Things that improve with age: Tuscan reds, Victorian four-posters and your faking-it-French-accent.
We’d also put hotels with rich past and loads of style in that column. Good thing we have the definitive collection of classic European stays for history buffs, from a moated medieval castle to an opulent pasha’s palace. If only these tapestry-draped walls could talk (over aged wine and with an accent, of course).
If only these tapestry-draped walls could talk (over aged wine and with an accent, of course).
Sextantio le Grotte della Civita
With prehistoric origins and a Unesco World Heritage setting, the candlelit caves of Sextantio le Grotte della Civita showcase an atmosphere of pure romance. A decade of work transformed this stone settlement into a boutique hotel that pays homage to its subterranean roots with rustic furnishings, plenty of calming candles and artisan stonework. Rooms from $277/night.
Boho B&B Boudoirs
With airy, light-filled rooms that double as mini art galleries and a trendy members- and guests-only bar, Budapest’s Brody House hotel is a feast for the senses. Popular with the city’s art scene, this cutting-edge townhouse plays host to film and fashion shoots and plenty of art events and book readings, while somehow maintaining the feel of a historic home. Rooms from $90/night.
Hip, With History
London, United Kingdom
Few hotels are as revered as the stately Connaught hotel in central London. For more than a century, it has been one the most stylish and elegant places to stay in Mayfair, an area long known for its elegance. Though it has been revamped in recent years, the hotel and its staff have maintained the sense of old-fashioned English grandeur, with superlative service and exquisite antique furnishings. The Connaught also offers the UK’s only Aman Spa, a gorgeous indoor pool, two glamorous bars and two acclaimed restaurants. Rooms from $742/night.
Château les Merles
Basking in the Dordogne Valley, hotel Château les Merles is a neoclassical country estate revived with with high-style Philippe Starck furnishings and sleek modern finishes. After dining on delicious Perigordine cuisine, take a moonlit turn around the groomed grounds with top-notch vineyards, inviting pool, tennis courts and golf course of this 17th century manor. Smith Extra: A free glass of champagne, a selection of regional amuses bouches and a bottle of wine from the vineyards of Château les Merles. Rooms from $145/night.
Emperor’s New Bricks
Hotel Vestibul Palace
It’s no wonder Split’s Hotel Vestibul Palace feels fit for king – this historic waterfront hotel sits within a World Heritage Site that once housed the Roman Emperor Diocletian. The remnants of three architecturally diverse palaces dating back to the 4th century provide a stunning contrast to the modern decor, subdued colour scheme and sleek glass atrium of this seven-room palace. Rooms from $248/night.
Courtesy of Cannes
Poseidonion Grand Hotel
Poseidonion Grand Hotel is a dose of old-world glam in sea-swept Spetses, a beachside haven for the Athenian jet-set. Set apart by a blissful spa (the first in Greece), innovative dining, and romantic rooms with mesmerizing Mediterranean views, this is island living at its most posh. Rooms from $243/night.
Reinvented Dutch Masterpiece
The rich textiles and signature light of the Dutch Old Masters’ paintings inspired décor at the Canal House hotel, a bundle of 17th-century merchant houses overlooking – you guessed it – a canal in central Amsterdam. The entryway’s historic canvases give way to sultry rooms, whose walls are lined with contemporary artwork, dramatic curtains and plush fabrics in deep purple hues. After a day out biking and museum-hopping, unwind in the courtyard garden, refined restaurant or over your room’s marvellous canal views. Rooms from $345/night.
Stately Modern Manor
Liss Ard Estate
County Cork, Ireland
With gorgeous flowering grounds and romantic rooms in County Cork, hotel Liss Ard Estate has an unlikely backstory full of skulduggery. Constructed by a disgraced Celtic chieftain, and once used as a headquarters for Swiss spies (before the Austrians found out), this serene sanctuary now deals in the finer things in life, like contemplative walks in the lush meadows and farm-to-table dining at its refined restaurant. Rooms from $168/night.
Cortijo del Marqués
Hidden among neverending sunflowers and olive trees, boutique hotel Cortijo del Marqués is Andalucia’s little secret. This revamped 19th-century manor’s beautiful rooms are steeped in history. You’ll love the period features and quirky details such as old troughs upcycled into baths. With a peaceful pool, rambling gardens to explore hand-in-hand and moonlit dining, it’s the ultimate romantic retreat. Rooms from $124/night.
A grand old mansion on the Bosphorus, the A’jia Hotel in Istanbul was once the impressive home of a Pasha. Today,the Ottoman-era exterior cleverly masks a sleek, spacious and modern interior. Fifteen large and comfortable rooms and suites offer various luxurious flourishes, but all include gorgeous bathrooms of creamy marble and tile. And, of course all guests can enjoy a drink or several on the expansive waterfront terrace. Rooms from $458/night.
Belle Époque Country Manor
Douro Valley, Portugal
Built as a remote royal palace in 1910, Vidago Palace hotel is an opulent retreat located in a small spa town near the northern border of Portugal. In picturesque Tras-os-Montes (literally, ‘beyond the mountains’), this salmon pink property with the façade of a grand English country estate overlooks a distinctly Iberian landscape. The lavish main building – where the grandiose former ballroom is now a restaurant – is complemented by a golf course and sleek spa. Rooms from $272/night.
Pastel-Painted Saxon Homes
True to its Romanian roots, Copsamare Guesthouses hotel goes out of its way to offer guests a true Transylvanian experience, no vampires included. Short of being invited to a local’s house for dinner, no deeper immersion exists than this boutique hideaway, where furniture is handcrafted by the neighbours and honey is sourced from the priest’s bees. The welcoming Italian owners created a modest hotel where even the smallest decorations – dried nut leaves, tree trunks – deliver a faithful sense of place. Rooms from $152/night.