Best Boutique Hotels Under $150

by Colleen Clark Subscribe to Colleen Clark's posts Posted Jan 17th 2010 12:09 PM


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Best Boutique Hotels Under $150

Restaurants that draw models and celebs. Midcentury design offset by hip street art. Pillow top beds and plasma TVs. These hotel perks used to be the province of break-the-bank properties. But increasingly, boutique hotels are catering to those of us on a budget, offering eco-friendly rooms, quirky design, and personalized service for less than $150 a night. The trend started in hip cities like Portland and San Francisco. But now destinations from Hawaii to New York are offering travelers trendy alternatives to the standard chain hotel fare. Here are our top picks for hotels under $150, from luxe teepees in a desert oasis, to Big Apple digs frequented by fashion editors.

Best Boutique Hotels Under $150

The rate: From $149
The 'hood: The Iron Horse Hotel revs its engines right across the bridge from the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The lowdown: This converted downtown warehouse, complete with black-leather headboards and chandeliers fashioned from motorcycle gears, is for travelers who get high off their hog. Room entryways have foyers with strong hooks for your biker gear, and all the leather and velvet lends the loft-like spaces a truly luxe vibe. Locals sip old-school cocktails in the Branded bar and work on their laptops in the Library café. The Smyth restaurant serves rustic American fare, a hearty welcome after a long day riding the highways (or doing business at the nearby convention center).
When to go: True motorcycle lovers will want to check out the early September bike rally, those just along for the ride would enjoy the temperate weather throughout the summer.
Best room: Even the standard rooms here feel like sprawling suites, so save yourself the cash and skip the upgrades.

500 West Florida Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204

Best Boutique Hotels Under $150

The rate: From $129
The 'hood: Located in downtown Chicago, the Felix puts you within walking distance of iconic attractions like the Sears Tower and the shops lining the Magnificent Mile.
The lowdown: At Chicago's first LEED certified hotel, hybrid owners park for free, design elements come from recycled materials like soda bottles, and in-room motion sensors for heat and lighting reduce energy use. The clean modern design-muted sands and creams with pops of chrome and eggplant-temper the urban edge with a mellow vibe.
When to go: June, when the city comes out of hibernation and explodes in a riot of outdoor concerts and lakeside picnics.
Best room: Book a room on one of the higher floors to score views of downtown.

111 West Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60654

Best Boutique Hotels Under $150

The rate: From $69 a night
The 'hood: Located in the historic neighborhood of Point Loma, you're a block from the harbor and about 10 minutes from the shopping and nightlife in the Gaslamp Quarter.
The lowdown: The Pearl channels vintage Cali-cool with 23 rooms horseshoed around a saltwater swimming pool. Custom walnut platform beds with pillow top mattresses, 32-inch flat-screen TVs, and custom art installations give the rooms a hyper-luxe bachelor pad feel. But the hotel also has loftier aims with art for sale that benefits at-risk youth.
When to go: Stay on a Wednesday to check out The Pearl's Dive-In movies, when guests and locals check out flicks projected on a screen overlooking the vintage saltwater swimming pool.
Best room: Ask for a Strand room with a patio for views of the poolside action below.

1410 Rosecrans Street
San Diego, CA 92106

Best Boutique Hotels Under $150

The rate: From $149
The 'hood: The retro-chic desert outpost sits within walking distance of downtown Palm Springs.
The lowdown: The Ace was one of the early pioneers of budget-chic with its Portland property, but its renovation of a 1965 Howard Johnson motor lodge in California took things to the next level. Design takes cues from the desert surroundings with sand-colored tent canvas walls and outdoor fireplace lounges. Expect Saarinen tables, spa treatments in a yurt, and Middle East-meets-Cali cuisine in the restaurant, which used to be a Denny's.
When to go: Early January hosts movie types for the annual film festival, while bands and music fans party poolside during April's Coachella music festival.
Best room: Rooms in the 100 block have views over the pool to the mountains beyond.

