We take a look at the people behind the continent’s historic hotels.
Villa Le Barone: Tuscany, Italy
Once the summer retreat of Florentine ceramist and sculptor Luca Della Robbia, famous for his glazed terracotta roundels and the Cantoria in the Cathedral of Florence, the villa was later converted into one of the first boutique hotels in Chianti by Marchesa Maria Bianca Viviani Della Robbia’s daughter, Duchess Franca Visconti.
Today, Villa Le Barone is the property of Visconti’s heirs, who you will certainly be able to meet during your stay. The villa offers a peaceful retreat in the romantic rolling hills of Tuscany, boasting blooming gardens and classic Tuscan food and wine.
Chateau Bjertorp: Kvänum, Sweden
It’s original owner, Knut Henrik Littorin, built his fortune in oil and gas investments throughout Russia. He built the sumptuous palatial building on the land where he grew up as a child, once his father’s farm.
His spirit remains in the walls of the castle; from the impressive marble cloakroom to the Russian bears displayed in the foyer (according to the story, felled by Littorin himself).
Dr Holms Hotel: Geilo, Norway
Holms was a specialist in respiratory diseases who wished to establish the ultimate place of restoration, where his patients could breathe fresh mountain air. His revitalising retreat has since become one of the most famous resort hotels in Norway.
Whether you wish to enjoy warm summer hikes in the mountain ranges, or hit the slopes on skis in the winter, Dr Holms Hotel offers a blissful escape. Today the hotel boasts 126 rooms, a classic restuarant, piano bar, pub, wine cellar (with tasting) and of course, Dr Holms Spa (the only Shiseido Spa in Scandinavia).