updated 7/31/2008 2:14:46 PM ET 2008-07-31T18:14:46

Book by: ASAP
Travel by: Various through 2008

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The Deal
If you're like us, you want your hotel to be as memorable as your vacation. That's why we've rounded up some of the world's coolest new design hotels, where you'll find suave rooms in first-rate properties like a Regency-era townhouse in London, a former water purification plant in Mexico, a boho-chic enclave in New York's Lower East Side, and more. Each of these trendy hotels showcases a distinctive style that's truly worth the splurge, with rooms from $175/night.

The Bowery Hotel, New York
One of New York’s latest openings, The Bowery Hotel in Manhattan’s trendy Lower East Side is a unique property. According to The New York Times, “the hotel evokes the Gilded Age of red waistcoats, hand-set bricks and wood-paneled elevators. And the views from the upper floors are positively grand.” The on-premise Gemma restaurant offers a cozy candlelit ambience. Units start at $425/night.

La Purificadora, Mexico
Housed in a historic water purification plant, this stylish boutique hotel in Mexico’s Puebla features a string of minimalist guestrooms, a rooftop bar and a glass-walled swimming pool. Concierge.com writes, “The hotel, comprised of 26 rooms named after the letters of the alphabet, is an amalgam of old and new, a trend that goes hand in hand with the industry's move toward historic preservation and "recycling." Units start at $175/night.

Haymarket Hotel, London
Right at the heart of London’s theater district, this designer townhouse showcases a 60-foot swimming pool in the basement, lit by a changing wall installation and surrounded by stylish seating areas. Each of the 50 rooms and suites is individually designed. The New York Times writes, “The bedrooms are surprisingly – stunningly – large by London standards, with furnishings that are a mix of modern pieces and antiques.” Rooms start at $480/night.

Fasano Rio Hotel, Rio de Janeiro
Four years after turning heads in Sao Paulo's Jardins neighborhood, the fashionable Fasano Hotel has launched a Philippe Starck-designed outpost in the heart of Rio's Ipanema Beach. Opened in August 2007, Starck's sleek habitat is composed of four basic elements: wood, glass, marble, and steel. Modernist Brazilian furnishings from the '50s and '60s evoke Rio's halcyon bossa nova heyday while flat-screen TVs and wireless phones give the 92-room hotel a 21st-century twist. All rooms feature sliding-glass doors that open onto terraces with courtyard or ocean views (even the showers have sightlines to the sea). The hotel's public spaces—rooftop swimming pool and steam room included— conspire to create the Southern Hemisphere's hottest scene. Rooms start from $450 on August weekdays ($500 in September and October).

Liberty Hotel, Boston
Boston’s long-defunct Charles Street Jail, built in 1851, was reborn in late summer 2007 as The Liberty Hotel, a 298-room luxury property with interiors by Alexandra Champalimaud, the A-list designer behind New York’s Algonquin, Pierre, and Carlyle hotels. Situated at the foot of Beacon Hill, the stone cruciform building—which retains its historic catwalks and 90-foot central rotunda—is joined by a new 16-story tower housing the majority of guestrooms. Indulge in guilty pleasures in preserved cells at the lobby’s “jail” bar, then relax in rooms with touch-screen VOIP phones, flatscreen TVs, and views of the bustling Charles River.Snag rates from $355 in August, before fall foliage season (and prices from $550/night) kick in.

Hotel 71, Quebec City
This sleek boutique hotel in the heart of Quebec City's historic Lower Town (Basse Ville) may be one of the oldest on our list (it was already getting noticed in 2006), but it's still one of the youngest upstarts in this 400-year-old city. Set in a converted century-old National Bank of Canada building, the 40 well-designed rooms boast soaring ceilings, smashing rooftop or river views, and contemporary amenities like DVD player with surround sound, hardwood floors, and black-tile bathrooms. It's also a more affordable overnight than the nearby ultra-luxe Auberge St-Pierre. Rates start at $270/night through October 31.

Hotel Screen, Kyoto
Strong on sustainability, this eco-deluxe hotel in Japan’s Kyoto features the so-called Candle Night once a week, when the electricity is turned off and candles are lit to conserve energy. Concierge.com writes, “Hotel Screen in Kyoto has 13 rooms, each created by a different artist or designer, whose visions range from the all black-and-orange Screen Suite to the Mystic Room, which is based on the idea that lots of white drapes flowing from the ceiling is soothing.” Rooms start at $435/night.

The dollars
We checked rates for midweek stays, as they're often cheaper than weekend stays and don't require a minimum stay, either. That said, do keep an eye out for new fall season promotions in the coming weeks. You may score some great perks as a result.

The catch
Getting to these fabulous cities, of course. Airfare isn't cheap these days! Check our flight deals section for good sales.

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