You would expect to find a hotel like this on a side street in the Marais in Paris. It has that sort of gentility. But no, this little brick 1926 gem sits where it always has, as glass skyscrapers have sprouted all around it. This is the famed hotel that was once a haunt for such artists as Tennessee Williams, Maria Callas, and Vladimir Horowitz (the piano he donated still sits in the Piano Suite). In it is the Monkey Bar, with its iconic murals still in place. Unchanged too (though refreshed) are the gracious Gallic furnishings in the rooms, which include heavy embroidered curtains draping the windows, fine mahogany dressers, and unexpected touches like a chinoisserie vase here, a fine marble-based lamp there. Rooms will vary greatly one to the next; some have fireplaces, others have kitchens or solariums, and some (the cheapest ones) are just good-sized, elegant places to sleep. A generous breakfast (fruit, bagels, pastries) is included in the room rates, as is wine and cheese every night between 5 and 8pm.
- Pauline Frommer