At Hotels in America's Priciest Cities, You Pay for the View

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Reflecting pool and fountains at the Grand Wailea Hotel, Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, USA
David L. Moore - HIM/AlamyThe Grand Wailea Hotel is in one of America's priciest spots for accommodations.
Travelers to California, Hawaii and Florida saw the highest hotel rates for the first half of 2014, with all but five of the top 20 cities in those popular vacation spots experiencing price increases from 2013.

The priciest place to spend the night in a hotel? Visitors to Newport Coast, California, an affluent community 50 miles south of Los Angeles, paid $519 a night for the first half of 2014, a 9 percent increase from $477 a night during the same time in 2013, according to the latest Hotel Price Index.

Cities on the coast or islands made up 17 of 20 spots on the list. Here are the top 10 U.S. cities where travelers paid the most for the first half of last year, followed by nightly price for a hotel room and percentage increase or decrease from 2013:
  1. Newport Coast, California: $519, +9 percent.
  2. Wailea, Hawaii's island of Maui: $448, -3 percent.
  3. Oahu, Hawaii: $438, +3 percent.
  4. Yountville, California's Napa Valley: $418, +5 percent.
  5. Rancho Palos Verdes, California: $407, +9 percent.
  6. Duck Key, Florida: $382, +18 percent.
  7. Bal Harbour, Florida: $371, +24 percent.
  8. Princeville, Hawaii's island of Kauai: $368, +18 percent.
  9. Sausalito, California: $358, -4 percent.
  10. St. Helena, California's Napa Valley: $348, -8 percent.
Bal Harbour had the highest price increase, at 24 percent, followed by prices up 19 percent in Paradise Valley, Arizona; and up 18 percent in Princeville, Hawaii, and two Florida spots: Duck Key and Key West.

Most Expensive Domestic Markets

Those are the highest prices for U.S. cities. Some domestic markets, however, are still costly but not as much as the cities listed above. Honolulu, for example, led a list of domestic markets where U.S. travelers paid the most for a hotel -- with an average of $236, 3 percent more than in 2013 --- but it's still a lot less than other resort areas in Hawaii.

San Francisco saw the biggest increase in hotel prices among domestic markets, rising 10 percent to $179 a night, which says could be attributed to a new spring tourism campaign.

Other expensive domestic markets for U.S. travelers were: New York City at $221 a night, up 4 percent; Boston and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, up 6 percent to $187; and Salisbury, Maryland, up 3 percent to $171.

The Cheapest U.S. Cities to Visit

If you don't mind not being at the beach and want to go somewhere off the beaten path, found the least expensive U.S. cities: Macon, Georgia, and Dothan, Alabama, at an average of $80 a night.

Tied for third were Albany, Georgia, and Yuma, Arizona, at $81 per night. Five cities tied for fifth place at $86 a night: Grand Junction, Colorado; Ottumwa, Iowa; Wichita Falls, Texas; Lawton, Oklahoma; and Joplin, Missouri.

Most Expensive Countries

If you're looking to leave the U.S. for vacation, there are some countries to avoid if you don't want to pay the highest prices for a hotel room. Among countries where U.S. travelers paid the most, French Polynesia led the list for the first six months of 2014 at $522 a night, surpassing Maldives.

Monaco had the highest percentage increase of 30 percent, to $442 per night. Like San Francisco, attributed the increase in part to Monaco's increased promotional efforts.

That may make you pause the next time you see a bombardment of ads promoting your favorite vacation destination.
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