A Bordeaux bolthole for $120 a night? A riverside retreat in Lisbon for the same? Here's our guide to some of Europe's best-value hotels and guesthouses this season.
Welcome Hotel, Brussels
Situated in the area formerly occupied by the canal dock and fish market, within easy walking distance of the Grand Place, this small hotel of 17 rooms is notable for its individualism - each room is themed to evoke exotic travel: Bali, Zanzibar, the Silk Road. It has recently added a family room for up to five people.
23 Quai au Bois a Bruler. Double rooms from €109 ($134). Also recommended: Le Dixseptieme (from €100).
Hotel Stari Grad, Dubrovnik
Stari Grad means "old town" and that's where this small, comfortable three-star hotel is located. It's more of a boutique bed and breakfast than a hotel, with just eight rooms in a refurbished 17th-century stone building in a narrow stone alley off Placa. The atmosphere is old-fashioned, romantic and welcoming.
Od Sigurate 4, Old Town. Rooms from €140. Also recommended: Hotel Lapad, (from €70); and Berkeley (from €55).
Villa Emilia, Barcelona
This great-value boutique hotel works hard to compensate for a slightly out-of-centre location (in the left of the Eixample, just off the Gran Via). It has a winning blend of modern design and antique furnishings, attentive service and a secluded rooftop terrace.
Calle Calabria 115-117, Eixample. Double rooms from €124. Also recommended: Barcelo Raval (from €113), Chic & Basic (from €103), Hotel Espana (from €96).
The Savic, Prague
This Old Town hotel has been transformed from a neglected apartment building into one of Prague's most gorgeous and popular properties. Thorough renovation has created a secluded atmosphere and a warm, unstated charm. So effective has it been that you'll need to book at least a month in advance, even in winter.
Jilska 7, Prague 1 . Double rooms from €85. Also recommended: The Icon (from €90), Hotel Yasmin (from €93), Hotel Elite (from €62), Hotel Josef (from €109).
Hotel Regence, Nice
On Nice's liveliest pedestrian street, the Regence has astonishing flair for a two-star hotel. The lobby and lounge are as big as a ballroom and furnished splendidly in bright, art deco style. There are white columns and balustrades, swathes of red-pink ochre and swirls of frescoes. Upstairs, the 61 rooms are less ornate but more than adequate.
21 Rue Massena. Double rooms from €65. Also recommended: Hotel Villa Rivoli (from €80).
Michelberger Hotel, Berlin
Although it falls into a budget category, the hotel is the work of well-known designer Werner Aisslinger, who has ensured the whole place yells youthful creativity. There's a courtyard that doubles as a beer garden and concert venue. Like the rest of the hotel, the rooms are individually designed in a dizzying variety of themes, with plenty of flea-market furniture and quirky fixtures such as mirrors dangling from ropes. You won't find much formality; it's more like being among helpful friends.
Warschauer Strausse 39-40. Double rooms from €60. Also recommended: Weinmeister (from €92.50).
Hotel Le Continental, Bordeaux
Check into a pied-a-terre right in Bordeaux's Golden Triangle - the heart of the city - for the cost of two courses in some of the nearby restaurants. This hotel is one of the best deals in town, and more refined and welcoming than you have any right to expect at two-star prices.
10 Rue Montesquieu. Double rooms from €96. Also recommended: Hotel Majestic (from €89), Hotel La Tour Intendance (from €92.50), Hotel L'Avant-Scene (€103).
La Dimora degli Angeli, Florence
This nine-room guesthouse, just off the cathedral square, feels more like a boutique hotel than a bed and breakfast, with its colourful, romantic decor and iconic centro-storico views. Most of the rooms have great views of the Duomo. The reception "desk" is staffed only from 8am to 1pm, but there's a phone number for emergencies and the owner, Claudio, is a helpful host.
Via de' Brunelleschi 4. Double rooms from €85.80 Also recommended: Hotel Casci (from €80).
AD Place, Venice
On a canal by La Fenice Opera House in the San Marco district, AD Place is blissfully quiet, except when the opera crowds gather below or gondoliers belt out songs as they pass. The attention to detail and friendly, well-informed staff make this a stylish and relaxing place to stay. The rooms vary in size but each is individually decorated and there's a lovely roof terrace from which to survey the Venetian cityscape.
San Marco Fondamenta della Fenice 2557/A. Double rooms from €120. Also recommended: Al Ponte Mocenigo (from €115).
This charming hotel is a hybrid of a traditional Roman three-star and a funky boutique hotel. Central but secluded, it sits among neighbourhood shops and bars in a quiet lane. Just down the road is the transport hub of Piazza Barberini, and the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and fashion district are a short walk away. The service is excellent, and the garden patio and playful modern-art theme are two unexpected features.
