Hôtel de l'Abbaye For a Left Bank hotel that started life as a 17th-century abbey, this cloistered gem inspires surprisingly unfettered romantic yearnings. A tiny cobbled forecourt buffers the hurly-burly of modern Paris, and while several of the 44 rooms are small enough to be monastic cells, four two-story suites (from $310 a night) have French windows that overlook the medieval church of St.-Sulpice. Riotous Pierre Frey and Brunschwig floral fabrics echo the fresh arrangements in the lobby and the conservatory garden, a leafy bower equally suited to contemplation and surreptitious smooching. 10 Rue Cassette, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/45-44-38-11, fax 33-1/45-48-07-86; www.hotel-abbaye.com; doubles from $170.
Hôtel Buci Latin Dodge the shoppers crowding the cheese and baguette stalls in this lively area and duck into the 27-room Buci Latin, whose wacky neo-industrial look is spiced up with bleached wood and zebra stripes. The façade resembles a flying saucer sliced in two; the staircase has a vibrant graffiti mural; the lobby is dominated by itinerant artist Pierre Leloup's abstract wall hangings. But it's all offset during the drama of fashion season, when the hotel is mobbed with editors, photographers, and designers. 34 Rue de Buci, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/43-29-07-20, fax 33-1/43-29-67-44; doubles from $166, including breakfast.
Hôtel Duc de St.-Simon Don't talk to the famously exigent Lauren Bacall about the Ritz: when she descends on Paris, it's the St.-Simon or nothing. And who would blame her?A stay at the 34-room hotel is like living in the 18th-century town house of your dreams. Students of decorating will want to examine the dazzling way bolts of printed cotton have been folded in hundreds of knife pleats to cover the walls in the salon. Others are enchanted by the entrance courtyard, pansy-filled window boxes, and female staffers in their sharp uniforms. 14 Rue de St.-Simon, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/44-39- 20-20, fax 33-1/45-48-68-25; doubles from $175.
Hôtel Luxembourg Parc Filling the gap in Paris between palace hotels and character-filled pensiones that can be "quirky" to the point of distraction is the year-old Parc, which benefits from the peace of the nearby Luxembourg Gardens. With its classic Louis XV style, fine linens, and generous bathrooms, the 23-room hotel is a small-scale version of the Hôtel de Crillon. The rooms themselves are equipped with modem ports, bathrobes, and—a rarity in value hotels—plenty of hangers. The only eccentric feature is the "24-hour room service," which, when available, is actually takeout from nearby restaurants. 42 Rue de Vaugirard, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/53-10-36-50, fax 33-1/53-10-36-59; www.hotelluxparc.com; doubles from $176.
Hôtel Le St.-Grégoire There are so many glacial design-driven hotels in Paris that it's easy to think there's no place left that still believes in old-fashioned values and niceties. Which is why the 20-room St.-Grégoire is so precious. The couple who run the place do so like accomplished maîtres de maison rather than bean-counting hotelkeepers; they look as if they don't need to work, and what better way to pass the day than fluffing pillows, arranging flowers, organizing bibelots, and whipping up breakfast in a stone cellar festooned with baskets?43 Rue de l'Abbé-Grégoire, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/ 45-48-23-23, fax 33-1/45-48-33-95; www.hotelsaintgregoire.com; doubles from $153.
Hôtel des Saints-Pères When Edna St. Vincent Millay went to Paris in 1921 as a foreign correspondent for Vanity Fair, she took a room at the Saints-Pères. The hotel met all her needs: it was affordable, yet distinguished (it had once been the private residence of Daniel Gittard, Louis XIV's architect), and its Left Bank address ensured plenty of material for her series of articles on French society. Though the 39 rooms now have high-speed Internet access and well-stocked mini-bars, many of the services Millay enjoyed have been preserved: the attentive staff delivers petit déjeuner to writers who work in bed till noon; afternoon tea is offered in the palm-filled winter garden. The high-ceilinged Chambre à la Fresque—with a stunning 17th-century fresco—remains the most coveted guest room. 65 Rue des Saints-Pères, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/45-44-50-00, fax 33-1/45-44-90-83; doubles from $122.
