What do our city hotels in Europe all have in common? Firstly, they’ve each been cherry-picked by our team of historic hotel experts – tried, tested, researched and reviewed. Secondly, they all offer something extraordinary – unique style, nothing-is-too-much service, luxurious facilities or a picturesque location. To put it simply, our historic city hotels in Europe have soul. Here are the most inspirational stays to experience the magic…
1. Hotel Stefanie: Vienna, Austria
Step inside the oldest hotel in Vienna, Hotel Stefanie, with its magnificent rooms that have kept guests cosy and pampered since 1600. Just a three-minute walk from the city centre, this recently renovated haven should be the first choice for a comfy, contemporary stay in an awe-inspiring historic setting.
2. Antiq Palace: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Located in the heart of Ljubljana, Antiq Palace is the prettiest boutique base to explore the city from. Once you’ve marvelled at the castle, wandered the river banks and scoured the Sunday market, rest up in one of 20 immaculately designed rooms, suites and residential apartments inside a 16th-century palace
3. Merrion Hotel: Dublin, Ireland
If Merrion Square is the centre of Dublin’s glorious Georgian past, the four townhouses that make up Merrion Hotel are the throbbing heart of it all. With 18th-century architecture, a stress-melting pool, luxurious guest suites and two-star Michelin Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud inside, it’s one of the finest five-star city hotels in Europe. Even Barack Obama is a fan. During your stay in the Irish capital, visit the Natural History Museum, Leinster House and the National Gallery of Ireland.
4. Camillas Hus: Oslo, Norway
A hotel with genuine old-world character is a rare thing in a city, but Camillas Hus has it in spades, drawing discerning travellers to its serene location in Oslo. It’s one of the oldest wooden buildings in Swiss-chalet style in the city – worlds away from any cookie-cutter hotel chains you’re used to on an urban weekend away.
5. As Janelas Verdes: Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon is the ultimate destination for a heady city break. You’ll want to be in the pulse of the Portuguese capital so you can explore its pastel-coloured buildings and petiscos (the tapas of Portugal) with ease. And you’ll feel like one of the lucky ones when you check into boutique hotel As Janelas Verdes, nested right next to the National Ancient Art Museum. The 18th-century townhouse is still a stunner – all objects d’art, spiral staircases and alfresco breakfasts by the fountain, you’ll feel like you’ve just stepped into a romantic novel.
6. Metropole: Riga, Latvia
For a little 19th-century downtime, check into four-star Metropole – the first operated hotel in Riga and one of the most perfectly situated city hotels in Europe for exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Centre city itself.
7. Hotel Krafft: Basel, Switzerland
From the edge of the river Rhine, Hotel Krafft offers picture-postcard views of Basel’s Old Town and cathedral. It’ll transport you to simpler times – the elegance of centuries-old hospitality combined with 60 gently restored rooms for a blissful night’s sleep. Truly the best views in Basel and arguably one of the most charming city hotels in Europe.
8. No.1 Pery Square Hotel & Spa: Limerick, Ireland
Craving a spa date in the city? No.1 Pery Square Hotel & Spa is an ultra-luxe boutique townhouse that gives urban explorers a space to let their hair down, unwinding in an organic VOYA spa tucked away in the basement vaults of the 19th-century building.
9. Flanders Hotel: Brugge, Belgium
Brugge is one of the most-loved cities for weekend escapes and Flanders Hotel is one of the most legendary city hotels in Europe to explore the place. The award-winning boutique is ideally located, close to all the major sights in the UNESCO-famed city – if you can bring yourself to leave its grand walls, that is.
10. Holm House: Cardiff, Wales
Cardiff is the fairly new capital of Wales, but among its urban centres sits thousands of years of history. Top of it all is the 13th-century Cardiff Castle, complete with Roman fort, Norman keep and lavishly opulent interiors designed by famed architect William Burges. Just on the edge of the city, Holm House is another historic gem – only this one has been transformed into a state-of-the-art multi-sensory haven that mixes country house charm, townhouse eccentricity, luxury spa glossiness and boutique simplicity. With 12 harmonious rooms throughout boasting freestanding copper baths and sea views for days, this is a blissful refuge from Cardiff’s bustling centre.
11. Hotel & Restaurant Schwarzer Bock: Ansbach, Germany
As far as city hotels in Europe go, this one is the quaintest. Hotel & Restaurant Schwarzer Bock hails back to the year 1100 and breathes medieval flair into the Rococo city of Ansbach. You’ll feel like part of the family when you arrive, as your hosts (and soon-to-be friends) the Fuhrmanns go above and beyond to welcome you into your home away from home.
12. Bouclier d´Or: Strasbourg, France
Bourgeois-style mansion Bouclier d´Or is Strasbourg’s best kept secret. The luxurious haven lies in the heart of Petite France, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed hub of the city. Inside, you’ll find charming original details which capture the building’s historic past – think Alsatian-style wardrobes and 15th-century frescoes – and marry it to top-of-the-range tech and a pampering spa for a stay.
13. Hotel Park: Bergen, Norway
Design buffs flock to Norway’s second-largest city to admire beautifully preserved wooden houses of Bryggen, art museums and uniquely stylish streets. In what was once the most fashionable corner of Bergen, Hotel Park boasts a captivating history dating back to 1890. Its owners make sure the iconic stay has retained its 19th-century charm, with a wonderful collection of rare antiques, distinguishing it from other uniformed city hotels in Europe.
14. Hotel Cattaro: Kotor, Montenegro
In a nutshell, every inch of Hotel Cattaro seduces and surprises. Its views are sigh-inducing, its five-hundred-year history jaw-slackening and its luxury facilities wonderfully pampering. If you want to explore the Old Town of Kotor (who wouldn’t), this is one of the best city hotels in Europe to have as your rest nest.
15. Marpessa Smart Luxury Hotel: Agrinio, Greece
Bang in the centre of the Agrino, Marpessa Smart Luxury Hotel is one of the best city hotels in Europe if you love slick luxury blended with characterful history. With marbled bathrooms, period-inspired furniture, open fires and swoon-worthy spa – this place thinks of everything.
16. The Fourth: Leuven, Belgium
While the thick of the tourist soup head to Brussels, they leave Leuven free for crowdless exploration. The city is famed for its breweries and 15th-century town hall, all Gothic spires and sculptures. But where to stay? The Fourth is a cultural landmark and one of the most interesting city hotels in Europe, taking its name from the building’s four-stage history (it’s been The Guilds, a theatre, a bank, and now a hotel). Its hotel form is perhaps its most magical, blending 15th-century grandeur with contemporary bliss.
17. Hotel Baseltor: Bern, Switzerland
Switzerland’s captivating capital will mesmerise the moment you arrive, with its Unesco World Heritage-listed Old Town, chilled-out ambience and never-ending visual delights. Wandering its cobbled streets, you may come across the sash-bar, shuttered windows of Hotel Baseltor – a 17th-century design hotel in the beating heart of Old Town. Book one of its 15 gleamingly refurbed rooms to experience contemporary individualism cleverly merged with historic Swiss charm.
18. Suter Palace Heritage Boutique Hotel: Romania, Bucarest
Layered with history, Suter Palace Heritage Boutique Hotel gives culture-seeking travellers the chance to stay in a villa from 1906. Just a 15-minute walk from Carol Park and the Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral, it’s a dream location for a sightseeing break in Bucharest. Today, the city hideaway is kitted out in full five-star glory – walnut woods, gold leafs, crystal, velvet, silk and all the luxurious trimmings await.