We know our boutique hotels in Europe. We’ve nibbled tea and scones in their charming living rooms, slurped freshly made spaghetti on their sea-facing terraces and marvelled at their views. We’ve mingled with real locals, hosts who deliver the infallible most, and felt truly at home. Only, even lovelier homes. Without the housework. In spectacular destinations. Let us introduce you to them all.
1. Villa Galini: Greece
Stars dust the night sky. A piano twinkles. Waves lap against the shore. Wine, dine, then recline by the roaring fire in Villa Galini. The historic hideaway perches on Mount Meliton in Porto Carras like a fairytale wedding-cake-topper. It doesn’t so nod at the past but waltz you straight into it, with beam-heavy monastery-style rooms and suites, Yves St Laurent mosaic tiles, and a bathroom designed by Salvador Dali.
2. Twr y Felin Hotel: Wales
Down in dinky St Davids, Twr y Felin Hotel is a hushed oasis that offers everything from multi-award-winning dining to bed-and-breakfast in a windmill tower. Rooms are airy and light, and the hundreds of specially commissioned art pieces are a bonus for culture vultures.
3. Hotel Stefanie: Austria
How many boutique hotels in Europe go back to the year 1600? The oldest hotel in Vienna is Hotel Stefanie – a place where old-fashioned charm, wiener schnitzels and lashings of Viennese ‘Schmäh’ are the order of the day. With the city centre just a three-minute stroll away, Stefanie is a pleasure to saunter home to after an evening at the famous State Opera House.
4. Herangtunet Boutique Hotel: Norway
Throw yourself into rural serenity. Herangtunet Boutique Hotel, squished between the Hegge Fjord and Jotunheimen (Norway’s highest mountain range), is a traditional wooden sanctuary surrounded by woodland and waters. The blissful property sleeps 14 guests in airy themed rooms. Those prone to boredom will have nothing to worry about here: forest hiking, nature trails, fly fishing, swimming, cycling, wildlife safaris, barbeques, berry picking, and even tobogganing (during the winter) are just a few activities to keep you busy.
5. Flanders Hotel: Belgium
If Flanders Hotel wanted to brag, it would have every right to. This award-winning stay is one of the most unique boutique hotels in Europe: designed by one of Bruges’ most prestigious 19th-century architects, with a Gothic room that was once part of a Dominican Monastery dating back to 1304. All of this – and yet it remains cool as the other side of the pillow (which, by the way, are gloriously snug on your canopy bed). Zero stuffiness; just sleek, contemporary beauty within short walking distance to all of Bruges’ UNESCO-hailed sights.
6. Killarney Royal: Ireland
Channel your inner aristocrat as you stroll the floors and gardens of the characterful Killarney Royal. Guests have arrived to a warm welcome from the Scally family for centuries, before retiring to their stately and spacious Royal Rooms that breathe elegance. From the fine bedspreads to the luxurious antique furniture and folds of glorious drapes, you’ll never want to leave.
7. Metropole: Latvia
Metropole was the first-operated hotel in Riga and has been staying one step ahead ever since. After an fascinating day absorbing the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Centre, tuck into fresh seafood, pristinely grilled steaks and gourmet desserts in the hotel’s restaurant. With your belly full, it’s time to retire to the ultra-luxe rooms and suites, which work in harmony with centuries of history-steeped architecture. The 19th-century stay is also one of the best boutique hotels in Europe if you’re looking for meeting or conference facilities in the Latvian capital.
8. Hotel Schwarzer Bock: Germany
Hotel Schwarzer Bock is no super-slick meeting place. But that doesn’t mean the ancient building’s Rococo rooms aren’t now equipped with Wi-Fi, iPod docks and flatscreen TVs. There’s a unique and beautiful merging of modern comforts and medieval flair in this historic inn and guest house, which dates way back to 1100. FYI: order the venison.
9. Marpessa Smart Luxury Hotel: Greece
Cool, calm and chic, Marpessa Smart Luxury Hotel is so beautifully designed that all ages instantly feel at home. Once an early-century mansion, it sits in the heart of Agrinio city and retains all of its luxurious and historic charm. Marble bathrooms blend into fresh, period-inspired bedrooms, which lead out into lounges with roaring fires and courtyards with sunny pools. Along with a boutique spa and Mediterranean cuisine at the hotel’s Bistro 17 restaurant, it has all the ingredients for a dream Greek getaway.
10. Schloss Wartegg: Switzerland
Schloss Wartegg takes a powerful hold on your imagination. It embodies everything we romanticise about times gone by – a place noble families once called home during the French Revolution. Sleep within the same walls as Empress Zita of Bourbon-Parma, in one of 25 individually designed rooms that overlook regal Swiss beauty around them. Bedrooms are fitted with Hüsler Nest sleeping systems, ensuring you’re well-rested in the morning for a fresh blast around the hotel’s bicycle path, a dip in a 1920’s bath, and an organic, Michelin-recommended lunch.
11. As Janelas Verdes: Portugal
With a cast-iron spiral staircase, library terraces and plenty time for tea in the garden, As Janelas Verdes offers guests the chance to experience Lisbon in the style of its literary greats. In fact, the house itself is said to be the inspiration behind the famous ‘Ramalhete’ from ‘Os Maias’, written by Eça de Queiróz who it’s said once lived in the building.
12. Hotel Park: Norway
Family values, rare antiques and two buildings dating back to the 1890’s create this homey charmer in the heart of the Bergen city. Hotel Park is a tale of two designs, blended together perfectly: classic, old-world aesthetic with ancient maps and handsome grandfather clocks mixed with glitzy counters, yellow-framed mirrors and punchy pink armchairs.
13. Hotel Cattaro: Montenegro
Rooms have views over old Kotor and the bay beyond and there are breathtaking hiking trails straight from the front door. Hotel Cattaro has won awards for the best boutique hotel in Montenegro and it’s arguably one of the best boutique hotels in Europe. Choose from 17 rooms and two suites among three fascinating buildings: Napoleon’s Theatre, Prince’s Palace and the city guard tower.
14. Allegory Boutique House: Greece
If there’s one Greek word the owners of Allegory Boutique House live by it’s ‘philoxenia’, which literally translates as ‘friend to the stranger’. Warmth and personality is injected into everything from the names of the six suites (each a different mythical Greek character, with art to suit) to the pillow menu within them. You can even have your case unpacked for free, if you wish. You’re wonderfully close to the UNESCO Old Town of Rhodes for sightseeing, but if you want to live like a local, Kallithea Beach is just a short drive away – your hosts will happily arrange car hire.
15. La Couronne Hotel Restaurant: Switzerland
You can’t stay closer to the old baroque town of Solothurn and experience elegance like you can at La Couronne Hotel Restaurant. Your room awaits; designed by renowned Zurich architects in a mish-mash of historical and contemporary elements: think stucco ceilings, chandeliers and carved wooden bed heads. Dinner is a delight – served in La Couronne’s restaurant with French dishes such as côte de veau and sole grillée.
16. Antiq Palace: Slovenia
A new home-away-from-home awaits you in Ljubljana – among the castles, riverbanks, squares, markets and architectural treasures of Jože Plečnik. It goes by the name of Antiq Palace – a small hotel that goes big on luxury style and service. The 16th-century stay is culturally protected, due to its exact location in the ancient necropolis of Emona (the Roman settlement). Later, it was home to several noble families, before its rooms, suites and exclusive residential apartments became blissful sanctuaries for the discerning traveller – you.