As travel editors, we're not supposed to use the word charming--it's a cliché, and it doesn't really mean anything. (What your Aunt Phyllis finds charming may make your teeth itch, and vice versa.) But a hotel with some real personality, where rooms start at around $100....Well, that has a certain charm, doesn't it?
Casa Monserrat Tango Hotel
Buenos Aires has seen a bunch of contemporary hotels open in the past couple of years, but this older hotel is more classic. It's a house built in 1880, in the Monserrat section of the city. Tango lessons and itineraries can be arranged. 011-54/11-5917-7710, tenriverstenlakes.com, from $60, includes breakfast and tax.
A British expat (Tom Rixton) and his Argentine-Irish wife (Patricia O'Shea) opened Home last December after they couldn't find suitable places in the Palermo Hollywood neighborhood of Buenos Aires for their wedding guests to stay. He's a music producer, which explains why there are iPod connectors in the 17 pretty rooms. Room service is available 24 hours a day. 011-54/11-4778-1008, homebuenosaires.com, from $115, includes breakfast.
Vinas de Cafayate Wine Resort
Located in the Salta region of northwest Argentina, the resort was constructed recently, but with the character of an old estancia. Every room has a balcony with vineyard views. The furniture looks like it was chosen by a monk with money. 011-54/11-5917-7710, tenriverstenlakes.com, from $75, includes breakfast and tax.
Like many members of the Design Hotels group, the Daniel--in Graz, Austria's second-largest city--has a cool, minimal aesthetic. The fun shines through: There are rain showers in the bathrooms, and the hotel rents Vespas starting at $19 a half-day. The Daniel is owned by the Weitzer family, the city's largest hotel operator. Rates are the same for singles and doubles. 011-43/316-711-080, hoteldaniel.com, from $75, includes tax.
The Anima is a collection of nine environmentally sensitive bungalows outside Morro de Sao Paulo, on the island of Tinhare. (It's two hours by boat from Salvador de Bahia.) Each has a private outdoor shower; four have decks with hot tubs. The resort is on 15 acres of forest, and there's a shuttle into the village (free until 10 p.m.), when the isolation--and the 88-yard-long beach--simply become too much. 011-55/75-3652-2077, animahotel.com, from $84, includes breakfast and use of snorkeling equipment.
FCC Hotel Angkor
The old French governor's estate in Siem Reap has retained a colonial-outpost vibe, especially in the bar: It opens at 7 a.m., and is a popular expat scene (half-price cocktails during happy hour). Rooms are named after local spices. The chic hotel is a bike ride from Angkor Wat; if the effort is too taxing, a 90-minute hot-stone massage at the spa costs just $60. 011-855/63-760-280, fcccambodia.com, from $90, includes breakfast, welcome drink, and airport pickup.
Located in the old French Quarter of Siem Reap, Shinta Mani is affiliated with the Institute of Hospitality, where young Cambodians at risk learn the hotel business. Shinta Mani also makes it easy for guests to help the community--they can give in advance, and then, when they arrive, meet the people who received school clothes and supplies ($15), a bicycle ($46), a pair of piglets ($70), or even a house ($1,000). The restaurant is just terrific, and there's a small pool, handy for getting rid of the day's dust. 011-855/63-761-998, shintamani.com, from $66.
Veronique and Pierre Marin run a working farm--with fruit and olive orchards--in the Provencal town of Malaucene, where you can rent a room or a "boarding house," furnished cabins with kitchens and laundry facilities (weekly rentals only). The hospitality is as warm as the decor is rustic. Veronique cooks the communal dinner, served alfresco in summer. A pool juts into the countryside. 011-33/4-90-62-99-29, degoutaud.fr, from $76, includes breakfast; cabins from $621 per week.
Hostellerie le Castellas
This country inn in the Provencal village of Collias is composed of several 17th-century houses. Rooms are elegant without being stiff: Local fabrics, wood beams, and the occasional freestanding tub add character. (One bathroom is done completely in river stones.) The restaurant has a Michelin star. 011-33/4-66-22-88-88, lecastellas.fr, from $101.
