A perennial favorite for American travelers, Europe can also be one of the most expensive places to travel. First and foremost, you need to find a good transatlantic ticket, which can be challenging, since taxes, fees, and carrier charges can easily tack an additional $600 onto the average fare. In “How to Find the Best Fares on European Flights,” I outline strategies for landing the best flights. Here are some other ways to find value in Europe.
Pick the right destination.
Your dollar goes further depending on where you are—and what currency you’re using. The best values usually lie outside the euro zone. According to Hotels.com’s annual Hotel Price Index, Warsaw had the most-affordable luxury hotels in Europe in 2013, with an average room rate of just $124 a night. Budapest, Istanbul, and Prague also all had top rooms for less than $250 a night. (By contrast, Paris’s luxury rooms went for $504, on average, and London’s for $430.) This squares with the Economist’s Big Mac Index, which offers a quick (and playful) look at the relative cost of countries by charting the price of the ubiquitous McDonald’s burger around the world. According to this metric, the Polish zloty is undervalued by a full 35 percent against the U.S. dollar; the Czech koruna (undervalued by 25 percent), Turkish lira (19 percent), and Hungarian forint (17 percent) also offer bargains for Americans.
This Spanish company, cofounded by former Olympic horseback rider Enrique Sarasola, is known for its futuristic-looking hotels (origami-like furniture; neon lights). It recently opened outposts in Istanbul’s chic Beyoğlu district and on a man-made island in Amsterdam; Milan and Rotterdam debut in 2015.
Based in northern Europe, Scandic blends contemporary design and cutting-edge technology; it recently became the world’s first hotel chain to offer brand-wide online checkout (through smartphone or computer). British star chef Jamie Oliver creates menus for each property and is bringing his own restaurant to Stockholm’s Scandic Anglais this fall.
Radisson Blu’s pedigree can be traced to its first European hotel: Danish architect Arne Jacobsen’s 1960 Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. The company continues to attract homegrown talent, including François Champsaur, who worked on Paris’s Le Metropolitan. Look out for new locations in Belgrade and Oslo.
Though established in 1967, France’s Novotel brand stays current with redesigned rooms and a virtual concierge service via on-site kiosks and a smartphone app. Among the latest arrivals are a location near London’s Wembley Stadium and a 360-room property in Moscow that’s a short drive from the Kremlin. Next up: Rotterdam.
Expect well-located, city-center hotels that embrace local design from Majorca-based Meliá. Consider its two most recent openings: Meliá Vienna sits in the city’s tallest building (a glass tower by Dominique Perrault), while the 19 rooms at the Villa Capri are outfitted with Murano chandeliers and Poltrona Frau and Cappellini furniture.
Ones to Watch
This month, Scandic Hotels debuts the stripped-down brand HTL ($) in Stockholm; 20 more are planned by 2019. The Millennial-focused Citizen M($)—with free movie streaming and self check-in—opens in Paris later this year. 25Hours Hotels($) recently headed to Berlin for its seventh property. The arty, edgy company Nhow($) has launched in the culture-rich cities of Berlin, Milan, and Rotterdam.
Hotels $Less than $200 $$$200 to $350 $$$$350 to $500 $$$$$500 to $1,000 $$$$$More than $1,000
Restaurants $Less than $25 $$$25 to $75 $$$$75 to $150 $$$$More than $150
More than 36 million Americans will hit the road Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA. There's still time for you to join them, thanks to these holiday weekend deals.
