Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
A stem-to-stern renovation completed in 2006 (to the tune of $150 million) renewed the luster of this legendary property—a decades-long favorite of visiting dignitaries like Margaret Thatcher and Henry Kissinger. Many of the 502 rooms have been enlarged (by enclosing the balconies in glass); high-tech amenities like iPod docking stations, Wi-Fi, and touch-screen lighting and temperature control have also been added. The décor’s been updated, too, with plush velvety fabrics, wood wall panels, and colorfully glazed Asian ceramics. Though there’s a spa on three floors with Chinese herbal steam rooms, bathing beauties may be perfectly content to languish in their own airy marble bathrooms, kitted out with Hermès toiletries. The real choice comes in the form of 10 different restaurants and bars. Our favorites: Man Wah, with its classic Cantonese cuisine, and the sophisticated French-influenced Pierre, helmed by chef Pierre Gagnaire.
Insider’s Tip: Gents should absolutely pop into the old-fashioned barbershop for a wet shave using badger-hair brushes.
Room to Book: Anything above the ninth floor that faces north will give you fabulous views across Victoria Harbour to the mountains of Kowloon. For a splurge, book the bold, mod, red-white-and-black Lichfield suite, named after the royal photographer who shot both Princess Diana’s wedding photos and the Mandarin Oriental’s “I’m a fan” celebrity ad campaign.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.