Hotel de Nesle
Paris's Hotel de nell, as it's pronounced, prides itself on its bohemianism--which is another way of saying it's as quirky as can be. Twenty rooms, individually overdecorated, hide on a quiet street in Saint Germain. There's a garden, and the Antinea room has a hammam that other guests can use when the room isn't booked. Reservations are taken by telephone. 011-33/1-43-54-62-41, hoteldenesleparis.com, $95, includes tax.
Le Mas du Loriot
While the rooms tend toward the anonymous, all but one have terraces, and the views and the grounds are spectacular. The hotel is in the Luberon Regional Nature Park, in Provence, and surrounded by lavender, cypress, and pine trees. Owners Christine and Alain Thillard are happy to point you to antique fairs and markets. Note: Breakfast on the terrace is a must. 011-33/4-90-72-62-62, masduloriot.com, from $63 ($120 with terrace).
Les Roulottes de la Serve
A roulotte is like a French covered wagon, traditionally home to traveling-fair people. While many French inns have taken to putting one in the backyard and calling it a room, Les Roulottes, in the Beaujolais region, has only roulottes--two, to be precise (three as of April, to be even more precise). It's run by Pascal and Pascaline Patin, who bought the land 18 years ago for their horses (and opened it to guests in 1999), and accepts guests April through October. 011-33/4-74-04-76-40, lesroulottes.com, $60, includes breakfast.
On the island of Huahine--a 35-minute flight from Tahiti--the Pension Mauarii nimbly walks the fine line between Polynesian flair and kitsch. The chalets have hand-thatched roofs with flaps that let the breezes in. A staffer is on hand to organize wakeboard and scooter rentals, and the restaurant, which serves three meals a day, is on stilts at the water's edge. 011-689/688-649, mauarii.com, from $77.
Hotel Askanischer Hof
No one is going to confuse the old-fashioned Askanischer Hof--on the Ku'damm in Berlin--with a hipster hangout. Vintage photos line the walls, and knickknacks congregate in every nook. But lest you think the guests are all in bed by 10 p.m., note that something about the place must be decadent if it's appealed to the likes of David Bowie and Helmut Newton. 011-49/30-881-8033, askanischerhof.de, from $120.
One look at the black-leather-ish front desk studded with pink plastic bubbles, and you know you're somewhere interesting. 25Hours, in Hamburg, has 95 rooms that blend contemporary style and retro touches. The hotel tries to foster a sense of community with big tables in the restaurant, and a Wohnzimmer, or living room, that has a fireplace and chessboard. The simple roof terrace is a breath of fresh air. (Discounts are often offered to folks under 25.) 011-49/40-855-070, 25hours-hotel.de, from $128.
Located in the region of Zagori is Archontikon, a pair of mansions originally built in 1865 and 1873, now with just 10 rooms total. The style feels modern without being minimalist; there's even a bourgeois whiff about the rich color scheme and "embroidered" ceilings. (It's reminiscent of the U.S. brand Hotel Monaco.) Guests are welcome to use the kitchen--which has a vaulted stone ceiling--to prepare a dinner. The staff will even buy the necessary ingredients. 011-30/21068-89249, countryclub.gr, from $128, includes breakfast and tax.
A village-like settlement in the mountainous Evritania region of the mainland, Koryschades comprises five stone houses, with a main building holding the bar and the restaurant (the only one in the village, but there are tavernas a decent walk away). Each house has its own garden; in the house called Anatole, there's an indoor pool open to all guests. In winter, you'll want to request a room with a stone fireplace. 011-30/22370-25102, koryschades.com.gr, from $64, includes breakfast and tax.
