Looking to stay at a hotel with old-world glamor, present-day cutting–edge amenities and bursting with age-old charm and history? These hotels certainly will be a part of the list to visit. Exploring some of the most iconic, historic and grandest hotels in Europe brings to mind a handful of famous names. They are known for preserving their heritage and transmitting their history while always enchanting their clientele.
Vienna, Austria: Hotel Sacher
Famed for its invention of the famous Sacher Torte, it’s location is perfect as it is just across the street from the iconic Vienna Opera House. Hotel Sacher is one of the most historic hotels (circa 1890) in Austria. Not overly large in size, with only 86 rooms and 63 suites (some with roof-terraces), Hotel Sacher stands out due to its Baroque style in architecture and Décor. As many of these historic hotels were, during the occupation the hotel was used as a military headquarter and in this case by the British.
Celebrity guests: Queen Elizabeth II, John F. Kennedy, Grace Kelly, John Lennon
Brussels, Belgium: Hotel Metropole
The five-star Hotel Metropole, which opened in 1895, built originally as a café to help sell its owners beer, was designed with an Art Nouveau style blending with Art Deco. The café was so popular that soon after, the owners purchased the building next to it and made the hotel. He equipped the hotel with the most up-to-date facilities at the time with elevators, central heating and electricity. Some of the finest materials were used from Numibia marble, gilded bronze and polished teak. The French architect Alban Chambon, was hired to do the interior work and he enlisted some of the finest artists of the time to carry out his vision. It was extremely impressive for that era and still today impresses all who stay here. During the occupation, it was first taken over for a short time by the Germans and used as their headquarters and then by the British. Soon after the war, the hotel returned to being a glorious hotel.
Celebrity guests: Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, General de Gaulle
Zagreb, Croatia: Esplanade Zagreb Hotel
The Esplanade Zagreb Hotel is just steps away from the train station and once was the main stopover for visitors traveling between Europe and Asia along the Orient Express. She features over 200 rooms and suites and had a total remodeling in 2004 that kept the alluring décor of Art Noveau. The Esplanade Zagreb, dating back to 1925, is one of the most famous and gracious buildings in Zagreb.
Celebrity guests: Elizabeth Taylor, Louis Armstrong, Orson Welles, Ella Fitzgerald
Athens, Greece: Hotel Grand Bretagne
The Grand Bretagne (known as ‘The GB’) was originally built in 1842 as a private residence on what is now the main square of Athens, Syntagma (Constitution) Square. It was sold and turned into a hotel in 1874 and had electricity installed in 1888. She then became the place to stay in Athens until in 1942 the Germans commandeered it as their headquarters for three years and then it was used as the British headquarters. During the beginning of the Greek Civil War, the hotel housed Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou, the Council of Ministers and the British assistance force. Soon after it returned to its world-known five-star status of being the best hotel in Athens. It truly is a stunning building sitting across from the Parliament building on the square. Dining is most spectacular on the rooftop restaurant with the most amazing breath-taking views of the Acropolis and Mediterranean fare. She has 320 rooms and suites and 58 of her suites have additional butler service. She has all the old-world charm and yet all the modern conveniences even to an award-winning spa that features Mediterranean prickly pear seed amenities.
Celebrity guests: Winston Churchill, Laurence Olivier, Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, Charlton Heston
London, England: Hotel Brown’s
Located in the neighborhood of Mayfair in London Hotel Brown’s consisted of 11 Georgian townhouses. She opened in 1837 and is considered to be one of the oldest hotels in London. In 1889 the hotel was unified with the St George’s Hotel which was next door. She represents the epitome of the English Victorian era. Known to be frequented by the literary crowd, on any given day one can find well-known writers enjoying high tea in her fancy Tea room.
Celebrity guests: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, J.M. Barrie, Robert Louis Stevenson, Agatha Christie and modern-day authors like Stephen King.Rudyard Kipling wrote the Jungle Book while staying here. Alexander Graham Bell made the first phone call from the hotel.
London, England: Claridge’s
Dominating the London hotel scene since 1856 The Claridge’s has a rich history of its own. Having long-standing connections with Royalty, it is often referred to as the ”annexe to Buckingham Palace.” Transformed during the Art deco era it has become a design icon. During World War II it functioned as a home for many exiled heads of state. In 1960 Empress Eugenie had a lengthy stay and even entertained Queen Victoria at the hotel. The Claridge’s has also often been referred to as “The first hotel in London”. Typical for good London hotels, it’s high tea is one not to miss, full of delightful dainty finger sandwiches and jaw-dropping pastries and even offering close to 25 varieties of loose tea. It still attracts movie stars, dignitaries, fashion designers, and statesman.
