Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
Like metropolitan Ritz-Carltons across the land, the San Francisco incarnation is distinguished by its location; this one occupies an imposing palace halfway up Nob Hill. (Translation: good views, but not as far from dining and shopping as, say, the Huntington or the Fairmont.) Outside and in, it resembles the West Wing, only without the drama. The décor in the public spaces and the 336 rooms is ultratraditional, all Oriental rugs, reproduction Second Empire furnishings, and valences over endless layers of curtains. Think of it as a Greenwich-away-from-Greenwich for road-weary CEOs.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.