VIENNA AUSTRIA $236
At the 16th-century Hotel König von Ungarn (10 Schulerstrasse; 43-1/515-840; www.kvu.at; breakfast included), just a short walk from St. Stephen's Cathedral, gilded mirrors, boldly graphic wallpaper, and chandeliers ensure that no two rooms are alike. Sip coffee in the glass-covered courtyard atrium, steps away from where Mozart composed The Marriage of Figaro, or try a sekt (traditional sparkling wine) at the bar.
ANTWERP BELGIUM $191
The two charcoal-colored town houses of the Hotel Julien (24 Korte Nieuwstraat; 32-3/229-0600; www.hotel-julien.com; breakfast included) are surrounded by 17th-century churches, gabled mansions, and cobblestoned alleys. The pared-down interiors combine blond wood surfaces with whitewashed furniture and handmade white porcelain vases. Orchids are everywhere. Freshly brewed coffee and Belgian chocolates are available around the clock in the library, which is filled with stacks of international magazines and art books.
PRAGUE CZECH REPUBLIC $187
Most of the city's upscale hotels are impersonal, catering to a business crowd. Not the Maximilian (14 Haštalská; 420-2/2530-3118; www.maximilianhotel.com; breakfast included), a welcoming spot near the Old Town Square. For a recent revamp, Czech-born and London-based Eva Jiricna (of Hotel Josef fame) ditched the former cookie-cutter look in favor of light, geometric designs. The compact rooms have imposing dark-wood headboards that reach to the ceiling, and Philippe Starck bathroom fixtures. The on-site spa specializes in Thai massage, a first for Prague.
COPENHAGEN DENMARK $151
To launch its latest car, Volkswagen commissioned 21 international graphic designers, graffiti artists, and illustrators from São Paulo to Hokkaido to renovate the 61-room Hotel Fox (3 Jarmers Plads; 45-3/313-3000; www.hotelfox.dk), where the wildly fantastic décor is the draw. Brisbane-based design group Rinzen created the Sleep Seasons room (a brown pitched tent surrounded by a forest mural), and Friendswithyou, from Miami, covered the Harmony's Helm room with 25,000 powder-blue and canary-yellow mosaic tiles.
COPENHAGEN DENMARK $214
Right next to Town Hall—and close to the train station, Tivoli Gardens, and the Strøget shops—the Square (14 Rådhuspladsen; 45-3/338-1200; www.thesquare.dk) is emphatically unsquare, with scarlet Arne Jacobsen Egg chairs in the lobby and striking black-and-white photographs lining the halls. As at many Scandinavian hotels, the feather duvet–topped beds are dressed in plain white linens. The sunny top-floor restaurant is open only for breakfast, a smorgasbord of hearty breads and cheeses. For dinner, don't miss the herring or the roast pork and cabbage at nearby Det Lille Apotek.
BRIGHTON ENGLAND $165
In the middle of a grand sweep of wedding cake–style buildings known as the Regency Mile, the discreet sign for Drakes (43–44 Marine Parade; 44-1273/696-934; www.drakesofbrighton.com) is easy to miss. But behind their scarlet lacquered door is a diminutive 20-room inn filled with objets d'art. Splurge on one of the balconied suites with a freestanding tub overlooking the sea. The Gingerman—a modern British restaurant, which opened a year ago—has already become a local favorite.
LONDON ENGLAND $164
Too often, bed-and-breakfast implies dingy paint and graying curtains. Enter Penny Brown, Colette Huck, and Lynne Reid, the owners of the 17-room B&B Belgravia (64–66 Ebury St.; 44-207/259-8570; www.bb-belgravia.com; breakfast included), who have 40 years of hotel experience between them. The trio went high style, gutting a Victorian town house in one of the city's most exclusive neighborhoods. Now, orange pansies brighten the entrance, an Ingo Maurer chandelier hangs in the foyer, and a Conran-style sofa sits in the front room, where guests take cappuccino by the fire. The hotel has no restaurant or bar, but an organic full English breakfast is prepared in a cheery room overlooking the garden.
