The Best Hotels
Ranging from minimalist villas to palatial estates, these hotels across Europe had former lives: one as a printing house in Georgia, another as a fortress in Mallorca, another as a palace in St. Petersburg. Fierce attention to detail by hoteliers means the character of these properties has not just been restored but revived, making an overnight stay in any of them truly transportive. Others are brand-new and design-forward, forging a reputation all their own.
This 1870 landmark recently underwent extensive renovations that seem to have only added to its levels of luxury and grace. The suites are spacious, bathrooms decked out in marble (with freestanding brass tubs), and hotel dining destinations include a cavernous wine cellar and bar, brasserie, and afternoon tea in the sky-lit atrium. At the romantic Speilsalen restaurant, you’ll make your way through six or 10 courses of Norwegian delicacies. Here, there’s the option to dine inside private dome-enclosed chambers, like opulent little greenhouses, and then to wander over to the Palmehaven for live orchestral music. There are practicalities at the Britannia as well, if you’re into that sort of thing: meeting rooms, a modern fitness center, spa, heated pool and sauna, and a Trondheim location that can’t be beat.
The creators of the Cap Rocat Hotel took great pains to maintain the architectural integrity of this grand former fortress while transforming the interiors into comfortable, stylish lodgings. The result is an incredibly distinct experience inside a national landmark, with cavernous guest rooms outfitted with private rooftop terraces, canopy beds, and finely patterned textiles. Along the bay and about 30 minutes from Palma, this rambling estate is its own private world amid acres of preserved landscape and maze-like grounds, with two restaurants and a saltwater swimming pool. You’ll spend your time here exploring every romantic nook and cranny, from the best swimming spots to the most jaw-dropping sunset views and everything in between.
Weird & Wonderful
Covent Garden Hotel
Chic and charming, Covent Garden has the right amounts of sophistication and quirkiness. The building, once a 19th-century French hospital, is tucked onto a cobblestoned street in the posh West End shopping and theatre district; cozy parlor areas and impeccable afternoon English tea service are a respite here after exploring. It’s all in the details when it comes to the Covent Garden decor: there’s a playful design spirit that brings fun to more traditional elements, and dramatic touches of maximalism—like the almost ceiling-high upholstered headboards on every bed, decked out in whimsical, busy patterns, with matching (or power-clashing) wallpapers and curtains.
Tried & True
In the same camp of design concepts like wabi-sabi and hygge, the Swedish term lagom refers to perfection in simplicity; everything in its right place. Such it is at Ett Hem, a boutique hotel inside a stately brick house in Stockholm’s elegant Ostermalm neighborhood. Here, minimal, refined antiques and decor provide just the right amount of welcoming comfort–comfort spent relaxing in front of the fireplace, enjoying a cocktail in the brick-walled courtyard, or sampling from the kitchen’s seasonal menu at the wide communal farm table. Just outside Ett Hem’s doors are Michelin-starred restaurants, gorgeous residences, and some of the poshest walking tours you’ll take of Stockholm.
Rich & Famous
Four Seasons Lion Palace
St Petersburg, Russia
In a 200-year-old palace, the Four Seasons has created a hotel that defines classic royal luxury. At first glance, it’s hard to believe this hotel is only five years old: a grand marble staircase, sparkling brass chandeliers, and a light-filled lobby with vaulted ceilings feel timeless. But on careful inspection, you’ll find modern conveniences too—a spa with a sauna, steam room, and heated pool; a sleek and snazzy sushi restaurant; and a bar menu full of craft cocktails perfected by a mixologist. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time, but without sacrificing any comfort. The location is unbeatable, with sumptuous silk-draped rooms overlooking St. Isaac’s Cathedral, just around the corner from the State Hermitage Museum.
Hotel Chateau du Grand-Luce
Loire Valley, France
Imagine a 19th-century French castle came up for sale and you not only had the funds to purchase it, but also to refurbish it with the highest quality fabrics, antiques, and custom-made furniture money can buy. That pretty much sums up the Hotel Château du Grand Lucé, which opened in June in the picturesque Loire Valley—a favorite of French kings and aristocrats since the Renaissance. Each of the 17 rooms is completely unique, though many have pillows made of vintage Hermès scarves and wallpaper featuring archival prints. The Baron’s Suite is adorned by original Chinoiserie murals by Rococo artist Jean-Baptiste Pillement, whose work has only survived here, in the Louvre, and at Versailles. Guests can enjoy gourmet French fare at Le Lucé, sip Champagne on chairs from Versailles in the bar, wander the extensive gardens, and take a dip in the fountain-turned-pool.
Rich & Famous
Hotel de Russie
A favorite haunt of actors and rock stars visiting Rome, the Hotel de Russie is a tranquil oasis just off the busy Piazza del Popolo. Rooms and suites are elegantly understated, the spa uses organic products made in Italy by Irene Forte (the daughter of the owner, Sir Rocco Forte), and the staff is at the top of their game. But the best reason to visit is to savor an aperitivo at the Stravinskij Bar and a meal at the Jardin de Russie, both of which occupy a secret courtyard surrounded by a lush garden. If the setting doesn’t instantly put you at ease, a cocktail from the list of 15 Martini variations will.
