History is in every creak: The first-ever phone call was placed from its ground floor, and in 1907, Mark Twain scandalized the press by appearing in its lobby in his blue bathrobe. “Mark Twain exhibited himself as an eccentric today,” tittered the Times on the front page, “and every staid Londoner who witnessed the exhibition fairly gasped.” While staying here, FDR and Eleanor honeymooned, Agatha Christie plotted mysteries, Rudyard Kipling finished The Jungle Book, and Stephen King started Misery. Its literary heritage is honored by each room’s collection of classic hardbacks. Yet the classic, rambling Mayfair hotel (est. 1837) won’t make commoners feel out-of-place. A contemporary update a decade ago kicked out the dowdiness but is beginning to date, yet the eagle-eyed staff doesn’t let you down. Of course, if you’re staying elsewhere, you still can satisfy yourself with the servile atmosphere and live piano at its afternoon tea, one of London’s finest, for £40.