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Great Cities, Affordable Hotels

$135 When many other Beantown hoteliers were jumping ship, XV Beacon's Mark Hagopian and his partner Charles Hajjar dove right into the sinking economy, transforming an 1886 private residence into the 33-room Charlesmark Hotel (655 Boylston St.; 617/247-1212; www.thecharlesmark.com). Hallways are lined with works by local artists, imported Italian tile covers the bathroom floors, and $900 silver-and-gold comforters top the beds. The staff, handpicked for their knowledge of the area, can recommend with confidence the best of the surrounding Back Bay.

$115 Hagopian also had a hand in the 32-room Newbury Guest House (261 Newbury St.; 800/437-7668 or 617/437-7666; www.newburyguesthouse.com; breakfast included) around the corner. Carved out of three 19th-century brownstones, this homespun B&B—nicked Victorian dressers, quilted bedspreads, Oriental rugs—brings country comforts to the city streets. Reserve well in advance; the books open in September for the following year.

$70 Among the shops, galleries, and restaurants of the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood is one of the city's most stylish B&B's: Le Traversin (4124 Rue St.-Hubert; 514/597-1546; www.letraversin.com; breakfast included). In a light-filled 1912 town house are four monochromatic rooms—red, clay, olive, and yellow (the latter two have private baths, but yellow's balcony has the best view). Owners Jean Boucher and Sylvain Laroche will fix eggs to order and then send you down the hall for a fango mud wrap.

$142 In cobblestoned Old Montreal, a Beaux-Arts façade gives way to an ethereal modern interior at the Hotel St. Paul (355 Rue McGill; 866/380-2202 or 514/380-2222; www.hotelstpaul.com). Beyond the lobby, with its alabaster fireplace, are 120 rooms in two palettes: "earth" (brown-beige) or "sky" (blue-gray and green). The multi-culti cooking at Cube—lobster and veal sweetbreads, mushroom tart with truffle oil—draws a smart crowd.

$125 With the words sleep with me emblazoned on its front windows —as well as on the T's worn by the buff staff—Aqua (1530 Collins Ave.; 305/538-4361; www.aquamiami.com; breakfast included) is bound to attract a sexy crowd. Besides the blue condom waiting for you on the bed, another turn-on is the impressively big and stylish rooms. Despite its name, the Aqua has no pool, but the beach (just a few flip-flop steps away), a 12-person whirlpool, and an in-house Bikram yoga studio compensate for that.

$175 We love any place that boasts "clean sheets, hot water, stiff drinks." Opened in 2000, the Whitelaw Hotel (808 Collins Ave.; 888/554-3123 or 305/398-7000; www.whitelawhotel.com; breakfast included) is a former flophouse in the Deco District. In the 49 rooms, baths are glass and travertine, linens are Belgian, and everything's white, from the waffle-weave robes to the mini-bar. Standard rooms are small, so for another $20 per night request a mini-suite, with wraparound windows and a bit more space.


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