Langham Place, Mongkok, Hong Kong
Since it opened in March 2005, the glass-and-steel Langham Place, designed by the same team behind Tokyo's Roppongi Hills complex, has quietly become the city's hidden gem. Set among the markets and frenetic foot traffic of Mongkok on the Kowloon side of Victoria Harbour, the 665-room retreat mixes business, pleasure, and even art with the kind of smart and playful efficiency most design hotels aspire to achieve. The fun begins at arrival: guests are greeted by a pair of enormous, cartoonish sculptures of Mao's Red Guards, just one of the 1,700 pieces of Chinese art throughout the hotel. Forty floors up, it's all about relaxation, with the top three stories devoted to the Chuan, a Chinese-style spa that offers more than 60 treatments; a teak-floored gym; and a rooftop pool straight out of South Beach. And as Hong Kong Island turns into one sprawling, interconnected mall, Kowloon—which many argue is the authentic Hong Kong—is growing in appeal. To help guests get acquainted with this other side of Hong Kong, the concierge runs tours of the island's food and flower markets—the best kind of insider orientation.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.