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St. James's Hotel and Club, London 

7-8 Park Place
St James's
England SW1A 1LS
Tel: 44 207 316 1600
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From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
Until recently a raffish exclusive club for entertainment types like Pete Townsend and Michael Caine, this splendid neo-Gothic edifice on a quiet cul de sac has been transformed into a stylish hotel. Designer Anne Maria Jagdfeld uses exquisitely textured materials to subtly opulent effect, including in the 60 well-proportioned and (complicatedly) high-tech accoutered rooms. Surfaces are elegantly sheathed in cashmere, silk, and velvet (not to mention stingray and armadillo skin), while golden Murano glass chandeliers and lighting ingeniously recessed under the bathtubs cast luxuriant illumination. Less successful is the hotel's unnecessarily pretentious Silk Route-inspired Andaman Restaurant. And although the museum-quality pieces of early-twentieth-century art contribute jolts of brilliant color, the faint odor of Nazi-era Germany that seeps from a few of the works seems discordant. But, as you're reminded by the naughty nudie pix still tucked away in the bar, the St. James's has not entirely left behind its decadent past. —2009 Hot List

When to go: Year-round for the terrific central London location but during the warmer months to fully appreciate the direct access to Green Park through the hotel's Royal Entrance.

Which room to book:

If you want a view, rooms on the highest floor (seven) may be noisy because of a loud rooftop air-conditioning unit. All suites have fireplaces.

[EDITORS' NOTE: The Andaman Restaurant closed in fall 2009 and reopened as Seven Park Place.]

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