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Best of the Best 2008: Hotels

Jennifer Hall, Laurie Kahle and Cynthia Rosenfeld

Visitors arrive at the Peninsula Tokyo (+81.3.6270.2888, www.peninsula.com) in green Rolls-Royce Phantoms, the Hong Kong–based hotel group’s signature cars. Managers then usher their guests into the hotel’s cavernous lobby, where Japanese businessmen from the neighboring Marunouchi financial district and women in high heels drink cocktails beneath a transfixing concave light fixture that sparkles with 1,313 bulbs. The 24-story hotel, which opened in September, incorporates equally captivating artworks, as well as an indoor pool, five restaurants, and a penthouse bar decorated with polished chrome trees. The Peninsula’s 314 rooms, including 47 suites, feature natural details such as sliding horse-chestnut doors and woven cedar on the ceiling. Washi paper panels painted with golden sakura (cherry blossom) patterns adorn the hotel’s Peninsula Suite, which includes a private gym, a library, and a Japanese tea-ceremony room with tatami floor coverings. ($600–$8,400) —Jennifer Hall

It took the Rosso family, the owners of several small, exclusive hotels in Italy, several years to convince Milan’s city government to approve their plans to develop the Town House Galleria (+39. 028.9058297, www.townhousegalleria.it). Beyond the usual difficulty in getting past one of Italy’s labyrinthine bureaucracies, the boutique property required special consideration because of its proposed location: inside one of Milan’s most famous landmarks, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a massive, architecturally stunning indoor arcade completed in 1876. Ultimately, the Rosso family and its company, Town House Hotels, succeeded, and the hotel opened its doors in March 2007 to stellar reviews. Appointed with edgy modern art, the Town House Galleria’s 24 suites occupy the arcade’s second and third floors. Each suite offers interior views of the Galleria and its streams of shoppers and tourists, most of whom are unaware that a hotel sits above the original Prada store. Butlers serve each room, stocking the individual wine cellars and arranging anything from a personal guide for viewing Da Vinci’s Last Supper to an after-hours shopping trip. ($1,250– $15,700) —Laurie Kahle

The St. Regis Singapore (+65.6506. 6888, www.stregis.com) is the first major luxury hotel to be built in this tiny island nation in 10 years. Though it strives to meet the global business traveler’s every need, the 229-room property offers numerous diversions to fill the hours between meetings. Guests can head to the Remède Spa—the first Remède facility outside of the United States—where spacious Finnish cedarwood saunas and a eucalyptus-infused steam chamber help rejuvenate jet-lagged patrons. Others may opt to unwind over an Afternoon Delight (an iced-green-tea concoction with kiwi and vodka) at the Aston Bar. After drinks, visitors can choose from casual Mediterranean specialties at LaBrezza, Cantonese fare at Yan Ting, and traditional and modern French selections at Les Saveurs. At the end of the evening, guests retire to spacious rooms and suites, where around-the-clock butlers ensure that business travelers are rested and well prepared for another hard day of work. ($400–$1,300) —Cynthia Rosenfeld

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Photo by Janos Grapow