You can barely toss a stone on Paris’s Right Bank without hitting a storied grand dame hotel. But cross to the bohemian Left Bank and there’s only one. The Hôtel Lutetia opened its doors in 1910 and was soon the preferred hangout for a roster of artists, writers, and politicians that reads like a Jazz Age who’s who. Ever the favored meeting place of chic Parisians, its closing in 2013 for a four-year, top-to-toe renovation was a blow. It was worth the wait. Now one of the city’s most fabled hotels is also one of its most stunning. With miles of snowy marble, sumptuous Art Deco-inspired interiors, and the most up-to-date amenities in everything from its spa (with pool), elegant guestrooms, piano bar, and gastronomic brasserie helmed by Michelin three-star chef Gérald Passédat, the Lutetia is a luminous star in the Paris hotel firmament.
Tried & True
Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam
When you walk through the front door of Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam, you’ll find a grand piano whimsically suspended above the entry hall, a great introduction to this beautiful hotel that’s a series of darling Instagram moments. From the portholes in the bathrooms to the greenhouse hallway and the kinetic sculptures in the garden, everything about the stylish maze of art-adorned hallways, hidden game rooms, gold- and jewel-toned accents that make up the hotel is delightful. Its decor is surpassed only by the Pulitzer Bar’s ambitious cocktail menu and the divine dishes at their onsite restaurant Jansz. Don’t forget to book one of the hotel’s legendary canal cruises with champagne and canapés.
With its signature Trulli roofs, expansive white walls, and views of the Adriatic Sea, it’s hard to miss the romance of Puglia—but why not experience it poolside, on a small family farm, surrounded by private olive groves? The setting of Masseria Moroseta is homey yet stylish, where minimalist decor is met with an abundance of Apulian hospitality, fine wine, and cuisine. The chef is a master here, and small groups of guests can even take cooking classes, creating locally-inspired four-course meals from ingredients grown in the property’s garden. An intimate atmosphere—met with impeccable style and reasonable prices—make this a dreamy stay.
Cheap & Chic
Minimalism is the word these days when it comes to modern hotel decor, but often this style can come across as lazy and drab. A great minimal-chic hotel, like Berlin’s Michelberger, delivers clean lines and stylish backdrops, and a general atmosphere that feels casual and chic, energetic and artsy. The mood here is young, with decor based on utilitarian practicality and well-sourced secondhand and vintage gems. The inner courtyard, laden with patio furniture and picnic tables, is usually abuzz with hip groups of guests, as is the bar and restaurant, where the food is healthy and hearty.
Naxian on the Beach
Naxian is more of a dreamscape than a hotel (an adults-only one, at that), where white stone, bleached wood, and other natural fibers blend into the surrounding sea and wild coast. Suites with their own private jacuzzis look out onto the Aegean Sea. You can spend your days riding bikes into the nearby town of Naxos or partaking in a variety of water sports, but perhaps the best activity here is lounging on the nearby beach—the quietest on the island—while the attentive staff brings by glasses of fine wines and light Cycladic snacks.
Pera Palace Hotel
With plush interiors in shades of red and pink, palatial grand rooms, and chandeliers of blown Murano glass, it’s pure old-world opulence at the Pera Palace Hotel, a historic Istanbul landmark, once a popular respite for Orient Express passengers and legends like Agatha Christie, Great Garbo, and Ernest Hemingway. Fast forward to the present, where contemporary visitors enjoy luxurious lodgings, sweeping balcony views, and an underground spa and sauna. The hotel’s style and grandeur are at their best in the Kubbeli tea saloon, the Orient bar and terrace, and the pretty-in-pink patisserie. The Pera loves to pay homage to its past honored guests; there’s a museum room open to tour and dedicated to Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic.
Skalakot Manor Hotel
Skálakot farm, which has been in the same family for seven generations, is a pastoral paradise. On the grounds, fluffy sheep are raised, tiny horses roam to and from the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, and gold-red sunsets sink over the surrounding highlands at dusk. The luxury Skálakot Manor was built as an extension of the family’s home and land. Furnished with modern Nordic details, the dining and lounging areas feel like they belong in a Scandinavian Hogwarts. Rooms are equally cozy, yet spacious and elegant. You’ll never want to leave the hotel, except to ride the Icelandic horses bred here, or to step onto your room’s balcony to see the Northern Lights.
New & Noteworthy
Innovative design meets stunning original architecture at The Stamba Hotel, a former publishing house from the 1930s. Beckoning a contemporary age for Tbilisi—one that is modern and hip, but with aspects of old-world grace—the hotel creates light and airy communal spaces for its visitors by stripping down to its foundation in many places, bearing original columns, windows, and plenty of exposed brick. The open-air cafe—with its green leather booths, bubblegum-pink U-shaped bar, and stunning crystal chandelier—is one of the hotel’s best attractions. Guest rooms are filled with floor-to-ceiling windows and bookshelves of literary gems, but the real pièces de résistance here are the freestanding, gold-plated brass bathtubs.