The Most Elegant, Expensive and Epic European Hotels That Opened While Americans Were Locked Out
The EU has officially reopened its borders. Here’s where you should be looking to make your next reservation.
After 15 months of being banned from Europe, the United States, as of June 18, has made it back on the list. That’s right: regardless of vaccination status, you are now officially free to begin booking travel to the 27-nation EU bloc once again.
That said, a lot can happen in 15 months, and it has. The Louvre in Paris was able to close down for virtually the first time ever for a restoration. Venice’s canals ran clearer than they have in decades thanks to a reduction in boat traffic. Amsterdam, which has long struggled with overtourism, has signaled an end to “coffee” shops and its famous Redlight District as a means to protect their newfound peace and quiet. Restaurants all across Europe inevitably closed, but new ones sprouted up in their place. Life persisted, as we were — understandably — kept at bay.
And while the hospitality industry took one of the most significant hits of all, with the profitability of hotels in Europe declining by more than 100 percent in 2020, it has wasted no time in preparing for an epic comeback with a number of long-awaited hotel openings that will prod even the most hard-to-impress travelers into a state of covetous wanderlust.
Below, we take a look at five of those properties, all of which have taken up residency in your favorite European destinations while you were away …
Four Seasons Madrid
This past November, Spain’s first Four Seasons Hotel officially opened its doors to guests, taking up residency in a landmark building in central Madrid that formerly housed the the Banco Hispano Americano, Banco Español de Crédito and Palace of La Equitativa, the latter dating back to1887. And while the structure blends seamlessly into its surroundings and faithful celebrates its history, the Four Seasons Madrid also exudes luxury, boasting a four-floor spa and fitness center, a rooftop terrace where guests can enjoy world-class fare courtesy of Spanish chef Dani García, a museum-worthy art collection and roughly 200 guestrooms. Additionally, due to its proximity to the Galería Canalejas, guests will have access to luxury shopping from some of the world’s most prestigious brands — both Spanish and international. Rates start at $660/ night.
Airelles Chateau de Versailles
About an hour away from Paris, the Airelles Chateau de Versailles, which opened on June 1, is exceptional for a multitude of reasons — not least of all because it’s the first time guests will be able to sleep on the grounds of the palace of Versailles in literal centuries. An extension of the south wing of the palace, transformed from a former residence built in 1681, the hotel is said to be inspired by the tastes of none other than Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and each room is littered with original artifacts. Unsurprisingly, there are only 14 rooms (each of which is named after a historical figure with ties to Versailles) available at Airelles Chateau de Versailles; that said, amenities also include an on-site restaurant, spa, indoor pool and private access to the palaces and 2,000 acres of Versailles so, ya know — you get what you pay for. Rates begin at around €1,700 or roughly $2,082 per night.
Kempinski Palace Engelberg
Just last week on June 25, the Kempinski Palace Engelberg, touted as being “the first international five-star-superior hotel in the largest winter and summer holiday destination in Central Switzerland” officially began welcoming guests. With 129 rooms, the Kempinski Palace reimagines the Grand Hotel Winterhaus, which opened in 1904 and was reportedly the first building in Switzerland to feature central heating. Ideal for a holiday spent hiking in the Swiss Alps or decompressing by the infinity pool, the hotel is located in the center of Engelberg, an authentic monastery village at the foot of the Titlis mountain, and just a short distance from both Zurich and Basel. Rates begin at 530 CHF, or around $577 per night.
On June 15, Angsana Corfu opened on Akra Punta Bay, making it the first (and thus, the flagship) Banyan Tree Hotel in Europe. Boasting up 159 rooms, which includes their most extravagant guestroom — Banyan Tree’s signature pool villa — the Angsana Corfu sits just a short distance from both the Benitses Village and Corfu town, and the local influence is obvious in the details. By contrast, the hospitality is described as being a “unique blend of Greek and Asian,” from an array of Greek and Japanese cuisine offered across all 10 of the on-site bars and restaurants to the spa, where Grecian ingredients are combined with traditional Asian services. Additionally, guests will also enjoy access to an infinite pool, juice bar, gym (and trainers), a yoga pavilion and unparalleled views of the Ionian Sea. Rates begin at $195 per night.
Hotel Castello Di Reschio
After years of renovations, the long-awaited, 11th-century Hotel Castello Di Reschio, located just over the Tuscan border in Umbria, officially opened in May. The hotel, which sits on a 3,750-acre property shared with 30 fully restored farmhouses, has 36 rooms — no two of which are the same — and dates back more than 1,000 years. Effectively charged with transforming a “fortified, medieval castle” into luxury lodgings, it’s no wonder it took the current owner, Count Benedikt Bolza, more than 20 years to design it and bring it to life. Featuring a balance of contemporary and antique decor, locally sourced materials, bespoke furniture, bold color choices and plenty of natural light, the Hotel Castello Di Reschio is truly a haven for the design-savvy. The Reschio estate also plays home to a lake, farm, historic wine cellar, equestrian center, tennis courts and an ethereal subterranean pool, which — when fused together — make for a truly authentic Italian getaway. Rates begin at €810, or $966, per night.
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