A jumble of old buildings, including a warehouse and a tower, has been restored by the Kyrimis family, in a port town on the southernmost tip of Peloponnisos. (It's a four-hour drive from Athens.) The look is effortlessly elegant, with soothing tones that defer to the gorgeous stonework, some of which dates to the 19th century. The restaurant sits harborside. 011-30/27330-54288, kyrimai.gr, from $103, includes breakfast and tax.
When you shut your eyes and imagine your multimillion-dollar Greek villa, this is what you see: boxy white buildings on a hillside with views of the Aegean. The resort, on the island of Ios (a half-hour high-speed-ferry ride from Santorini), feels a smidge nouveau riche, but that's better than no riche at all. The 30 rooms all have air-conditioning and satellite TV, and they share a beautiful pool. 011-30/22860-92140, liostasi.gr, from $83, includes breakfast, tax, and transfers.
George and Markella Papaevangelou's hotel looks like it wandered over from Provence because it liked the views better in the National Park of Northern Pindos. Located in Megalo Papingo, in Zagori, the hotel is a collection of stone buildings with rough-hewn wood beams. There are 14 rooms (four are cottages with fireplaces), and almost as many types of homemade jam at the luscious breakfast. 011-30/26530-41135, papaevangelou.gr, from $89, includes breakfast and tax.
The setting is rather extraordinary: a massive Rajasthani palace, dating to the 15th century, that cascades down from a plateau, about 60 miles from the Delhi airport. It's spread out over six acres, with 11 levels, so almost every room has a terrace or balcony--in fact, even many of the bathrooms have views of the desert. 011-91/11-2435-6145, neemranahotels.com, from $98, includes morning and evening coffee or tea.
Hotel Vila Ombak
On Gili Trawangan--off Bali's neighbor, Lombok--there are no cars or motorbikes (you can get around by horse-drawn cart and by bike), and there's very little man-made light at night. Guests at the Hotel Vila Ombak stay in traditional Lombok huts with an upstairs bedroom (with large balconies) and a downstairs living area. After dark, guests often dance to live music on the beach; the full-moon parties are a highlight. Divers love it here; you can get certified at the hotel. 011-62/370-642-336, hotelombak.com, from $67, includes welcome drink, breakfast, fruit basket, and tax.
B&B San Marco
Here's a rare Venetian value: a bed-and-breakfast that looks like it's where Lucy Honeychurch from A Room With a View would've stayed in Venice (except for the fact that the three rooms share a bath; an apartment is also for rent). Speaking of rooms with views: Whether your window overlooks rooftops or a canal, you'll be very pleased. The building was Marco Scurati's family home; he converted it to a B&B after it was left to him. At breakfast--there's a spread of food and an espresso machine, which Marco will show you how to work--you can ask him for advice on what to see and do in Venice. 011-39/041-522-7589, realvenice.it/smarco, from $101.
Domus Orsoni B&B
Famous for its glass tiles, the Orsoni family has a compound in the Cannaregio district of Venice. A few years ago, patriarch Lucio Orsoni opened a five-room B&B inside. (The tile factory is downstairs, the lodging upstairs.) Mosaic classes are available, but not mandatory. But after spending time coveting the tile work throughout, you may not be able to resist them. 011-39/041-275-9538, domusorsoni.it, from $101, includes breakfast and tax.
Les 3 Nagas
Many of the 15 rooms, spread over two of the hotel's three colonial-era buildings, have balconies; all of them are excellent examples of how well Southeast Asia handles minimalist design. In the morning, watch as monks in saffron robes make their way down the streets of Luang Prabang. 011-856/71-253-888, 3nagas.com, from $85, includes breakfast and tax (five percent discount for anyone booking at least three nights online).
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
An irresistible old property in Georgetown, Penang, built in the 19th century by the "Rockefeller of the East," Cheong Fatt Tze. It's also known as La Maison Bleue, because early French visitors couldn't say the real name. The palpable sense of history easily makes up for room decor that can't always hold its own against the marvelous public spaces. The staff prides itself on its good advice, sending guests to street-food stalls and old Chinese coffee shops. 011-604/262-0006, cheongfatttzemansion.com, from $68, includes breakfast.
