updated 12/3/2008 9:50:57 AM ET 2008-12-03T14:50:57

Book by: ASAP
Travel by: Through Spring 2009

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The deal
Budget hotels get a bad rap. Most of us think of boring cookie-cutter rooms that offer nothing more than a comfortable place to sleep. But, you don't always have to sacrifice style to save. We've scouted out five boutique hotels with some serious personality, not to mention seriously affordable price tags. From an art gallery-cum-boutique hotel in San Francisco to a retro-chic Catskill mountain inn to a motel turned hipster hub in Beverly Hills, these smart digs afford memorable overnights for the penny-wise with rates as low as $69/night.

Hotel Des Arts (San Francisco) from $69/night
Ideally located in between San Francisco’s Union Square and the Financial District, the ultra-hip Hotel Des Arts offers unique rooms designed and painted by some of the world’s top emerging artists. The boutique hotel doubles as an art gallery with iconic art installations by Shepard Fairey and Tricia Choi and guestrooms covered with edgy graffiti-inspired designs. Rates for accommodations with a shared bath start at $69/night with complimentary continental breakfast included, or $89/night for a deluxe queen room.

The Roxbury (Catskills) from $90/night
For truly uncommon lodging, try a stay at this offbeat, pop-culture inspired motel in the heart of the scenic Catskill mountain range. Guests of The Roxbury can choose one of the various themed studios, such as Room No. 14, made to resemble the inside of a giant blue box from the world-famous Tiffany’s jewelry store. Aptly named suites like “The Shagadelic” are also available, with 70s-inspired décor, plenty of mirrors, and a zebra patterned couch. Amenities include an onsite spa and cocktail lounge, and room rates start at $90/night. From now through December 18, guests who book two midweek nights in a row will receive a third night free with the Roxbury’s special Fall Fling package.

Hotel San Jose (Austin) from $95/night
Originally built in 1939 as a modern “tourist court,” the urban bungalow-style Hotel San Jose in downtown Austin has had several incarnations over the years, including a period as a brothel frequented by Texan officials. Nowadays, it’s simply a cool place to stay in Austin with unique features like a music library offering a range of Americana selections by CD and ipod, and an onsite bike rental. There’s also free Wi-Fi access and a shaded garden courtyard with vintage chairs. Rates start at $95/night for shared rooms with a shared bath and $160/night for standard rooms with one queen bed. The larger grand standard rooms, located in the hotel’s inner courtyard building, start at $205/night.

Avalon Hotel (Beverly Hills), $219/night
For a stylish but affordable stay in posh Beverly Hills, the 84-room Avalon Hotel offers sophisticated accommodations and a cool hour-glass pool and lounge that attract the chic set. Amenities include an onsite fitness center, in-room spa treatments and massages, and the elegant Blue on Blue patio restaurant, serving up tasty New American cuisine. Classic mid-century Southern California design and custom-designed furnishings by the likes of Charles Eames and Isamu Noguchi add to the slick ambience. Book the Avalon’s special "Ride the Town" package which includes accommodations and the keys to a stylish Audi A4 convertible, a classy Mercedes, or an eco-chic Prius, and goes for $359/night. Regular room rates start at $219/night.

Casa Morada (Florida Keys) from $329/night
Located on a secluded bay in the Florida Keys, the private island resort of Casa Morada offers sixteen elegantly appointed suites with private outdoor terraces. The resort features an oceanfront pool, kayak and bike rental service, complimentary yoga, and continental breakfast daily. Regular rates for suites start at $329/night, or book Casa Morada’s special "Romance package" that includes chilled champagne on arrival, a one-hour couple’s massage, twilight dinner for two, and more, and starts from just $439.

The dollars
Taxes and fees are additional, unless otherwise noted.

The catch
After these inspired accommodations, you might never again want to stay in regular old hotel.

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