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Best Hotels in Europe 2018 Reader’s Choice Awards

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Best Hotels in Europe 2018 Reader's Choice Awards 1

Courtesy Belmond/Photo by Tommy Picone

Two are indisputably better than one at the Belmond Hotel Splendido and Belmond Splendido Mare, a dual-property entity sitting high above Portofino cove. Both halves carry with them a bit of history: the 670-room Hotel Splendido was once a 16th-century monastery known for withstanding attacks from Saracen pirates, while the other, 16-room “Mare” half sits on the piazzetta, a respite from the lively Ligurian harbor. Outside, fragrant bundles of wisteria and straight-backed juniper bushes flank its winding cobblestone walkways, while rooms mostly come with terra-cotta-tiled terraces where you can take your morning cappuccino—some offer up stunning panoramic views of the cove.

Jim Hensley/Courtesy Hotel Continental

The fourth-generation, family-owned Hotel Continental is one of the oldest and most established hotels in Oslo—but it’s not just its pedigree that makes it a notable stay. Located on the doorstep of some of the city’s main tourist attractions, including the Royal Castle, the parade street Karl Johan, the National Gallery, the waterfront, and the Aker Brygge neighborhood, it’s in a veritable hotbed of activity. The five-star spot caters to an accordingly upscale crowd, with plenty of business travelers in the mix, but there are also locals swinging by for pre-dinner cocktails at Bar Boman, the stylish hotel bar—so you won’t feel at all sequestered from the scene.

Originally the Royal Danish Embassy, designed in the late 1930s by the same architect as the city’s famed KaDeWe department store, Das Stue opened its doors as a hotel in early 2013. Spanish-born interior designer Patricia Urquiola has created a playful mix of old-meets-new, which has attracted a chic clientele. Das Stue occupies prime real estate in more ways than one: sitting on the edge of the Tiergarten, it’s a mere 1.6 miles from the famed Brandenburg Gate. Decor is modern but peaceful, with floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows—many rooms have views of the park. When you need to relax after a day out sightseeing, head to the 260-square meter spa, which has a 14-meter long indoor pool and a Finnish glass sauna.

This is a hotel you might’ve dreamt of when you were little—though we doubt you were this imaginative. The place truly is a palace, though from the front, it’s tough to discern its size: You pull into a private, paved drive, with a fairly modest entrance, and a beautiful, if somewhat smallish lobby, and it’s not until you make it out to the back of the hotel that you realize its scale. Set on a hill overlooking the aquamarine (yes, actually aquamarine) waters of Lake Geneva, you’ll first notice the immaculately manicured gardens, the thin strips of outdoor pools, and the piqued tent tops under which people are taking their lunch al fresco. Hard to believe, but it only gets better from there.

Those longing for the timeless elegance of Old World Europe need look no further than the Fairmont Hotel. Since its opening in 1897, this grand dame on the banks of Hamburg’s Inner Alster Lake has drawn travelers for its elegance, service, discretion, and attention to detail. (The hotel counts Maria Callas, Peter Ustinov, and Prince Heinrich of Prussia among its former guests.) Notable, too, are its spacious rooms, curated interiors, and two-Michelin star Haerlin restaurant. The hotel even has a “dog waiting room” for restaurant guests reluctant to part with their pooches—talk about service.

A few miles inland from the Mediterranean, this 67-room hotel on the Costa del Sol is the elegant centerpiece of an ambitious real estate project that includes private villas and a top-rated golf course. Surrounded by impeccably landscaped grounds, the Finca Cortesin took its cues from traditional Spanish farmhouses—low, whitewashed, terra-cotta-tile-roofed, and built around interior courtyards that often have a Moorish decor. Take advantage of the complex’s three restaurants, superb spa with an indoor saltwater pool (there are two outdoor pools), a high-tech gym with Med views, a hammam, and a Finnish-style snow room.

Courtesy Starwood Hotels & Resorts/Photo by George Fakaros

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Building a hotel into the face of Santorini’s dramatic sea cliffs lends an immediate advantage: The location alone is enough to make it a showstopper. Happily, the 18-room Mystique lives up to its stunning site, and is well worth the step-filled trip it takes to get there. The free-form rooms, decorated in what might be called cave-art style (driftwood for headboards, a dining table and chairs that appear to be made of egg-shaped boulders), are carved directly into the cliff, and the views—toward the town of Fira—are magnificent.

Courtesy Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo

This Belle Époque hotel was built in 1886 on land that previously belonged to Pope Leo XIII—and pedigree aside, there’s plenty to appreciate. Located near Casino Square, its design has a contemporary edge and a glass-domed atrium, and guests can enjoy excellent food throughout; try Yoshi, opened by Joël Robuchon, for Japanese delicacies in a secluded garden dining room. The spa is also top-notch, with a sauna, hammam, caldarium, ice fountain, and aromatherapy showers to round it out.

Courtesy Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine

A two-hour drive north of Madrid will get you to this massive converted Baroque-Romanesque abbey surrounded by vineyards. Abadia’s aesthetic feels medieval—in a good way—with vaulted ceilings, thick stone walls, and a silent cloister, minus the drafty bedrooms, ash-littered fireplaces, and drab brocade curtains. In their place are bright and airy pieces of modern furniture accented by warm wood and soaring windows, plus a one-starred Michelin restaurant, Refectorio. Examine the peeling frescoes while you make your way through a prix-fixe menu that might include smoked cauliflower soup and roasted squab with an artichoke and olive confit.

Opened in 1844 and operated by the same family ever since, this property has hosted the likes of Joan Miró and Plácido Domingo. Set in a garden near the Bahnhofstrasse shopping drag (Zurich’s equivalent of Fifth Avenue), the hotel looks right onto Lake Zurich and the Alps—but that’s not the only nice view. Inside, rooms tastefully mix Art Deco, Louis XVI, and Regency styles, and are individually decorated in neutral tones with red, purple, and teal accents—though, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a room with a balcony on the water. Rive Gauche is a chic Mediterranean restaurant, while the seasonal Rive Gauche Terrasse is a popular open-air spot for chilled cocktails on warm summer nights. If you’re really keen to splurge, the Michelin-starred Pavillon is worth the indulgence.

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