Eden Beach Hacienda
Eva Robbins and Jim Garrity left the corporate world in 1996 to open an inn in Mexico. But they didn't know where to go. When they hit Troncones, north of Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa, they knew they'd found their spot. The original six-room hacienda is just a little scruffy, in a homey way; there are also newer rooms in adjacent buildings. The restaurant has a patio with sunset views, and a wood-burning oven where bread is baked daily. Kids 5 and under are not allowed. 011-52/755-553-2802, edenmex.com, from $85, includes breakfast and tax.
As its name implies, the Marionetas is a former puppet theater, renovated by Daniel and Sofi Bosco, six blocks from the main plaza in the Yucatan city of Merida. The eight rooms are spare but very comfortable. The breakfast, served outside, tends to include homemade breads and fresh fruit, such as mangoes and papayas. 011-52/999-928-3377, hotelmarionetas.com, from $70, includes breakfast and tax.
Hotel Tierra Maya
Leave the hairdryer at home: The Tierra Maya in Xcalak National Park (in Quintana Roo) is self-sustaining, meaning it gets most of its energy from the sun and uses rain as its water supply. You'll hardly suffer, though: All rooms feature balconies with views over the white-sand beach. The restaurant serves breakfast and dinner. For lunch, walk to the Mayan restaurants nearby. 800/216-1902, tierramaya.net, from $70, includes breakfast and use of bikes, snorkeling gear, and kayaks.
The Todos Santos Inn
The Todos Santos Inn is a 19th-century hacienda built by a sugar baron, in the old part of Todos Santos in Baja California. It's a grown-up place--no kids under 12--filled with antiques. The most affordable rooms share a terrace. A wine bar is on the premises, and if you want to learn Spanish, language lessons and programs can be arranged. 011-52/612-14-50040, todossantosinn.com, from $115, includes breakfast.
What's not to love? The 35 villas at aptly named Villa Amor--24 miles north of Puerto Vallarta--have living areas open to the Pacific, and private plunge pools to boot. For even more romance, go horseback riding on the beach, or have a boat take you to a private beach for a picnic. 011-52/329-291-3010 or 619/822-2731, villaamor.com, from $75, includes use of snorkeling equipment, bodyboards, kayaks, and bicycles.
Is there a nicer phrase than "bungalows on the beach"? Zamas, south of Playa del Carmen in Tulum, is ideal for anyone seeking a barefoot vacation. It's owned and operated by Susan Bohlken and Daniel McGettigan, who moved from San Francisco in 1993 after visiting the area on their honeymoon. Zamas is solar- and wind-powered, and often has live music, especially during the high season of winter. 415/387-9806, zamas.com, $80 (no credit cards).
Innkeepers David and Clover Lea (and their kids) will show you a down-home side of the Caribbean you won't find most anywhere else. David is a volcanologist, and he leads tours exploring the island and its volcano. There are mango and banana trees where you can grab a snack (if the fresh fruit in your room isn't enough), and chickens laying eggs for breakfast. 664/491-5812 or 813/774-5270, volcano-island.com, from $45, includes airport transfers.
Kasbah Ait Ben Moro
You can pay $600 a night to stay in a Moroccan kasbah, but you don't have to. Kasbah Ait Ben Moro is an unbelievable 18th-century fortress--by a 58-square-mile palm grove--in Skoura, halfway between Marrakech and Erfoud. The High Atlas Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop. Aziz, the manager, will make you feel very welcome. 011-212/24-85-21-16, kasbahbenmoro.com, from $84, includes breakfast and tax.
In its 116 years, the building that's now home to Amsterdam's Hotel Arena has seen many of the stages of life: It has been an orphanage, a senior citizens' home, and a youth hostel. In the 1990s, the building--located in Oost, the eastern part of the city--was turned into a hotel. The 133 rooms are straightforward, with wood floors and hints of Dutch design. The cafe and restaurant are much more exuberant (and the nightclub is downright slamming). The hotel's terrace is popular with locals, too. 011-31/20-850-2400, hotelarena.nl, from $103.
