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Great Cities, Affordable Hotels

$150 Originally part of the king's castle—and just 100 yards from what remains of it—the 19-room U Krale Karla (4 Uvoz St.; 420-2/5753-3594; www.romantichotels.cz) clings to its royal roots while embracing a Czech chic. Even the heavy hallway antiques don't feel stuffy, thanks to a huge stairway skylight. In the rooms, 15th-century wooden ceilings make for a rustic look. Minimize street noise by asking for a room in the back. Or upgrade to a suite ($234) and get your own fireplace.

$85 With all 22 rooms outfitted in custom-made furniture—like suzani-draped four-posters—it may take the buffet breakfast to lure you outdoors at the Empress Zoe (10 Adliye Sokak, Sultan ahmet; 90-212/518-2504; www.emzoe.com). Bread, white cheese, olives, and strong Turkish coffee are served in the palm-filled garden, next to a 15th-century Turkish bath overgrown with wildflowers. But the real draw is the roof terrace, which has sweeping vistas of the city.

$80 Ablaze with reds and yellows and crammed with 2,000 antique ceiling lamps, the 16-room Kybele (35 Yerebatan Cad., Sultanahmet; 90-212/511-7766; www.kybelehotel.com; breakfast included) is an exercise in over-the-top décor. All rooms have marble baths, but upgrading from a small double to a top-floor suite ($100) gets you a balcony with a view of Hagia Sophia.

North America

$135 In a sea of plain-Jane concrete hotels, the Aqua Bamboo (2425 Kuhio Ave.; 808/922-7777; www.aquabamboo.com; breakfast included) exudes a hipster vibe in its retro lobby. Rooms are comfortable but hardly extravagant; those on the upper level escape street noise. For a seafront lanai, request a room above the eighth floor on the makai (seaward) side. The location is dead-center Waikiki, two blocks from Kuhio Beach, the best beginner surf spot in the islands.

$180 Talk about a corner lot in paradise. On one side of the Park Shore Waikiki (2586 Kalakaua Ave.; 800/367-2377 or 808/923-0411; www.parkshorewaikiki.com) sit the green fields of Kapiolani Park and the slopes of Diamond Head. On the other, an unobstructed ocean view spans more than a mile of coastline. Rates at this overlooked gem are exceedingly flexible, owing to renovations that chased away customers last year. An unrenovated room facing the water should run less than $150 a night, a steal in Waikiki.

$108 It's Morocco à go-go at the 1920's Figueroa Hotel (939 S. Figueroa St.; 800/421-9092; www.figueroahotel.com) in downtown L.A. The old-style rooms have been splashed with spice-colored paint and decorated with wrought-iron beds, sari fabrics, and floor pillows made from colorful Kurdish grain sacks. But the suites are the real deal ($195 for the Casablanca, big enough for a harem). There's also a magnificent heated pool.


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