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Affordable European Hotels

Hotel Rialto (72 Ul. Wilcza; 48-22/584-8777; www.rialto.pl) is an ornate masterpiece in the heart of Warsaw. Polish firm DOM Architektury combed the antiques shops of Europe to secure authentic period pieces from the 1920's and 30's—the group went so far as to design electrical outlets and thermostats that fit the period. Most of the 44 rooms pay tribute to the work of figures such as architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh and artist William Morris, but for something a little different, try No. 13, which looks to Africa with its zebraskin rug and warrior masks.

The NH Liberdade (180B Avda. da Liberdade; 888/726-0528 or 351-21/351-4060; www.nh-hotels.com) portends a hip new Lisbon, with its rooftop swimming pool, black-and-cream motif, and provocative details (like the faux-fur lamp in the lobby). The centrally-located hotel gives guests the personal treatment, down to a choice of pillows (firm, soft, feather). Stop by the restaurant, Do Teatro, for baked monkfish with mango.

Touting itself as the world's most high-tech retreat, the 214-room Royal Media Hotel & Casino (154 Dunajska Cesta; 386-1/588-2500; www.dominagrandmedialjubljana.com; breakfast included) is a business and leisure traveler's dream less than two miles from the city center. Plasma screens line the walls in corridors, conference rooms, and restaurants. The spacious, angular Grand Media space has 42-inch satellite TV's, wireless Internet access, and discounted international calls. Rejuvenate with a soak in the spa's Turkish bath, or take a gamble at the casino.

Service matters at Bauzá Hotel (79 Calle Goya; 34/91-435-7545; www.hotelbauza.com), where the young bellhops wear the words CAN I HELP YOU? embroidered in English on their uniforms. Rooms are monochromatic—save for a splash of red here and there—and have all the necessary amenities: PlayStations; a CD, book, and pillow menu; a top-notch sound system. Double-paned windows block the noise of the chic Salamanca shopping district below, without obstructing the view.

The two flights of stairs (no elevator!) that lead to 7 Colors (14 Calle Huertas; 34/91-429-6935; www.7colorsrooms.com; breakfast included) might dissuade the unadventurous, but the hotel's bright, industrial rooms are worth the climb. Each one—down to the soap—is decorated in a single color. In the lobby you'll find a convivial breakfast room with a communal table; just outside are the popular bars of the trendy Plaza de Santa Ana.

In a city where even the most luxurious accommodations tend toward the dowdy, Villa Soro (61 Avda. de Ategorrieta; 34/94-329-7970; www.villasoro.com) offers a much-needed dose of modern luxury. The owners of this intimate 19th-­century mansion have preserved the 1898 manicured garden and the stained-glass windows, while updating rooms with a neutral color scheme, wooden furniture, and work from local artists. Superior rooms—$268 more than the standards—are worth the extra expense, if only for the natural light they receive.

At first glance, Las Casas del Rey de ­Baeza (2 Plaza Jesús de la Redención; 34/95-456-1496; www.hospes.es) might seem like just another Andalusian residence (whitewashed façade, Moorish courtyards), but inside, everything is cool sophistication. Leather armchairs and birds in antique cages fill the inviting public areas; the 41 cream-colored, softly lit rooms have stylized wicker furniture and renovated bathrooms. The larger guest quarters are outfitted with DVD players and flat-screen TV's. The more compact rooms tend to be, as expected, more modestly priced.

Swaggering onto the scene last fall, the Palau de la Mar (14 Navarro Reverter; 34/96-316-2884; www.hospes.es) announced Valencia's coming of age. Sandra Tarruella and Isabel López—the interior design team behind Barcelona's Hotel Omm—remodeled two 18th-­century palaces near the Turia River, balancing original details (ornate carved doors, a marble staircase) with contemporary touches, such as a striking glass-and-steel patio. The 66 bedrooms have dark parquet floors, crisp white bed linens, and free mini-bars—a generous gesture, considering the hotel's gentle prices.

When he was a photojournalist, Per Hellsten dreaded missing calls while in the shower. Now that he's owner of the Rex Hotel (73 Luntmakargatan; 46-8/160-040; www.rexhotel.se), he has eliminated that frustration by installing phones—along with heated floors and towel racks—in the gray Karystos-stone bathrooms of this 1866 building on a quiet residential street just off the busy boulevard Sveavägen. The 32 bedrooms combine original details such as pine-plank floors with bright blue-and-burgundy bedspreads and Hellsten's own black-and-white documentary-style photographs of Europe and Africa.

Local and international trendsetters flock to the bar at the 50-room Bentley Hotel (75 Halàskargazi St.; 800/337-4685 or 90-212/291-7730; www.designhotels.com), where on weekends lounge music plays well into the night. Milanese architects Piero Lissoni and Nicoletta Canesi used large windows, spare dark-wood furniture, and pale blue hues to give guests a calming respite just five minutes from Istanbul's hectic center and bustling shopping district.

Written by Lisa Abend, Elena Bowes, Anya von Bremzen, Sascha de Gersdorff, Peter S. Green, Kristin Hohenadel, Xander Kaplan, Robert Maniaci, Aoife O'Riordain, Kevin Raub, Seth Sherwood, Vicki Vasilopoulos, Valerie Waterhouse, Stephen Whitlock, and Kristine Ziwica. Prices shown are the lowest double rate for the month of September.


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