The Cloister at Sea Island, Sea Island, Georgia
One of America’s oldest oceanside escapes reopens its main building after a $500 million renovation.
Location Eighty miles south of Savannah, the offshore resort is flanked by a five-mile beach and a marshland nature preserve.
Pedigree Designed by Florida visionary Addison Mizner in 1928, the Cloister has attracted well-heeled families and more than a few world leaders (Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower, Margaret Thatcher). Four generations and one G8 summit later, the hotel caters to a loyal, Lilly Pulitzer-clad clientele who still dress for dinner and bingo.
Style + Design Dripping with Spanish-revival style: voluptuous bouquets, Turkish rugs (678 of them, to be exact), and 17th-century tapestries adorn stately stone and polished wood—an opulence rivaled only by the lush landscaping.
Service + Amenities Old-world details are the emphasis: gadgets are hidden inside armoires, stationery is personalized, and butlers are on duty around the clock. The new 65,000-square-foot spa includes a state-of-the art-gym, yoga classes, and a meditation garden.
Value for Money Worth it for 650-square-foot standard rooms, Jazz Age glamour, and authentic Southern hospitality. It would be nice if bikes or breakfast were included.
100 Cloister Dr.; 888/732-4752; www.seaisland.com; doubles from $595.
Hotel Fauchère, Milford, Pennsylvania
This weekend getaway for New York’s rich and powerful throughout the late 19th century has been reincarnated as a civilized 21st-century hideaway.
Location The town of Milford, Pennsylvania, on the edge of the Delaware Water Gap, 75 miles northwest of New York City.
Pedigree The 1880 hotel—opened by Louis Fauchère, the master chef at Delmonico’s in Manhattan—hosted everyone from prominent philanthropists (the Carnegies) to sports stars (Babe Ruth) to entertainers (Charlie Chaplin).
Style + Design The Italianate building has been painstakingly restored: chestnut floors, a walnut-and-mahogany banister, and a bead-board ceiling are all original. By contrast, the 16 rooms are contemporary retreats, with luxe touches—rain showers, radiant-heat floors, Frette sheets and towels.
Service + Amenities Food is a focus. The Delmonico Room has a $50 three-course prix fixe menu of old-fashioned dishes (frog’s legs, steak and potatoes). Bar Louis is more sleek, with photographs by Warhol protégé Christopher Makos, classic cocktails, and sophisticated bar food.
Needs Work The staff is a bit young and undertrained.
Value for Money Free Aqua Panna water, Chilean Merlot, and local chocolates are certainly generous, but even the lowest-priced rooms are still costly for blue-collar Milford.
401 Broad St.; 570/409-1212; www.hotelfauchere.com; doubles from $275.
Gramercy Park Hotel, New York City
A classic is reborn as New York’s hotel of the moment, thanks to an A-list design duo.
Location Manhattan’s genteel and historic Gramercy Park. (Think Edith Wharton—she used to live in this neighborhood.)
Pedigree The old Gramercy had a literary reputation and a gilded past; the new one has Ian Schrager and the artist Julian Schnabel, whose eclectic interior here is a radical departure from the cool minimalism of the boutique hotels Schrager is known for.
Style + Design Haute bohemian. Velvet draperies and leather armchairs share space with surrealist objects (sawfish-snout lampstands!) and sprawling canvases by Andy Warhol and Cy Twombly. Rooms and corridors are underlit, but the woodsmoke-scented lobby, with its 10-foot fireplace and thick Douglas fir columns, is a winner.
Service + Amenities Keys to Gramercy Park, the only private park in Manhattan, are available for guests at the front desk. Mahogany liquor cabinets stocked with full-size bottles trounce your typical mini-bar.
Value for Money By New York standards, $545 for a standard double isn’t all that unreasonable—and the Gramercy has what is arguably the best address in town.
2 Lexington Ave.; 212/920-3300; www.gramercyparkhotel.com; doubles from $545.