Chic, stylish, boutique--blah, blah, blah. What we want in a hotel is that unique mix of warmth and personality. In other words, we want it to be totally charming. Here are our picks, from Argentina to Vietnam.
Rooms are decorated with regional artwork and named after elements of the hotel's northwestern location, like La Vid, "the grapevine." Homemade bread and marmalades are served for breakfast; small cups of mistela, a local liquor, at bedtime ensure a good night's sleep. Information:011-54/3868-491034, elcortijohotel.com, from $76, with breakfast and tax.
Art Hotel: $65
It may date to 1927, but Buenos Aires' Art Hotel is far from old-fashioned: There's a Jacuzzi in the roof garden and contemporary art in the gallery on the ground floor. The 35 rooms have hardwood floors, arched doorways, and canopy beds. Information:011-54/11-4821-4744, arthotel.com.ar, from $65, with breakfast and tax.
Sea-U Guest House
After visiting Barbados for a writing assignment, German native Uschi Wetzels bought land in Bathsheba and built a seven-room hotel. Four are in a colonial-style house facing the sea; the others are in a whitewashed cottage decorated with rattan furniture. Information:246/433-9450, seaubarbados.com, from $96, with breakfast.
Pousada do Caju
Hammocks on the seven-room inn's wraparound porch overlook palm trees. The ocean, 500 feet away, is visible from elevated bamboo platforms by the pool, where guests can enjoy a 45-minute massage for $30. Information:011-55/82-3295-1103, pousadacaju.com, $92, with breakfast.
Having founded a successful kite-boarding store in São Paulo, Fabio De Maria needed a place to stay when kiteboarding. The first of his two pousadas on Brazil's northern coast is a collection of wooden bungalows and clay-brick apartments in the beach town of Jericoacoara. Information:011-55/88-3669-2289, vilakalango.com.br, from $120, with breakfast.
Les Bons Matins
Harold Côté created a B&B from four adjacent town houses on a quiet street in downtown Montreal. The rooms have wooden floors and exposed-brick walls; flea market furniture and large funky paintings (made by Harold's brother, Benoît) add flair. Information:800/588-5280, bonsmatins.com, from $122, with breakfast.
The Woodshire Inn
Inside this yellow clapboard Nova Scotian inn, pale walls and wood floors emphasize the building's high ceilings and large windows--and complement the handmade cedar canopy beds in each of the two rooms (six more will open in 2008). Information:902/472-3300, thewoodshire.com, from $84, with breakfast.
The bathroom walls in all 13 wood bungalows are covered in tile mosaics of Mayan warriors and jungle motifs. There's a hammock on every porch, and an open-air restaurant where howler monkeys provide the sound track at breakfast. Information:011-506/750-0018, shawandhalodge.com, from $85, with breakfast.
Hidden in a historic shopping arcade (a 19th-century glass-roofed alley lined with stores), Hôtel Chopin is a respite from the bustle of Paris. Rooms are painted in bright colors with matching floral curtains and bedspreads. The top floors have rooftop views of the 9th arrondissement. Information:011-33/1-47-70-58-10, hotel-chopin.com, from $120, with tax.
Villa Vauréal: $116
Each of the two rooms and three suites at this Biarritz inn is named and decorated after a type of fruit (cherry, plum, peach, mango, raspberry) and comes with its own kitchenette. Owner Christine Rannou Ader makes the apricot and peach-apple jams served at breakfast, which you may enjoy in your room or by the lime trees on the terrace. Information:011-33/6-10-11-64-21, villavaureal.com, from $116.
Hôtel Eldorado, in Paris's 17th arrondissement, radiates disheveled charm both inside and out; manager Anne Gratacos continually decorates the hotel with her flea market finds. Breakfast is served on the verdant backyard terrace or in the cozy ground-floor bistro. Information:011-33/1-45-22-35-21, eldoradohotel.fr, $99, with tax.
The Anemomilos is high on the cliffs of Folegandros Island; most of the 16 studio balconies face the Aegean Sea. Inside, muted-blue bedspreads and striped couches are softer versions of the intense hues outdoors. Information:011-30/22860-41309, anemomilosapartments.com, $116, with tax.
Karagiannopoulou Traditional Mansion
When the Karagiannopoulou family turned an 18th-century home on the Pelion peninsula into a hotel, it kept the hand-painted ceilings in the six rooms and the stained-glass windows in the living room. Information:011-30/24230-867-17, karagiannopoulou.com, from $109, with breakfast and tax.