Estalagem da Ponta do Sol
All clean lines and breezy white fabrics, this full-service resort sits on a cliff top on the southern edge of Madeira, a Portuguese island in the Atlantic. The views are breathtaking: Each of the 54 rooms has a balcony with a transparent wall, so you can look through it instead of having to look over it. There are two pools (indoor and outdoor), a gym, and free access to tennis courts. The pebble beach is a three-minute walk away. 011-351/291-970-200, pontadosol.com, from $140 (discounts for stays of three nights and longer), includes breakfast, tax, and airport transfers (for stays of at least two nights).
Dun Na Mara
Considering it's a big white house on the shores of Loch Nell, near the Scottish village of Benderloch, Dun Na Mara could've easily gone twee on the inside. Innkeepers Mark McPhillips and Suzanne Pole, architects from Edinburgh, went in a more subdued direction. Rooms are airy and calm, as if they've been art-directed. There's nothing light about the full Scottish breakfast, however. 011-44/1631-720-233, dunnamara.com, from $157, includes breakfast and tax.
Daddy Long Legs
When you wake up at Daddy Long Legs, you may not be able to tell where your dreams end and the decor begins. Artists and other Cape Town creative types did the 13 rooms in the art hotel (there are also apartments that are less crazy): One room involves 2,500 rolls of Mentos; another is plastered with wallpaper made of hundreds of sunset snapshots; and another--well, take a look at our contents page. 011-27/21-422-3074, daddylonglegs.co.za, from $53.
The Village Lodge
Good taste reigns supreme at this hotel in De Waterkant village, Cape Town's gay neighborhood. There are 32 rooms in the compound; kids are not encouraged to stay in the main lodge, so families may prefer the villa annex down the street (which has access to all the hotel services). The Soho Restaurant serves delicious Thai cuisine. 011-27/21-421-1106, thevillagelodge.com, from $75, includes breakfast.
There's something about this hotel in Barcelona that just feels sweet: The rooms have good bones, with molding on the walls and ceilings, nice tile floors, and old-world bathrooms. Try for a room with a terrace--especially in warm months, as there's no air-conditioning. 011-34/93-265-2560, hotelduxelles.com, from $103.
The warm character of the Thai people contrasts interestingly against the slick modernism of Costa Lanta, where walls of concrete and gleaming wood, and furniture that could've come off an Italian yacht, are the norm. It was designed by a young, award-winning architect from Bangkok, Duangrit Bunnag. The resort is away from the beach so as not to disturb the ecology of Ko Lanta Yai. Rooms come with flip-flops--and umbrellas, because the rainy season lasts from May to November. 011-66/75-684-630, costalanta.com, from $81, includes breakfast and tax.
The lowest rates at Panviman resort, on Ko Phangan, used to be for rooms in the hotel building, but when it's done being renovated in December, they'll have been upgraded. That will make the most affordable option one of the cottages dotting the island's hillside. The standard cottages start at $88; the deluxe ones (from $139) have gorgeous woodwork and open-air bathtubs. Downstairs is a private beach and a swanky pool. 011-66/77-445-101, panviman.com/phangan, from $88, includes breakfast and tax.
Istanbul is Europe's nightlife hotspot, but it's still 1950 at the Dersaadet, and that's just fine, thank you. It's a former sultan's palace. Expect parquet floors with handmade kilim carpets, stately furniture, and Bosporus views. The Terrace Cafe--where you can have breakfast (a traditional Turkish spread, of 30 items or so) or spend an evening lingering over a bottle of wine--looks out at the prettily lit Blue Mosque. 011-90/212-458-07-60, hoteldersaadet.com, from $89, includes breakfast and tax (10 percent discount if you pay in cash; stay four nights or more and you get free airport pickup).