LONDON ENGLAND $225
South Beach meets the East Village at London's cutting-edge K West Hotel & Spa (Richmond Way; 44-870/027-4343; www.k-west.co.uk). Noel Pierce of Pierce Design International—who also did the Peninsula in Hong Kong—fashioned 220 calm rooms, blending soft taupes, creams, and browns with stainless steel and sandblasted glass. Even cooler than the décor are the guests (mostly media mavens and touring musicians), who keep the scene at the K Lounge rocking all night long and recover the next day with holistic treatments at the Asian-inspired spa.
HELSINKI FINLAND $140
The Hotel Linna (29 Lönnrotinkatu; 358-10/344-4100; www.palace.fi), a 1903 Finnish Art Nouveau fortress, was originally the local university's student union building. Historical details (stone arches, stained-glass windows) have been preserved in the public spaces; the 48 rooms have been spiffed up with leather headboards, suede chairs, and mod Diogenes lamps. Ask for No. 401, the only guest room in the imposing round tower and steps away from one of the hotel's three saunas.
PARIS FRANCE $193
The 47-room Général Hôtel (5–7 Rue Rampon, 11th Arr.; 33-1/47-00-41-57; www.legeneralhotel.com), just off the Place de la République, recently received a makeover by architect Jean-Philippe Nuel, who designed two other beloved affordable Paris hotels: the Axial Beaubourg and the Lavoisier. New touches include a sleek lobby and bar (low cocoa-colored suede sofas, walls covered in graphic floral images), rooms in neutral tones, all-white bathrooms, and a green apple on every pillow.
BERLIN GERMANY $175
In the heart of the buzzing Mitte neighborhood, Lux 11 (9–13 Rosa-Luxemburg-Str.; 800/337-4685 or 49-30/936-2800; www.designhotels.com) is the latest creation from a dynamic minimalist duo, Claudio Silvestrin and his wife, Giuliana Salmaso. The 72 rooms, each in a monolithic space, have open bathrooms finished in concrete and honey-colored wood. An Aveda spa occupies the basement, and a micro–department store, run by the former buyer for Quartier 206, one of Berlin's poshest fashion emporiums, is adjacent to the lobby.
HAMBURG GERMANY $173
The 77-room East Hotel (31 Simon von Utrecht Str.; 800/337-4685 or 49-40/309-930; www.designhotels.com), in the city's rapidly gentrifying red-light district, was created by Jordan Mozer, the Chicago-based interior designer. Mozer opted for a Gaudí-goes–Far East feel, with nonlinear furnishings (undulating columns in the lobby and Asian-fusion restaurant) and molten-metal moldings (mirrored sculptures that appear to be dripping from the ceiling). On a sunny day, hit the rooftop terrace or the garden for a mai tai and a spicy salmon roll.
ATHENS GREECE $160
At Fresh Hotel (26 Sofokleous St.; 800/337-4685 or 30-210/524-8511; www.designhotels.com; breakfast included) color is key: hot pinks, neon oranges, and cherry reds pop up everywhere, from the check-in desk to the bedside vases. The 133 simple rooms follow the standard minimalist guidelines —plastic furniture, Eames chairs, and Artemide bedside lighting. Although it's barely two years old, Fresh is quickly becoming a jet-set hangout thanks to the rooftop pool with views of the Acropolis and the nouvelle Greek cuisine at the Orange restaurant.
BUDAPEST HUNGARY $177
The Art'otel Budapest (16–19 Bem Rakpart; 36-1/487-9487; www.artotels.com; breakfast included) is part of a small, aesthetically minded chain that is considered the pioneer in the artists-designing-hotels trend. For its first venture outside Germany, Art'otel invited American artist Donald Sultan to incorporate oversized images of needles, thread, and buttons into the carpets, wall hangings, even the ﬂatware. Dark-hued contemporary furniture makes no place for ﬂuff and chintz in the spare riverfront rooms, which have ﬂoor-to-ceiling views of the neo-Gothic parliament building.
