From sporty spots to gourmet getaways and – of course – historic holidays, Europe has tons of different travel experiences to offer, whatever your preferences may be. But finding the right places in which to indulge your travel tastes – as well as discovering the best hotels to rest up in – isn’t always an easy task.
That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you. We’ve handpicked eight brilliant trips – each featuring one of our historic hotels and a different, invigorating activity – so that you can plan and book your ideal European holiday in a matter of moments. Read on…
1. Sampling Italy’s most wonderful wares: Villa Le Barone
Pizza, pasta, tiramisu. Italy is world-famous for some delightful dishes – and there are many more to be discovered when you visit the country first-hand. Treat yourself to a feast for the senses with an escape to Tuscany, where you can have a go at Italian cooking at Villa Le Barone. The hotel’s expert chefs will give you an in-depth introduction to the art of Tuscan cuisine, and afterwards, you can enjoy the four-course meal you’ve prepared on the property’s gorgeous terrace. You’ll want to follow up with a couple of nights here: the villa boasts an infinity pool along with many other treasures.
Want a more cross-country dining experience? Our detailed itinerary – “From Tyrol to Tuscany: A Foodie’s Guide to Gourmet Italy” takes you to some of Italy’s best-loved dining locales, where you can enjoy everything from the finest olive oils in Lake Garda to fluffy focaccia in Florence. Leave your diet at the door – this European holiday is the definition of “indulgent”.
2. Skiing in the spectacular Swiss alps: Hotel Waldhaus Sils
Hotel Waldhaus Sils captures the essence of a traditional Swiss chalet, and takes it to the next level. With its grand interiors and nostalgic furnishings, it’s a true historic haven, while its location – nestled close to steep mountains and the historic skiing locale, St. Moritz – make it the perfect place for ski lovers to set up camp. Fifteen minutes away by car or twenty-five by train, you’ll find Corviglia mountain: the origin of Alpine winter sports and home to many competitive courses. Enjoy 87 pistes in the region – zipping through the powder white snow – before heading back to your five-star hotel for nights of unparalleled luxury.
3. Enjoying old-world charm in Strasbourg: Le Bouclier D’Or
Time machines may not actually exist, but you’ll be half-convinced they do with a visit to Strasbourg. This gorgeous French city is home to some extraordinarily well-preserved historic marvels, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Grande Île (“Large Island” in French). Its cobbled streets flank the likes of Strasbourg Cathedral, several medieval churches, palaces from the 18th century and more, all within walking distance of each other.
Venture to La Petite-France, and you’ll also find Le Bouclier D’Or – a building that dates back to the 16th century, and is now a hotel rife with charms. Traditional furnishings, sustainable technology and modern comforts sit side-by-side in this luxurious establishment, sequestered away in a quiet corner of one of Strasbourg’s most historic districts.
4. Finding hidden waterfalls in Estonia: Saka Manor
Saka Manor is one of the few fully-restored manors in all of Estonia. With carefully-designed and comfortable rooms and miles of surrounding parkland, it epitomises tranquility both inside and out – and its rural location makes it the ideal base from which to go on any number of explorations, too.
Waterfall spotting should be high on your agenda, here. Kivisilla waterfall lives on the grounds of the manor itself, acting as the perfect place for a quiet picnic or moment of reflection. Elsewhere, Estonia’s highest waterfall – Valaste – awaits to astound. Watch the water tumble down an impressive rockface, surrounded by emerald trees, flora and fauna. It’s unforgettable.
5. Relaxing in world-class Irish spas: Park Hotel Kenmare and Ice House
If one thing’s for sure, it’s that Ireland has no shortage of stunning spa hotels, and Park Hotel Kenmare – a previous winner of our Best Spa Award – is one of the finest. Just the sight of it has a peaceful effect, perched on the edge of Kenmare Bay in Ireland’s most captivating countryside. The serene atmosphere is perfectly encapsulated by the hotel’s SÁMAS Spa, too. Take your pick from treatments, events and classes that have been purposefully designed to connect you with nature and help you unwind – a wonderful way to spend your next European holiday.
Ice House’s Chill Spa is another brilliant option: a place that’s bound to transport you to the highest echelons of serenity. Tailormade treatments and unique relaxation areas, including hot tubs, a sauna and Thermal Suite – where you can partake in a detoxing seaweed bath – will ensure that you step out of the spa feeling fully revitalised. We’d recommend following up with dinner at the hotel restaurant. Ice House is based on the Wild Atlantic Way, which is famous for being one of Ireland’s gourmet hotspots.
6. Exploring the wild secrets of the Peloponnese: Kyrimai
The Peloponnese needs to be seen to be believed. At the core of many of Greece’s most renowned myths and legends – including the adventures of Hercules and the Argonauts’ quest to find the Golden Fleece – the vibe here is borderline magical. Travel through tiny villages, explore ancient architecture and hike the awe-inspiring Taÿgetos Mountains on your vacation here. Dip into the crystal waters surrounding the southernmost part of the region, tour the Diros caves by boat and head to the end of Cape Tainaron – the alleged “mythical gates to the underworld” – underneath unfailingly crystal blue skies. It’s a true adventurer’s paradise.
After so much exploring, you’ll need somewhere to rest and recharge: and there’s no better contender for the role than Kyrimai. This award-winning hotel comes complete with a stunning restaurant – the menu of which is filled with local wares and regionally-inspired dishes – and eighteen elegant rooms and suites.
7. Meandering through museums in Austria: Hotel Stefanie
If your idea of the perfect European holiday is one filled with museum tours and cultural experiences, Vienna should be your next destination. Its capital is filled with incredible museums, and while you may want to tailor which ones you visit to your own tastes, you mustn’t miss Belvedere. The famous establishment was founded by none other than Gustav Klimt himself (among others), who helped to make it one of Austria’s most famous art hubs. Even today, its exhibitions include some of Klimt’s own Golden Period creations.
After spending your days in museum heaven, check into Hotel Stefanie. The oldest hotel in Vienna (accommodating guests since the 1600s), the property is something of a museum in itself, and has been owned by the same family for generations. Thanks to their penchant for collecting, you’ll find some amazing antiques within its walls like clocks, old furniture and glassware.
8. Strolling around Croatia’s coasts: Hotel Villa Astra
Croatia is synonymous with the idea of golden beaches, swaying palm trees and azure waters – and for good reason. It’s a coast lover’s idyll, with no shortage of cultural attractions to its name, too. For the best of both, travellers should make haste to Lovran: one of the oldest coastal settlements in the country. Enjoy the fresh sea air from Kvarner Bay as you stroll the promenade or sample seafood in one of its many shoreline restaurants, then head to Hotel Villa Astra for moments of solitudinous bliss. Just a minute’s walk away from the coast, the villa features seven rooms, gorgeous green gardens and a pool in the middle of a pearly white terrace… a perfect private heaven.
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