Oscar Wilde was arrested here for "indecent acts"; Edward VII's mistress Lillie Langtry hosted a fast crowd in these halls in the 1890's. Even so, the Cadogan hotel in Knightsbridge suffered for a century into stuffy respectability. That is, until the arrival of design doyenne Grace Léo-Andrieu, whose Montalembert in Paris helped usher in an age of hotels as style statements. Léo-Andrieu has once again made the Cadogan the talk of the town by transforming the past-its-prime 1887 landmark into a modern classic. Tradition has its place—you'll still find wing chairs in thedrawing room—but now they're covered in bouclé or houndstooth. Wilde would have appreciated the cheeky silver wallpaper and the ostrich feathers strewn across the pillows in the very room (No. 118) where his fall from favor began. The Cadogan, 75 Sloane St.; 44-207/235-7141; www.cadogan.com; doubles from $300.
Steps from boutiques like Prada, Hermès, and Christian Dior, The Cadogan’s Sloan Street address is convenient for shoppers. A 2007 refit spruced up the century-old Edwardian townhouse’s guest rooms and public spaces, including its drawing room, where afternoon tea is held daily. All 65 rooms occupy the first and second floors, and are embellished with showy fabrics and baroque prints. Guests relax in front of Langtry’s Carrera-marble Louis XIV fireplace with a glass of wine before dining on British staples such as Welsh smoked kipper pâté and seared Aylesbury duck breast.