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BEST HOTEL Minneapolis 2004 - The Saint Paul Hotel

Readers' Choice: Le Meridien

Le Meridien, the newest hotel in downtown Minneapolis, offers an über-chic contemporary comeliness that's suitable for even a Beverly Hills brat. Sure, the rooms feature extra-special amenities like plasma screen TVs and Hermes soaps, but try walking in with your anti-haute couture Target clothes or valet parking your rusty, rattling '94 Mazda. It doesn't feel so special. But at the Saint Paul Hotel, the old-world charm is more welcoming, the employees are more gracious, and the elegance and sophistication are less stifling and anxiety-inducing. The Saint Paul Hotel has been a Twin Cities institution since its inception in 1910, and the hotel just feels more like home. A doorman who never forgets a face greets you outside, even in below-freezing temperatures; four-poster beds and feather pillows make the rooms more European sleek than self-consciously New York chic; and in the spring and summer, the perfectly manicured gardens surrounding the hotel offer a lesson in horticulture and meditation. Rooms without breakfast or dinner run from $179 to $349 a night, but the Saint Paul frequently offers cheaper website specials and romance packages that include in-room delivery of strawberries and champagne. The service at the pricey Saint Paul Grill leaves much to be desired, but a retreat to your cozy room for chilled mineral water and turndown service on your triple-sheeted bed washes the day's ills away.

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