In Southern California, the talented team of Brad Korzen (hotelier) and Kelly Wearstler (designer) has come up with a pair of hotels that pull off the rare feat of combining cutting-edge looks with comfort. In this they have had some practice, as anyone who has drooled over the Avalon Hotel and Maison 140 in Beverly Hills will attest. Viceroy, which opened this summer in Santa Monica, is Wearstler's ode to England, with riffs on cameos and caned chairs and Staffordshire china dogs that are simultaneously silly and supersophisticated. Korzen hired F&W Best New Chef 2000 Tim Goodell (of Aubergine fame), along with his wife, Lisa, to oversee Viceroy's restaurant, Whist (named after an old English card game). The wacky-cool space features parrot green mirrored walls and a stylish comfort-food menu. The second hotel, Palm Springs' Estrella, was open throughout its makeover from an older inn, but really gets going this month with a new spa, bar and restaurant offering casual café food. Wearstler calls Estrella's style "Hollywood Regency": Some rooms are painted a glossy white, with citrus-colored furniture and a bedside table with hooves; the dining rooms in the villas are decorated with a graphic black-and-white floral design on the walls, ceiling and floor. Somehow it's very glamorous, in just the subtropical, hyperreal, film-noir way Palm Springs should be, but so rarely is (Viceroy, 1819 Ocean Ave., 310-451-8711; Estrella, 415 S. Belardo Rd., 760-320-4117).

--Kate Sekules