Europe's Best Hotels
Imagine a room with a view and a decadent dinner worthy of the local duke. If that’s your ultimate European experience, then consider the 400-year-old Hôtel Château Eza, in the French Riviera. The 11-room coastal château, which is located next to the ancient rock walls of a medieval village, once belonged to a prince—and it’s now home to a Michelin-starred chef.
That winning combination of a stellar location and world-class dining is surely one reason the Hôtel Château Eza was voted one of the best hotels in Europe, according to Travel + Leisure readers in the annual World’s Best Awards survey. Other winning hotels range from a Renaissance villa to a recently renovated property with panoramic lakeside vistas. All together, the top 20 hotels are a veritable wish list for Europhiles.
Americans are doing more than wishing about travel to Europe this year, however. In a recent TripAdvisor survey, 51 percent of U.S. respondents said they plan to visit the Continent this summer, up from 42 percent last year. And according to the American Society of Travel Agents, Americans’ favorite European destinations are still the classics: London, Paris, and Rome, with Italy ranking as the favorite country.
Travel+Leisure readers agree: in the list of the best hotels in Europe, Italy and France rise to the top—both destinations have six winners each. In Italy, the Amalfi Coast stole the show. Ranked No. 3 is Le Sirenuse, a restored villa in Positano once frequented by John Steinbeck; now the 63-room hotel has a Champagne-and-oyster bar and a small fleet of boats at the ready for sightseeing.
Not all of Europe’s best hotels come with Le Sirenuse’s $680 per night room rate. The Four Seasons Hotel Dublin—with English country accents in oversize rooms—offers rates starting at $233 a night.
While Ireland is generally a good deal (as are Spain and Greece), you’ll also find some great values in France. The highest-ranking affordable hotel in Europe is the Domaine des Hauts de Loire, a 19th-century hunting lodge on 178 forested acres; it’s less than $250 a night, which means you’ll want to splurge on hotel-arranged hot-air balloon rides and tours of neighboring châteaux.
But which European hotel is ranked No. 1? Read on for the winners.
No. 20 LaColombe d’Or, Provence
Originally an inn where artists gathered in the 1920’s; now a charming hotel with 25 rooms filled with paintings by luminaries including Klee and Calder. It’s also just a 30-minute drive from Musée Picasso, in Antibes.
No. 19 FourSeasons Hotel Milan
A former convent that dates from the 15th century, with a lovely courtyard, located on the exclusive Via Gesù, not far from the city's best shopping, on Via Montenapoleone. Sip coffee in the Il Foyer lounge, where the walls are frescoed with 15th-century depictions of Milanese nobility.
No. 18 HotelVilla San Michele, Fiesole, Italy
Lemon-scented gardens and a facade attributed to Michelangelo at a 15th-century hilltop Renaissance villa with views of Florence. Keep an eye out for artwork surviving from the hotel’s former life as a Franciscan monastery, most notably the 1642 Last Supper fresco by Nicodermo Ferruci.
No. 17 Baurau Lac, Zurich
This 165-year-old family-owned hotel in the city center, overlooking Lake Zürich, is both historic and up-to-date: more than $96 million has been spent on renovations over the past decade. Be sure to book one of the Art Deco–style suites, all refurbished in the last three years.
No. 16 FourSeasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanhamet
Set in the heart of Sultanahmet—less than a minute’s walk from Hagia Sophia, the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapı Palace—this 65-room property’s century-old Neoclassical building is known for its graceful architecture, which incorporates vaulted ceilings and arched windows. Though there’s no swimming pool, the roof terrace, with views across the Sea of Marmara, is lovely in the summertime.
No. 15 Châteaude la Chèvre d’Or, Éze Village, France
A complex of stone buildings and a Michelin 2-starred restaurant set on a cliff above the Mediterranean. All the rooms are unique; No. 40 has a bathroom cut into the cliff.
No. 14 FourSeasons Hôtel George V, Paris
In an unbeatable location near the Champs-Élysées, this majestic 1928 white-stone hotel redefined elegance when it reopened its doors as a Four Seasons in 1999. Guests are greeted—and treated—to an eyeful of blooms upon arrival in the marble lobby. Don’t miss an Australian Sodashi body scrub in the sumptuous beige-hued spa.
No. 13 MandarinOriental, Prague
The youthful staff is helpful to the point of exuberance. The restaurant serves both pan-European cuisine—including a delicious pata negra ham appetizer and lots of game—and of course, Asian dishes.
