The Top 15 City Hotels in Europe in 2017

What does it take for a European city hotel to make a serious impact —to become as much of a destination as the city itself? If the results of this year’s World’s Best Awards are anything to go by, it seems history, a strong sense of place, and a killer location are the qualities that truly set a property apart. Take Budapest’s Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, which has made regular appearances on the list over the years — and has taken top honors in 2017. Housed in an imposing Art Nouveau mansion on the banks of the Danube River, the 179-room property is arguably Budapest’s most luxurious retreat. One respondent spoke for many when they described the property as “The most beautiful building in town, full of culture and tradition, with a splendid view of the Danube and the Buda hills.” Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as City or Resort based on their locations and amenities. Five London properties placed on the list of Europe’s top urban hotels: 41, Milestone Hotel, Egerton House Hotel, the Goring, and the Corinthia. All share period styling and an innate, one-off charm — the sense that they are entirely of that place. (The fact that each one is within a stone’s throw of London’s major tourist attractions doesn’t hurt, either.) The Paris properties here reflect the same trend. Both Le Bristol, a World’s Best regular that won for the best in the city, and La Réserve—Hôtel & Spa, which came in at No. 11 in Europe, convey a sense of historic, decorous grandeur unique to the French capital, and are located right at its heart. Likewise, the romantic Hotel de Russie, located above Rome’s Spanish Steps (No. 15), and the fairy-tale spires of the Dolder Grand in the hills above Zurich (No. 12) share the winning combination of character and convenience that defined this year’s winners.

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15. Hotel de Russie, a Rocco Forte Hotel, Rome

Hotel de Russie in Europe
Courtesy of Rocco Forte Hotels

Score: 93.95

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14. Corinthia Hotel, London

Corinthia London Hotel in Europe
Courtesy of Corinthia Hotel London

Score: 93.98

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13. The Goring, London

The Goring Hotel in Europe
Courtesy of The Goring

Score: 94.00

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12. Dolder Grand, Zurich

Dolder Grand Hotel in Europe
Courtesy of The Dolder Grand

Score: 94.19

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11. La Réserve—Hôtel & Spa, Paris

La Reserve Paris Hotel, Spa & Apartments in Europe
Courtesy of La Reserve Paris Hotel, Spa & Apartments

Score: 94.37

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10. Hotel Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Sebastián, Spain

Hotel Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Europe
Courtesy of Hotel Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Score: 94.72

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9. Le Bristol, Paris

Le Bristol Hotel in Paris
Courtesy of Le Bristol

Score: 94.82

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8. Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet

Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet in Europe
Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet

Score: 94.84

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7. Mandarin Oriental Milan

Mandarin Oriental Milan Hotel in Europe
Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Milan

Score: 94.95

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6. Aria Hotel Budapest

Aria Hotel Budapest in Europe
Courtesy of Aria Hotel Budapest

Score: 95.73

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5. Portrait Firenze, Florence

Portrait Firenze Hotel in Europe
Courtesy of Portrait Firenze

Score: 95.77

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4. Egerton House Hotel, London

Egerton House Hotel in Europe
Courtesy of The Egerton House Hotel

Score: 95.79

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3. Milestone Hotel, London

Milestone Hotel in Europe
Courtesy of The Milestone Hotel

Score: 96.16

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2. 41, London

41 Hotel in Europe
Courtesy of Hotel 41

Score: 96.17

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1. Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, Budapest

Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest in Europe
Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest

Score: 96.26

When readers tried to describe the experience of staying at this Four Seasons, it seemed few superlatives were enough to do the property justice. “Couldn't be more magnificent,” said one. “Great view, great food, great service, and stunningly beautiful.” The 1906 Art Nouveau building, which overlooks the Danube River, was commissioned by the London-based company Gresham Life Assurance, and originally served as offices and apartments for the firm’s staff. During World War II it was used as barracks for the Red Army, then spent much of the next 60 years in a state of disrepair. After several rounds of renovation, it finally opened its doors as a Four Seasons hotel in 2004. Since then, visitors have been won over not only by the grand Art Nouveau architecture but also by the hotel’s extraordinary staff. As respondent Bruce Christian put it, “The best service I have ever experienced in a hotel, from the front desk to the concierge to housekeeping to the doormen.”

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