701 E. Palm Canyon Dr
Palm Springs, CA 92264

Best Boutique Hotels Under $150

The rate: From $79 a night
The 'hood: Located right off the Hudson River in the West Village, sandwiched between the Chelsea and the Meatpacking District's restaurants and nightlife.
The lowdown: It's hard enough to get a meal in this neighborhood for less than $100, let alone a hotel room. But NY nightlife maven Sean McPherson wanted to pull in a more diverse crowd when he renovated this historic hotel, which once housed survivors of the Titanic. The tiny rooms-modeled on vintage traincars-require you to share a hallway bathroom, but they also put you in touch with high-fashion types who dine on French Moroccan fare in the hotel's Café Gitane.
When to go: February and September to watch the procession of fashion editors, models and celebs in town for Fashion Week.
Best room: If you're looking to splurge, upgrade to the Captain's Cabin, elegant, turn-of-the-century quarters with private bathrooms.

113 Jane Street
New York, NY 10014

Best Boutique Hotels Under $150

The rate: From $60 a night.
The 'hood: Located in the middle-of-nowhere artists' town of Marfa, Texas.
The lowdown: Marfa finally has a hotel that channels its creative character. The new El Cosmico is a collection of restored Airstream trailers, teepees and yurts in the middle of the Texas desert. Trailers have small kitchens, decks with vintage lounge chairs, and quirky decorative touches like mounted antlers and vintage globe lights. Bamboo floors and cozy futons sit inside igloo-like yurts. And you'll have a private firepit and king-sized mattress if you opt for the teepees. The property has a communal vibe with guests mingling over barbecues, relaxing in the hammock grove and taking in outdoor movies.
When to go: During the May film festival or the rodeo over Memorial Day weekend.
Best room: We'd be hard-pressed to choose, but the Vagabond trailer has a great cedar deck and outdoor shower.

802 North Highland Avenue
Marfa, TX 79843

Best Boutique Hotels Under $150

The rate: From $124 a night
The 'hood: Located across the river from downtown in Portland's up-and-coming East Side.
The lowdown: This converted mid-century motor lodge allows you to tap into Portland's famous indie rock scene with an onsite tattoo parlor, tented outdoor space lit by paper lanterns and outdoor fireplaces, and the adjoining Doug Fir Lounge, the city's most famous music venue. The rooms have large painted and photo murals, mp3 docks for in-room parties, and chalkboard doors to encourage intra-hotel flirting.
When to go: Early fall after the summer heat subsides and before the winter rains set in.
Best room: Request a room far from the bar to ensure that you get a full night's sleep.

800 E. Burnside
Portland, OR 97214

Best Boutique Hotels Under $150

The rate: From $109 a night
The 'hood: Located in the fast-gentrifying SOMA district, you'll have access to galleries, dive bars, and boutiques featuring up-and-coming designers. You'll also be within walking distance of Union Square, City Hall and the Civic Center.
The lowdown: You can feel good (pun intended) about spending your hard-earned dollars on a night at this San Francisco hotel. Platform beds come from reclaimed wood, fleece blankets were fashioned from recycled soda bottles and a vending machine hawks quirky souvenirs such as wallets made from old FedEx envelopes. An orange phone connects you to the philanthropy concierge, who can arrange volunteer opportunities, or you can do good at check out by offsetting your carbon emissions and donating to charities like One Brick and One Laptop Per Child. The 117 rooms have free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and surprise messages written in glow-in-the-dark paint on the ceilings.
When to go: The most temperate weather falls during late spring (April and May) and early fall (September, October).
Best room: Book a room in the main-building. Those in the adjoining building have outdoor hallways that overlook a parking lot.

112 7th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Best Boutique Hotels Under $150

The rate: From $129 a night
The 'hood: The historic building sits a block from the docks at the mouth of the Columbia River in the maritime town of Astoria, Oregon.
The lowdown: This 1925 building used to shelter passengers waiting to board ferries to cross the river into Washington State. It sat vacant for more than four decades, getting a new lease on life in 2009. The lobby pays homage to the hotel's salty past with a chandelier made from heavy ropes, a surrealist seascape painting, and an art installation of objects found during renovation displayed like ship's cargo. Small but bright rooms have clean white-on-white bedding and original pedestal sinks salvaged from the renovation. However you'll need to share bathrooms with others on your hallway.
When to go: During July and August when the temperatures rise and rain subsides.

258 14th St
Astoria, OR 97103

Best Boutique Hotels Under $150

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