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The pool at Cap St Georges Hotel & Resort

The best hotels in Europe for every type of trip

You know the sort of trip you’d like to take next but where, then, should you stay?  We’ve done the hard slog of inspecting the best hotels in Europe, whatever your holidaymaking whims may be


01/02/2024

Living area of a suite at Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco

Best for… indulgence, but make it ravishing

Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, Tuscany

Set on a hilltop in the Unesco-protected valley of Val d’Orcia, this mediaeval estate has all the trappings of a dreamy Tuscan sojourn, being home to the world-leading Castiglion del Bosco winery, a sprawling Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course and Rosewood’s magnificent and, to date, only Italian property. The site itself is cinematic, where Gucci-clad locals and jet-setting glitterati quaff negronis at the hotel’s Michelin-starred Ristorante Campo del Drago, before setting off for lessons in ravioli folding and tastings of Brunello di Montalcino – the home-grown plonk – to truffle hunting in the Sienese hills. Suites are a lesson in effortless elegance, clad in pastoral tones with rustic, wrought-iron four-poster beds, gilded mirrors and chic furnishings handpicked by Chiara Ferragamo, Salvatore’s daughter-in-law. Come dusk, tear yourself away from your decadent quarters for a dip in one of the twinkling infinity pools, from which you can watch the sun sink behind the surrounding russet and olive-green woodlands.

HIGH LIFE SAYS
Stop by the spa to have your body buffed with a regenerating olive oil scrub, followed by a bespoke facial using plumping masques and serums from the illustrious 800-year-old Florentine apothecary, Santa Maria Novella.

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The Chedi Lustica Bay, Montenegro

Best for… strolls amid superyachts

The Chedi Lustica Bay, Montenegro

Tiny Montenegro punches well above its weight when it comes to its coastline, with mountain-backdropped beaches and rocky coves framing bays of azure blue. Less than half an hour’s drive from Kotor, with its cobbled squares and pastel palazzos, is the Chedi, overlooking Lustica Bay’s smart, yacht-dotted marina. (Upgrade to a room with a balcony, or a sea-view bath to bask in.) Wake up to the sunlight glinting on the sea, then decide how to spend your day – backdropped, at every turn, by the blue of sea and sky. There’s a pebbly, pontoon-edged private beach with a terrace for leisurely lunches, and an outdoor pool to daydream by, with infinity-edge Adriatic views. If the vistas tempt you from your lounger, kayaks and paddleboards await, while, back from the coast, bike and hiking trails wind through the olive groves and mountains. Come the evening, stroll through the marina, with its gleaming, gently bobbing yachts, idly imagining a new life built around deck shoes and decadence. Not on the cards for the moment? Find consolation back at the Chedi, with dinner and cocktails on its laidback waterfront terrace.

HIGH LIFE SAYS
If you’ve arrived feeling burned out, start the day with beachfront yoga, or sign up for a herbal-poultice massage in the serene, light-filled spa.

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The vast pool at Savoy Palace, Funchal, Madeira

Best for… a sweet winter sun escape

Savoy Palace, Funchal, Madeira

Touch down in Madeira any time of year, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a sun-soaked stay in this subtropical paradise. And if you’re after a lovely all-rounder for your sun-seeking travels, Savoy Palace delivers on all fronts – just minutes from Funchal’s centre, with horizon-reaching views off the island’s southern coast, next-level dining and one of the largest hotel spas in Portugal. If you’ve arrived from more frigid climes, decamp immediately to the vast and glittering outdoor pool, framed by towering palms, dangling vines and tropical, colour-flooded flora, where swanning and swimming are the order of the day. Savoy Palace’s theme is splendour and size, and, true to form, the spa (as the abovementioned accolade suggests) is sprawling, moodily lit and instantly calming, with a heated indoor pool, a Himalayan salt room, Jacuzzi, ice fountain, and sauna and steam rooms. After a palliative few hours chez sauna, don your glad rags for a mesmerising feed at the hotel’s top floor restaurant, Galáxia Skyfood, where the tasting menu flaunts sensational Madeiran flavour blends spanning fermented fish carpaccio with mango and ponzu sauce to moreish Santo da Serra cured cheese tortellini.

