The hotel's dazzling opening was delayed a year by the 1906 quake, but since then, the marble palace has hosted presidents, royalty, movie stars, and local nabobs. Things have changed since its early days, however: on the eve of World War I, you could get a room for as low as $2.50 per night, meals included. Nowadays, prices go as high as $8,000, which buys a night in the eight-room, Persian-art-filled penthouse suite. Swing through the opulent lobby on your way
to tea (served on weekends from 1:30 to 3:30) at the Laurel Court restaurant; peek through the foyer's floor-to-ceiling windows for a glimpse of the hotel's garden and beehives, where the honey served with tea is produced. Don't miss an evening cocktail (a mai tai is in order) in the kitschy Tonga Room, complete with tiki huts, a sporadic tropical rainstorm, and a floating bandstand.