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This Month’s Hottest Hotels

From London to Shanghai, we round up some of the world's most notable overnights

0513.Staynew

CAFÉ ROYAL
London

BACKSTORY: Opened as a restaurant/bar/café in 1865 by a Frenchman (who famously had five pounds to his name), Café Royal soon became a stubbornly fashionable sippery—its clientele has included everyone from George Bernard Shaw to Mick Jagger. Having been bought by niche hotelier The Set, it was closed in 2008 for expansion and revamping, and reopened in late 2012, with finishing touches applied this spring.

DESIGN NOTES: Chief architect David Chipperfield has preserved the property’s many flourishes while adding a layer of severe minimalism (not a single picture hangs here, by decree). While some of the 159 rooms and suites feature original details, the tendency is toward a more modern flat and muted feel. One nice turn is the use of materials—the stuff that looks like it should be heavy actually is.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND JUST OUTSIDE: About 80 percent of London’s major tourist attractions: Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Soho, Westminster, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Mayfair … you could stay a month here and never have to look at a cab.

BEST PLACE TO HANG OUT: Despite the addition of swish watering hole The Bar, the star attraction remains the blindingly baroque Grill Room, in which Oscar Wilde fell in love with Lord Alfred Douglas and David Bowie partied on the night he retired Ziggy Stardust. It’s impossible to spend an evening here and feel ordinary.

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