Be at the heart of the action in these elegant buildings, says Rhiannon Batten

Lace Market Hotel, Nottingham

Lace Market Hotel, Nottingham

Nottingham was once home to a booming lace industry, but don't expect fussy filigree-edged furnishings inside the Lace Market Hotel. Set within a row of Georgian buildings opposite the city's old courthouse, the Lace Market is strictly contemporary, with dramatically styled rooms (plum and moss-coloured furnishings are offset with clean modern furniture and free-standing baths), well thought-out service and Posturepedic beds. Guests also have the use of the local Holmes Place health club, which was cleverly converted from an old railway station. More hedonistically minded guests can instead head straight to the bar or restaurant.

Lace Market Hotel, 29-31 High Pavement, Nottingham (0115 852 3232; Double rooms from £110, without breakfast

Hotel du Vin, Harrogate

The sexiest hotel in town, the Harrogate branch of the Hotel du Vin chain, is also one of the best. Taking up one of the majestic old buildings that overlook the town's central "stray", or park, there are no surprises here for fans of the concept. The softly lit rooms, each sponsored by a different wine producer, are comfortable, chic and understated, with luxurious but functional bathrooms and subtle sand and aubergine colour schemes. Downstairs is the sociable part, with a purple-hued billiard table and a grand metal-topped bar leading into a busy brasserie. The big question is whether standards will start to slip now that the chain has been sold.

Hotel du Vin, Prospect Place, Harrogate (01423 856800; Double rooms start at £95, without breakfast

Jolyons, Cardiff

Only just opened but already featured in Condé Nast Traveller magazine, Jolyons is set to blossom following the opening of the city's Wales Millennium Centre. The six-room Georgian townhouse hotel is only a few paces away from the new arts venue, and is in the oldest terrace on Cardiff Bay. Unusually, all the rooms are non-smoking. Each boasts opulent furnishings, king-sized beds, wi-fi internet access and some also have views of the bay. Breakfasts are a speciality here, with a nice local twist on the standard fare. There's also a cosy bar, complete with a wood-burning stove.

Jolyons, 5 Bute Crescent, Cardiff Bay (02920 488775: Double rooms from £85, with breakfast

Cotswold House Hotel, Chipping Campden

In effect a country-house hotel masquerading as a townhouse, the aim behind Cotswold House is to provide relaxed, reassuring luxury. Rooms are decked out in stylish but not overly fashionable furnishings in muted shades of heather, green and taupe. All have huge beds, comforting cashmere blankets, "mounds" of pillows and satellite TVs, DVD and CD players. For entertainment there's a choice of two restaurants, sitting rooms stuffed with log fires and a well-stocked cocktail bar. And, if the weather's good, the garden boasts plenty of sunny terraces, or there's the pretty Cotswold town itself to wander around.

Cotswold House Hotel, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire (01386 840330; Double rooms start at £175, including breakfast

The Cadogan, London

Recently revamped by hotel supremo Grace Leo-Andrieu (the artistic power behind the Hotels Lancaster and Montalembert in Paris), the Cadogan is back on the insider's map again. It once played host to the intrigues of both Lillie Langtry and Oscar Wilde (the former used to own the building, while the latter was arrested while staying there). These days, however, you're more likely to spot Hollywood film types and well-heeled authors discreetly disappearing into this late-Edwardian townhouse in the heart of Knightsbridge. Although Leo-Andrieu's trademark style, a kind of sophisticated East-West mix, has been put to good effect in the renovated bedrooms, more traditionally-minded guests can opt for one of the top floor's more country-house-style rooms.

The Cadogan, 75 Sloane Street, London SW1 (020-7235 7141; Doubles start at £245 without breakfast