The granddaddy of Nob Hill's elite cadre of ritzy hotels, the century-old Fairmont is a must-visit if only to marvel at the incredibly glamorous lobby with its vaulted ceilings, Corinthian columns, a spectacular spiral staircase, and rococo furniture. Such decadence carries to the guest rooms, where luxuries abound: oversize marble bathrooms, thick down blankets, goose-down king pillows, extra-long mattresses, and large walk-in closets. Its perch atop Nob Hill affords spectacular city views from every room -- though the panoramic views from the Tower Suites are the best. It's fun to indulge in afternoon tea (daily 2:30-4:30pm) in the ornate Laurel Court restaurant and lounge, which serves as the hotel's centerpiece. A local institution that's been around since I was a kid is the hotel's Tonga Room, a Disneyland-like tropical bar and restaurant where happy hour hops with bands playing on a floating island in a pool, and there's a "rain storm" every 30 minutes.