No. 12 FourSeasons Hotel Gresham Palace, Budapest
An Art Nouveau masterpiece (gold mosaic towers; 19th-century stained-glass portraits) at the base of the Chain Bridge and a short walk from Vaci Street. For a view, ask for a Danube-facing room; for true solace, request a room in the inner courtyard.
No. 11 HôtelChâteau Eza, Éze Village, France
Secluded 17th-century hotel with modern bathrooms, stone balconies, and panoramic views that abut ancient rock walls in the medieval village. Junior Suites have private terraces with full sea view. All have jacuzzis inside, but ask for the one with it on the terrace.
No. 10 TheStafford, London
This well-appointed town house is set behind Green Park, with a restored 17th-century stable courtyard. The Master Sommelier oversees the in-house wine cellar that specializes in Burgundy and Bordeaux varietals. To taste some of the best vintages, schedule a private wine tasting.
No. 9 The Lanesborough, a St. Regis Hotel, London
This iconic, 95-room Georgian-style building is located on Hyde Park Corner. Come evening, head to the oak-paneled Library Bar for hard-to-find cognacs and whiskies. Book the Buckingham Suite (nos. 120–124), for high ceilings.
No. 8 HotelSplendido, Portofino, Italy
More than a few VIP's (the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Catherine Deneuve) have signed the visitor's book at this Portofino Hotel. Originally a 16th-century monastery, the property was transformed into 64 guest rooms (16 at the more affordable Splendido Mare), two restaurants, and two bars.
No. 7 Villad’Este, Cernobbio, Italy
A regal 16th-century lakefront estate on 25 acres of parkland in Cernobbio that is the most prestigious of the lake's hotels. Guests can accompany one of the chefs on an early-morning walk through the kitchen garden, where you’ll help gather herbs and vegetables used to prepare the day’s meals.
No. 6 FourSeasons Hotel, Dublin
This Four Seasons property has some of the largest and best-appointed guest rooms in town. Even the most affordable Moderate rooms are 447 square feet and kitted out in customary English-country style (brass lamps, floral upholstery); all 197 rooms have large marble baths with walk-in showers and deep soaking tubs. Next door to the hotel is the Royal Dublin Society Showground, host to Dublin’s internationally famous horse show every August.
No. 5 Hôtelde Crillon, Paris
This Place de la Concorde landmark, built at the direction of King Louis XV in 1758, hasn’t lost its ornate air. Flat-screen televisions and high-speed Internet access bring modern touches to suites and salons still filled with gilt, mirrors, and Baccarat crystal, in addition to genuine Aubusson carpets and Wedgwood medallions. Have a cup of tea or a drink in the Winter Garden; the crystal elephant centerpiece was inspired by one created by Baccarat for the 1878 Exposition.
No. 4 OlissippoLapa Palace, Lisbon
A Palm-shaded outdoor pool and a bird's-eye view of the city's red-tile roofs from 109 rooms near Lisbon’s city center. Newer Garden Wing rooms have balconies; those on the top 3 floors have views of the Tagus River. The property’s custom frangrance, Água de Portugal, was inspired by the country’s 19th-century queen Maria Pia de Savoia.
No. 3 LeSirenuse, Positano,Italy
Nearly all the rooms in the poppy-red, 18th-century villa, with museum-quality antiques and hand-painted ceramic-tile floors, have a private balcony or patio overlooking the bay. Diversions include an alfresco champagne-and-oyster bar, a pool and Aveda spa, and a vintage wooden speedboat for tooling up and down the coast in 1950s-starlet style.
No. 2 Domainedes Hauts de Loire, Loire Valley, France
A former 19th-century hunting lodge with 31 Empire-style rooms set on 178 forested acres between Blois and Amboise. With a week’s notice, the hotel can arrange private tours of the region’s châteaux either in a hot air balloon or by helicopter.
No. 1 PalazzoSasso, Ravello, Italy
In 1997, when Richard Branson reopened this long-defunct hotel in an ornate 12th-century palazzo, Plácido Domingo set the tone as the first guest. It has remained a consistent five-star favorite (often taking top honors for Italy on the T+L 500 list), with rooms layered in 17th- through 19th-century antiques, Vietri tile floors, and Frette and Bulgari appointments. But the main attraction? The Mediterranean sea view, of course.