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Hotel lounge area with tan leather soft seating, black bookshelves with ornaments, red and neutral marbled tile floor and steps up to French windows

Hot hotels: winter warmers

It’s glühwein-glugging time as Hannah Ralph scours Europe for the cosiest, snuggest and all-round most inviting boltholes to warm the cockles of your heart this winter

01/10/2020Fact-checked 19/11/2020

(Piers Belmont)


The New Inn, Cotswolds

You’ve heard of Bourton-on-the-Water, Burford and Stow-on-the-Wold, but chances are, you’ve not come across Coln St Aldwyns. Let’s rectify that. In a county of ancient Tolkienesque churches, this classic Cotswolds village has all the charm with none of the crowds. It’s also the home of a 500-year-old pub whose recent facelift has already proven a huge hit with wisteria-seeking weekenders. Creaking open its doors last month, The New Inn has been lovingly revamped under the management of long-time friends Baz and Fred, and is a real hug: roaring fires, climbing ivy, wonky beams, roll-top baths and snug nooks that demand the drinking of red wine. Plus, you’re within a 25-minute drive of all those villages you already know and love.

The inn has 14 impeccably styled en suite rooms, but groups or families looking for a little extra space should invest in its self-catered sister cottage next door, which sleeps up to 12.

Baz and Fred’s wood-fired pizzas pioneered the Cotswolds’ street food scene, but here, it’s all about the burgers. Our favourite was the Big Shack – beef patty, Red Leicester, smoked pancetta and an nduja mayo, but veggies fear not, the portobello mushroom option is also a deep-fried delight.

In the pub, huddled up in a leather chair by the flickering fire, snacking on small plates that are just a little bit ‘London’, snow falling outside the windowpane. Dreamy.

Take off to The New Inn

(Søren Kristensen)


Nobis Hotel, Copenhagen

It’s the run-up to Christmas, and you’ve, quite correctly, followed the sweet scent of gløgg all the way to Copenhagen. To squeeze the most festivity out of this chicest of capitals, Tivoli (everyone’s favourite fairy-lit amusement park) is the place to be, and the best spot for exploring Tivoli is Nobis (also in opening image). Unlike its dazzling neighbour, Nobis is an exercise in minimalism, its guest book a roll call of classy city breakers enticed by clean lines and a creative crowd. Soft tan leathers, crisp white linens, Bardiglio marble, matt blacks and petrol blues make up the mood board, while the exterior is all honey-hued brick and topiary. And yet, the design still manages to come second to the food, so be sure to make a meal of it at the hotel’s supreme restaurant, Noi.

Most will go for the four-poster Deluxe (it’s luck of the draw if yours has a bath or a shower), but only the Nobis Suite will throw in nightly dinners, breakfasts, spa packages, Champagne, and your own exclusive city centre apartment.

Right next door to the hotel and free to visit on Tuesdays, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is a goldmine of precious art and exotic fauna collected by the Danish brewery heir, Carl Jacobsen. Think Kew Gardens meets the British Museum.

Hopping from the hotel spa’s hammam hot stone to its cold plunge pool and right back again. Or cosied up in your magnificent tub, Meraki bath bomb still fizzing.

Take off to Nobis Hotel Copenhagen


Hotel Kitzhof Mountain Design Resort

Innsbruck, Vienna, Salzburg – all perfectly exceptional Austrian cities. But to experience the country’s real magic, be prepared to put in a drive. Clocking in at just over an hour behind the wheel from both Salzburg and Innsbruck, Hotel Kitzhof Mountain Design Resort sits among the low peaks of Kitzbühel, a pretty town that’s home to the world’s toughest ski run, the (aptly named) Streif. Hotel interiors walk a fine alpine line – modern enough to make you sit up and take note, but rustic enough to make you feel as if you’re in an old mountain hut, hiding out from the snow. There’s a pool to soothe achy limbs, ample conference rooms for all your business needs and a walk-in wine cellar where oenophiles can (and should) try the tasting menu of updated Tyrolean classics.

The six ‘studios’ on the top floor will win the most hearts, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a blanket-laden balcony, perfect for drinking in the distant Kitzbüheler Horn mountain.

All the restaurants are lovely, but alpine enthusiasts will particularly enjoy Kitz Alm’s old wood and mountain lodge vibes. Start with ladles of beef bouillon soup and kaspressknödel (cheesy dumplings), and end with, you guessed it, schnapps.  