FLORENCE ITALY $191
Sister to the Roman property, the aristocratic Casa Howard Florence (18 Via della Scala; 39-06/6992-4555; www.casahoward-florence.com) is housed in a palazzo next to the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy, which supplies the hotel's pomegranate and mint soaps. The 11 quirky accommodations have individual themes: the intellectual Library Room (wall-to-wall shelves filled with books); the sensual Hidden Room (erotic prints, a sunken bath); and the family-friendly Play Room (videos, a climbing wall).
MILAN ITALY $174
Opened in June 2004, Alle Meraviglie (8 Via San Tomaso; 39-02/805-1023; www.allemeraviglie.it) could not have a more appropriate name (roughly translated, it means "wonderland"). Its six airy rooms are just a five-minute walk from the Duomo and are outﬁtted with Baroque-style antique chairs; ivory, green, and hot-pink taffeta curtains; and surreal installations, such as a fringed sheet dipped in plaster. Each guest gets fresh flowers, Internet access, and a radio with short- and long-wave channels in English and Italian, but no TV's (and no white rabbits).
ROME ITALY $203
After meeting her husband, Alessandro Bisceglie, on a Roman holiday, American Elyssa Bernard moved to Italy; together the couple opened the three-room Daphne Inn (55 Via di San Basilio; 39-06/4544-9177; www.daphne-rome.com) in 2001. Since then, the chic guesthouse has expanded to 15 rooms in two palazzi near the Via Veneto. Details include Bisazza mosaics on the walls and offbeat artworks hanging above the beds. Each room comes with a cell phone for calling the staff with questions. Although Nos. 222 and 223 are the most affordable, they lack private bathrooms.
VENICE ITALY $179
At the ultra-minimalist Palazzo Soderini (Campo Bandiera e Moro, Castello 3611; 39-041/296-0823; www.palazzosoderini.it; breakfast included), a three-room pension hidden in a 15th-century villa, everything is rigorously white, from the bed linens to the marble-chip terrazzo floors. Guests breakfast on croissants with organic honey in a walled garden amid perfumed jasmine, red roses, and white-blossomed pittosporum trees. There's a minimum stay of two nights, and arrival times must be prearranged—that's a small price to pay for this oasis near St. Mark's Square.
AMSTERDAM THE NETHERLANDS $113
More than 50 Dutch artists descended upon a 1921 traditional gabled building in the trendy Eastern Docklands, transforming it from a defunct prison into the Lloyd Hotel (34 Oostelijke Handelskade; 31-20/561-3636; www.lloydhotel.com). Furnished cleverly and efficiently (a tub doubles as a table; a bed as a chair), rooms range from one-stars, which lack bathrooms but supply robes to wear down the hall, to spacious five-stars like room No. 221, which has a concert piano. The restaurant, Snel, serves farm-fresh regional dishes, while the on-site Cultural Embassy advises on performances, festivals, and museums.
OSLO NORWAY $120
In a country where "south of the border" means below the Arctic Circle, there's a hotel with a surprising Latin flavor, the Radisson SAS Hotel Nydalen (33 Nydalsveien; 47-2/326-3000; www.radissonsas.com; breakfast included). "Urban" rooms have a cosmopolitan feel, while the "Chili" quarters—with sculptures of red peppers mounted on the walls—need only a mariachi band to channel Mexico. At the restaurant, Circo, dishes like roast pork rolled in Serrano ham add to the vibe.
WARSAW POLAND $179
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.
LISBON PORTUGAL $221
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.
LJUBLJANA SLOVENIA $162
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.
MADRID SPAIN $209
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.
MADRID SPAIN $90
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.
SAN SEBASTIÁN SPAIN $239
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.
SEVILLE SPAIN $211
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.
VALENCIA SPAIN $191
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.
STOCKHOLM SWEDEN $125
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.
ISTANBUL TURKEY $150
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.