Fairmont San Francisco
This grande dame of San Francisco hotels survived some significant shake-ups (including the city’s catastrophic earthquake of 1906) before architect Julia Morgan turned it into the ornate, sumptuous palace it is today. (A complete renovation of the property in 1999 refreshed many of Morgan’s original design elements—like the gleaming marble floors, elaborately painted domes, and gilt crown molding adorning the hotel’s lobby and ballrooms). The 591 guest rooms here are old-school elegant, with overstuffed chairs, damask drapes, and dark-wood furnishings; but there are modern touches too—like the pillow-top mattresses swathed in Frette linens and the iPod docking stations.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.