Historic Hideaways: 10 Must-Stay European Hotels

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Europe’s landscape is dotted with hotels that are repositories of history, offering guests a unique window into the past. This guide is designed for travelers who wish to immerse themselves in European culture and heritage. Each hotel featured in this guide has been carefully selected for its historical significance, architectural grandeur, and the stories it holds secret. From the grandiose palaces of Italy to the elegant manors of England, these hotels offer a journey back in time, allowing guests to experience the luxury of bygone eras while enjoying modern comforts. Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, a cultural expedition, or simply looking for an extraordinary place to stay, this guide will lead you to some of Europe’s most remarkable historic hotels.

1. Hotel Sacher, Vienna, Austria

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Dietmar Rauscher

Established in 1876, Hotel Sacher in Vienna is as much a part of the city’s cultural heritage as the State Opera or the Belvedere Palace. Famous for being the birthplace of the original Sacher-Torte, a chocolate cake culinary symbol of Vienna, the hotel offers an exquisite blend of luxury, tradition, and the fine art of Viennese hospitality. Beyond its sumptuous rooms and suites, the hotel houses a significant collection of Austrian art, adding to its historic ambiance. Guests can enjoy modern amenities surrounded by décor that harks back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, making for a truly opulent stay.

Insider’s Tip: Do not miss the opportunity to enjoy afternoon tea in the marble hall, where you can savor a slice of the original Sacher-Torte in its birthplace. The experience is quintessentially Viennese and offers a taste of the city’s imperial past.

When to Travel: The best time to visit Vienna is from April to October when the weather is pleasant, and the city is alive with cultural events. However, visiting in December offers the unique experience of experiencing Vienna’s magical Christmas markets.

How to Get There: Vienna International Airport serves as the main gateway. You can take the City Airport Train (CAT), local S-Bahn trains, or a taxi to the city center. Hotel Sacher is located opposite the State Opera House, easily accessible by Vienna’s efficient public transport system or by taxi.

2. The Ritz, Paris, France

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / andersphoto

The Ritz Paris is an institution in the heart of the city, embodying the essence of Parisian chic and elegance. Opened in 1898 by César Ritz, the hotel quickly became a gathering place for the elite and the glamorous, including names like Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, and Princess Diana. Located on the prestigious Place Vendôme, the Ritz offers an unparalleled luxury experience, with rooms and suites hosting royalty, celebrities, and literary legends. The hotel’s bars and restaurants, particularly the Bar Hemingway, are steeped in history, offering guests a chance to dine and drink where the world’s luminaries once did.

Insider’s Tip: Reserve a table at L’Espadon, the Ritz’s Michelin-starred restaurant, for a dining experience that combines culinary excellence with the hotel’s historic ambiance. The setting, service, and cuisine offer a glimpse into the world of high Parisian society.

When to Travel: Paris is enchanting year-round, but spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) offer mild weather and fewer crowds. The city’s allure is undeniable during these seasons, with blooming gardens in spring and golden foliage in autumn.

How to Get There: Charles de Gaulle and Orly are the two main airports in Paris. You can take a taxi, bus, or train from the airport to the city center. The Ritz is situated in Place Vendôme, accessible via the Paris Métro (Concorde or Opéra stations) or by taxi.

3. The Savoy, London, England

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Stu22

Opened in 1889, The Savoy in London is a landmark of luxury and the famed British hospitality. Situated on the banks of the River Thames, the hotel has played host to royalty, celebrities, and literary figures, including Sir Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, and Claude Monet. The Savoy was the first luxury hotel in Britain to feature electric lights, elevators, and en-suite bathrooms, setting a new standard for elegance and innovation. The hotel’s Edwardian and Art Deco interiors are meticulously preserved, offering guests a timeless experience of London’s golden age of travel.

Insider’s Tip: Enjoy an evening at the American Bar, the oldest surviving cocktail bar in London, which has been serving guests since 1893. The bar’s classic cocktails and live jazz music make for an unforgettable night steeped in history.

When to Travel: The best times to visit London are during the spring (March to May) when the parks are green and blooming or in the fall (September to November) when the city is less crowded. The weather is generally mild during these periods.

How to Get There: London is served by five major airports, with Heathrow being the largest. From Heathrow, the Heathrow Express train takes you to Paddington Station in 15 minutes. The Savoy is located on the Strand, near Covent Garden, and is best reached by taxi or London Underground from Paddington.

4. Grand Hotel et de Milan, Milan, Italy

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Mate Karoly

Nestled in the heart of Milan’s fashion district, the Grand Hotel et de Milan has been a favorite among the artistic and cultural elite since its opening in 1863. The hotel retains its period charm, with rooms and suites that have welcomed illustrious guests such as Giuseppe Verdi, Maria Callas, and Caruso. Its proximity to La Scala Opera House has made it a preferred choice for opera lovers and performers. The hotel’s interiors, adorned with antique furniture and art, evoke the elegance of 19th-century Milan, offering a luxurious retreat in the bustling city.

