Restoring priceless architectural details and a sense of place (and doing it well), old quarters newly shined are the talk of many towns:
With its 166-foot-high cupola and grand marble staircase ascending seven floors, London’s ornate Pearl Assurance Building starred in films like Howard’s End and Wilde. Now it assumes a new role as the Renaissance London Chancery Court Hotel, a 357-room modern luxury stay bridging the city and the West End. Don’t miss QC Restaurant, lodged in the Pearl’s original banking hall. Rooms from $372. 011-44-207-829-9888; www.renaissancehotels.com/loncc
Ritz-Carlton New Orleans revived the French Quarter bordering Canal St. when it opened last fall, transforming two landmark buildings into a 452-room five-star with a 20,000-square-foot spa and elegant Garden District décor (from $365; 800-241-3333). Now, the back half of the buildings debut as Iberville Suites, letting less pricey rooms while providing spa access for a nominal fee, Ritz charge privileges, and Ritz-trained employees. Rates from $115. (504) 523-2400; www.ibervillesuites.com
The 1907 Nob Hill landmark, Fairmont San Francisco, this month completes the $85 million restoration that earlier saw the reopening of The Laurel Court, its historic domed dining room, and now unveils its new business-friendly, banquet-only Crown Room with stellar skyline views from its 24th-story perch. Rooms from $429. (800) 441-1414; www.fairmont.com .