On Jan. 31, AAA announced its annual lists of Four and Five Diamond hotels. A total of 134 properties in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean were added to the prestigious lists this year.AAA's Diamond Rating is one of the few hotel appraisal systems that rely on physical on-site evaluations. The company's team of inspectors assesses each of the 27,000 eligible properties based on comfort, cleanliness, security and available services and amenities. Each hotel is then awarded a Diamond Rating between one and five, with five being the best.[Read: Best Hotels in the USA.]Of the more than 27,000 evaluated hotels, just 121 properties earned Five Diamond distinction for 2018. Eight of those properties are newcomers, including three hotels that received the Five Diamond award shortly after opening. Those hotels are The Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown in New York City, the Grand Velas Los Cabos in Los Cabos, Mexico, and the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa in the Cayman Islands. The remaining five properties that earned Five Diamond distinction are Esperanza, An Auberge Resort, Grand Luxxe Riviera Maya, The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue, The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas and Williamsburg Inn. These new honorees join the ranks among plenty of prestigious hotels, but they have a ways to go before solidifying the long-standing success of the 12 properties that have earned Five Diamond status the past 25 years in a row. They range from smaller boutique hotels, such as The Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado, and The Inn at Little Washington in northern Virginia, to larger resorts that are part of big-name luxury brands, such as the Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton. More impressive still is The Broadmoor's reign: The Colorado Springs, Colorado, property has been a Five Diamond Award recipient for 42 consecutive years."Attaining a Five Diamond Rating is an exceptional accomplishment that signifies meticulous attention to detail, creativity in enhancing comfort, outstanding service and memorable guest experiences," Michael Petrone, director of AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings, said in a news release. According to AAA, Five Diamond hotels must now offer more than luxurious amenities and outstanding service to stand out from the competition. "And as more mid-scale and even budget properties are adding amenities for comfort and convenience, hotels that aim for a Five Diamond Rating must stay far ahead of the curve to differentiate themselves through advanced design concepts, highest quality furnishings and scrupulous attention to guests' expectations," Petrone said.[Read: Best Hotels in Canada.]While not as selective as the Five Diamond Award list, the Four Diamond list features hotels that are considered top properties. In 2018, 126 new hotels were added to the Four Diamond list, including traveler favorites such as Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, California, The Watergate Hotel in Washington, District of Columbia, the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui in Maui, Hawaii, The Viceroy Chicago in Chicago, the Kimpton Aertson Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, the Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen and the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, British Columbia. What's more, a handful of hotels, such as The Westin Milwaukee, The Tennessean Hotel in Knoxville and Hotel LeVeque, Autograph Collection in Columbus, Ohio, earned Four Diamond recognition in their first year of operation. A total of 1,676 properties earned Four Diamond distinction this year.New York City once again boasts the highest number of Four and Five Diamond awards, with 69 hotels earning accolades in 2018. Chicago has the next-highest count of total Diamond awards with 42, and Boston claims the third-highest count with 30 total Diamond awards. State-wise, California is home to the most Four and Five Diamond awards: In total, 189 hotels were honored.[Read: Best Hotels in Mexico.]To learn more about the Diamond Ratings or to view all of the Four and Five Diamond award recipients, visit AAA's website. For information on the 2018 U.S. News & World Report Best Hotels rankings, which use AAA Four and Five Diamond awards as part of the scoring formula, check back when the lists are released on Feb. 6.