Big chain hotels are convenient and consistent, but they can be borrrrrring (not to mention expensive). And guesthouses and bed-and-breakfasts have for too long come with the risk of being surrounded by doilies, tea cozies, and chatty, nosy hostesses. Airbnb? Buyer beware. Thankfully, a new breed of lodgings is taking root. Tiny scale, high design, and neighborhood connections are the hallmarks of this cool crop of micro hotels in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. Bonus: They’re easy on the wallet too. Most of the 10 on this list come in with starting rates under $150 a night.
Urban Cowboy, Brooklyn
Urban cowboy cool in Brooklyn. (Photo: Urban Cowboy)
The cool kids who live in east Williamsburg only wish their domiciles were as cool as this five-room “modern luxury” B&B in a renovated townhouse. The vibe is industrial Williamsburg–meets–the Adirondacks–meets–cowboy sensibility, and the layout is a boon: four bedrooms above an open parlor floor with operable garage doors, a potbelly stove, and wide-plank pine floors. There’s a also private cabin and a hot tub in the backyard.
Royal Street Inn, New Orleans
Talk about the Big Easy. (Photo: Royal Street Inn)
Only in New Orleans: a bed & beverage. There’s no breakfast, but you get a free cocktail at the bar downstairs when you arrive. The Royal Street Inn’s five rooms are stylish and slightly naughty — the attic La Serena suite, with its open-plan bathroom (the website warns body-conscious types away), is billed as the room to rent when you “want to get up to stuff that just isn’t anybody else’s business.” The sexy Storyville suite is recommended for “celebrating your honeymoon, getting over your divorce with Old Mr. Corn, or simply making the acquaintance of a new special friend.”
Longman & Eagle, Chicago
Small but chic in Chicago. (Photo: Clayton Hauck)
Up above an “occasionally raucous, often whiskey-fueled tavern” of the same name in Logan Square, Longman & Eagle has six guest rooms with confident, playful points of view. One has a violet duvet on the queen bed and the words The End boldly emblazoned on the wall behind it, while another has site-specific art by big-deal artists Margaret Durow and Stephen Eichhorn. All have vintage Fisher Price cassette consoles and mix tapes (we are not making this up), along with the requisite Apple TV, Netflix, and free Wi-Fi.
Hotel Covell, Los Angeles
You’d never know there was a bar downstairs at the Hotel Covell. (Photo: Hotel Covell)
Talk about high concept. This five-room hotel above a bar in Los Feliz (see a theme here?) occupies a 1920s Spanish-colonial building. The owners had a good time with the theme: Each room depicts a “chapter” in the life of the fictional character George Covell, such as his childhood in Oklahoma and his starving artist days in Paris.
Les 3 Chambres, Paris
A very theatrical Paris perch. (Photo: Yoan Chevojon)
It figures that the proprietor of Les 3 Chambres is a lighting designer for the theater. Theatrical is the word that best describes his chic three-room B&B in the 9th arrondissement, a 10-minute walk from Gare du Nord and Montmartre. The place truly feels like a home, with bold colors, textiles, and shapes; family heirlooms and treasures from local antique shops — and iPod docks, Aesop toiletries, and strong showers. As for breakfast, think freshly baked brioche with homemade jams.
Alice Inn, Athens
Greece is the word at the Alice Inn. (Photo: Alice Inn Athens)
Sweet, simple, and lovely, Greece’s Alice Inn feels like a private home in a great neighborhood, near Stygmata Square, the Acropolis, and the main shopping streets of Athens. Created by an longtime Athenian with a background for design and a knack for making guests feel like insiders, the townhouse contains four “micro-apartments” with themes like Anthony Quinn and the Mighty Aphrodite.
Just one amazing room in Zurich. (Photo: Milchbar)
This new, one-room hotel (opened earlier this year) operates following a novel concept: It’s rented by auction. Why should visitors raise their virtual paddle? The location is easy — above a cool café-bar on the Bahnhofstrasse (the city’s main shopping street) — and the design is eye popping. Think full-wall murals and lots of mirrors.
La Perla Bed & Breakfast, Buenos Aires
Beautiful in B.A. (Photo: La Perla Bed & Breakfast Buenos Aires)
In a century-old apartment building near San Telmo and Plaza de Mayo, a young, multilingual couple run the sweet, homey La Perla. (She’s from Argentina; he’s from Holland and speaks four languages.) Seven pretty guest rooms are spread over two floors, linked by checkerboard floor and graceful wrought-iron bannisters. The owners love to point guests toward the best of B.A. and take them to a tango dancing session at a milonga every Friday.
Las Clementinas, Panama City
Your home away from home in Panama City. Photo: Las Clementinas
A quiet haven in the most charming, UNESCO-protected section of newly booming Panama City, Las Clementinas occupies a lovingly restored apartment. The six big suites were originally family apartments, so they retain that feeling and scale — they easily sleep four adults. Not traveling with an entourage? There are standard and deluxe rooms for solo travelers or couples.
Casa el Carretero, Cartagena
Colombia cool at Casa el Carretero. (Photo: Casa el Carretero)
While most tourists still want to be within the walls of the UNESCO-honored old city, the real creative energy of Cartagena has shifted just beyond those walls, into the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Getsamani. The three-room Casa el Carretero is a traditional Spanish-colonial house decorated with Indonesian flourishes, with a perfectly dreamy pool on the roof.
WATCH: Go Now: The New Seventh Wonder of the World — That’s Empty
Let Yahoo Travel inspire you every day. Hang out with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Check out our original adventure travel series A Broad Abroad. To learn more about Yahoo Travel’s travel policy please click here.