Auberge Les Petits Saints
This nine-room creole-style cottage is on a hill on Terre-de-Haut island, off the southern coast of Guadeloupe. Bright colors abound: Walls are painted shades of pink, lavender, and green. Both the restaurant and the pool have stunning bay views. Information:011-590/590-995-099, petitssaints.com, from $123, with breakfast.
Desa Seni, or "art village," opened in 2006 after the owners dismantled 23 traditional houses from different Indonesian islands and reassembled them in Bali. Ten guesthouses now have air-conditioning and antique teak furniture. Fruit baskets are delivered daily; there are free yoga classes and a saltwater pool; and two beaches are a 10-minute walk away. Information:011-62/361-844-6392, desaseni.com, from $150, with breakfast and transfers.
On a hillside near Erice, Sicily, with sweeping views of Mount Cofano and the Gulf of Cornino, the hotel has 62 rooms that are split between a renovated 17th-century farmhouse and a newer building with similar stonework. Rooms have Ericini rugs and wrought-iron bed frames. Information:011-39/092-389-1111, bagliosantacroce.it, from $147, with breakfast and tax.
Opened in 1999 by Los Angeles transplants Steve Brenner and Linda Martinez, Rome's Beehive hotel has spacious rooms with beaded lamps and surfing-inspired prints on the walls. The hotel is nonsmoking, and the restaurant is vegetarian and organic. Information:011-39/064-470-4553, the-beehive.com, from $82, with tax.
Once the royal residence of Prince Alessandro Filangieri II, this 17th-century palace in Palermo, Sicily, has original hand-painted frescoes, a courtyard, a grand marble staircase, and 24 rooms, some with balconies. Information:011-39/091-616-5727, albergoorientale.191.it, from $89, with breakfast and tax.
Named after the sugar mills in Veracruz, Azúcar is a collection of 20 white bungalows--each with air-conditioning and TV in addition to a private terrace with a hammock--connected by a stone path. Chill out in a beach palapa, on pink cushions by the pool, or in the open-air library, lined with shelves of architecture, art, and design books. Information:800/728-9098, mexicoboutiquehotels.com/azucar, from $120.
Bahía de la Luna
Bahía de la Luna's 11 thatched-roof cabanas edge a white-sand beach in Oaxaca State. Local carpenters built tree trunks into furniture; comals, or ceramic tortilla plates, are framed in bamboo and hung on walls. Information:011-52/958-589-5020, bahiadelaluna.com, from $60, with breakfast and tax.
Hotel Posada Carmina
This 18th-century colonial home in San Miguel de Allende is now a 24-room hotel with wooden-beamed ceilings and a restaurant in the former stables. Some rooms face orange trees in the courtyard. Information:011-52/415-152-88-88, posadacarmina.com, from $100, with breakfast and tax.
La Zebra Beach Cantina y Cabañas
Six miles from the Mayan ruins of Tulúm, La Zebra's nine thatched cabanas have beds draped in mosquito netting, handmade furniture, and Wi-Fi. The beachfront cantina serves pit-roasted pork and grilled snapper, and the bar stocks 50 types of tequila. Information:011-52/998-112-3260, lazebra.com.mx, from $100, with breakfast and a bottle of tequila.
Staff at this Marrakech riad, or traditional Moroccan house, greet guests with cups of freshly brewed mint tea. Orange trees fill the courtyard by the hammam; everything, even the glass-and-metal lanterns on the roof terrace, is handcrafted. All 12 rooms have private baths; a pool will open by year's end. Information:011-212/24-42-64-63, marrakech-riads.net, from $86, with breakfast and tax.
Ahmed Agouni and his French partner, Catherine Rophé, built their guesthouse--in the Atlas Mountains between Marrakech and Ouarzazate--with timber beams and earthen walls to blend in with nearby Berber villages. It's filled with rugs and lanterns found in souks. There's also a pool and a hammam. Information:011-212/67-73-70-02, irocha.com, from $93, with breakfast, dinner, and tax.
The Iranian owner, Akbar Tamiz, transformed a 27-room hotel in Rotterdam into a colorful homage to world cultures--and a restaurant serving North African cuisine. Each room is unique: Tamiz searched Dubai markets for Persian carpets and commissioned local artists to paint African motifs on the walls. Information:011-31/10-206-5151, bazarrotterdam.nl, from $102, with breakfast and tax.