Evi Suha Ersoz, a former lawyer, bought up traditional cave houses in Urgup, Cappadocia, and turned them into a 13-room hotel. The phrase cave hotel doesn't really do Esbelli Evi justice: Its style is timeless but contemporary, with modern bathrooms and hardwood floors. All of the rooms have air-conditioning and broadband Internet connections. There are $300-a-night suites (that have kitchens and gardens) if you've been good. 011-90/384-341-33-95, esbelli.com, $110, includes breakfast and tax.
Maui's Spyglass House is nothing fancy; it wisely lets its oceanfront location do the heavy lifting. There are six rooms, divided between two houses. The common-area living room has amazing views. Sit in a Sky Chair hanging over the lawn, or do some yoga at the yoga center that Spyglass House runs a few blocks down the street. The hippie-chic town of Paia, half a mile away, is packed with eclectic restaurants and boutiques, but there's a kitchen and barbecue grill on-site if you'd rather not leave the premises. 808/579-8608 or 800/475-6695, spyglassmaui.com, $120 ($90 for shared bath), includes breakfast.
Calla Lily Inn
Rod and Charlotte Callahan renovated a 1950s hotel in downtown Palm Springs, Calif., giving it a comfortable, nonintimidating feel. The nine rooms are large and tasteful, but the real star is the courtyard. Vibrant foliage--including palms and lemon, lime, and grapefruit trees--surrounds a rectangular pool, with the San Jacinto Mountains providing a glamorous backdrop. The five fountains don't hurt, either. 760/323-3654 or 888/888-5787, palmspringscallalily.com, from $109 (two-day minimum on weekends), includes evening cordial.
Galisteo is 25 minutes outside of Santa Fe, but feels farther. The inn is a low-slung 18th-century hacienda, redone in 2004 with elan. Walls were painted in vibrant colors, and objets de cowboy art have been deployed with precision. The hotel is surrounded by 15 acres, home to apple and other trees. (You can pick fruit and feed it to the friendly llamas.) The Pecos Wilderness area is 10 miles away and has great hiking trails. The Galisteo Inn's chef, Enrique Guerrero, trained with Thomas Keller, of the famous French Laundry in California. 866/404-8200, galisteoinn.com, from $115, includes breakfast.
McMenamins Old St. Francis School
What was once a 1936 elementary school in downtown Bend, Ore., has been converted into a lodging-and-entertainment complex. The classrooms are now 17 hotel rooms, but the property appeals to locals, too. There's a movie theater, microbrewery, restaurant, and Turkish soaking pool. Groups should consider the four cottages, which sleep 2 to 10 people. Like McMenamins' other properties, this one has character to burn. 877/661-4228 or 541/382-5174, mcmenamins.com, from $94, includes movie theater admission.
Numero Uno Guest House
In the residential Ocean Park neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Numero Uno is a 1940s house that's been turned into a hotel. The inn, which was totally renovated in 2005, is on the beach; you can hear the waves from your room. Numero Uno's restaurant, Pamela's Caribbean Cuisine, has tables on the sand. Go for dinner, or just for the house drink, a Lemon Squeeze--Bacardi Limon, with lemons and limes steeping in it, and cranberry juice. 866/726-5010 or 787/726-5010, numero1guesthouse.com, from $60, includes breakfast.
Pilgrimage Village, on the outskirts of Hue, Vietnam's former imperial city, is an effortless place to stay a few days. It has 50 rooms (though the number is expected to double by the end of the year), each with a pair of balconies, set on lush grounds. Everything you need is at hand: a pool (two by December), a grand dining room with a peaked wooden roof, a spa, a gym, an Internet cafe, even handicraft classes (where you can learn to make your very own conical hat). The Candle Bar is very romantic. It holds just 40 people, and is lit almost entirely by flickering candles. 011-84/54-885-461, pilgrimagevillage.com, from $71.
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