HIGH LIFE SAYS
If you’re partial to Madeira wine, book in for an exclusive tasting with Blandy’s, one of the island’s most established producers, where you’ll learn how the family-owned business is evolving with the changing climate while sampling some the estate’s finest vintages.

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Family room at Hôtel de la Boétie, Paris (Simon Brown)

Best for… a romantic getaway

Hôtel de la Boétie, Paris

For bold hues and whimsical escapism, this Parisian bolthole has it covered. This 40-room 19th-century building in the eighth arrondissement is the perfect spot for couples seeking an ultra-cute stay in the City of Lights, easily within throwing distance of the Champs and the Seine few blocks further south. Swedish interior designer Beata Heuman’s fantastical colour-drenched style is evident in the hotel’s pitch-green carpet, luxurious flamingo-pink sheets and woven tapestry headboards emblazoned with bright, swirling patterns. A rotary phone, a Magimix coffee machine and Frances Glory Costelloe artwork are joyful accompaniments, while retro pale-green chequerboard bathroom tiles, berry-coloured ‘B’ embroidered towels and Diptyque toiletries complete the snug but sweet bathroom. Come morning, delight in French viennoiseries in the breakfast room under artist Kirsty Lackie’s bespoke acrylic painting, The Waiter.

HIGH LIFE SAYS
You’re minutes from the Champs-Élysées, so begin your day at Galeries Lafayette, before exploring the neighbouring luxury stores. Book the Boétie’s top floor for classic Parisian cast-iron balconies overlooking the city.

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Best for…  an artsy weekender

Château Royal, Berlin

Your kind of city break is spent rescuing antiques from outdoor flea markets, sipping briny martinis in too-cool bars and being thoroughly moved by the pithiest of historic monuments: that’s why you’re in Berlin. Your hotel choice, meanwhile, should be worthy of your meticulously planned gallery-crawl. It explains how you’ve found yourself bumping into Alicja Kwade⁠’s five-foot Selbstporträt als Geist (Self-Portrait as Ghost) sculpture under the glowing red sign of the Château Royal. And while the rooms inside all share a family resemblance – dark parquet floors, Berlin subway station-inspired tiles and sheer, slinky fabrics – the hotel’s handy hashtag, #93rooms93artists, outlines the core concept: 93 artists are each assigned a room and allowed to ‘go wild’. Of the 100-plus permanent art exhibits here, many can be spotted in the communal spaces. Spy them in the fireside lounge, Icelandic-influenced restaurant – where Karl Holmqvist’s Hurrah, Die Butter ist Alle (Hurrah, There’s No Butter Left!) neon work hangs above the breakfast spread – its entrance and lobby (look up for Paul Hance’s stained-glass lamps), as well as the rooftop terrace and buzzy bar. There may be a lift, but return guests know to take the stairwell, where more masterpieces are hiding…

HIGH LIFE SAYS
Take a bit of Château Royal home with you in the form of a (rather trendy) branded jumper, T-shirt or dark green baseball cap. These, alongside the hotel’s organic toiletries and even the furniture, can be purchased at reception.

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Biggest room at The Harper, Norfolk

Best for… a rural staycation

The Harper, Norfolk

You might expect cosy credentials from a boutique retreat set in a pretty, historic village off the North Norfolk coast – but The Harper ups the ante by blending classic British bolthole tropes with modern irreverent touches. Take Ivy’s, a vast sitting room where leather sofas, plush armchairs and a wood-burning stove meet a neon-lit sign with the words ‘Blow me away’ (a nod to the building’s former guise as a glassblowing factory). The stylish home-from-home vibe continues at casual but charming Stanley’s dining room next door, where you can sit beneath giant emoji artwork while sampling the best of Norfolk’s land-and-sea larder (the local lamb topped with crispy anchovy tempura is particularly memorable). No matter which room category you plump for – there’s Big, Bigger and Biggest – you’ll be whipping out the ‘Do not disturb’ sign in no time, thanks to the sprawling four-poster beds, toasty underfloor heating and the option of having breakfast delivered to your door. Even the central courtyard doesn’t miss the chill memo: as dusk falls, its crackling fire pits and twinkling fairy lights even make the outdoors feel snug.

