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LE MEURICE, PARIS, FRANCE

This Dorchester Collection palace - built in 1835 for Louis-Augustin Meurice - has thoughtfully provided new bikes (in old-fashioned style) for guests to cycle around town. Insist on a helmet!

LONDON The Savoy closed its doors for restoration. In preparation for one of the largest hotel restorations in the history of London, The Savoy will hold a unique auction that will allow members of the public the opportunity to purchase items from its past. Bonhams, who will oversee the auction, today announced a list of over 3000 lots including lighting, mirrors, silver and artwork. A donation from the proceeds of the auction will go to benefit Farms for City Children (FFCC). The auction will take place from December 18-20, 2007.Kiaran MacDonald, General Manager of The Savoy, said: “On 15 December 2007, we have closed our doors for sixteen months as we undergo a comprehensive restoration of one of the world’s truly iconic hotels,” says MacDonald. The £100 million restoration program that will see the refurbishment of guest rooms, public areas, restaurants and The Savoy court. The designer on this project, Pierre-Yves Rochon, is well known for his work with the Four Seasons Georges V in Paris and L’Hermitage in Monaco.EDINBURGH The first purpose-built hotel in Edinburgh, the Waterloo Hotel, is set to reopen to guests after more than 120 years. Apex Hotels plans to revamp former council offices on Waterloo Place, used as a hotel, tavern and coffee house from 1819.The £13 million Apex project, which is expected to be approved by councillors this week , will see the building at 23 Waterloo Place - and further offices at 25-27 - made into a 182-bedroom, four-star hotel complete with a swimming pool and leisure centre.The firm, which has two hotels in the Grassmarket, brokered a deal for the building earlier this year. It had been leased to the city council prior to the opening of its Market Street headquarters.

The A-listed building was designed and built by legendary New Town architect Archibald Elliot as part of a major expansion of Princes Street.Librarians at the Edinburgh Room in the Central Library say the Waterloo Hotel was the first "purpose-built" hotel in Edinburgh. Prior to 1819, the Capital had inns but none could accommodate more than 50 guests. The Waterloo Hotel Company used 23 Waterloo Place for almost 70 years until it was turned into offices by the North British Railway in the 1880s.

SHANGHAI 2007| JULY On the northwest corner of the junction of Xiangyang and Xinle roads stands an imposing building of a certain vintage. This property has recently changed hands and opened as the Mansion Hotel bringing back the heady days of 1920s and 1930s Shanghai in the former French Concession. This is where gangster Du Yuesheng staged lavish parties while plotting the next extension of his vast empire, writes Douglas Williams.The 70-year-old former French Concession villa was once the headquarters of one of Shanghai's most notorious sons, gangster Du Yuesheng. The villa was a gift to Du from his chief financial controller, Jin Ting Sun, and is now part museum, part luxury boutique hotel with 32 rooms."I hope this hotel's unique and special character and history reflects a little of Shanghai's rich heritage and that people can enjoy it as a real, living museum as well as a superb hotel," says Dr Dean Yin, the hotel's CEO and former general manager of Xintiandi.

Dr Yin is a historian and has authentically recreated how the building appeared in the 1920s and 1930s when "Big Eared" Du presided over one of the world's most sophisticated and powerful organized crime syndicates. Two enormous and very heavy safes from those heady days were recently removed.The lobby is full of authentic, historical artifacts from an opium pipe to a gramophone to numerous sepia-tinted photographs, even first-edition books such as Dante Alighieri's "The Divine Comedy."Traditional afternoon tea in the lobby, distinctive Oriental ambience and opulence, The Mansion Veranda Italian restaurant on the fifth-floor roof top – all this adds to a new kind of hotel product contributing to the renaissance of the cities where they are located," says Dr Yin.Read full story



CAMBODIA Arab group snaps up Raffles Cambodian hotelsThe hotel-investment company controlled by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the Saudi Arabian billionaire, has made its first foray into Cambodia as part of its quest to expand into emerging markets. Kingdom Hotel Investments (KHI), which floated last year on the Dubai stock exchange and has a secondary listing in London, has made a double acquisition in the country. As well as picking up Raffles Hotel Le Royal in the capital Phnom Penh, it has also bought the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor in Siem Reap, close to the historic ruins at Angkor, for a total of $35m (£17.2m).Read full story

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