Seated in the Kitz lounge (grab one of the fluffy chairs), with a cappuccino and apfelstrudel at the ready, looking out over Kitzbühel’s snow-capped peaks.

Take off to Hotel Kitzhof Mountain Design Resort


Sir Nikolai

While tourists trawl between trendy districts in Berlin, Hamburg’s compact charms, Christmassy squares and sprinkle of maritime magic make it a Deutsch dream come wintertime. A ten-minute stroll from Rathausmarkt – the most famous of Hamburg’s festive plätze – Sir Nikolai nicks cultural kudos from its prime Altstadt location and Kunstmeile ‘art trail’ of five artistic institutions that takes off from the hotel’s doorstep. It’s also ten minutes from Hamburg’s Chocolate Museum, with ‘choco-guides’ to whisk you (and your sweet-toothed tykes) around the city’s tastiest attraction. Back at the hotel, the building – a former seed house, no less – is seven stories of sophistication, where warm tones and velvety textures make every corner cosy. Sir Hotels is a clever little brand, so expect plenty of witty touches and more books than you’ll have time to read.

Get ready for Hamburg’s comfiest beds in Hamburg’s artsiest rooms. Out of the window, you’ll see the hotel courtyard, outside streets or Nikolaifleet canal – ask for the latter.

Heart set on the capital? Sir Hotels has another knockout property in Berlin, Sir Savigny, with pick-your-pillow menus and dial-a-burger buttons (yes, you heard us). Pitched in literary Charlottenburg, it’s a corker for a long weekend.  

Raiding the mini bar in your debonair digs or enjoying a fireside soirée, wintry cocktail in hand, at Sir Nikolai’s library-cum-lobby.

Take off to Sir Nikolai


Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace

Four Seasons properties are almost beyond review, thanks to them being so consistently and over-the-top’ly excellent. But let’s try. Gresham Palace may be the priciest in the city, but €15 each for breakfast in the sumptuous Kollázs Brasserie & Bar is a score. The prices may be about paying for the privilege of merely sleeping, but what a great sleep it is. You’ll be pampered by staff (whose service is sweet, not stuffy), spot every great Budapest landmark from the hotel windows, waltz down grand stairwells like an aspiring debutant and take dips in the top-floor infinity pool. You’ll barely want to leave, but you probably should. After all, no one does Christmas quite like the Hungarians.

You won’t find much difference in interiors, but you will in views. We like the Danube River View Suite, which offers up the river, Chain Bridge, Buda Hills, Royal Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion, all in one fell swoop.

Put on your most charming smile and ask about a room upgrade at check-in: the price to bump up a room category might surprise you.

Enveloped in Art Nouveau opulence in the hotel’s Piano Bar – slap bang in the middle of its lobby beneath the arching, stained-glass ceiling. The pianist takes requests.  

Take off to Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace


Exeter Hotel by Keahotels

Choosing a hotel in Iceland can be tricky. First of all, your hotel is never going to beat what’s going on outside, such is the country’s outrageous beauty. Second, the few five-stars that it has are all quite happy to bankrupt you. If you are willing to dig deep, book The Retreat at Blue Lagoon – a world-class spa hotel cocooned within Iceland’s most famous geothermal waters. If not, fear not, because we’ve found Exeter Hotel, a lovely spot that’s handsome enough to make you want to stick around (its 106 guestrooms are industrial chic personified) and affordable enough. Plus, it has a sauna that’ll restore your body temperature to acceptable levels after a snowy stroll around colourful, downtown Reykjavik, all but ten minutes away.


Dotted throughout Iceland, all ten Keahotels properties champion design, but these harbourside boudoirs just hit the spot: parquet floors, subway tiles and moody, low-lit desks that would make an old-school detective feel right at home.

While everyone, quite rightly, loves the Blue Lagoon, those willing to travel will find equally blissful hot springs for half the price at Iceland’s best kept secret, literally named the Secret Lagoon, bubbling away in the village of Flúðir.

Picking up still-warm pastries from the hotel’s bakery (prepare to forge a deep and unbreakable bond with the crème brûlée doughnuts) and strolling Reykjavik’s antiquey harbour district.

Take off to Exeter Hotel by Keahotels

British Airways Holidays is here to help you find your perfect break. From carefully selected hotels to straightforward car hire, all costs are included in the final price, meaning there are no surprise extras. Plus, with a Customer Promise, ATOL protection and a 24-hour helpline, you’ll have total peace of mind when booking your holiday.

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