St. Regis Lhasa Resort
Opened in December 2010, this is among the first of a handful of new hotels that are upping the ante on luxury on Tibet's windswept plateau (Shangri-La and InterContinental are on the horizon for 2012). The hotel pays homage to local architecture with sloping white façades and long, narrow windows. All 162 guest rooms are decorated with latticed-wood furniture and photographs depicting local daily life; many rooms face the iconic Potala Palace. If you're having trouble adapting to the altitude, the resort's Iridium Spa promises to melt away any malaise with a massage using the region's cypress and azalea herbs. The on-site Si Zi Kang restaurant serves Tibetan-Nepalese dishes such as shamdey, a yak-and-potato stew served with pag (hand-molded barley cakes). A short stroll from the property is the seventh-century Jokhang Temple, which houses Tibet's most sacred statue of the Buddha. A few steps east you'll find a warren of market stalls selling handmade turquoise earrings and silk thangka paintings.