AAA showered four diamonds on 10 hotels in a wide swath of Southern California, from boutique beach sites to brands well-known for luxury.
The organization sends inspectors to review properties on a scale of one to five diamonds.
Travel Editor Catharine Hamm wrote in a recent column about how they do their jobs: “The exterior of the hotel also comes in for scrutiny, looking at the outside and grounds of hotels as well as public areas and rooms.” No detail is too small to check, such as rusty or stinky microwaves, and lint in hair dryers.
Unlike AAA, some hotel rankings apply an algorithm to online reviews or tap travel experts to weigh in.
AAA did not award new five-diamond designations to Southern California properties; there are 13 existing ones from Ojai and Dana Point to Rancho Santa Fe and Carlsbad.