Hôtel Verneuil The search stops here for a hotel that's blushingly romantic, bathed in history, and stylish in a way that weds the past (miles of printed fabrics from France's old-guard textile houses) to the present (iron cube tables with a deliberately rusted finish). Some of the 26 guest rooms are a bit tight, but with a heart-of-Rive-Gauche location—the Flore and Deux Magots are your local cafés— complaining seems like bad manners. Discreetly housed in a handsome 17th-century building with hand-hewn beams, the Verneuil is owned and run by Sylvie de Lattre, a gifted latecomer to the business whose most recent venture—the revamped Hôtel Thérèse across the Seine—has put Paris on notice about her dynastic ambitions. 8 Rue de Verneuil, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/42-60-82-14, fax 33-1/42-61-40-38; www.hotelverneuil.com; doubles from $118.
Hôtel La Villa St.-Germain-des-Prés Fashion-forward La Villa attracts an artsy crowd to a serpentine street lined with big-ticket antiques shops. Designer Jean-Philippe Nuel has put together a pleasing palette—sage green, soft brown—to complement canvases by Parisian painter du jour Valérie Raymond-Stempowska. Leather headboards, brushed- steel lights, angular sofas, and red marble bathrooms make a statement in the 31 guest rooms. Swoop down the spiral stair to the breakfast room for a brioche and chocolat chaud before hitting the stores; afterward, hang in the soigné lounge with a champagne cocktail. 29 Rue Jacob, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/43-26-60-00, fax 33-1/46-34-63-63; www.villa-saintgermain.com; doubles from $197.
Libertel Quartier Latin Everyone knows about the neo-Rothschild excesses of Jacques Garcia's Hôtel Costes and the fin de siècle Modernism of Christian Liaigre's Montalembert. But only the deeply design-aware are plugged in to Didier Gomez's 29-room Libertel Quartier Latin, which its creator describes as "contemporary, with historical and cultural references." The Libertel's location—near the Sorbonne, at the crossroads of literary life in Paris—has inspired walls stenciled with passages from Victor Hugo, photographs of Colette and Gide propped on picture rails, and a lobby furnished with floor-to-ceiling bookcases. While slipcovered headboards are a fixture these days in hotels from Milan to Milwaukee, this is where they were first spotted, when the hotel opened in 1997. 9 Rue des Écoles, Fifth Arr.; 33-1/44-27-06-45, fax 33-1/43-25-36-70; www.libertel-hotels.com; doubles from $168.
Hôtel Victoires Opéra On a white-tiled pedestrian street in the heart of the shopping district, you'll find a chic combination of old and new Paris—a glammed-up crowd glides past butcher shops and organic markets, nouvelle monde wineshops and classic cafés. Rooms at the Victoires Opéra have a chocolate palette of velveteen and dark wood; ask for one with a view of the never-ending street life (double-glazed windows block out most of the noise). The hotel caters to the style-conscious: room prices rise slightly during the fashion shows, and even the maids are sometimes dressed to kill in short skirts and red patent-leather sandals. 56 Rue Montorgueil, Second Arr.; 33-1/42-36-41-08, fax 33-1/45-08-08-79; www.hotelvictoiresopera.com; doubles from $186.
Hôtel Axial Beaubourg For years, this 39-room hotel had little in common with the cutting-edge galleries and funky bars around it. The charming Véronique Turmel, whose family has owned the property since 1918, came to the rescue last year. Retaining the original exposed beams— and—stone structure, Jean-Philippe Nuel created a medieval-minimal look: white walls, bronzed sconces, wenge-wood furniture. The breakfast "cave" is anything but—with smart mocha slipcovered chairs and sea-grass matting on È the floor. Though it reopened barely eight months ago, fashionistas who wouldn't have been caught dead here before are now fighting for reservations. 11 Rue du Temple, Fourth Arr.; 33-1/42-72-72-22, fax 33-1/42-72-03-53; www.axialbeaubourg.com; doubles from $114.
Hôtel du Bourg Tibourg Paris hotels with half as much style can easily cost twice as much. A giddy, nearly over-the-top Orientalist fantasy with a slightly brooding Gothic edge, the Bourg Tibourg was designed by the Costes' Jacques Garcia. Management here is often obliged to hang out the No Vacancy sign, thanks to the property's high profile with the style tribe and an unimpeachable Marais setting. Still, any amount of wrangling is worth it to secure a room: you won't find more visual bang for your euro anywhere else in the city. 19 Rue du Bourg-Tibourg, Fourth Arr.; 33-1/42-78-47-39, fax 33-1/40-29-07-00; www.hoteldubourgtibourg.com; doubles from $166.
