The Plaza, Midtown East
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 759 3000
From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:The Plaza emerges from its $400 million renovation with architectural grandeur, decor long on marble and crystal, plenty of references to Eloise, and of course its sweetheart location at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street. But the hotel has done more than cling to a century-deep history. Keeping pace with modern times, it now has private condos (starting at $2.5 million), as well as 282 guest rooms (down from its original 805), which include 152 Pied-à-Terre units that will be rented by the night when not occupied by owners. Everything comes dear here, from a bowl of oatmeal or an in-room movie for $15 to the Edwardian Park Suite at $2,500 a night. Among the shameless luxuries are butlers on each floor (still learning their trade as of March, but supremely courteous), Louis XV-style furniture, chandeliers, 24-karat gold-plated fixtures in the vast bathrooms, carpeting as soft as puppy fur, and electronic panels that do everything but beam you to the Champagne Bar in the lobby. If you only drop in to gawk, pass through the strangely empty Fifth Avenue foyer to admire the splendid Palm Court and the laylight ceiling, which rises above a forest of high-back steel-blue chairs where sophisticates sip afternoon tea starting at 2 P.M. ($60 per person). 2008 Hot List
When to go: Year-round.
Which room to book: In one of the city's most expensive hotels, standard Plaza Rooms start at $775. All are equally large, and most face the inner courtyard, so you get a sanctum of quiet instead of street views. Ask for the least expensive available.