Travel + LeisureFrom April 2009
By Alexander Basek, Anya von Bremzen, David Farley, Catesby Holmes, Tina Isaac, Stirling Kelso, Soren Larson, Alexandra Marshall, Ralph Martin, Clark Mitchell, Shane Mitchell, Maria Shollenbarger, Bree Sposato, Valerie Waterhouse and Jennifer Welbel
When it comes to European hotels, the word value used to conjure up images of shoebox-sized spaces located depressingly near the train station. No longer. A new breed of affordable lodging has been popping up all around the Continent, and these ultra-modern digs offer plenty of comfort, stylishness, and amenities alongside their attractive price tags.
Desirable options exist even in notoriously expensive and popular destinations like London and Paris. At the London Bridge Hotel, you can set up a base near the Tate Modern and Borough Market while taking advantage of a plugged-in, 24-hour concierge—all for rates that start at a mere $144. Across the Channel, you’ll find a similarly convenient location in Paris—an easy walk from the Louvre—with the Hôtel Thérèse, where the quirky and charming rooms (starting at $200) are decorated with Parisian paintings from local flea markets.
London Bridge Hotel, $144
At the London Bridge Hotel, 400-thread-count sheets, Miller Harris bath products, and at-the-ready service mean that a stay next to the Tower Bridge will be cool and comfortable. The hotel is located in the small neighborhood of Southwark, just a quick walk from the Tate Modern, the Globe Theatre, and the epicenter of London’s locavore movement, Borough Market. The 24-hour concierge desk is worth a visit, too: veteran staffers, who come from such impeccable London properties as the InterContinental Park Lane and the Mayfair, are able to score coveted seats to Arsenal soccer games and tickets for concerts at the O2 arena.
La Stampa Hotel & Mandala Spa, $195
Standing outside on orderly Dawson Street, you’d never imagine the Indo-Asian fantasy that lies behind the door of this Georgian manse. La Stampa Hotel & Mandala Spa is flamboyantly chic, its 37 rooms adorned with Balinese wall screens, teak furniture, potted palms, gold moldings, and mirrors. For dinner, it’s prawn toasts and pad thai in the glow of lanterns at Tiger Becs, one of the city’s most popular Thai restaurants.
Hôtel Amour, $140
What you know of the Ninth Arrondissement is still generally true—this boho district is no St.-Germain—but gentrification has struck, and the Hôtel Amour is an example of how much. Located on a slender corridor that feels more St.-Georges than Quartier Pigalle, the hotel is the brainchild of three nightlife aficionados who know their target audience well (think iPhone-toting media types) and chose their amenities accordingly. You’ll find cheeky framed photographs in the restaurant, rooms with toys from Kidrobot, and even a foosball table in the basement. Want more proof that the area is ready for travelers? Rue des Martyrs, around the corner from the hotel, has become the spot to shop for fine cheeses and groceries.
Hôtel Thérèse, $200
Hôtel Thérèse is set in an 18th-century town house on a quiet side street in the heart of the First Arrondissement. On the Right Bank, blocks from the Louvre, the Thérèse has 43 rooms that are on the petite side, but budding hotel doyenne Sylvie de Lattre (the woman behind another T+L favorite, the Hôtel Verneuil, in St.-Germain) has established an uncluttered aesthetic and filled the rooms with Parisian paintings garnered from local flea markets.
Fontana Park Hotel, $195
Portuguese architect Francisco Aires Mateus renovated a 1908 iron factory to create the Fontana Park Hotel. Keeping its exterior intact, he gutted the building to make way for Zen-like interiors. Open expanses, including the Bonsai restaurant and Fontana bar, are punctuated by sharply angled glass staircases and sheaths of hammered ironwork—homages to the building’s first life. The 139 simple black-and-white rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows that provide panoramic views of the city.