Pictured are hotels that lots of people like left to right: Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp outside Yosemite National Park; Hyatt Regency Beach Resort in Huntington Beach; Loews Santa Monica; and Hotel California in Palm Desert, a TripAdvisor people's choice.
These hotels and resorts have rooms often well under $550, though at peak times some may charge that amount--and more.
Do you love staying in hotels--especially the nice ones? We have stayed at luxury hotels in the $550+/night range that had fleas in the room, air conditioning that didn't work, and beds that sank. Paying lots of money isn't necessarily your ticket to a luxury stay and a good night's sleep!
What happened to quality control?
AAA (Automobile Club) used to be the supreme source on rating hotel quality, issuing One to Five Diamonds in a 'pay to play' model that guaranteed hotels & resorts would be listed in an annual guidebook by paying, and would be honored with a high ranking such as a Four or Five Diamond if the property deserved it (based on tests performed by AAA reviewers.) A hotel also had to be willing to pay more money to be listed in a top category and if they weren't, they didn't get that extra star or two. It was the best thing going for years...but then came the Internet and websites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp.
In less than 10 years these websites have changed the game for hotel owners. Allowing consumers to post reviews and ratings in which the public can vent, rant and praise hotels based on personal experiences, hotel owners & managers have spent the past decade trying to counter negative comments and often address issues that are reported. The strikingly similar stars and five circles TripAdvisor uses to rate your experience makes the rating system understandable to those who transitioned from AAA, which still exists.
How useful are AAA, TripAdvisor and Yelp? In our experience they are mildly useful.