Hôtel Plaza Athénée, New York
One of the few independent hotels left in Manhattan, this 142-room bijou is cherished by Europeans (and savvy celebrities) for its intimacy and attentive staff. Set on a quiet, tree-lined street off Madison Avenue, the hotel entry has a hushed, secret-garden ambience; guests check in while seated at an antique French desk, then pass huge granite urns of cascading flowers on their way to the elevators. Guest rooms are decorated with fanciful elegance—marble bathrooms, fine Italian linens, gold Paul Garnier wall clocks—while architectural drawings add a touch of civility to public spaces. In the afternoons, guests can join well-heeled locals for cocktails or afternoon tea in the dusky, leather-floored Bar Seine.