxury hotels, as chosen by a board of 79 luxury travel experts. They started with nearly 800 four- and five-star properties around the world, and rated them for the quality of their rooms, service, decor, cuisine, public areas, recreational facilities and location. The top-rated 400 became the Forbes Traveler 400. Several of the panel's American selections should hardly be surprising, since they long ago achieved iconic status. The Lodge at Pebble Beach, for example, has showcased its famed 18th green since 1919, while the Halekulani ("the best place in Hawaii for a sunset drink," according to one expert) has been a cornerstone of Waikiki Beach since 1907.
Similarly, the Four Seasons Hotel New York is the I.M Pei-designed flagship of the global luxury chain, and celebrities from Charlie Chaplin to Elton John have famously wined and dined in the Beverly Hills Hotel and its Polo Lounge for nearly a century. These hotels' strong history in their locales is precisely what appealed to the Forbes Traveler board; the former was termed "a mecca for the executive visiting New York," while the latter was "still the place to see and be seen."