Next time you're in town, don't stay in a hotel, hire a place of your own. Sophie Lam and Kate Simon offer some recommendations

1 London

1 London

You don't get more central than Trafalgar Square, the location of one of Citadines' four London Apart'hotels. The National Gallery is across the street, Buckingham Palace down the road, and the shopping delights of Covent Garden, Soho, and Oxford and Regent Streets a short walk away. This hybrid residence offers 126 studios, 49 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom apartments, 14 of which are equipped for people with limited mobility. The décor is functional rather than beautiful, but the rooms are well equipped, with satellite TVs, phones, safes and hi-fi systems, plus the convenience of a 24-hour reception and breakfast room. And where else would you have Big Ben as your alarm clock?

Citadines Apart'Hotel (0800-376 3898; www.citadines.com), 18-21 Northumberland Avenue, London WC2. Prices from £75 per night.

2 Edinburgh

Simple but stylish, Aarajura's Royal Mile Apartment, sleeping eight, is set just off Edinburgh's regenerated historic artery of the same name. Right in the heart of the city, you'll be a few steps from the shops, near the controversial new parliament building, and around the corner from Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official Scottish residence. And when you've exhausted all the city's sightseeing options, there's a Sony PlayStation to while away the time.

Aarajura's Royal Mile Apartment (0131-229 6565; www.aarajuraapartments.co.uk), Chessels Court, Canongate, Edinburgh, Scotland. Prices from £350 per week.

3 Prague

Prague isn't short of holiday apartments, but romantic visions of cosy, historic apartments are not always the case - they are often rather small and twee. A short ride out of the city centre brings a breath of fresh air in the form of the designer Andel's Hotel, which opened a block of suites, apartments and penthouses last October. The complex is less than a mile south-west of the centre in the regenerated Smichov district - an industrial area that now includes shiny new malls and the famed Mozart museum. The studios, one-bedroom apartments, duplex apartments and penthouses all come with the latest design and technology, including plasma-screen TVs, DVD players and internet access.

Andel's Suites (00 420 296 889 688; www.andelshotel.com), Stroupez Nickeho 21, Smichov, Prague, Czech Republic. Prices from €175 (£125) per night.

4 Dublin

Few apartments can claim to have once housed a recording studio used by U2. But in a previous incarnation, the huge open-plan sitting room of The Temple Bar Penthouse, with its four-metre-high ceilings, offered such a space. This modern three-bedroom apartment, sleeping six, provides sanctuary from the bustling cultural scene below. Most of Dublin's attractions are on your doorstep and you can stock up at the nearby food market for al fresco dinners on its private, rooftop garden, which offers panoramic views of the city.

Available through Adams & Butler (00 353 1 660 7975; www.irishluxury.com). Prices from €885 (£632) for three nights.

5 Milan

If you're going shop in the fashion capital of the world, then you'll probably want a pied-à-terre to match. Milanosuites has a portfolio of bolt-holes in the heart of the city, including in the fashionable Brera district with its galleries and museums. The one-bedroom Suite Excell is suitably grand with wooden flooring, chandeliers and plush furniture and is a short walk from the Quadrilatero d'Oro where all the designer shops and boutiques can be found. Other suites range from studios to two-bedroom apartments.

Suite Excell (00 39 02 8909 6849; www.milanosuites.it), via San Tomaso, Brera, Milan, Italy. Prices from €215 (£154) per night including mini-bar; minimum stay, two nights.

6 Paris

Immerse yourself in Parisian chic in a Pad-a-Terre bolt-hole. The company has a portfolio of six properties dotted around the capital, ranging from penthouses in 17th-century buildings to chic, modern spaces. One of the apartments, "Louvre", is, as its name suggests, a stone's throw from Paris's most famous art gallery, in a building that has been sumptuously decorated and restored sympathetically, keeping many of its original beams. A touch of class: guests also have access to a small library.

Louvre Pad-a-Terre apartment (00 33 6 23 04 09 16; www.pad-a-terre.com), 5 rue Montmartre, Paris, France. Prices from €1,200 (£857) per week; minimum stay one week.

7 Barcelona

Whether this is your first or your tenth trip to Barcelona, El Born, aka La Ribera, should be on your list of must-sees. This former fishermen's quarter is now populated by chic boutiques, bars and restaurants. It is also home to more than 30 apartments managed by a new company called IntoBarcelona. Choose from studios and one- and two-bedroom flats set in 18th- and 19th-century buildings, recently converted with contemporary interiors and all mod cons. Innovative services include activity packages, from learning Catalan cooking to pampering sessions. You can also order breakfast in bed and book a babysitter.