Insider’s Tip: Book a room on the Verdi floor, where the composer himself lived for several years. Staying in one of these rooms offers a unique connection to Milan’s rich musical history and the legacy of one of Italy’s greatest composers.

When to Travel: The ideal times to visit Milan are during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October), when the weather is comfortable for exploring the city. These periods also avoid the peak tourist seasons.

How to Get There: Milan’s Malpensa Airport is the main international gateway. From Malpensa, you can take the Malpensa Express train to Milan Central Station. The Grand Hotel et de Milan is a short taxi ride from the station near the city’s famous La Scala Opera House.

5. Hotel Alfonso XIII, Seville, Spain

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / V_E

Commissioned by King Alfonso XIII for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition, Hotel Alfonso XIII remains one of Seville’s most prestigious landmarks. Designed in the Neo-Moorish style, the hotel is a masterpiece of Andalusian architecture, with its elaborate courtyards, ornate tiles, and elegant arches reflecting the region’s rich cultural heritage. Situated in the heart of the city, close to the Reales Alcázares and the Cathedral, the hotel offers guests the perfect base to explore Seville’s historical treasures. The rooms and suites blend Moorish, Castilian, and Andalusian décor, offering modern luxury amidst traditional craftsmanship. The hotel’s restaurants and bars, particularly the terrace overlooking the lush gardens, provide a culinary journey through Andalusian cuisine, with dishes that are as visually stunning as they are delicious.

Insider’s Tip: Make sure to spend an evening at the hotel’s Bar Americano, a stylish space that harks back to the glamour of the 1920s. Enjoy a cocktail inspired by the hotel’s history, accompanied by live music, for a truly immersive experience into Seville’s golden age.

When to Travel: The best time to visit Seville is during the spring (March to May) when the weather is pleasant, and the city celebrates its traditional festivals, such as Semana Santa and Feria de Abril.

How to Get There: Seville’s San Pablo Airport is the closest airport. A taxi or bus can take you to the city center from there. Hotel Alfonso XIII is centrally located, close to Seville’s major attractions, and easily accessible by taxi or public transport.

6. Belmond Hotel Caruso, Ravello, Italy

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Image Credit: Pexels / Michael Giugliano

Perched on a cliff overlooking the Amalfi Coast, the Belmond Hotel Caruso is a restored 11th-century palace offering breathtaking Mediterranean Sea views. The hotel’s infinity pool, seemingly suspended between sea and sky, is one of its most iconic features, providing a serene oasis of luxury. The rooms and suites are elegantly furnished, blending historical details with contemporary comfort, and many offer private terraces or gardens with panoramic views. The hotel’s gardens, filled with roses, jasmine, and citrus trees, celebrate the region’s natural beauty. Dining at the Belmond Hotel Caruso is an experience in itself, with the Belvedere Restaurant offering exquisite Italian cuisine in an unforgettable setting.

Insider’s Tip: Enjoy the hotel’s complimentary boat tour along the Amalfi Coast. It’s an exclusive opportunity to see the stunning coastline from the water, visiting secluded beaches and hidden coves that are otherwise inaccessible.

When to Travel: The Amalfi Coast is best visited from May to September when the weather is warm, and the Mediterranean Sea is perfect for swimming. Ravello also hosts the Ravello Festival during the summer, adding a cultural highlight to your visit.

How to Get There: The nearest major airport is in Naples. You can hire a car from Naples or take a bus to Ravello. The journey offers breathtaking views of the Amalfi Coast. Belmond Hotel Caruso is situated in the heart of Ravello, overlooking the coast.

7. The Grand Hotel Kronenhof, Pontresina, Switzerland

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Image Credit: Pexels / Timo Volz

Nestled in the Engadin valley with stunning views of the Swiss Alps, The Grand Hotel Kronenhof is a monument to the grandeur of 19th-century hotel culture. Built in 1848 and expanded in its current neo-baroque style in 1897, the hotel offers a perfect blend of historical elegance and modern luxury. Its majestic facade and opulent interiors, including a stunning lobby that evokes the glamour of a bygone era, make it a landmark of Swiss hospitality. Guests can indulge in gourmet dining, a world-class spa, and a range of outdoor activities that change with the seasons, from skiing in the winter to hiking and golfing in the summer months. The hotel’s commitment to preserving its heritage while offering contemporary comforts makes it a timeless retreat in one of the most breathtaking settings in Europe.

Insider’s Tip: Don’t miss the opportunity to dine in the Grand Restaurant, where the dress code and stunning Belle Époque decor transport guests back in time. The experience is complemented by exquisite Swiss cuisine, making for an unforgettable evening.

When to Travel: Winter (December to March) for skiing and snowboarding and summer (June to August) for hiking and outdoor activities. The region’s beauty is distinct and inviting in both seasons.

