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Domaine de Verchant, Castelnau-le-Lez 

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France 34170
Tel: 33 4 67 07 26 00
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From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:

With the opening of the 20-room Domaine de Verchant, the area around the sun-kissed ancient southern city of Montpellier finally has a hotel that shows off its edgy Latin style and joie de vivre. Working with architect Raymond Morel, who did the Murano hotel in Paris, owners Chantal and Pierre Mestre have transformed this handsome nineteenth-century limestone manor house into a superb showcase of contemporary European design, including furniture from Poltrona Frau, Casa Milano, Bellato, and other makers, and this contrast between old and new really sizzles. Rooms are individually decorated and come with great fittings like electrically operated draperies, lighting on dimmer switches, in-room computers, CD/DVD players with Bose speakers, and huge open baths with oversized showers and Ermenegildo Zegna toiletries. A well-equipped gym, to open in September, overlooks the free-form pool and the surrounding vineyards that produce the hotel's own wines. A spa will also open at the same time, and a restaurant is in the works.

—2008 Hot List

When to go: May and June, when the weather is great but the tourist crowds haven't shown up yet.

Which room to book: Blossomtime, on the third floor, has a heated Jacuzzi on a private rooftop terrace.

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