HIGH LIFE SAYS
The blink-and-you’ll-miss it barn-style spa is the perfect place to revive aching muscles after a long coastal walk. Book the deep tissue massage for 55 minutes of tension-blasting joy.

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Vila Planinka in Slovenia’s Jezersko valley (Suzan Gabrijan)

Best for… going off-grid

Vila Planinka, Slovenia

If you want to sever ties with the world for a weekend (or longer), this is the place for you. Just a half hour from Ljubljana airport, this boutique resort is tucked away in the mind-bendingly beautiful Jezersko valley, where the forests are dense, the lakes clear as cut crystal and cows outnumber humans per square mile. Inside, the vibe is earthy, with walls fashioned from timber and stone and decorative antiques that paint a picture of rural Slovenian life, from wicker-encased water jugs to workers’ jackets set in grand glass frames. Once checked in, it’s time to make the most of your remoteness: get your bearings on one of the resort’s mountain e-bikes before taking on one of the valley’s more vertiginous hikes, with the promise of a flaky strudel at the summit’s mountain hut café. Back at HQ, dinner is a full-blown spectacle, offering a menu that changes daily, with dishes that use only locally grown ingredients and the option to pair each plate with wines from the resort’s all-Slovenian 250-strong cellar. Appetite sated, totter up to your gorgeously rustic suite, dressed up with sheepskin rugs and hand-drawn sketches of local flowers, with not a single electronic device or service in sight, and that means, whisper it.. no Wi-Fi. Bliss.

HIGH LIFE SAYS
Slovenian wine is having a moment, and few resorts have more informed staff than Vila Planinka’s. Get to know fellow guests with an afternoon’s tasting and sample the country’s finest, from flavourful biodynamic to fresh and zesty orange wines.

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Suite at Cap St Georges (also opening image)

Best for… flying and flopping in style

Cap Saint Georges, Cyprus

A word of warning: cross the threshold of this impressive resort and you might find plans to explore the Mediterranean island’s coves and vineyards drift away with the sea breeze. Built from handsome Cypriot stone and lined with ancient olive trees, this seaside gem curves alongside a coastal path stretching from the resort’s own sandy beach to a tranquil spot favoured by local seals. Take your cues from these nap-loving mammals: there’s much quality lounging to be done here, whether you’ve set your sights on a wave-view day bed or a lounger by the Olympic-sized pool. Cocktails are shaken, stirred and sipped on Chroma Lounge’s sunset-facing terrace. Better yet, book a Residence room for one last golden-hour dip in your private pool. The resort is family-friendly – there’s a gelateria, outdoor cinema, kids’ club and crowd-pleasing teppanyaki restaurant – but the atmosphere is decidedly grown-up. Honourable mentions go to the Cleopatra Spa’s herb-scented steam room and hydrotherapy pool, and the nearby horse ranch: bonus stops on your path to total relaxation.

HIGH LIFE SAYS
You will have to muster a modicum of energy to sample Cap Saint George’s ten restaurants and bars. Facing the agora, indoor-outdoor Sapori is our pick of the bunch. Book a table for refined takes on Italian classics and tiramisu expertly assembled before your eyes.

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Studio suite at London’s Trafalgar St James

Best for… historic city charm

Trafalgar St James, London

Steps from London’s must-see landmarks such as the National Gallery, this five-star hotel combines modern urban style with the glamour of travel’s golden age. Rooms are resplendent in contemporary colour palettes of bold blues and deep reds, while Art Deco influences include sleek light features and striking mirrors. Fitting right into the glam is iconic wall art featuring London idols, from Mick Jagger to Vivienne Westwood and artwork throughout the hotel by celebrity photographer Dave Hogan, which continue to impress since he held his exhibition, Hogie’s Heroes, at this very place. Toast the city’s greats at The Rooftop, where you’ll find evening DJs, private dining at ROOM and Tipple Tea, an afternoon tea for cocktail lovers that pairs treats with drinks such as the Spring Garden (created from Tanqueray Gin, white port, lavender essence, Italicus, citrus and aquafaba). For cocktails in a cosier scene, head to Rockwell, whose superb modern European dishes give yet another reason to raise a glass.

