Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008

The Peninsula

Since 1928, this Hong Kong institution has defined the luxury hotel experience, and although certain kinds of travelers (especially lovers of sleek, high-tech minimalism) may find the Peninsula too old-world, there's no denying it's a serious class act. The fleet of 14 customized Rolls-Royce limousines is just the first clue to the hotel's glamour factor; then there's the lobby, where the bellboys sport immaculate white pillbox hats and uniforms, a string quartet plays classical music, and a queue forms daily to partake of the afternoon high tea. A grand staircase leads to the mezzanine level, and tucked-away elevators whisk guests to the 300 guest rooms — all decorated in formal English-country-manor style, with gleaming dark wood furniture, brocade fabrics, and Chinese ceramics and wall art. On the top floor is the Philippe Starck-designed Felix restaurant, which still packs them in more than a decade after its opening; here, captains of industry can be found tucking into Tasmanian salmon and Boston lobster.

Insider Tip: Ask barman Johnny Chung at The Bar how Clark Gable showed him how to mix a screwdriver back in 1953, when he was filming Soldier of Fortune (after mistakenly thinking the movie star was in need of the Phillips-head variety).

Room to Book: A corner suite, where you can drink in the sheer-glass view of Victoria Harbour from your soaking tub. If money's no object, go for the renowned Marco Polo suite on the sixth floor — which comes with its own Rolls-Royce Phantom and driver.