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michael THE BEST OF THE BEST
HOTEL LIST FOR 2004


BY MICHAEL MATTHEWS

January 6, 2005 -- A very happy and successful, travel-free year to you all. In answer to many requests about my personal hotel favorites, I thought for this column we would do something a little different. Namely give you my Best of the Best List for 2004.

What do I consider "the best"? It is those hotels, resorts, eateries and bars that I've personally enjoyed most over the past year. The qualifier, of course, is that I must have been to each at least once in the past year. Admittedly, not a foolproof or objective system, but as good a system as any I know.

I know I will lose a few friends, but here goes anyway…

Best Hotel General Manager Alberto Del Hoyo, The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Best City Hotel in North America The Beverly Hills Hotel.

Best City Hotel, International Division The Landmark in London, which just squeaks past The Adlon in Berlin.

Best Resort Hotel Las Ventanas in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Best New Hotel The Mandarin Oriental in New York, which opened just before New Year's Day, 2004.

Most Improved Hotel The Carlyle in New York. Even better, Bobby Short, the iconic star of Café Carlyle, changed his mind and didn't leave!

Best Value for Money The Michaelangelo hotel in New York.

Best Hotel Bar The Bar at the Four Seasons Chicago, which just pips the bar at The Lanesborough in London.

Best Hotel Barman Paul at The Bar in The Four Seasons, Chicago.

Best Hotel Dining Room Gordon Ramsey's at Claridges in London.

Best New Hotel Dining Room The Hilltop Dining Room at the Carneros Inn in Napa, California.

Best New City Eatery Café Gray in New York.

Best Hamburger Café Yoshi in Chicago.

Best Seafood Wiltons in London.

Best Japanese Tei Tei in Dallas.

Best Steakhouse Smith & Wollensky, be it in New York, Dallas or any of their 11 locations around the country. As an aside, you should know that I was Smith & Wollensky's first customer in 1977 when it took over the space on 46th Street and Third Avenue in New York that was once occupied by a restaurant called Manny Wolf's. I just happened to walk by. Almost 30 years later, the grill at the back is still fun and less pretentious than the front dining room. It also has a great bar.

Best Renovated Hotel Room The guestrooms at the Four Seasons New York

Best Renovated Resort Room The new cottages at the San Ysrido Ranch in Santa Barbara, California.

Best Hotel Soap (Stolen) L'Occitane.

Best Hotel Shampoo/Conditoner (Also Stolen) Acca Kappa.

Best Hotel Showerhead The Landmark in London.

So that's it for 2004. One final note, however: My last column of 2004, on hotel bathroom amenities, brought a deluge of E-mail, even more than my column earlier this year on hotel bars. What does that tell us about you, the readers, and our lives on the road?

Have a great start of the year and tell 'em "Michael sent you!"

This column originally appeared at joesentme.com.

Copyright © 1993-2005 by Michael Matthews. All rights reserved.