When trendsetting hotelier Ian Schrager opened the Royalton in 1988, he proved that a hotel could be as hot of a destination as a nightclub. Two decades on, the lobby that once played host to midtown's fashion and media elite has been freshly revamped, the uncompromising chic of Philippe Starck's original space transformed with comfy firelit alcoves of mohair banquettes, wood paneling, and plump leather couches. Guest rooms, where the original slate fireplaces and blue velvet club chairs remain in place, have been given less of a makeover—and the improved hall lighting is now merely dim. The 168 rooms—half of which have wood-burning fireplaces—are sleek affairs done up in gray and sea green, with wall-to-wall banquettes, and the mirrored mosaic tiles that now surround Starck's curtained Roman tubs may make you feel like you're inside a disco ball.
Tip: Stake out a seat near the famous "runway" carpet leading back to the restaurant and elevators, and keep your eyes peeled for fashion and music-industry celebs.
Room to Book: A standard room with a soaking tub, or one of the four standard rooms with balconies.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.