Courtesy of the Whitelaw Hotel
The Hotel: White-on-white (apart from the touches of shocking pink), whimsical but still classy, the Whitelaw embodies Miami Beach’s combination of old-school kitsch and sleek modern design. The 49 rooms all have crystal chandeliers, beds with ornate padded headboards, and watermelon-colored walls embellished with graffiti-style designs; a similar aesthetic prevails in the lobby lounge—where free cocktails are served every night at 7. The patio, with its umbrella-shaded tables overlooking Collins Avenue, is great for people-watching.
The Locale: Smack in the center of Miami’s historic Art Deco district, the Whitelaw is surrounded by one of the world’s greatest collections of 1930s and ’40s architecture. But while the pastel buildings and boardwalk still evoke the beachside glamour of decades past, the major-league decadence of modern-day South Beach—velvet-rope dance clubs, bars, restaurants, and gorgeous young things wearing as little as possible—is just a few minutes’ walk north (add a few more minutes if you’re wearing stiletto sandals).
The Bottom Line: Standard rooms with two double beds start at $229 per night; those with a single king bed start at $249.
Courtesy of Hotel Côté Cour
The Hotel: A historic courtyard mansion turned boutique inn, the Côté Cour’s 14 stylishly appointed rooms surround an inner sanctum of blooming magnolia and cherry trees, where parakeets sing from bamboo cages. Garden-view deluxe rooms are spacious, with carved-wood king-size beds, sumptuously colored rugs and textiles, and sleek modern baths with both walk-in glass showers and huge freestanding tubs. Breakfast and afternoon cocktails are served daily in the airy, art-filled lounge.
The Locale: Set in the inner city of “Old Beijing”, the hotel abuts a protected historic district of bustling, lively hutongs (alleyways). The city’s most famous shopping neighborhood, Wangfujing, is within easy walking distance.
The Bottom Line: Standard rooms with queen-size beds start at around $170 per night; deluxe rooms with king-size beds and garden views are around $230.
Courtesy of Hotel Le Saint-Grégoire
The Hotel: This handsome dormered 18th-century building was once a private mansion; now its 20 rooms (along with a firelit lobby and a stone cellar–cum–breakfast alcove) are overseen by a friendly, impressively multilingual staff. Guest quarters are small, but prettily and individually decorated with antique wood furniture, fresh white linens, and understated floral fabrics, as in une maison de campagne.
The Locale: Set on a quiet Sixth Arrondissement street between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Montparnasse, the hotel is a perfect base for exploring Paris’s most famous sights. The Luxembourg Gardens and the city’s oldest church, Saint-Germain-des-Prés (not to mention its most venerable department store, Le Bon Marché) are just a 10-minute walk away; Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Eiffel Tower are just 15 minutes away by metro.
The Bottom Line: Superior rooms with double beds start at about $235.
Courtesy of Novecento Boutique Hotel
The Hotel: Like the home of an exotic world traveler, this tiny jewel-box of an inn is filled with unusual art, gorgeous textiles, and unique furnishings from far-flung locales like Asia and North Africa. The nine guest rooms are uniquely kitted out with bedsteads of elaborately carved wood or iron scrollwork; embroidered wall hangings, rugs, and throw pillows; and tiled bathrooms with old-fashioned basins (and, occasionally, old-fashioned water pressure). The common areas include a second-floor sitting room where you can play chess in front of the fireplace, a breakfast area where pastries and fresh-made cappuccino are served in the mornings; and a tiny, lovely garden courtyard.
The Locale: On a quiet little street in the San Marco District, the inn is removed enough from the city’s well-worn tourist paths to feel peaceful—but still just a 10-minute walk from the Piazza di San Marco or the Ponte dell’Accademia, which spans the Grand Canal toward two of Venice’s greatest art museums, the Gallerie dell’Accademia and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
The Bottom Line: Double rooms start at about $190 per night.
Courtesy of Koray Erkaya for Sumahan on the Water
The Hotel: Once a 19th-century Ottoman distillery, this 20-room property sits right alongside the Bosporus. Enormous windows in the minimalist-chic rooms (many of which have wood-burning fireplaces) overlook palace spires, the Bosporus Bridge, and the sea dotted with sailboats; the view is equally good from your platform bed as it is from your expansive glassed-in shower. The hotel’s terrace restaurant serves just-caught seafood; in the beautifully domed marble hammam, attendants scrub, massage, and steam away any lingering traces of jet lag.
The Locale: Just outside the seaside village of Çengelköy, where seafood restaurants and charming wooden houses line a waterfront promenade. Sumahan’s gleaming wooden launch can ferry you to the spectacular Byzantine Dolmabahçe Palace in 15 minutes; the sights of Sultanahmet (like Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque) are a half-hour’s ride.