Paul Lodder and his partner, Paul Westerman, transformed a 17th-century canal house in central Amsterdam into a five-room hotel filled with contemporary art and their personal antiques collection. Guests in 111, on the ground floor, look out on an 18th-century well with gleaming cherry-red tiles. Information:011-31/20-638-6915, hotelorlando.nl, from $136, with breakfast and tax.
Amitee's on Ponsonby
Father and son accountants Ian and Mark Stewart were just looking for new office space when they stumbled across a lovely seven-room inn for sale in Auckland's Ponsonby neighborhood--with a separate apartment, which now doubles as their office and a business center for guests. Information:011-64/9-378-6325, amitees.com, from $128, with breakfast and tax.
Hostal Casa de Campo
Alfredo Lozada Alfaro built chalet-like cottages, connected by terraces, stone steps, and gardens, on the slopes of San Blas with spectacular views over the rest of Cuzco. Some rooms come with a fireplace (one also has a kitchenette), but all are made with local materials, such as adobe, stone, and aguano masha wood. Information:011-51/84-244404, hotelcasadecampo.com, $55, with breakfast and tax.
Casa da Moura
Like the name, the decor is inspired by the Moors, who once occupied the Algarve. In fact, all the sconces, tiles, fabrics, and carved wooden furniture in the two studios and six apartments were imported from Morocco. The building, constructed in 1892 for a wealthy Lagos family, has a pool and a rooftop terrace that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Information:011-351/282-770-730, casadamoura.com, from $82, with breakfast and tax.
Monte do Papa-Léguas
The eight-room inn, in a restored farmhouse and barn in southern Portugal, is comfortably rustic. BMX bikes and trail maps are included in the room rate--the better to explore the surrounding Costa Vicentina nature reserve. Information:011-351/283-961-470, montedopapaleguas.com, from $102, with breakfast and tax.
Brothers Ruís and Luis Graça filled 13 rooms and apartments--which are spread out over cottages, two restored farmhouses, and a barn in two neighboring locations on the coast between Lisbon and the Algarve--with their grandparents' antiques and art created by relatives. Information:011-351/913-619-939, naturarte.pt, from $123, with breakfast and tax.
The Old Gin House
Built from ballast bricks, The Old Gin House, in the Caribbean Netherlands Antilles, was once an 18th-century cotton factory. It's now an 18-room hotel with two restaurants; guests sleep in sleigh beds and sun themselves by the freshwater pool. Information:011-599/318-2319, theoldginhouse.com, from $135, with breakfast.
Philip Uys bought a 19th-century hotel near the Langeberg Mountains and furnished it with a jumble of modern pieces (including wooden cubes and rice-paper chandeliers) and kitschy touches (giant portraits of drag queens). Half of the 14 rooms have shared bathrooms, while the other "luxury" rooms come with private baths, breakfast, and a bottle of South African wine. Information:011-27/28-572-1226, thebarrydale.co.za, budget $50, luxury $80, with tax.
Southern Right Hotel
During the 2003 renovation of this historic Western Cape hotel, the owners tore down the crumbling ballroom and built an ocean-view terrace in its place. The eight rooms benefit from high ceilings, large windows, original wood floors, and local artwork. Information:011-27/21-782-0314, southernrighthotel.com, from $90, with breakfast and tax.
Callejón del Agua
Trimmed with intricate wrought-iron grillwork, candelabras, sconces, and railings, Callejón del Agua's 16 spacious rooms are painted in bold red-striped designs; six have street-side balconies. For a look at La Giralda--Seville's iconic bell tower--climb the stairs to the hotel's roof deck. Information:011-34/954-219-189, callejondelagua.es, from $82, with tax.
Casa del Capitel Nazari
Just a short walk from the Alhambra, Granada's Moorish fortress, the former Renaissance-era palace has 17 rooms (with wooden-beam ceilings, tile floors, and traditional Andalusian-style furniture) around a courtyard. Information:011-34/958-21-52-60, hotelcasacapitel.com, from $116.
The Town House
The nine-room inn in the middle of Marbella combines the character of its 19th-century structure (marble floors, skylights, exposed-wooden-beam ceilings) with the light, airy aesthetic of its Swedish owner. There's also a rooftop terrace with views of La Concha mountain. Information:011-34/952-90-17-91, townhouse.nu, from $150, with breakfast and tax.
Once the private home of a sultan's counselor, this seven-room hotel reflects Arab and Swahili styles with antique furniture and hardwood beds. Coffee beans from the hotel's farm in Tanzania are roasted and ground on-site. Information:011-255/24-2239-319, riftvalley-zanzibar.com, from $75, with breakfast and tax.
