BEST HOTEL Minneapolis 1998 -
When the Saint Paul opened in 1910 as the only four-star hotel in town, the 12-story Italian Renaissance Revival structure contrasted sharply with the dirt road and burgeoning city just outside its gilded doors. But the service was stupendous and the surroundings sublime, so the likes of William Howard Taft, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Charles Lindbergh kept coming back. And though 80 years later all that's left of the original interior are three chandeliers, the hotel is still, in its quiet and unpretentious way, raising the standard of grace in overnight accommodations. Yes, they do have a horticulturist on staff (to arrange those exquisite bouquets and tend the outdoor English garden); yes, they will deliver a stair-climber or exercycle to your room; yes, the beds are custom-manufactured, triple-sheeted, and topped with down pillows. Such pampering does come with a hefty price tag (starting at $150 per night), but the Saint Paul also offers a couple of reasonably priced escape packages (the "Four Diamond" for two is $199).