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Hot List 2011

Savoy, London 
$$$$

The Strand

London
England

Tel: 44 207 836 4343

Tube: Covent Garden, Charing Cross

The Savoy fuses two distinct eras of its flamboyant history, the Edwardian and the Art Deco—think Gilbert and Sullivan operas with Noël Coward cabaret. The Fairmont chain spent three years and nearly $355 million rehabilitating what had become a tired (but still loved) fossil. With the exquisite period detailing, from the Edwardian front hall to the bijou Tea Shop, and the updating of its 268 rooms, the result is wonderfully theatrical, and guests have a choice of grand as well as cozily small spaces in which to lounge and people-watch. The strongest reason to stay here is the south-facing Thames-view rooms; otherwise, you're paying more for the hotel's glamorous aura than for its location, near touristy Covent Garden. Decadence is best indulged in the cupola-topped foyer, where a five-course afternoon tea and a shamelessly full English breakfast are served, and in the sexy new Beaufort Bar, with diverse and well-chosen champagnes by the glass. Londoners are prepared to wait in line for up to half an hour to get into the city's most fabled cocktail den, the American Bar—where hotel guests have priority. Be warned, however: Sneakers are banned in both bars and in the River Restaurant (don't they want the Google generation tycoons?) but, oddly, not in the swank and revered Savoy Grill.
Which room to book: Thames-view rooms on the fourth floor and above are the most atmospheric.
Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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