Matthew Hranek

City Lights

The Carlyle, New York
Each of the 180 ultra-traditional guest rooms has been individually appointed by Mark Hampton with plumply upholstered slipper chairs and cutting-garden chintzes. Bobby Short has been entertaining in the Café Carlyle, lined with those quixotic Vertes murals, for more than three decades. At New York's most treasured and aristocratic grand hotel, it seems, the Gilded Age never ended. Rosewood recently acquired the silk-stocking landmark one block over from Central Park and plans an extensive refurbishment, but the old-world flourishes and air of privilege will prevail. Diplomats, prime ministers, and Hollywood kingfish will continue to duck in and out of the famous side entrance; afternoon tea in the Gallery will still be emphatically English. Two staff members for each guest will always be the standard. As for romance, no place in Manhattan has inspired more forbidden love (it's even rumored that Marilyn couldn't resist visiting her presidential paramour in his luxurious suite). 35 E. 76th St., New York; 888/767-3966 or 212/744-1600, fax 212/717-4682;; doubles from $495.

Four Seasons San Francisco
In a city whose romantic allure has long been predicated on the splendor of its views, the newly opened 277-room Four Seasons offers endless possibilities. The glass-faced building rises 40 stories above Market Street, in the city's new Yerba Buena Gardens cultural center; many guest rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows that provide sight lines all the way to Chinatown and sparkling San Francisco Bay. If the height and vista don't make you swoon, the king-sized beds dressed in white Ravolo linens and pillows as airy as whipped cream will. Weekend trysts begin with Tony Bennett on the CD player and end with long in-room massages. Should you feel the need to leave your room, enroll in the candlelight stretch class at the attached Sports Club/LA. Then drag your limber selves back to your suite and resume conducting affairs of the heart—with the city lights flickering like fireworks before you. 757 Market St., San Francisco; 800/332-3442 or 415/633-3000, fax 415/633-3516;; doubles from $339.

Park Hyatt Chicago
Celebrate the Windy City's most important asset, after deep-dish pizza: Modernist architecture. Soaring 67 stories above Michigan Avenue, the 202-room tower hotel pairs the best in over-the-top luxury with elegant homages to architectural icons such as Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mies van der Rohe. Guest rooms, richly designed with dark wood, black granite, and leather Eames chairs, are as much about sizzle as style: oversized windows—and bathtubs big enough for two—peer out on the city's landmarks. Soak your way to bliss while your butler reserves dinner at NoMi, the hotel's Euro-Asian restaurant, where celebrity chef Sandro Gamba dishes up everything from risotto to sushi. After dessert, stroll through the Park Hyatt's art gallery, which displays works by Gerhard Richter, Isamu Noguchi, and Dale Chihuly, or—in summer months—sip Veuve in the Terrace bar, where the skyscrapers along Chicago's Magnificent Mile cast their own magical spell. 800 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago; 800/233-1234 or 312/335-1234, fax 312/239-4000;; doubles from $295.

Inter-Continental Hong Kong
Staying at the Inter-Continental Hong Kong feels like cruising on an ocean liner. The glamorous hotel juts out over Victoria Harbour; turn off the lights in your room (two-thirds of the 518 here have views of the water) and the city provides sensual backlighting. Or take a swim in the granite pool—it's as if you're floating off into the sea. Until last year, the Inter-Continental was known as the Regent Hong Kong, a name that defined flawless service. The switch in ownership has only enhanced the experience, without altering the ultra-modern 1960's setting. It's 2 a.m., and you want your chin-deep marble tub filled with champagne?No problem. Butlers are on hand 24 hours a day to satisfy every whim, whether it's chauffeuring you around town in a Mercedes or scattering a thousand rose petals all over your suite. 18 Salisbury Rd., Kowloon; 800/327-0200 or 852/2721-1211, fax 852/2739-4546;; doubles from $397.