The Bottom Line: Deluxe rooms with queen-size beds start at about $240 per night.
Courtesy of International House Hotel
The Hotel: An elegant, 1906 Beaux-Arts-style building houses this gem of a hotel, with interiors done by L.A.-based celebrity designer LM Pagano (Johnny Depp’s favorite). Décor in the 134 rooms and suites is refined without being fussy—damask bedding, tufted armchairs, ornate light fixtures, and lazily spinning ceiling fans are offset by high ceilings, huge windows overlooking the city skyline, and sleek, modern baths. Jasmine white tea martinis are served in the candlelit, velvet-upholstered, slightly Gothic bar—appropriately called Loa, the voodoo term for “divine spirits.”
The Locale: Although it’s technically in the Central Business District, the hotel is just a couple blocks south of the French Quarter—which means the historic balconied homes of Royal Street, the gardens and buskers of Jackson Square, and the city’s most fabulous restaurants, antique shops, and live music venues are moments away.
The Bottom Line: Deluxe queen rooms start at $189 per night.
Courtesy of Washington Jefferson Hotel
The Hotel: The Washington Jefferson’s 135 rooms are on the petite side (a few might even qualify as ultra-petite), but their style and amenities stand up to those at much pricier hotels. All have padded-headboard beds with goose-down duvets, Frette linens and towels, and iPod docking stations. The common areas—including a fitness room and Japanese restaurant—are also small, but choice (New York Yankee Hideki Matsui has been known to stop by for sushi).
The Locale: Although slightly off the beaten path in Hell’s Kitchen, the hotel is an easy (and equidistant) walk from the Theater District, the swanky shops of Fifth and Madison avenues, and Central Park. It’s also set on a street lined with lively restaurants and bars.
The Bottom Line: Deluxe rooms (with two twin- or queen-size beds) start at $150; Superior rooms, with king-size beds and Jacuzzi tubs, are around $180.
Courtesy of Art Hotel
The Hotel: Occupying a stately, renovated, century-old townhouse, the Art Hotel lives up to its name: the grand, high-ceilinged ground floor (which has a cozy library lounge and breakfast area) does double duty as a gallery, and each of the 36 clean-lined, wood-floored rooms is decorated with paintings, photos, and drawings by Argentine artists.
The Locale: The posh, tree-lined district of Recoleta is home to Buenos Aires’s National Museum of Fine Arts; the architecturally spectacular Recoleta Cemetery (burial place of Eva Perón); and many of the city’s five-star (and five-dollar-sign) lodgings. Avenida Santa Fe, one of the city’s toniest shopping strips, is just a five-minute stroll from the hotel.
The Bottom Line: Queen rooms start at about $145, King rooms at $165, and Kings with private balconies, $195.
Courtesy of Number31
The Hotel: Old-world elegance meets hipster mod at this intimate, walled compound, where the 21 rooms are spread between a classical Georgian townhouse and two architect-overhauled carriage houses. Rooms in the former have high ceilings with ornate crown molding, espresso-colored walls, wingback chairs, and (in some cases) original fireplaces; those in the latter have a groovier aesthetic, with recessed lighting, modernist furnishings, and a communal sunken lounge where leather banquettes surround a fireplace. In the morning, you can fuel up with house-made breads and marmalades or a “Full Irish” (bacon, sausage, eggs, tomato, and potato cake) in the sunny breakfast nook.
The Locale: Although Number 31 sits on a quiet street, it’s right in Dublin’s city center. St. Stephen’s Green is just two blocks away; the National Gallery Museum is just a little farther; and a 20-minute stroll brings you to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Dublin Castle.
The Bottom Line: Standard double rooms start at about $160 per night; larger Superior doubles start at around $190.
Courtesy of Undine Pröhl for Condesa DF
The Hotel: A wedge-shaped, French Neoclassical–style building from the 1920s got a funky-mod overhaul in 2005, when hotelier Jonathan Morr and interior designer India Mahdavi reimagined it as a boutique hotel. Now the 40 smallish guest rooms are a boho-chic mix of natural elements (stone floors, wood paneling, alpaca-wool rugs) and futuristic, whimsical details (sculptural basin sinks, molded fiberglass tables). All surround a leafy central atrium (with an ultra-cool rooftop sushi bar) that morphs from a laid-back hangout to a pulsingly popular nightspot when the sun goes down.
The Locale: The artsy neighborhood of Condesa, abuzz with bars, restaurants, and art galleries, is a hub for hip young things—but quiet can be found, too; the hotel is practically right next to the lushly landscaped Parque España.
The Bottom Line: Rooms with small private balconies start at about $195 per night.