Europe’s Top Designer Stays
From heavyweight fashion icons Paris and Milan to sleek Stockholm and the old-world charms of Antwerp, Europe has a deluge of designer stays to delight all tastes. Whether you’re after an opulently dressed historic getaway or the latest in minimal chic, we’ve picked our favourite designer escapes across the continent.
Straight from the designers…
For the ultimate in designer stays, nab a hotel room that’s been primped and styled by a famous fashion designer. Adding high fashion to the historic streets of Edinburgh, Hotel Missoni (1 George IV Bridge, 0131 220 6666) is decked in its bold trademark prints and block colours. The suites in particular are lavish extravaganzas of bright and stylish furniture in all shapes and textures, and the hotel bar a veritable riot of beautiful cocktails shaken up against gleaming chrome, curving glass, lamps in the shape of giant light bulbs, and bubble chairs. In such effervescent surrounds, it seems only fitting to sample their signature draught Prosecco. From the hotel, there’s effortless access to central Edinburgh, with attractions such as the Scottish National Gallery and the restaurants and cafés of Grassmarket quite literally just around the corner. For best value for money, avoid the busy Edinburgh Festival season in August when prices rocket across the city.
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In Milan, it’s Maison Moschino (Viale Monte Grappa 12, 02 2900 9858) that lures fashion-hungry visitors. This otherworldly beauty is kitted out by the innovative Italian fashion house Moschino, and the result is simply beguiling. Set behind the facade of a neoclassical railway station, are four floors of pure wonder and delight, each room a magical, storybook scene. In the ‘Luxurious Attic’, find everything pristine white, from the bed and chairs to the many boxes – some glowing with light. In ‘Alice’s Room’, take tea at a table shaped like a cup and saucer, and in ‘The Forest’, sleep beside tree-like forms. This all does come with a designer price tag of course, but a selection of packages do offer room and spa treatment combos at special prices. Surrounding the hotel is a lively area near Corso Garibaldi. A stroll away, find Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Il Cenacolo fresco at the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
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For visitors to Paris, there’s the hotel creation from couturier Christian Lacroix: a fanciful collage of luxurious wallpapers, lavish murals, ornate furniture and swathes of rich fabric. At Hotel Le Bellechasse (8 rue de Bellechasse, 7th, 01 4550 2231), every inch is cloaked in designer goodness, reflecting Lacroix’s inimitable, exuberant style. It enjoys a prime location, just a few steps from the Musée d'Orsay. See the sights by booking one of the hotel’s special offer packages that include river cruises and city bike tours.
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For designer delights on an intimate scale, opt for a cosy boutique gem in the heart of a great European city. In a stunning 19th-century Amsterdam townhouse, Seven One Seven (Prinsengracht 717, 020 427 0717) is old-school glamour fused with a contemporary twist, its rooms named after writers and composers, and each individually decorated, with lovely touches such as fresh flowers and candles. Amsterdam's main attractions, including the Concertgebouw, Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum, are all within walking distance. If you fancy a junior suite but it’s out of budget, see the hotel’s website for current deals.
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In Antwerp, De Witte Lelie (Keizerstraat 16-18, 03 226 1966) is a 17th-century canal house offering a sumptuous boutique hotel with period features and antique furnishings. For a full-on treat, opt for the presidential suite with its open fireplace and gleaming crystal chandeliers. The hotel is right in the city centre, and there’s even a limo city sightseeing service where you can escape the chilly winter air while taking in the sights with a personal guide.
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A wonderful boutique offering in Barcelona is Hotel Neri (Carrer de Sant Sever 5, 93 304 0655). Tucked down a quiet medieval side street in the Gothic quarter, this ancient stone building, with its sweeping Gothic arches and thick oak doors, is filled with a rich and luxurious contemporary style, with moss greens, burnt golds and berry reds set against a creamy neutral palette. The surrounding area is wonderful to explore, with restaurants, cafés and bars aplenty, as well as historic landmarks such as the Catedral de Barcelona. The hotel is currently running an offer where guests booking 30 days in advance receive a 20% discount, and 14 days in advance a 10% discount.
Amid the cobbled pathways and wrought iron street lamps of Tallinn’s Old Town, sits a renovated medieval merchant’s house. Three Sisters (Pikk 71/Tolli 2, 630 6300) is a trio of 14th-century buildings transformed into an old-meets-new boutique hotel where modern luxuries rub shoulders with ancient features such as restored frescos, wood panelling and ancient beams. Find huge canopy beds draped in pristine white fabric, giant baths big enough for two and the ‘Piano Suite’, with its real piano. Complimentary services include shoe shining and daily newspapers, and there’s no need to pay out on transport as the cafés, restaurants, shops and museums in the Old Town are easily walked to.
If gleaming white walls punctuated by splashes of colour are more your thing, then there are plenty of contemporary boltholes that execute minimalist chic very well indeed.
In Barcelona, The 5 Rooms (Pau Claris 72, 93 342 7880) has a prime spot, right near Plaça de Catalunya, yet once inside, all is peaceful and quiet. Rooms, suites and apartments all offer different features, such as rain showers, balconies, vibrant artwork, pendant light bulbs, red velvet cushions, exposed and whitewashed brickwork and soft leather armchairs. It’s all very stylish, very chic, and very Barcelona. For a trendy self-catered apartment, there’s also 39 Steps (Carrer de Bonsuccés), run by Staying Cool (0121 285 1250), right by the hustle and bustle of La Rambla.
Those heading for a Parisian city break will find the playful Hôtel Sublim Eiffel (94 boulevard Garibaldi, 15th, 01 4065 9595) a kitsch boutique hotel paying tribute to the French capital with quirky décor. The rooms are predictably small, but the fun furnishings are a delight, including Métro map carpets and the Parisian skyline panning out across walls. Oh, and the Eiffel Tower itself is in walking distance. In keeping with the hotel’s rather confident persona, there’s a special deal for lovers called Yes for Love, which includes champagne and a ‘naughty box’.
An all-time favourite in classy Stockholm is the Nordic Light Hotel (Vasaplan 7, 08 5056 3000) – an achingly cool designer escape that will strike a chord for those with a penchant for clean Swedish design. One option is to stay in a ‘mood room’, with special light beds that allow guests to set the colour, speed and intensity of lighting. The CBD is on the doorstep, and nearby attractions include the Stockholm Concert Hall.
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