Old Bangkok Inn
The three shops that now make up the Old Bangkok Inn have been in the Tulyanond family for seven generations. In 2004, the shops were converted into a 10-room B&B decorated along floral themes: lotus, rose, orchid, lemongrass, jasmine, and rice. Information:011-66/2629-1787, oldbangkokinn.com, from $99, with tax.
Shanghai Inn: $87
Opened last year in Bangkok's Chinatown, the 55-room Shanghai Inn reflects the neighborhood's glamorous past. The decor--purple walls, pink orchids, and orange draperies--is bold; birdcages hang in bathrooms to make guests feel as if they're showering en plein air. Breakfast, with Chinese tea, is served in a ruby-red teahouse. Information:011-66/2221-2121, shanghai-inn.com, from $87, with breakfast and tax.
Hotel Empress Zoe
Empress Zoe is cobbled together from artifacts of previous ages; the barrel-vaulted passages off the lobby date to the Ottoman era, and the central garden's walls are ruins of a hammam built in 1483. The 24 rooms and suites are dressed in Turkish textiles and folk art; two roof terraces face the Sea of Marmara. Information:011-90/212-518-25-04, emzoe.com, from $116, with breakfast and tax.
Hotel Nomade: $116
Rooms at Istanbul's Hotel Nomade--decorated with hanging carpets made from antique rugs resewn into modern, abstract designs--feel spacious even if they aren't. The rooftop terrace, four flights up, boasts direct views of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia--accompanied, in the morning, by an impressive Turkish breakfast. Information:011-90/212-513-81-72, hotelnomade.com, from $116, with breakfast and tax.
The Bull Hotel
A roadside tavern since 1385, The Bull Hotel in Wrotham, Kent, plays up its country heritage with brick fireplaces, exposed oak beams, and hardwood floors--though its 11 rooms have been recently refurbished. The restaurant serves fish-and-chips and local brews, as a proper British pub should. Information:011-44/1732-789-800, thebullhotel.com, from $141, with breakfast and tax.
The Cawdor Arms
As a 200-year-old Welsh coaching inn, the Cawdor still has its original flagstones, though its 25 rooms--with Egyptian cotton sheets, TVs, DVD players, and Internet access--don't resemble any of the nearby castles they're named after. Information:011-44/1558-823-500, thecawdor.com, from $131, with breakfast and tax.
A converted motel directly on the beach, Casa Malibu has more than its location going for it: The 19 rooms, some with whitewashed furniture, fireplaces, and exposed-wood ceilings, feel like cottages. (There are also two suites.) Guests can lounge on the private beach and take in the ocean from the shaded brick courtyard. Information:800/831-0858, from $129, with breakfast and parking.
The furnishings of this downtown L.A. hotel are mostly Moroccan, though they also include Iraqi wall hangings, Indian curtains, Kurdish grain-sack pillows (used as chairs), and anything else that catches the eye of owner Uno Thimansson. The poolside terrace is one of L.A.'s best hotel bars. Information:213/627-8971, figueroahotel.com, from $134.
Juniper Lane Guest House
Run by ebullient Juniper Maas, the five-room cedar-shingled guesthouse--and a cabin sleeping four more--is on Washington's San Juan Island. Rooms are decorated with art from Maas's travels; regional pieces hang in the common spaces. A shared kitchen is stocked with free fair-trade coffee and organic fruit in season. Information:888/397-2597, juniperlaneguesthouse.com, from $65.
The Tallman Hotel
In addition to restoring this 1896 hotel in Upper Lake, Calif., owners Lynne and Bernie Butcher built four additional two-story garden cottages next door. All the garden rooms have a veranda or balcony; those on the ground floor also have an outdoor shower and teak soaking tub. Information:707/275-2244, tallmanhotel.com, from $119, with breakfast.
Life Wellness Resort Quy Nhon
Before the resort opened in 2003, all that stood on this coastline was a fisherman or two. Now, besides solitude and fresh seafood, there are lounge chairs, yoga lessons, and a poolside bar. The 63 rooms have balconies and bathrooms with sea views. Information:011-84/56-840-132, life-resorts.com, from $98, with breakfast.
Mui Ne Sailing Club
Surrounded by tropical gardens on the beach, the hotel's 29 rooms are colonial chic, with bamboo beds, red stone floors, and silk cushions. All come with air-conditioning and TVs; some have open-air bathrooms for a late night soak while stargazing. Information:011-84/62-847-442, sailingclubvietnam.com, from $66, with breakfast and tax.