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In lists of best hotels, old and new media still matter

The lobby at The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Source: The Phoenician
The lobby at The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Internet loves lists, but long before Yelp, bots or Buzzfeed, there were old-school, best-of travel lists—and most of them are still around.

Looking for a top hotel? Your sources are abundant. Sites that produce best-of lists include AAA, Forbes Travel, Travel & Leisure, Trip Advisor, Hotel Chatter and Oyster.

The Curbed real estate blogs do a series of essential hotel lists for New York, Miami, San Francisco and other cities.

Have the traditional old guides lost their panache?

"Not at all," said Denise Seomin, the director of public relations for the Canyon Suites at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Ariz., which appears on many best-of lists. "It still holds the same amount of credit and prestige as before. Forbes Travel and AAA are such well-known and respected brands.To have that third-party validation is what we strive for."

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Even France's century-old Michelin Red Guides continue to branch further into ranking U.S. hotels and restaurants with books covering additional cities.

But new lists, sites and reviews continue to inundate the market.

"There are so many sites ... it's hard to manage every single one, but we do pay attention to all the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram comments," Seomin said. "We are trying to monitor as many sites and blogs as we can.We hear them and respond."

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For some properties, word of mouth from recent guests may still be the most important recommendation, said Rebecca Widness of Widness & Co. Public Relations, which represents resorts such as the Winvian in Litchfield Hills, Conn.

"At this resort's level, its guests share ... the buzz about where they've just stayed," she said in an email to CNBC. "Accolades plus online presence plus strong social media add up to meeting the bottom line."

Here's a sample of some of the recently released lists of outstanding properties.

Trip Advisor Travelers' Choice Awards for Hotels names winners according to a number of categories, including by country.

Top 10 Hotels in the United States
1. The Grand Del Mar, San Diego
2. French Quarter Inn, Charleston, S. C.
3. Bardessono, Yountville, Calif.
4. Allison Inn & Spa, Newberg, Ore.
5. Five Pine Lodge & Spa, Sisters, Ore.
6. 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville, Bentonville, Ark.
7. Tivoli Lodge, Vail, Colo.
8. The Sherry-Netherland Hotel, New York
9. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka'upulehu, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
10. The Oxford Hotel, Bend, Ore.

In its 78th year, the AAA/CAA list has 124 hotels with the Five Diamond Rating. Six hotels are new to the list this year:

1) Château du Sureau, Oakhurst, Calif.
2) Wynn Tower Suites, Las Vegas
3) Montage Deer Valley, Park City, Utah
4) Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto
5) Banyan Tree Cabo Marques, Acapulco, Mexico
6) Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

The 56th annual Forbes Travel Guide Star Ratings includes 97 Five-Star hotels worldwide, a record for the publication. California has the most:

1) Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, San Diego
2) El Encanto, Santa Barbara
3) Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco
4) The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco
5) Auberge du Soleil, Napa Valley
6) Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
7) The Spa at Pebble Beach
8) Aubergine, the restaurant at L'Auberge Carmel

"Consumer rating sites have a lot of credibility because they appear authentic and unfiltered," said Nancy Friedman, whose public relations firm specializes in the travel, hospitality and lifestyle industries.

(Read more: Free Wi-Fi added at all Loews Hotels)

"Accessing Trip Advisor and Yelp is easy and one of the first gateways to identifying whether or not you want to go to that destination or stay at that hotel." she added. "Lists from Fodor's or publications such as Travel & Leisure or Condé Nast Traveler reinforce the industry's best offerings."

—By CNBC's Amy Langfield. Follow her on Twitter at @AmyLangfield.

Follow Road Warrior on Twitter at @CNBCtravel.

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