Corinthia Hotel, London

A staggering $488 million went into the purchase and restoration of this former Ministry of Defense headquarters south of Trafalgar Square. The 294-room hotel is an ode to grand living: it’s filled with extravagant gestures, such as seven two-story penthouse suites (the Royal Penthouse has a walk-in wine cellar and even a private cinema), and megawatt designer David Collins is behind the gilded accents at Bassoon bar and the vast seafood-focused restaurant, Massimo. Newsworthy, sure, but worth the price tag, even in a city flush with Olympic glory and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee? The power-breakfast crowd surely thinks so. Meanwhile, we were impressed by the subtler touches: Northall, the smaller English restaurant, for its all-local, organic ingredients; the über-private sleep “pods” in the four-story spa; even the straightforward in-room light and temperature controls (blessedly no mind-boggling touch-screen wizardry

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