Hôtel Caron de Beaumarchais Named for the playwright who lived up the street at No. 47 while he wrote The Marriage of Figaro, the Hôtel Caron de Beaumarchais makes the most of its 18th-century origin. Chandeliers hang above a rare 1792 pianoforte in the lobby, whose uncluttered luminosity is reminiscent of the Louis XVI era, when Scandinavian simplicity tempered French extravagance. Gustavian-style beds and chairs and original engravings from antique editions of Beaumarchais's plays outfit the 19 rooms, along with beamed ceilings, gilded mirrors, and rich French fabrics. 12 Rue Vieille-du-Temple, Fourth Arr.; 33-1/42-72-34-12, fax 33-1/42-72-34-63; www.carondebeaumarchais.com; doubles from $112.
Hôtel Le Ste.-Beuve Location is one advantage of the Hôtel Le Ste.-Beuve: Walk north, and in three minutes you're in the Luxembourg Gardens; head one block south for the immortal literary cafés on Boulevard Montparnasse. But the hotel has attractions all its own, including a wood-burning fireplace, wide couches in the lobby, and rich breakfasts of fruit-packed jams and fresh pastries from St.-Germain's famous Gérard Mulot bakery. And there's nothing cookie-cutter about the 22 rooms, mostly large and all impeccably decorated by David Hicks, who has given the hotel a surprising freshness by combining paisleys and stripes. 9 Rue Ste.-Beuve, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/45-48-20-07, fax 33-1/45-48-67-52; www.paris-hotel-charme.com; doubles from $107.
Hôtel La Manufacture In a gracious 19th-century Haussmann building on a tiny street near the Place d'Italie, this little treasure is near the famous Gobelins tapestry workshops (worth a tour) and a short hop from the Latin Quarter. The 57 rooms are done up in pastels and printed fabrics, with satellite TV's and Internet ports (book room No. 74, for its view of the Eiffel Tower). Spacious bathrooms are tiled in spotless white and some have thoughtful extras—like a scale that allows you to monitor the effects of all that fromage. But the Manufacture's best asset has to be its warm staff, who think of everything, like varying the breakfast pastries each morning—chausson aux pommes one day, pain au chocolat the next—so that guests don't get bored. 8 Rue Philippe-de-Champagne, 13th Arr.; 33-1/45-35-45-25, fax 33-1/45-35-45-40; www.hotel-la-manufacture.com; doubles from $112.
Hôtel Bourgogne et Montana French prime minister Lionel Jospin and fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld live nearby, so you know the location is very grand indeed: right next to the aristocratic Place du Palais-Bourbon, and a short stroll from the Musée d'Orsay and Boulevard St.-Germain. As befits the neighborhood, this refined hotel has 32 recently renovated rooms furnished in the Louis XV and XVI È styles (including a top-floor suite with a drop-dead view of Place de la Concorde). Delicious bonus: Rollet Pradier, one of Paris's best pâtisseries, is across the street. 3 Rue de Bourgogne, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/45-51-20-22, fax 33-1/45-56-11-98; www.bourgogne-montana.com; doubles from $131, including breakfast.
Hôtel Le Tourville Just behind the dome of Les Invalides, near the Musée Rodin and the Eiffel Tower, the Tourville has long been one of the best-guarded secrets among the residents of the Seventh Arrondissement, who keep it filled with visiting family and friends. And though the Neoclassical façade dates from the end of the 19th century, the 30 bright rooms are anything but stuffy, all done in pale hues, with lovely marble bathrooms and a tasteful mix of contemporary furnishings and antiques, some from the Marché aux Puces de Clignancourt. 16 Ave. de Tourville, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/47-05-62-62, fax 33-1/47-05-43-90; www.hoteltourville.com; doubles from $127.
Contributors: Maggie Alderson, Richard Alleman, Victor Barcimanto, Laura Begley, Elizabeth Garnsey, Kristin Hohenadel, Shane Mitchell, Christopher Petkanas, and Hannah Wallace.