We believe there’s more to travel than meets the eye. Our collection of historic hotels deliver once-in-a-lifetime experiences in magical destinations across Europe. Wherever you decide to to visit, each of our members have been handpicked for the way they bring all of the following elements together:
1. Uncovering unexplored history
We get the most out of travel when there is a deeper meaning to it. Europe has long enchanted travellers with its abundance in history, architecture, archaeology and culture. No one forgets their first admiring glance of Michelangelo’s David in Florence, or finally spotting Athens’ Acropolis in the distance. If you’re stuck on destinations this year, try Lisbon. Spend your break learning all about St George’s Castle or exploring UNESCO World Heritage sites such as Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery. Pay respect to Portugal’s late and great in the Lisbon National Pantheon before checking into Hotel Britania – the only-surviving Art Deco hotel in Lisbon, to experience real-life time travel in a building designed by famous Portuguese modernist architect Cassiano Branco.
2. Finding lesser-known destinations
Be honest – how many times have you daydreamed about going completely off-radar? Away from day-to-day stresses and responsibilities. The joy of Europe is just how easy it is to reach these lesser-known, horde-free destinations. Try the Deep Mani in Greece this year – a criminally overlooked area filled with mysterious caves, ghost villages, azure waters and olive-speckled greenlands. Our Mani-based member property Kyrimai has been described by The Guardian as ‘a gorgeous place that pays full attention to local history and tradition, both in its buildings and food’.
3. Making friends with the locals
It’s a rare quality for a hotel to make you feel at home, away from home, but we know the best places to do just that. Let’s start with the inns – home to open fires, warm welcomes and great conversation. From Bear Hotel in Wales (popular with Johnny Depp, Robbie Williams and Gordon Ramsey) to Irish haven Bushmills Inn, we’ve listed the cosiest country pubs with rooms in Europe, where strangers become friends in an instant.
4. Experiencing different cultures
As we’ve discovered, ancient stories, landmarks and objects are in no short supply on this continent. With them, Europe delivers culture in buckets. From the moment that distinct local cuisine melts into your taste buds for the very first time, to sitting in the same spaces some of the world’s greatest thinkers, writers, artists, musicians, actors and architects have once graced, there’s a deep, soulful, creative energy to be found. If walls could speak, the ones in Hotel Waldhaus Sils would have centuries of stories to tell. The five-star Swiss stay has greeted everyone from Albert Einstein to David Bowie through its doors. Click here to experience the cultural treasure trove for yourself.
5. Getting in on the fun
The musty smell of riding on horseback through garden-fresh countryside, the thrill of finding an untouched milky duvet of snow to ski down, and the everlasting travel stories you collect along the way. It’s difficult to know what to do first at Gimo Herrgard Hotel, just north of Stockholm. This forest-based retreat dates back to 18th-century, before travellers spent their holidays on Instagram and Facebook. Good old-fashioned downtime here remains as it was in the 1760s – take part in a game of boule, clay-pigeon shooting, rowing, canoeing, golf, cycling, hiking and wine-tasting.