HIGH LIFE SAYS
The hotel’s location is as central as you can get, making for unsurpassable sights of London’s cultural gems. Suites are named after celebrated contributors to Trafalgar Square and have pinch-me views of the iconic landmarks they created (opt for The Landseer Suite for a private panorama of the sculptor’s bronze quartet of lions).

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Yotel Geneva Lake

Best for… minimalists who like a view

YOTEL Geneva Lake

Every detail is beautifully considered at this sleek Lake Geneva newcomer, where clever design wins out every time over fuss and frills. Its calm, white-walled rooms have views of the lake, backdropped by cloud-topped peaks, framed (in bigger rooms and suites) by expansive floor-to-ceiling windows. Wireless charging, rain showers and smart TVs come as standard, but there’s also an element of fun, from the colour-shifting ‘mood lighting’ to the signature SmartBeds, which – at the touch of a button – slide into low-slung sofas. Check-in, meanwhile, is via Mission Control, a bank of touchscreens in the lobby, with staff at hand to sweet talk any visiting technophobes. It’s ten minutes from the airport, and a 20-minute drive to Geneva, with its charismatic Old Town, cultural buzz and scenic swimming spots (for views of the Jet d’Eau fountain, test the waters at Les Bains des Pâquis). Head in the opposite direction, by car or boat, and you’ll come to lakeside Lausanne and the terraced, Unesco-listed vineyards of Lavaux stretching down to the shore.

HIGH LIFE SAYS
The best way to explore the crescent-shaped lake is by boat, hopping on a high-season ferry at the nearby town of Coppet.

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Garden restaurant at Pulitzer Amsterdam

Best for… sensational F&B

Pulitzer Amsterdam 

There are plenty of excellent reasons to check into the Pulitzer, an address that’s long set the bar for the city’s five stars. Ranged across 25 canal houses, it’s full of quirks and corridors (spoiler: you’ll almost certainly get lost, but that’s part of the charm). With bold modern art and luscious pops of colour, the décor is luxurious yet playful, while suites feature canal views, private entrances and eye-catching designs: a 6m painting, say, or a wall of gleaming vintage trumpets. There are leafy inner gardens, bikes to hire and gifts for visiting kids, along with two handsome, teak-decked boats for extra-special tours of the canals. The clincher in our book, though, is the food and drink, starting with the epic breakfasts, where the pancakes are plump, the pastries sublime and the mimosas keep on coming. Cocktails in the Art Deco Pulitzer’s Bar are among the city’s best, while the restaurant, Jansz, does comfort food with real panache, whether we’re talking ribeye for two or a decadent peanut-butter sundae. 

HIGH LIFE SAYS
Rooms and suites feature custom-made drinks trolleys, but the Pulitzer Bar is not to be missed. Drop by for a New Amsterdam (its signature twist on a sour) and stay for the exceptional snacks – truffle butter brioche, anyone?

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The Nobis suite at Nobis Stockholm

Best for… all things business 

Nobis Hotel, Stockholm

Overlooking the landmark Norrmalmstorg square, the Nobis is that rarest of finds: a business hotel with a soul. Set across a historic library and bank, it’s now a luxury hotel, with interiors by cult design studio Claesson Koivisto Rune. The soaring atrium sets the tone: grand without being stuffy, with its low-slung sofas and playfully pixelated ceiling. Rooms, meanwhile, are understated and cocooning: think Carrera marble bathrooms, leather-topped desks and impressively comfortable beds. In the daytime, the atrium is Stockholm’s coolest workspace (laptops are banished at 4pm), while the meeting rooms are full of character, whether you’re ensconced in an oak-panelled nook or commanding the bank’s former boardroom. Champagne and caviar mark the end of the day at the lounge’s ‘after work’ sessions, while the Gold Bar is the place for a tot of Scotch or lovingly crafted old fashioned. For dinner, Bino serves up upscale takes on classic comfort food, while NOI is more geared towards feasting: claim a curving green banquette and kicks things off with half a dozen excellent oysters.

HIGH LIFE SAYS
The gym and saunas (one dry, one steam) are open 24/7 for after-work R&R, with personal trainers available on request.

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