Five Best: European city hotels

1. Avalon Hotel, Gothenburg

This new offering has vast expanses of light-coloured wood, ceilings of differing heights and lots of jutting angles. Bathrooms come with two huge sinks, there are fresh orchids in every room and postcard-perfect city views from the rooftop pool. This 101-room, three-suite hotel is right in the city centre, near the lovely 19th-century Saluhallen Food Hall. Bright colours, clean lines and lots of natural light make this the quintessential modern Scandinavian hotel. A gourmet restaurant and wine-tasting room confirm it as something of a destination in itself.

Avalon Hotel, Kungstorget 9, Gothenburg, Sweden (0046 31 751 02 00; Doubles from £95

2. Hotel Arts, Barcelona

It's worth staying at the Hotel Arts just for the check-in experience. As you walk to the desk, you're presented with a glass of champagne before there's time even to give your name. Huge arrangements of flowers are at every turn, and the response of staff to any and every request is a uniform: "perfect". And it pretty much is, in terms of comfort and location. Although it's set right on Barcelona's beach, you can decline to leave the hotel at all and sunbathe on the roof by the outdoor swimming pool and work your way through a long menu of cocktails. This height affords excellent views of the city. And while Barcelona has myriad delicious eateries, you shouldn't leave without eating at the hotel's Arola restaurant: modern tapas to swoon over.

Hotel Arts, Carrer de la Marina 19-21, Barcelona, Spain (0034 93 551 30 00; www. Doubles from £385

3. Hard Days Night Hotel, Liverpool

It may have opened only yesterday but the new £20m Beatles-themed hotel is too good to resist. Each of the 110 rooms of this boutique hotel – located in a listed building near the Cavern pub in the old merchant district of the new European City of Cultural Liverpool's old merchant district – will feature a specially commissioned work by the Beatles artist Shannon. The Lennon and McCartney suites come with their own unique design features including a white piano and a knight's suit of armour, an abstract reference to Sir Paul. Yes, it's a theme hotel, and yes, there will be merchandise, but overall the muted colours and subtle Sixties design lend an unexpected degree of sophistication.

Hard Days Night Hotel, 41 North John St, Liverpool (0151-236 1964; www.harddays Doubles from £170

4. Villa Laetitia, Rome

Another new kid on the historic block, this one bringing something unique to Rome's hotel scene: affordability. Unlike many of the boutique offerings in the Eternal City, this 15-room gem in an Art Nouveau mansion house on the Tiber rings in at barely three figures for a night's stay. Designed by Anna Fendi (she of the fashion dynasty) and daughters, every room is unique, decorated with antique tiles and arty finds collected by Fendi on her travels – such as a tempera painting by her friend Karl Lagerfeld. Each room has a kitchenette, there's a solarium and swanky services include dog-sitting, baby-sitting, in-room massage, personal trainer and personal shopper. A bijou bargain.

Villa Laetitia, Lungotevere delle Armi 22/23, Rome, Italy (0039 06 322 6776; Doubles from €150 (£112)

5. Hotel Amour, Paris

Hotel Amour has no mod-cons (no TVs, minibars or phones in the bedrooms), but a combination of flea-market furnishings and décor by artists such as Sophie Calle and graphic designers M/M (Paris) make this a very buzzy place to bed down. This 20-room hotel in Pigalle is fronted by a trio of nightclub owners, including the graffiti artist/entrepreneur Monsieur André. From the vintage glamour magazines scattered in the lounge to photos by Terry Richardson, this hotel reeks of rock'*'roll. For the real performer, there are open-plan rooms where the bath is at the end of the bed. That you can rent rooms by the half-day only adds to the pseudo-seedy pleasure of it all.

Hotel Amour, 8 rue Navarin, Paris, France (0033 1 48 78 31 80; Doubles from €90 (£67)