Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Top 10 Value Hotels 2005

When it comes to good value, we’re talking about more than just the amount of money you spend. We’re talking about what you get for your money, beginning with location, style and service. Sure you can always find a great deal on a groovy little bungalow in a place like Costa Rica or Thailand. And the Four Seasons and The Ritz-Carlton properties consistently deliver bang for the buck, no matter how high the rates. But we’ve decided to focus on some reasonably priced hotels offering plenty of flair in high rent locales such as the Caribbean and New York City. If you want the inside scoop on stylish won’t-break-the-bank lodgings in Paris, Sydney, Mexico and more, read on.


Los Angeles

Farmer's Daughter

This cozy little motel is a reminder that Los Angeles is a city beyond definition. Forget Hollywood glitz. The Farmer's Daughter is all about country charm … and superb location. Family run, it has been an insider favorite for over thirty years. It sits across the street from the landmark Farmer’s Market and The Grove outdoor shopping complex, making it one of the few lodgings in town where you can grab a bite to eat, catch a movie and even watch locals sing some karaoke, all without getting in a car. It may not be fully loaded with five-star amenities, but a remodel gave it a very fun, country kitsch style; all the rooms come with high-speed Internet access, suites have kitchenettes, there’s a small pool in the courtyard, and the price—just like the television show filmed at CBS a few steps away—is right.

The Clinton

Miami’s South Beach seems to be home to more hip hotels per capita than any other enclave in America. And in most cases, partaking of this scene comes at a premium price. That’s why The New Clinton Hotel & Spa is such a treasure for those seeking maximum vibe for minimum buck. Opened in 2004 in a historic Art Deco building, this contemporary property has been completely redone on the inside and features the very urban Panico Salon & Spa, Aïgo serving French-influenced seafood dishes, and even a requisite martini bar. Dim recessed lighting sets the mood in the cool blue lobby, and rooms are fully loaded with flat-screen TVs, high-speed Internet and CD libraries. Staying here also gets you free access to select local clubs.

New York
The Lucerne

When it comes to New York neighborhoods, the Upper West Side is prime real estate. From this landmark hotel—it was built in 1903—it’s just two blocks to Central Park and a quick stroll to local faves like Zabar’s. Gazing over the Hudson River, all of the rooms and suites of The Lucerne are decorated in traditional American style (no sharp, unfriendly angles here) and come with web TV and 24-hour room service; the suites also have kitchenettes. There’s also a concierge and rooftop fitness center with great views. The service is outstanding, and we’re fond of Nice Matin, the onsite French-Mediterranean bistro. This is a good choice for families, since the rooms are large, and kids under 16 stay free with their folks.

Hotel Lucia

Okay, we admit it, Portland isn’t the most expensive city in America. Far from it. But it is one of the coolest, if you happen to be in the know. When you come to town, there’s really only one place to stay: the Hotel Lucia. This arty property bows to the trend-setting ways of Schrager and Balazs, but since this is the northwest, you’re apt to find the pace a little slower and the service a little—dare we say—warmer. The hundred very stylish rooms come with pillow-top mattresses, Aveda bath goodies and Torrefazione coffee—a regional favorite. And a nice personal touch is a permanent collection of photographs by Pulitzer Prize winner, David Hume Kennerly. Better yet, 24-hour room service is offered from Typhoon, the Thai restaurant (which also serves Western fare) next door.

San Francisco
Petit Auberge

Looking for just the right place to leave your heart—rather than your pocketbook—in San Francisco? Petit Auberge is a delightfully romanticized interpretation of a French country inn, tucked between Nob Hill and Union Square. It’s a member of the Joie de Vivre hotel group, which can be counted on for its fresh style, reasonable rates and little extras such as staff-authored custom guides to the city, complimentary gourmet breakfast (served in the basement level breakfast room whose French doors open onto a small garden) and afternoon wine hour; in this case, serving good California vintages. The 26 rooms may not be large, but they’re pretty, with earth-colored floor tiles, delicately flowered wallpaper and painted wood wainscoting; many have fireplaces, and the suite has its own entrance and deck.



Ravesi’s Hotel

As Australia’s most cosmopolitan city, Sydney is filled with swanky lodgings that are both chic and expensive. While Ravesi’s Hotel fits the first description, it graciously sidesteps the second. Situated right on Bondi Beach, this contemporary property offers sixteen rooms, including six split-level suites with private terraces, all overlooking sand and surf. In fact, when you wake in the morning, you can draw the curtains to sea views and then step outside and take a walk on the beach. The minimalist style is sophisticated and discreet, highlighted by such adornments as African tribal wall hangings. With its popular bar and restaurant terrace, this isn’t always the quietest place. But being in the thick of it—and getting a good deal, to boot—can be a lot of fun.



Hotel Britannique

Character is the defining trait at this charming boutiquey Hotel Britannique, which is located just off the historic Place du Châtelet. The lobby is filled with fresh flowers, and the décor leans toward a classic but definitely lived-in home in the English countryside. Complimentary breakfast—complete with fresh squeezed orange juice—is served in the cozy breakfast room, and a friendly staff adds to the warmth. As for the bedrooms, each has its own charms, from flower box-bedecked windows to balconies to sloped ceilings. Unlike in many small Parisian hotels, rooms also have Wi-Fi access and flat-screen TVs. From here it’s an easy stroll to the Louvre, Les Halles, the Marais, Saint-Germain-des-Près and the Latin Quarter.




Long a seducer of rock stars and supermodels, the Caribbean has naturally spawned its fair share of outrageously exclusive properties. It has also produced oodles of the alternative: kitschy, all-inclusive resorts. Fortunately, bucking the genres, there is Rockhouse, a gorgeous little property poised along a cliff on Pristine Cove just outside Negril, Jamaica. The standard rooms are deliciously cheerful, and the freestanding villas boast wraparound terraces. All accommodations are built from timber, stone and thatch as part of the resort’s environmentally sensitive policies. From the sixty-foot horizon pool to a yoga studio to the restaurant serving “new Jamaican cuisine” on a balcony suspended over the water, the cliff setting provides drama at every turn. Ladders and stairs carved into rocks lead down to the water, for reef snorkeling and kayaking in the cove.



Villa Amor

You can’t throw a stone in Mexico these days without hitting a fancy new resort. The bigger and more expensive the better, it seems. But the attraction of this country has always been its rustic elegance, which is captured at the Villa Amor. We’re not all that fond of the name, but the 32 private villas are another story. Just steps from the beach, all have beautiful open-air designs, terraces and Pacific views; others also come with plunge pools, and one is even built around a tree and outdoor pool with fountains. Included in the excellent rates is complimentary use of kayaks, snorkel and fishing gear, boogie boards, surfboards and bicycles—to find out what to do with all this stuff, just ask the beachfront concierge. While there isn’t a restaurant, an onsite chef can tend to any culinary requests.


Cape Town

The Glencairn Hotel

Originally built as a private residence in 1904 by Scottish architect, John Parker, The Glencairn Hotel positions you perfectly for exploring the Cape — you're within an hour of Cape Town City, the Winelands and Cape Point Nature Reserve. The beachfront setting is also surrounded by hiking and biking trails. The hotel has been fully restored, from its original façade to its period features. The eight tastefully decorated en-suite bedrooms all have wooden floors, high ceilings and great views. Although you won't find a business center, spa and all that, you will get personality in the form of The Bay Café on Glen, The Glen Pub, pétanque pistes and a fun photo collection of South African musicians from the 1950s.

(Updated: 10/19/12 KK)

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