Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park
The sight (and, it must be said, smell) of carriage horses greets you as you enter this 33-story, limestone-fronted building on the southern edge of Central Park. Transformed from the St. Moritz Hotel in 2002, it has a laid-back, town house feel (tasseled damask curtains, fringed armchairs) and is known for its beyond-the-call-of-duty service. The multilingual staff—which includes bath butlers, a tech butler (for troubleshooting laptop issues), a gemologist, and an award-winning concierge team—will loan you (or your dog) a Burberry trench coat if it's raining, and come evening, the chauffeured house Bentley is at your disposal. The 259 rooms and suites, done up in taupe and pale rose tones, come with damask curtains and four pillow choices; bathrooms are outfitted with deep soaking tubs and Frederic Fekkai amenities. Potted palms and original Samuel Halpert paintings of New York adorn the African-wood Star Lounge, and a farm-fresh meal at BLT Market, the hotel's new Laurent Tourondel restaurant, is a must.
Tip: You won't know the hotel's full charm until you have an over-the-counter chat with legendary bartender Norman Bukofzer, who works nights Monday through Friday at the Star Lounge.
Room to Book: One of the 83 park-facing rooms, each of which comes with a telescope and bird-watching guide.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.