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Hottest new city hotels

By Shane Mitchell
The new Peninsula Shanghai sits on a stretch of the historic Bund.
The new Peninsula Shanghai sits on a stretch of the historic Bund.
  • The W Barcelona is housed in architect Ricardo Bofill's sail-shaped building
  • The Peninsula Shanghai is a Modernist reflection of its Art Deco-era neighbors
  • In Milan, Hotel Principe di Savoia has received some high-style updates

(Travel + Leisure) -- If HBO ever remakes "Green Acres," I will replace Eva Gabor. Despite living in a 19th-century farmhouse in upstate New York, I'm a city slicker at heart.

Give me a great metropolis to explore, and I'm always ready to trade my barn jacket and mud boots for higher heels and glossier gear. And with so many new and renovated hotels in global capitals, it may be difficult during the next few months to keep me down on the farm.

Gabor trills in the theme song to "Green Acres," "I just adore a penthouse view. Dah-ling, I love you, but give me Park Avenue." She'd love the penthouse view at the Surrey: This suite on the 17th floor has panoramas of Central Park.

A once-threadbare hotel with a residential sensibility, the Surrey (doubles from $800) had been outshone by Daniel Boulud's restaurant on the ground floor.

But that has changed since the chef extended his Gallic hospitality to a smart new lounge bar off the freshly appointed lobby. With a renovation of every corner of this Madison Avenue property, even standard guest rooms have been spruced up -- look for Duxiana mattresses, Pratesi robes and Waterworks fixtures.

A master of luxe hospitality, Peninsula Hotels chairman Michael Kadoorie spent his childhood in Shanghai.

His entrepreneurial forebears operated four hotels there and built the Marble Hall, now a children's school for the arts. So the premiere of his ninth property, the Peninsula Shanghai (doubles from $470), is a homecoming of sorts.

On a stretch of the historic Bund, the 10-story granite-clad building is a Modernist reflection of its Art Deco-era neighbors, the Shanghai Club and Sassoon House. Kadoorie is also a vintage-car enthusiast, and there's a 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II for guests who want to head to Pudong International Airport in style ($370, with chauffeur).

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Last time I was in the Rajasthani capital of Udaipur, another heritage destination on my radar, I hunted through the bazaars for Ganesh tokens.

This Hindu god with an elephant head is the good luck charm of many travelers; when I arrive by private launch on the jetty at the 80-room Leela Palace Kempinski Udaipur (doubles from $712), on the banks of Lake Pichola, my worn silver idol will rest in style on one of the silk brocade pillows scattered in a suite appointed with gilded, locally made furniture.

If I'm passing through Germany en route to India, however, I'll fly Lufthansa's business class -- passengers are now being served dishes like lamb korma with coconut rice from a menu developed by Farman Ali and Surender Mohan, Leela Group master chefs.

When I want perfect veal Milanese, I head to Milan's Hotel Principe di Savoia (doubles from $490), where designer Celeste Dell'Anna restyled four Imperial suites and French interiors master Thierry Despont updated the bar and the lobby. A Murano glass chandelier now dominates the bella public space, and the Principe Bar has a curvilinear banquette next to a grand piano.

In Spain, the W group continues its expansion and reinvention with the opening of W Barcelona (doubles from $370), housed in architect Ricardo Bofill's sail-shaped building, known as La Vela, on Nova Bocana, Barcelona's new port.

The brand is also evolving at the W Washington D.C. (doubles from $399); designer Dianna Wong has retained the Hotel Washington's Beaux-Arts sensibility while incorporating a roguish pinstripes-meet-black-lace vibe, suited to the next generation of Beltway insiders.

In the El Golf district of Chile's capital, the ebullient Tony Chi (the designer behind the restaurants at Park Hyatt Sydney and Mandarin Oriental New York) is responsible for witty flourishes like the sheepskin walls at W Santiago (doubles from $299).

Another Latin charmer, Las Alcobas (doubles from $415) is finally opening its doors in Mexico City's Polanco district. Months ago, managing partner Samuel Leizorek gave me a sneak preview, and I was smitten with the spiral staircase at the back of the lobby.

Forget the elevator: I'll climb this rosewood-and-steel flight of fancy, one of the main attractions in the atmospheric hotel designed by Yabu Pushelberg, best known for the airy interiors of Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi.

I love the zucchini-blossom quesadillas and a tequila sampling at the hotel's Dulce Patria, chef Martha Ortiz's contemporary cantina. The Presidential Suite here has an indoor-outdoor fireplace next to a terrace overlooking the jacarandas on Avenida Masaryk.

Eva Gabor would feel right at home.

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