Washington—The Mayflower Renaissance Hotel
No one does a national holiday quite like D.C. This summer marks not only the 150th anniversary of Arlington Cemetery but also the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner, and D.C. is kicking off the season with events including the National Memorial Day Parade (Monday, May 26) and Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally from the Pentagon to Lincoln Memorial (Sunday, May 25). If you want to be near the action, book at room at The Mayflower Renaissance Hotel. First opened in 1925, the historic property is an easy five-block walk to the White House, and just a mile away from the National Mall (from $179/night). marriott.com
Kennebunkport, Maine—Cape Arundel Inn & Resort
Memorial Day Weekend is a great time to visit the coast of Maine—before the crowds of the busy summer season arrive. This oceanfront property offers activities for the whole family from scotch and wine tastings to painting lessons and bocce ball courts. Just steps away, Old Fort Estate is surrounded by 15-acres of lawn and woodland, and the newly renovated on-site Club House features luxe leather sofas, a grand fireplace, and a vintage pool table (from $199/night, 3-night minimum stay). capearundelinn.com
New Hampshire—Mill Falls at the Lake - rates from $160/night
Much like the coast of Maine, Lake Winnipesaukee is popular tourist destination in the summer. Get a jump-start on the season by heading there this weekend. Go for a canoe ride and try your hand at paddle boarding at the hotel’s Lake Activity Center or get your om on at the Sacred Waters Yoga Studio (from $160/night). millfalls.com
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula—Landmark Inn
Calling all history buffs! With its 62 antique-filled rooms and a notable guest list that includes the likes of Amelia Earhart and Louis Armstrong, the Landmark Inn offers visitors a getaway that’s steeped in American history. This weekend, celebrate Memorial Day in the property’s own English-style pub or visit one of Marquette's three microbreweries (The Vierling, Black Rock, and Oredock). And if hiking’s more your style, take the 10-minute drive to Sugar Loaf Mountain for a spectacular view of the city and Lake Superior (from $139/night). thelandmarkinn.com
Scottsdale, Arizona—Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
The Copper State has warm weather with plenty of sun, and now’s the time to visit before temperatures rise in the peak of summer. With two 18-hole golf courses, five swimming pools, and seven tennis courts, The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess truly has something for everyone. Through May 26, check out Arizona Spring Restaurant Week with prix fixe dining at top restaurants throughout the state (from $149/night, 3-night minimum stay). fairmont.com/scottsdale
Los Angeles—The Grafton on Sunset
This holiday weekend, why not go where you’re almost guaranteed sunshine? Located right on the Sunset Strip, with fun, funky rooms (think zebra bedspreads and Hollywood themed suites), The Grafton on Sunset offers guests close proximity to L.A.’s great shopping, restaurants, and attractions like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theatre, and The Viper Room (from $199/night). graftononsunset.com
With the school year winding down, kids of all ages are counting the days until summer vacation. But when the last bell rings, no one’s more deserving of a little rest and relaxation than the teachers.
For the second year in a row, Austin-based website bedandbreakfast.com is honoring these educators’ hard work by offering them a host of discounted summer getaways.
Germany: 44% off at the Althoff Seehotel Überfahrt
Bavarian Luxury package includes:
• 2 nights in a Deluxe room at the Althoff Seehotel Überfahrt, a 135-year-old resort on the banks of the Tegernsee, near Munich • Round-trip transportation to the Tegernsee Forest Festival, a traditional summerlong Alpine celebration with beer, bratwurst, and live music, or to the Tegernseer Bräustüber, an ancient monastery that brewed the region’s first beer • An hour-long carriage ride through the Bavarian Alpine landscape, with beer and pretzels • A 3-course dinner at a choice of 3 on-site restaurants, including Egerner Bucht, a specialist in Alpine cuisine
Cost: $1,080 ($540 per night)
Book now for travel between June 20 and September 7.
Napa Valley Wine tastings. A Provençal cooking class. Dinner from a celebrity chef in Mexico. This month’s exclusive deals are guaranteed to make you hungry.
Hamptons: 35% off Greek Revival manor house
Customized Culinary Experience tour includes:
• 2 nights' accommodations in a king room at Topping Rose House(pictured) in the Hamptons, a Greek Revival manor house with 4 ultramodern cottages and a Tom Colicchio restaurant • Scour the property’s farm to create a dinner menu suited to your tastes
Want to practice your photography skills in Mexico or cruise the Mediterranean? This month’s deals have you covered.
Art & Culture
Beijing and Shanghai: 36% off insider’s tour
Springtime in China package includes:
• 6 nights' accommodations, divided between Fairmonts in Beijing and Shanghai, provided by Kensington Tours, a bespoke outfitter with global expertise • Explore the M50 art district, Shanghai’s action-packed creative hub, with an in-the-know local • Airport meet and greet • Private guided tour of Beijing including stops at Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, and the Great Wall • Private excursion in Shanghai, including visits to Jade Buddha and Yuyuan Garden • Internal flights and chauffeured transfers
Cost: From $1,750 ($292 per night)
Book by April 30. Blackout dates apply: April 18–May 1.
• 2 nights' accommodations in a standard room at Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro, with mod-retro rooms in the theater district • 2 tickets to Buddy Guy’s Legends blues club, owned by the iconic artist himself • Admission to Chicago’s History Museum to see the “Crossroads of America” exhibit on the history behind America’s Blues Capital
Cost: $270 ($135 per night)
Book via telephone only for travel between February 1 and March 31.
For more information, please visit Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro; to book, please call (800) 643-1500 and use booking code BLUE14.