$54 Since the new owners slashed prices at the starkly chic, 14-room Altamont Hotel (207 Darlinghurst Rd.; 61-2/ 9360-6000; www.altamont.com.au; breakfast included) in Darlinghurst, its undulating walls and Balinese furniture have drawn a budget-minded crowd. A two-room suite with TV, DVD, and city-view terrace costs only $80 to $95, but the laid-back staff will likely let any room go for less than published rates—just ask.
$94 Overlooking a wide sweep of Coogee Beach—a 15-minute cab ride from downtown—the small, family-run Dive Hotel (234 Arden St.; 61-2/9665-5538; www.divehotel.com.au; breakfast included) is more like a beach house than a hotel. All 14 rooms have polished wood floors, stylish stainless steel baths, and kitchenettes; Nos. 1 and 2 have drop-dead ocean views. Take a swim at Wylie's Baths, the ocean pool/coffee bar/dive-in cinema, then walk the spectacular cliff-hugging path to Bondi Beach.
$82 With its restful atmosphere and a location only 20 minutes by water taxi from downtown, Watsons Bay is the Hamptons of Sydney. Here, the Doyle family, a Hemingwayesque bunch who run a chain of seafood restaurants, have opened the 32-room Doyles Palace Hotel (1 Military Rd.; 61-2/9337-5444; www.doyles.com.au; breakfast included). Ma Doyle serves up a killer plate of blue swimmer crab. Harbor-view rooms are best, though a bit noisy on weekends.
$97 In a former Rolls-Royce showroom, the 71-room Royce Hotel (379 St. Kilda Rd.; 61-3/9677-9900; www.roycehotels.com.au; breakfast included) combines the grandeur of a 1920's interior with contemporary furnishings. Fronting Melbourne's most elegant boulevard, the hotel is handy to parks and gardens, boutiques and beaches, and downtown. Business travelers predominate on weekdays, but weekends are more relaxed.
$77 In the heart of the trendy Ponsonby zone, Amitees (237 Ponsonby Rd.; 64-9/378-6325; www.amitees.com) is the city's first hip hotel. A former boardinghouse, it has eight sun-drenched rooms with exotic timber floors, avant-garde photographs, and contemporary furniture. Request the petite garden room, or the penthouse for a sweeping cityscape. You can sip a local wine from the hotel's 1,500-bottle cellar before hitting the neighborhood's bars and restaurants.
$80 The city's first design-conscious boutique, the 29-room Gordon House Hotel (5 Battery St.; 91-22/287-1122; www.ghhotel.com), has three room types: Mediterranean, Country, and Scandinavian, with furnishings to match. Located in the hip Colaba district, it's run by the Mars Group, who've created some of the hottest restaurants and bars in town—so it's no surprise that the in-house club, Three Flights Up, has become the nightspot for Bollywood's beau monde.