HDR does have a place in photography as the human has a far greater dynamic range than any camera sensor can ever hope to attain. The human eye is perceptive enough to see detail in shaded and in very well lit areas at the same time.
Camera sensors (even when using matrix metering over the whole image/sensor) provide very average dynamic range results and photographers are often disappointed with the captured image as they don't faithfully reproduce what the eye saw in the first instance.
For me however a well crafted HDR image is one that is barely detectable that any HDR treatment was applied to it at all. Light and dark areas of the image are compensated for in the HDR process that bring out the details and making the image as natural looking as possible.
Some use obvious HDR techniques as a form of artistry and if done right do have a certain appeal.I've said enough here. Happy photography everyone!