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 TOP TEN

The Great Hotel Bars

Friday, September 29, 2000

We know. We know. When it comes to lists, none is infallible, and everyone has an opinion. We weighted the criteria for this one heavily in favour of style and character, cachet and clientele, although a great drinks selection, faultless service and fabulous décor were absolute requisites. We tapped savvy business travellers, sophisticated barflies and worldly travel writers to arrive at the chosen few. You're welcome to differ. Send your comments, complaints or picks for upcoming lists to globetrotter@globeandmail.ca.

1. FIFTYSEVEN FIFTYSEVEN Bar Four Seasons, New York

Soaring ceilings, sumptuous snacks and 15 types of four-ounce martinis, not to mention Dunhill cigars served tableside from a humidor. It doesn't get any better than this.

2. The Bamboo Bar The Oriental, Bangkok

Chairs and rugs disguised as predators add to the exotic panache of this fabled haunt where high-octane Western business types and Thai titans deal over mai tais.

3. The Met Bar The Metropolitan, London

Acid-edged glass, curvaceous polished walls and a tubular stainless steel bar are the perfect backdrop for the gathering of London's sleek, young movers. Members and hotel guests only after 5 p.m.

4. Bar Hemingway Hotel Ritz, Paris

Papa Hemingway is said to have liberated this wood-panelled enclave from German clutches in 1944, and it has never looked back since. Preferred hangout for le tout Paris and beyond.

5. XYZ Bar W San Francisco, San Francisco

Located in one of San Fran's hippest hotels, it's favoured by Knob Hill brats, flush twentysomething dot-commers and other smarties who labour in SOMA's multimedia gulch.

6. Felix Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong

Impeccable, white-coated waiters serve frosty gin and tonics or just about anything else your thirst desires. Glamorous to a tee, it's the place to see and be seen in HK.

7. The Horseshoe Bar The Shelbourne Meridien, Dublin

Lively, snug and as famous as the shamrock, this jewel lures the capital's swells--everyone from politicians to playwrights. Under head bartender George Duffy, cocktails are pure perfection.

8. The Roof Lounge Park Hyatt, Toronto

A club-like lair atop the luxe, newly refurbished hotel, this landmark bar with its downtown views has been a draw with CanLit icons for years. At 50 plus, it's still going strong.

9. The Bar The Mansion at Turtle Creek, Dallas

Dallas's answer to Manhattan's old 21. Gregarious Texas oilmen and reed-thin socialites savour the Old West décor, and drinks that are as big-hearted as the Lone Star state.

10. Sultan Bar The Mena House Oberoi, Cairo

Antique hanging lamps, stunning woodwork, and a to-die-for view of the pyramids. If that doesn't grab you, the house drink (white wine and crème de cassis) surely will.

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