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Great Cities, Affordable Hotels

PARIS
$103 Within partying distance of the Moulin Rouge, the Hôtel Royal Fromentin (11 Rue Fromentin; 33-1/48-74-85-93; www.hotelroyalfromentin.com; breakfast included) is a cavalcade of color and artwork reminiscent of its 1930's cabaret heritage, which a cast-iron elevator and Art Deco windows help re-create. Rooms above the third floor are tiny but have views of Sacré Coeur or Paris's rooftops. In the morning, have buttery croissants delivered to your room.

$188 Just off Place St.-Michel and adjoining its own hip café, Résidence des Arts (14 Rue Gît-le-Coeur; 33-1/55-42-71-11; www.arts-residence-paris.com) is a superb place to put up for a week: all 11 rooms have kitchenettes. Rustic ceiling beams blend with traditional French interiors on the first and second floors; stay in No. 11 or 21 for huge windows, or on the fifth floor for the best light.

$84 Although its rooms and service put costlier Latin Quarter hotels to shame, the Hôtel St.-Jacques (35 Rue des Écoles; 33-1/44-07-45-45; www.hotel-saintjacques.com) is resolutely a two-star inn. It has a charming, if faded, romance (and not just because Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn filmed scenes from Charade here): murals showing lovers by the Seine adorn the breakfast room and the lounge, and corner rooms 8 and 25 have balconies and views of the Pantheon and Notre Dame.

MILAN
$193 The eco-minded Ariston Hotel (2 Largo Carrobbio; 39-02/7200-0556; www.aristonhotel.com) attracts a mix of canny business types, green freaks, and models worried about the effects of smog on their skin. The 46 small but stylish rooms have fir-wood furnishings, futon mattresses, and purified, ionized air. Guests can reenergize with an organic breakfast of whole-grain bread and herbal tisanes before pedaling a hotel bicycle to the city center—a three-minute ride. Book on the just-renewed fifth or sixth floor, or the nonsmoking first floor (eco-mindedness goes only so far).

$136 The Antica Locanda dei Mercanti (6 Via San Tomaso; 39-02/805-4080; www.locanda.it) is for anyone who needs a respite from CNN. The 14 rooms have radios, shelves of books, and fresh flowers, but if you ask for a television, you'll be greeted with a frown. The best rooms— with terraces and themed décor—are on the third floor. Request the Stanza del Pascia, with Klimt-inspired frescoes, or the restful Stanza dei Corbezzoli, with floral designs penciled on the walls. Here, smoking is prohibited throughout.

FLORENCE
$152 A room with a view of the Duomo is among the attractions at the Residenza dei Pucci (9 Via dei Pucci; 39-055/281-886; www.residenzapucci.interfree.it), though you have to crane your neck to see it. Fortunately, the Pucci's other pluses are easier to appreciate: 13 spacious rooms with high ceilings, coconut-fiber carpets, and restrained swaths of fabric in gold, azure, and ecru. For a great family deal, book the top-floor suite ($245), where, from the shower, the Duomo really is in full view. Take note: There's no elevator, and the receptionist clocks out at 8 p.m.

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