Celebrity guests: Audrey Hepburn, Bing Crosby, Winston Churchill
Paris, France: Le Meurice
Located on one of the most sophisticated shopping avenue, Rue de Rivoli, the Hotel Meurice opened in 1815 in Paris. It is just steps away from the Louvre and Champs-Elysees and across the street from Tuileries Gardens. This is a five-star Baroque-style hotel which oozes glitz and glam. There are 160 rooms, all decorated in the Louis XVI style and the hotel consists of over 400 staff. It was originally opened and catered to the English traveler. It had English speaking staff, currency exchange, and sitting and reading rooms, all for the comfort of the traveler. Soon after the wealthy clientele became regular customers who appreciated the extraordinary service. As with many of these historic hotels it was requisitioned by the German occupation authorities during the war.
Celebrity guests: Wilbur Wright, Ginger Rogers. Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. Salvador Dali stayed every year for over 30 years. The kings of Italy, Belguim, Greece, Denmark and Bulgaria to name a few.
Venice, Italy: The Gritti Hotel
The Gritti Hotel is a 15th-century palazzo which opened to guests back in 1895 in Venice. It is simply exquisitely decorated with rich Rubelli fabrics on the walls, Murano chandeliers, endless precious antiques and artwork. Every corner of every room is full of fabulous antiques. The grandeur of the public rooms invokes the elegance fit for kings. The palazzo truly encapsulates the elegance of the spirit of the city of Venice and defines Venetian Hospitality. Their spa has recently been renovated offering a hammam. Aromatherapy treatments and single and double spa suites. She also has a cooking school where her guests can learn the traditions of Venetian cuisine.
Celebrity guests: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Brad Pitt
Lake Como, Italy: Grand Hotel Tremezzo
Lake Como, Italy has always been the playground of the rich and famous and it needed a hotel to meet the high requirements of its visitors. So, in 1910 The Grand Hotel Tremezzo opened. She has 90 rooms and suites, with the entire rooftop being all suites with terraces that overlook the expanse of stunning Lake Como. She also has a lakeside private beach, three pools and a lovely park. The hotel represents the exuberance of times past and is an iconic art nouveau masterpiece.
Celebrity guest: Greta Garbo
Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam
This golden age 400-year-old Hotel made of twenty-five connecting canal buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries in Amsterdam has recently been renovated. Hotel Pulitzer has 225 guestrooms and one of a kind suites. This is a unique hotel that offers the canal experience expected when in Amsterdam. The hotel also has a canal boat docked in front for the use of the guests. This five-star hotel combines traditional and modern Dutch design and is centrally located to all the attractions.
Warsaw, Russia: Europeski
The Europeski, built in 1875 as one of the most luxurious hotels in Russia, is built in a Neo-Renaissance style. It was the center of all social venues and cultural events including lavish New Year Eve parties and balls. During WWII the Germans took it over and it was severely damaged in 1944. During a few of it’s refurbishing the interior design elements were commissioned from local artisans. Over 400 works of polish 20-21st century art adorn the walls, making it one of the largest exhibitions of its kind open to the public.
Celebrity guests: Jozef Chelmonski, Stanislaw Witkiewicz, Robert Kennedy, Marlena Dietrich, the Rolling Stones, Indira Gandhi, Günter Grass, Artur Rubinstein, Mstislav Rostropovich, Czesław Miłosz and Lech Wałęsa.
Lugano, Switzerland: Hotel Splendide Royal
HotelSplendide Royal originally was built as Villa Merlina in 1870 it became a high-end hotel in 1887. Its distinctive Belle Eqoque façade quickly has made it one of Lugano’s landmarks. The property with large marble lobby and hallways, remarkable frescoes and Murano glass chandeliers help display a refined sense of elegance throughout. She is perched above Lake Ceresio and her 93 rooms overlook the Alps.
Celebrity guest: Luciano Pavarotti
Come and explore, immerse yourself into history and tradition by staying at some of the important and unique properties in Europe. Experience the history, culture and beauty of these remarkable hotels all wrapped up with modern-day conveniences.