Planning a summer holiday in Europe? Check out these 8 luxury hotels
These stellar hotels in Europe will make your trip that much sweeter.
Summer in Europe is a special time. With long days, the sun not setting until late in the evening, your time seems to stretch out, letting you make the most of the ‒ hopefully ‒ balmy weather well into early October.
Of course, there's no shortage of incredible destinations to choose from, be they ancient cities filled with cultural treasures, breath-taking beach escapes on Mediterranean islands or historical royal residences nestling in rolling green countryside.
Here are eight spots to make the very best of this very special time of year.
VERMELHO HOTEL MERIDES, PORTUGAL
It's a name which makes shoe lovers swoon, but legendary designer Christian Louboutin has also now put his name to an intimate 13-bedroom hotel in the quietly hip and creative area of Alentejo, south of the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.
Nestled in a small coastal village, Vermelho ‒ which means red in Portuguese ‒ reflects the colour he is most associated with. Interiors define vibrant thanks to his famously eclectic design aesthetic, as his eye for ceramics, art, textiles and furniture celebrate the region's creative community of artisans.
Xtian restaurant serves up a spread of Portuguese cuisine with an emphasis on the freshest local seafood, while the spa has already drawn devotees 90 minutes south of the capital for regular treatments. The gardens are another joy, the work of famed French landscape architect, Louis Benech.
HOTEL DU CAP-EDEN-ROC, ANTIBES, FRANCE
France is home to a number of hotels which can rightly be called legendary, but few can match the star appeal and timeless elegance of Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc overlooking Antibes on the French Riviera. Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Sharon Stone, Robert de Niro and Liz Taylor are just some of the luminaries to have graced the nine acres of perfectly manicured jasmine-scented grounds.
A dip doesn’t get more elegant than in their iconic swimming pool set into the cliffside, but the five-star jewel of a property has become more popular than ever due to a new Christian Dior spa complete with the hotel’s own signature fragrance, Eden-Roc, part of the Collection Privee Christian Dior perfumes.
HOTEL EL PALACE BARCELONA, SPAIN
The storied Hotel El Palace Barcelona has welcomed the great and the good over the years, although a recent table at their award-winning restaurant Amar featured a trio of diners who would take some beating: Bruce Springsteen, Steven Spielberg…and Barack Obama.
But the elegant city centre hotel has another culinary draw this summer in the form of a panoramic rooftop pop-up called L’Arros. The terrace overlooks the legendary Sagrada Familia cathedral, while guests are surrounded by jasmine and orange blossom as they dine on dishes including black rice with calamari, roasted duck and their famously decadent cheesecake.
The intimate and exclusive sanctuary ‒ only seating up to 16 diners ‒ can be booked by in-house guests and other visitors to the city. But with grand, opulent suites named for Spanish cultural icons, a stay is not to be missed to make the most of this Catalan jewel.
Few, if any European cities can match the Greek capital when it comes to extraordinary sights, history and culture. Dating back almost 5,000 years, this wonderland draws millions of visitors over the summer, so location is key in choosing a hotel.
The Intercontinental Athenaeum Athens sits in the quiet Kallithea district, approximately a mile and a half from both the Acropolis and Syntagma Square, the heart of the city. It means that all the key spots are within easy reach but you avoid the crowds.
Everywhere in Athens wants to boast rooms with a view, and few come more impressive than the hotel's top floor restaurant called Premiere. It features one of the city's best views up towards the Acropolis which is beautifully illuminated at night, the perfect romantic backdrop to elegant Mediterranean plates and curated cocktails.
Rosewood Vienna only opened last summer but has quickly made a name for itself as one the Austrian capital’s most elegant places to stay. Located in Petersplatz, one of Vienna’s most storied squares, the onetime bank now houses 99 rooms and suites.
The picture-postcard rooftops of the Old Town, St. Peter’s Church and St. Stephen’s Cathedral can all be seen from the hotel, but you can’t mention Vienna without Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Handily The Rosewood has you covered there as it includes the apartment where the maestro wrote an overture called the abduction of the seraglio back in the late 18th century.
Another cultural treasure ‒ when you’re not enjoying Wiener schnitzel, Sacher torte and other local delicacies ‒ comes with their Summer Experience package which offers access to the sublime Belvedere Museum for a special evening viewing of treasures, along with a traditional horse and carriage ride to get there.
When fashion royalty are responsible for your hotel, you are guaranteed a sumptuous and truly chic stay, as at Rhinoceros Roma in the historical heart of the Italian capital. The person behind it was Alda Fendi from the famed dynasty of designers, so the 25 exclusive apartments that it houses brim with style.
Not only that, but their Avant Garde gallery has welcomed exhibitions and installations from greats including Picasso and El Greco, a counterpoint to the industrial design vibe from renowned French architect Jean Nouvel.
With The Colosseum, Circus Maximus and the Spanish Steps all within a few minutes' walk, one of the world's cultural treasures sits literally on your doorstep. Culinary touches include breakfast served in your room in a hamper filled with Italian delicacies, while their new rooftop dining destination features rhinoceros motifs on the floor and cuisine under the vision of Chef Giuseppe Di Iorio.
Malta is one of Europe's great secrets, a compact island nation with a dazzling 6,000-year history and a beautiful climate. While the capital Valetta draws most visitors, the fortified city of Mdina is another remarkable medieval destination ‒ itself formerly the country's capital ‒ where you can marvel at ancient palazzos and cathedrals.
It's also home to The Xara Palace Relais & Chateaux which dates from the 17th century and allows guests to truly feel like royalty thanks to jaw-dropping baroque architecture, remarkable antiques, paintings, tapestries and more across just 17 luxurious rooms and suites. They all offer stunning views of the verdant Maltese countryside, as does their restaurant, De Mondion.
Awarded one Michelin star in Malta's inaugural guide, seasonality is key as locally sourced ingredients are crafted into innovative and exquisitely presented plates with a Mediterranean focus, underpinned by classic French technique.
Ireland may not be the first European summer destination which springs to mind, but for those seeking history, culture, landscapes and personality, then few spots can match it. The city of Cork in the island's southwest is the country's second largest, but still offers visitors a laid-back feel.
Channelling the city's fascinating history, The Montenotte Hotel is housed in the residence of an 18th century merchant and reflects both grand architecture and contemporary touches. Overlooking the city, river and port, 107 rooms include apartments for those seeking longer stays, while dining and drinks are a big draw thanks to their Panorama Bistro, Terrace and The Glasshouse.