Prices from £70 per night. For bookings, contact www.intobarcelona.com

8 Rome

It's probably the most famous apartment building in Rome, and for good reason. Number 26 Piazza di Spagna was designed by the architect of the Spanish Steps, Francesco de Sanctis, and once provided a roof for Keats, Shelley, Byron and a host of other great writers. Following an appeal for funds by the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association, British organisation The Landmark Trust did a deal whereby they restored an apartment on the third floor, sleeping four, to its condition in around 1800 and now lets it to visitors.

26 Piazza di Spagna, Rome. For bookings, contact The Landmark Trust (01628 825925; www.land marktrust.org.uk). Prices from £240 per night; minimum stay three nights.

9 Berlin

In the bohemian district of Prenzlauer Berg, north-east of the centre, these beautiful apartments and suites are set away from the noise of Berlin's tourist spots but are still close enough for you to explore the city by foot.

Before 1989, Prenzlauer Berg was on the Soviet side of the Berlin Wall, a hotbed of art, music and politics, all still an important part of life there today. The 25 Ackselhaus apartments are set in a restored, 19th-century building overlooking a communal garden, furnished with modern and antique pieces, with internet access.

Ackselhaus (00 49 30 44 33 76 33; www.ackselhaus.de), Belforter Strasse 21, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, Germany. Prices from €77 (£55) per night.

10 Amsterdam

Pied à Terre Properties' apartment on the Singel Canal, one of this city's famed waterways, is a typical tall, slim, Dutch townhouse. Divided into smart, bright apartments, you won't fail to be impressed by the communal hallway with its stucco work and chandeliers. The Old Centre, Dam Square and the Royal Palace are all within walking distance and when you weary of sightseeing, enjoy wonderful views of the city through the apartment's large south-facing windows.

Singel 283 (00 31 20 625 5195; www.piedaterreproperties.com), Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Prices from €185 (£132) per night; minimum stay three nights.

11 Cape Town

Village and Life has a handful of upmarket rental properties in Cape Town's hottest spots. A cluster of these can be found at Brighton Court, conveniently located in Camp's Bay, the trendy beach district, home to many of the city's chic restaurants and bars. Number 9 Brighton Court is a sleek, modern, first-floor studio with a balcony offering views of the Twelve Apostles mountains that provide a dramatic backdrop to the neighbourhood.

Brighton Court (00 27 21 438 0066; www.villageandlife.co.za), Camp's Bay, Cape Town, South Africa. Prices from R800 (£70) per night.

12 Vancouver

Spread across three turn-of-the-century houses, The Pillow Suites are 10 minutes' walk from downtown Vancouver. There are six one-, two- and three-bedroom boutique apartments, the most interesting being Maya, a one-bedroom apartment furnished with Latin American artefacts. You'll also find a sofa-bed in the living room, so you could squeeze in a family.

Maya Pillow Suite (001 604 879 8977; www.pillow.net), 2875 Manitoba Street, Vancouver City Hall district, British Columbia, Canada. Prices from C$105 (£45) per night based on two sharing, additional guests C$15 (£6.50) per night; minimum stay five nights.

13 Hong Kong

Causeway Bay is likely to be high on the list of destinations for many tourists in Hong Kong, not only for all its shops but also Victoria Park - a rare glimpse of green in the frenetic high-rise city. The JIA boutique apartments, which opened in March 2004, are the work of design guru Philippe Starck, so expect stylish, clean white interiors with a few unusual surprises. The apartments come in studio, one-bedroom and penthouse formats, with hotel amenities such as luxury Kiehls toiletries, valet laundry and broadband internet access.

JIA Hong Kong Apartments (00 852 3196 9000; www.jiahongkong.com), 1-5 Irving Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China. Prices from HK$1,237 (£85) per night, with breakfast and a cocktail in the evening.

14 Sydney

The Darling Harbour and Chinatown districts were given a new lease of life for Sydney's bicentennial in 1988 and continue to enjoy a thriving tourist trade.

Visitors will find modern architecture, numerous tourist attractions, such as the Sydney Fish Market and Australian Maritime Museum, and great nightlife.

The Pacific International Apartments are situated right in the heart of the district and offer a contemporary bolthole for tourists in the form of stylish studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments.

Pacific International Apartments (02920 332454; www.pacificinthotels.com), 653 George Street, Sydney, Australia. Prices from A$300 (£120) per night.

15 New York

Stay in Henry James's New York in the historic Chelsea district of lower Manhattan. North American Vacation Homes has properties across the US including four locations in New York City. The 777 Sixth Avenue Apartments are located between 26th and 27th Streets in this now trendy district, and have large glass windows overlooking one of the world's most iconic skylines. As befits such a style-conscious city, the apartments are all ultra-modern and spacious and ideally located near the restaurants, bars and shops of Greenwich Village and SoHo.

777 Sixth Avenue Apartments, New York City, USA. Enquiries through Travel 4 (0141-354 2440; www.travel4.com). Prices from £156 per night; minimum stay two nights.

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