How to Get There: The nearest major airport is in Zurich. You can take a scenic train ride from Zurich to Pontresina via the Swiss Rail System (SBB). The Grand Hotel Kronenhof is a short taxi ride from the Pontresina train station.

8. The Gritti Palace, Venice, Italy

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / EQRoy

Overlooking the Grand Canal, The Gritti Palace is a jewel of Venetian history, originally built in 1475 as a residence for the noble Gritti family before being transformed into a hotel in the 19th century. The hotel embodies the spirit and splendor of Venice, with its sumptuous rooms adorned with precious fabrics, antique furniture, and artworks that reflect the city’s rich artistic heritage. The Gritti Palace has hosted illustrious guests, including royalty, artists, and writers, who have all been captivated by its timeless beauty and impeccable service. The hotel’s terrace, offering panoramic views of the Grand Canal, is a perfect spot for savoring Venetian cuisine and watching the city’s vibrant life unfold.

Insider’s Tip: Book a cooking class at the hotel’s Epicurean School to immerse yourself in Venetian culinary traditions. It’s a hands-on way to experience the local culture and learn how to create authentic Venetian dishes.

When to Travel: Visit Venice in the spring (April to June) or fall (September to November) to enjoy mild weather and fewer crowds. These periods also capture the city’s charm and beauty, away from the peak tourist seasons.

How to Get There: Venice Marco Polo Airport is the closest international airport. You can take a water taxi or the Alilaguna water bus from the airport to Venice. The Gritti Palace is located on the Grand Canal, easily accessible by water taxi, which can drop you directly at the hotel.

9. Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Ireland

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kwiatek7

With a history dating back to 1228, Ashford Castle is a magnificent five-star hotel set on a 350-acre estate in the west of Ireland. This medieval castle has been exquisitely restored, offering guests the opportunity to live like royalty amid luxurious accommodations, fine dining, and a wealth of activities, including falconry, fishing, and horse riding. The castle’s rich history is palpable in every stone and tapestry, offering a unique window into Ireland’s past. The estate’s stunning natural beauty, encompassing lush woodlands and serene lakes, adds to the enchantment of a stay at Ashford Castle, making it a quintessential Irish experience.

Insider’s Tip: Take advantage of the unique opportunity to engage with the castle’s resident falcons through the on-site School of Falconry. It’s a rare and thrilling experience to interact with these majestic birds in such a historic setting.

When to Travel: The best time to visit is during the spring (April to May) and early fall (September to October), when Ireland’s countryside is particularly beautiful, and the weather is conducive to exploring the estate and the surrounding region.

How to Get There: The nearest international gateway is Shannon Airport. You can rent a car from Shannon or arrange a private transfer to Ashford Castle. The journey through the Irish countryside is part of the experience, leading you to the historic castle estate.

10. Pera Palace Hotel, Istanbul, Turkey

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Image Credit: Pexels / R. Yasin Asil

Opened in 1892 to host passengers of the Orient Express, the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul is a bridge between East and West, embodying the mystique and allure of the late Ottoman Empire. The hotel’s elegant guest rooms, including the Agatha Christie Suite, where the author is said to have written “Murder on the Orient Express,” are a testament to its storied past. The Pera Palace has welcomed numerous distinguished guests over the years, from Ernest Hemingway to Greta Garbo, making it a living museum of hospitality. Its location in the vibrant Beyo?lu district allows guests easy access to Istanbul’s rich tapestry of history, culture, and cuisine.

Insider’s Tip: Enjoy traditional Turkish tea in the Kubbeli Saloon Tea Lounge, where the hotel’s historical ambiance is complemented by live classical music, offering a peaceful respite from the bustling city outside.

When to Travel: Istanbul is best visited during spring (April to May) and fall (September to October), when the city enjoys pleasant weather, making it ideal for exploring its rich history and vibrant street life.

How to Get There: Istanbul is served by two main airports: Istanbul Airport (IST) on the European side and Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW) on the Asian side. From either airport, taxis, shuttles, or private transfers can take you to the city center. Pera Palace Hotel is located in the Beyo?lu district, known for its cultural, artistic, and historical landmarks, and is easily accessible by taxi or public transport from both airports.

The Bottom Line

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / dotshock

Staying in one of Europe’s historic hotels offers way more than just a luxurious escape; it’s an immersion into the continent’s history and culture. These hotels are custodians of stories and traditions, offering unique stays to explore Europe’s past and present. Whether it’s the alpine majesty of The Grand Hotel Kronenhof, the Venetian elegance of The Gritti Palace, the regal splendor of Ashford Castle, or the cross-continental charm of Pera Palace Hotel, each stay promises an unforgettable journey through time.

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The post Historic Hideaways: 10 Must-Stay European Hotels republished on Passing Thru with permission from The Green Voyage.

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