You go to Europe to see everything that makes it unique—its stylish cities, its one-of-a-kind landscapes, its medieval villages steeped in history and character. So why would you cap off each day with a stay in a bland business hotel? Fortunately, there are charming hotels scattered all across Europe that will give you a taste of what makes the continent special.
The Most Charming Hotels in Europe
What makes a charming hotel? First and foremost, it’s character; charming hotels reflect the local area and don’t offer the same generic beige rooms you could find in any other city around the globe. Some of the hotels below offer Old World decor and historical accents, while others are chic and modern—but they all have their own distinct personality.
Charming hotels also offer a warm, personal welcome. The properties on this list are small and intimate, with special touches that will make your stay memorable.
Hotel du Lac, Gargnano, Italy
This small family-run hotel overlooking Lake Garda oozes Old World charm, from the Persian rugs and antique piano in the lounge to the 19th-century furniture in the guest rooms. It’s worth paying a little extra for one of the six lake-facing rooms, each with its own balcony overlooking the calm blue waters below.
Hotel du Lac is a short walk from the center of Gargnano, a simple village that sees fewer tourists than other Italian lakefront towns. If you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing escape, this charming hotel is for you.
Hotel Relais Saint Germain, Paris, France
Quirky-elegant furnishings and exposed wood beams add character to this four-star hotel’s literary-themed rooms, each named after a famous author (like Alexandre Dumas or Honore de Balzac). You can’t beat the Left Bank location either—it’s just a short walk from Notre-Dame Cathedral, Luxembourg Gardens, and the Louvre.
The neighborhood offers a true taste of Paris with its many shops, cafes, and restaurants—including the hotel’s own Le Comptoir, a classic French brasserie that draws long lines for dinner. Fortunately, guests of the hotel enjoy priority reservations.
Chalet Saudade, Sintra, Portugal
The fairy-tale town of Sintra is Lisbon’s most popular side trip, thanks to its opulent palaces and lush gardens. To soak up the magic after the day trippers have gone home, stay at least one night in one of the town’s many charming hotels. One favorite is Chalet Saudade, an elegant guesthouse within walking distance of both the train station and downtown Sintra.
The 19th-century home features a front courtyard brimming with flowers and a back garden where you can recline in a lounge chair and watch the sun set over the trees. The reception area welcomes visitors with wood floors, antique furniture, and a large fireplace. Rooms are individually decorated and impeccably clean.
29/2 Aurland, Aurland, Norway
The most appealing aspect of this farm is its setting among the pristine mountains, rivers, and fjords of western Norway (about a three-hour drive from Bergen). But equally as charming are the friendly hosts, Tone and Bjorn, and the hotel’s airy rooms and suites that look out over waterfalls and gardens.
The family-owned farm dates back to the 18th century and once hosted British anglers who came to fish the Aurlandselva River. Modern-day guests can still go fly fishing, or they can hike, bike, or kayak in the nearby fjords before coming back to relax in a hot tub or sauna.
Book it: Read reviews of 29/2 Aurland
Hotel Gletschergarten, Grindelwald, Switzerland
There’s no shortage of charming hotels in the Swiss Alps, but the Gletschergarten stands out for its welcoming and accommodating owners, who belong to the fourth generation of a family that’s been running this chalet-style property since 1899. Rooms are simple but comfortable, and each offers a terrace or balcony looking out over mountains, glaciers, or alpine meadows.
In winter, the hotel offers easy access to three nearby ski areas. Or come in summer, when colorful blooms spill out of flowerboxes on the hotel’s facade and visitors can hike, mountain bike, or take a cogwheel train up among the peaks for unforgettable views.
Apartamenty Carskie, Bialowieza, Poland
Apartamenty Carskie gives new meaning to the term “sleeper car.” At one of Poland’s most unique and charming hotels, you can sleep in a repurposed train car designed to evoke the early-20th-century travels of Czar Nicholas II of Russia, who hunted in the forests of Bialowieza. If the railway cars are full, you can also stay in the station building or its water tower.
Though the opulently furnished apartments feel old-fashioned, they also have essential modern conveniences such as Wi-Fi and private bathrooms. There’s also a traditional Russian banya (sauna) on site—a great place to unwind after a day of hiking and looking for bison in Bialowieza National Park.
40 Winks, London, United Kingdom
When it comes to boutique hotels in Europe, 40 Winks is one of a kind. This 300-year-old house in East London invites guests into an eccentric, playful world, with funky mirrors, colorful vintage furniture, and a surprisingly pleasing jumble of art pieces from all eras and styles. A stay here feels less like a night in a hotel and more like being welcomed into someone’s stylishly decorated home.
There are just two rooms—one double and one single—which share a bathroom with a deep free-standing tub (note: there’s no shower). Put on your most stylish jammies and attend one of the hotel’s acclaimed Bedtime Story Nights, where professional storytellers offer scintillating—and sometimes sexy—tales.
Book it: Read reviews of 40 Winks
Parador de Cangas de Onis, Cangas de Onis, Spain
Tucked away in the Asturias region in northern Spain, about 2.5 hours west of Bilbao, is a former Benedictine monastery that’s been transformed into a luxurious historic hotel. The property is one of Spain’s dozens of government-run paradors, or charming hotels in restored historic buildings.
Here you can try regional cuisine in the on-site restaurant, wander through the beautiful cloister in the center of the property, and take in a concert in the chapel where the monks once prayed. The mountains of Picos de Europa are the area’s prime attraction; here you can enjoy spectacular hikes with views of crystalline lakes and deep river gorges.
Heritage Hotel Forza, Baska, Croatia
Heritage Hotel Forza may be one of the newest hotels on Krk, Croatia’s largest island, but it’s also one of its most charming. In 2015, the two owners added accommodations to their popular bistro, creating a small hotel in which each individually designed room is graced with colorful art pieces and sleek modern furnishings. Many rooms also feature exposed stone walls, sea views, and/or private balconies.
Heritage Hotel Forza is just a short walk from the beach and from the shops and restaurants of downtown Baska. But don’t miss a meal at the on-site bistro, known for its pizzas, seafood, and homemade pasta.
Killeen House Hotel, Killarney, Ireland
Soak up the charms of the Irish countryside at the Killeen House Hotel, an Edwardian-style manor house dating back to 1838. With just 23 rooms, the hotel feels cozy and intimate. Don’t miss a meal at the award-winning Rozzers restaurant, serving up locally sourced beef, lamb, and seafood.
The hotel is a duffer’s delight, not only because there are four different golf courses within a 25-minute drive, but also because the on-site pub has thousands of golf balls lining the walls. (“It’s the only place in the universe that accepts golf balls as legal tender,” claims the hotel website.) Not into golf? You can also hike part of the Kerry Way, go horseback riding over rolling green hills, or get a massage at the nearby Spa at Aghadoe Heights.
Antares Hotel Mani, Omales, Greece
On the rugged, rustic Mani Peninsula in the Peloponnese region of Greece, you’ll discover the Antares Hotel—a collection of stone buildings clustered around a sun-baked central courtyard. All 12 rooms offer at least a partial sea view and have exposed stone walls that help keep the temperature cool even during hot summer days.
The Antares Hotel makes an ideal base for exploring area attractions such as hidden beaches, Byzantine churches, and the magnificent Diros Caves.
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