Via della Purificazione 42. Double rooms from €85. Also recommended: Raffaello (from €120).
Palazzo Failla, Sicily
This elegant 10-room boutique hotel occupies an aristocratic town house in the upper part of Modica, and still breathes the Gattopardo atmosphere of old Sicily, with its antique decor and courteous service. The rooms have changed little since the palazzo's heyday, featuring Belle Epoque-tiled floors and elaborately frescoed ceilings - although all come with satellite television, free wi-fi and instant hot water. The hotel's restaurant, La Gazza Ladra, a couple of doors down, has a Michelin star.
Via Blandini 5. Double rooms from €115. Also recommended: L'Orto sul Tetto (from €75).
Ibrahim Pasha, Istanbul
There are boutique hotels aplenty in Istanbul and, in an understated way, this one is perhaps the best. It is fashioned from a pair of tall, early-20th-century town houses, and the contemporary makeover inside enhances its Ottoman roots: think blonde-wood floors and crisp white bed linen. Other bonuses are the views from the funky roof terrace and the intimate breakfast room.
Terzihane Sok 7, Sultanahmet. Double rooms from €99. Also recommended: Richmond (from €115), Empress Zoe Hotel (from €54).
LX Boutique, Lisbon
Newly spruced up, bright, airy and modern, this hotel by the river offers the perfect urban retreat. It couldn't be better placed for riverfront views and city-centre access. The five storeys are split between iconic Lisbon themes, such as a sultry fado floor, a literary floor and a boho Bairro Alto-themed floor. Choose a front-facing room, with views over the terracotta rooftops.
Rua do Alecrim 12. Double rooms from €95. Also recommended: Jeronimos 8 (from €78).
Vesta Hotel, St Petersburg
Perhaps St Petersburg's best-value hotel, the functional Vesta is slap bang is the city centre. It is spacious enough, minimalist and decorated in what can only be described as IKEA style, but adequate if you simply need a place to rest your bones after a day's sightseeing - and you can't get more central than Nevsky Prospekt. The efficient staff make time for the hotel's relatively small number of guests - they'll even provide guides and interpreters.
Nevsky Prospekt 92. Double rooms from 3300 roubles ($101). Also recommended: St Petersburg Hotel (from 2,900 roubles).
Vincci Via 66, Madrid
This original 1940s building on the Gran Via has been dramatically revamped while retaining original features, including a curving marble staircase and stained-glass windows. There are fabulous views across the city to the Guadarrama mountains from the spectacular roof terrace, where there is also a small spa. The 116 rooms are decorated with sumptuous fabrics and huge black-and-white photographs. Top-quality soundproofing ensures no noise problems from the very busy avenue, and the British manager is fanatical about good service.
Gran Via 66. Double rooms from €76. Also recommended: Petit Palace Art Gallery (€110), Room Mate Alicia (€84).
Seven Bridges Hotel, Amsterdam
This 300-year-old canal house is beautifully furnished with the owners' impressive collection of antiques (a rare Dutch Empire recamier in reception; in the bedrooms, up a 15th-century oak staircase, a priceless little Louis XVI table and so on). The best rooms are those with canal views, though the ones at street level can be noisy. The hotel has expanded to a second 17th-century canal house next door.
Reguliersgracht 31. Double rooms from €120. Also recommended: Hotel V (from €85), citizenM (from €104).
Ochre & Brown, Athens
First impressions might be a little misleading, as the area is full of junk shops and appears seedy. In fact, the Ochre & Brown has a great location for combining culture and nightlife: it lies midway between the Acropolis and Gazi, a 15-minute walk to each along pedestrian-only promenades. The hotel's stylish decor and endlessly helpful staff also impress. The 22 rooms and suites are furnished in contemporary style, with fabrics in earthy hues. There are great pillows and duvets, a DVD library, free wi-fi, Molton Brown toiletries, a good buffet breakfast and Mediterranean fare in the restaurant.
Leokoriou 7, Psiri. Double rooms from €150 Also recommended: Fresh Hotel (from €109), Hotel Philippos (from €83), Hotel Plaka (from €109).
Lato Hotel, Crete
Futuristic rather than minimalist, with edgy furniture and bright splodges of colour throughout, the Lato is a departure from the usual soothing earth tones of most "contemporary" Greek hotels. All 53 rooms have the usual mod cons and most have balconies. A highlight is the trio of on-site restaurants celebrating Cretan cuisine, notably the Brilliant Gourmet and the rooftop Herbs' Garden.
Epimenidou 15, Heraklion. Double rooms from €65.50. Also recommended: Minoa Palace Resort & Spa (from €114), Veneto Hotel (from €112).
- Telegraph, London