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By Alice Tate
When you live in London, you quickly become sick of the question, “So, do you go to Europe, like, every weekend?” Answer: no. While we wish we went to Paris, Istanbul, and Riga on the regular, the reality is that traveling is expensive. Sure, flights are dirt-cheap with Easy Jet, but usually, the airports are 50 km from the city and the hotels cost more per night than we make in a week.
Luckily, we’ve found a solution to that last bit. We’ve uncovered a whole new crop of hotels and hidden gems across the globe that are not only cool, slick, and stylish, but also — wait for it — affordable. Ahead, find nine must-visit spots that subscribe to the belief that less is more, minimalist is cool, and nightly stays shouldn’t break your bank.
The Cullen, Melbourne
(Courtesy: The Cullen)
In a city as culturally rich as Melbourne, it comes as no surprise that there’s a number of super-cool, super-slick hotels. The Cullen is one of the most affordable of the bunch. Developed as an homage to the late artist Adam Cullen (you can consider him the Damien Hirst of Australian art), it’s über-artsy throughout, peppered with his colorful, cartoonish works. Alongside the 119 rooms — complete with kitchenettes — there’s a 24-hour gym, a yoga deck, two restaurants, and a bar. One of our favourite features of the hotel is the pre-loaded iPods that come in each room. Plus, for just $5 a day, guests can rent sleek Swedish Kronan bicycles for exploring the city in style.
The Cullen, 164 Commercial Road, Prahran, Melbourne; +61 3 9098 1555.
Mama Shelter, Paris
(Courtesy: Mama Shelter)
When you visit a city famous for its haute couture and fine dining, a dwindling bank account upon your return is predictable. But, thanks to Mama Shelter, luxury accommodations needn’t cost you the Earth. Having fast become a site of pilgrimage for international hotel junkies, the brand sets the standard for high-end affordable with its Philippe Starck-designed interiors, functional-yet-arty details, and kitschy accents. The rooms even have Batman night lights … need we say more? The hotel, which is situated in Paris’ 20th arrondissement, is also home to Mama’s Pizzeria, Chic Chic Bar, a yoga room, and a rooftop terrace with hammocks. And, if Paris isn’t on the itinerary, Mama Shelter also has hotels in Istanbul, Lyon, Marseilles, and Bordeaux — an excuse to tour Europe, perhaps?
Mama Shelter, 109 Rue de Bagnolet, Paris; +33 1 43 48 48 48.
Hotel Habita MTY, Monterrey
(Courtesy: Habita Monterrey)
Rooftop pools don’t come cheap. And, yet, at Mexico’s Hotel Habita MTY, it seems they do. Two rooftop pools and a rooftop bar offer seriously impressive 360-degree views of the city, and vistas that reach out to the Sierra Madre mountains. With its smart-yet-raw urban aesthetic — think moody blacks and whites — Habita looks like something that could only exist in the pages of a magazine. But, we assure you, it’s real, and located in the fashionable district of Monterrey in Northern Mexico. There are even Xbox 360 consoles in each of the 38 rooms. And, the striking mosaic in the lobby cements its red-hot “design hotel” status.
Hotel Habita MTY, Avenue José Vasconcelos No. 150 Oriente, San Pedro Garza Garcia, Monterrey; + 52 (55) 5282 2199.
Moxy Milan proves that artsy plus chic doesn’t have to equal expensive. Far surpassing most airport hotels we’ve ever seen, this new spot from Marriott focuses on Gen-Y, technology, and refined design — without losing sight of the comfort factor. In the lobby, guests can kick back and read a book from the hotel’s library; the Living Room offers a buzzier vibe, with bright color accents, eclectic furnishings, and #tunes. From the 42-inch TVs to the floor-to-ceiling art walls, the rooms strive to marry style and technology for those on a shoestring budget.
Moxy, Milan Malpensa Airport, Terminal 2; +39 02 9475 7100.
Witt Istanbul Hotel, Istanbul
(Courtesy: Witt Istanbul Hotel)
In a city filled with hotels that drip with decadence, Witt Istanbul Hotel appears refreshingly stripped-back. Its beautiful suites feature contemporary furniture, monochromatic color palettes, knock-you-for-six shower heads, and mirror-brick walls. The sharp design of the kitchenettes will inspire long-term decorating dreams, and in the lobby, a communal iMac sets the tone — as does the well-organized bookshelf, packed with international design books and historical local city guides. Though it’s not finished quite yet, the seventh-floor roof terrace offers unbeatable views of the city that stretch right over the Bosphorus — you know, so you can wave hello to Asia!
Witt Istanbul Hotel; Kılıçali Paşa Mh., Defterdar Yokuşu No: 26; +90 212 293 1500.
K West Hotel & Spa, London
(Courtesy: K West)
Good vibes, great rooms, prime location, and a top-notch spa. Staycation, anyone? K West has it all — besides the sky-high price tag. Located in Shepherd’s Bush near the city’s go-to districts of Notting Hill, Portobello Road, and Kensington, K West stands out as a dynamic, modern glass building. The 220 guestrooms are all spacious and stylish, with giant beds, calming hues, sofas, and flat-screen TVs. The bathrooms are even better, stocked with Aromatherapy Associates toiletries and Philippe Starck-designed baths. Along with the on-site bar (which competes with the rest of the city’s nightlife and stays open late), K West’s holistic spa is a space to behold, with its twinkling hydrotherapy pool, sauna, herbal steam room, and Snow Paradise experience (a Finnish concept that flicks between freezing and steamy environments).
K West, Richmond Way, London; +44 20 8008 6600.
Hotel Le Marais, New Orleans
(Courtesy: Hotel Le Marais)
Tucked away in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Hotel Le Marais is an affordable and luxury find. After undergoing a major overhaul in 2010, the 66 guest rooms are all elegantly furnished with dark-wood, plush down comforters, arty pictures, desks, and en-suite bathrooms with walk-in showers. While the lobby contrasts with the rest of the hotel, with its bright lights and bold colors, outside, it’s back to serenity, thanks largely to the natural seawater pool, which is sheltered by high walls and trees that offer privacy.
Hotel Le Marais, 717 Conti Street, New Orleans; 504-525-2300.
Room Mate Aitana, Amsterdam
(Courtesy: Room Mate Aitana)
Right from the onset, Aitana looks good. (And, at night, all lit up, it looks even better.) Built in 2013 on the man-made island on the river IJ, its dynamic, irregular polygon shape dominates the area skyline. There are 284 guest rooms, each with en-suites, 37-inch TVs, desks, and giant beds that are just asking to be bounced on. Floor-to-ceiling windows make for bright and airy rooms, many offering epic views across the city, and all boasting bold, contemporary colors. While functionality comes first, design comes a very close second — and prices remain miraculously low.
Room Mate Aitana, IJDok 6, 1013 MM Amsterdam; 0031 (0) 20 89 14 800.
The Grand Daddy Hotel, Cape Town
With a rooftop Airstream trailer park positioned against the impressive backdrop of Table Mountain, the Grand Daddy Hotel is the epitome of effortless-cool. The rest of the hotel is just as appealing, with spacious, plush sleeping quarters and luxury marble bathrooms that will make you pray for a late checkout.
The Grand Daddy Hotel, 38 Long Street, Cape Town; +27 21 424 7247.
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