With two new affordable boutique hotels, the eternally expensive city of New York puts out the welcome mat for stylish-but-budget-conscious travelers. Andre Balazs's Hotel QT (125 W. 45th St.; 212/354-2323; www.hotelqt.com; singles from $125) is happily out of sync with its Times Square address. The 140 small, ultramodern rooms are calming cocoons with soft lights, a flesh-toned palette, and platform beds. Frugal frills are executed with whimsical flair: in place of room-service menus, there are take-out fliers from local restaurants; mini-bar items are sold at the kiosk-style front desk. And—surprise!—there's a pool and a hammam in the lobby. Blue Moon Hotel (100 Orchard St.; 212/533-9080; www.bluemoon-nyc.com; doubles from $200), a tenement built in the late 19th century, takes a radically different approach to cheap and chic. The 22-room guesthouse, squeezed into a trendy Lower East Side block, is filled with period artifacts and modern luxuries such as wet bars and whirlpools. Nods to the neighborhood's past life can be found at every turn: check out the ethnic restaurant and rooms named after jazz-era bigwigs.
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