HOTELS • March 2018
Stylish, singular and superbly designed, who says boutique stays can’t be done on a budget? Travel writer, Francesca Syz, scours Europe for hidden hotel gems offering luxe for less
Finding the perfect hotel for that well-earned European short break doesn’t come cheap, unless you know where to look. This is especially true in London, home to some of the world’s loveliest – and most expensive – hotels. If it doesn’t have to be Claridges, you can save on accommodation without compromising on comfort and there are options to suit every taste. At citizenM Shoreditch (doubles from £90), the latest London offering from the Netherlands-based budget hotel chain, you will find a Vitra furniture-filled living room-lobby and 24-hour canteen stocked with fresh food and barrista-brewed coffee, while rooms have enormous beds and floor-to-ceiling windows.
If you think it’s tricky to find affordable gems in London, it’s even harder in Stockholm. But Miss Clara (doubles from £102) saves the day. Housed in a converted Art Nouveau girl’s school in the city’s cosmopolitan Norrmalm district, it’s the more affordable sibling of Nobis Hotel but feels every bit as stylish with its parquet floors, period features juxtaposed with modern art and European brasserie championing seasonal Swedish ingredients.
Meanwhile Berlin’s hotel scene goes from strength to strength. We love The Gorki Apartments (suites from £128) in Berlin Mitte, each a beautifully curated pied à terre with its own special features – a balcony here, an in-room tub there and all with kitchenettes or bigger. There’s also a fantastic concierge at hand to ensure you dine like a local throughout your stay.
Perennial short break favourite Budapest’s Pest neighbourhood is famous both for its ruined and revitalised buildings and the brilliantly central Hotel Rum (doubles from €100) which is housed in an old apartment block there. Its 34 fresh, contemporary bedrooms are spread over six floors and the ground floor Urban Tiger restaurant and bar serves breakfast and South East Asian inspired food and cocktails. A rooftop bar is due to open in June.
For a winning combination of city and and seaside, Dubrovnik is an excellent choice. There’s a village-like quality about the neighbourhood of Gruz, a 20-minute walk from Dubrovnik’s Old Town (or five minutes in a taxi), where you catch the ferry to the nearby Dalmation islands. Here you will find Bokun Guesthouse (doubles from €75), run by the Bokun family since 1985 and offering six ensuite bedrooms, three apartments and a pool. An ancient farmhouse set within multiple gardens, a highlight is breakfast on a vine covered terrace, with much of the fresh fruit that appears on the table grown on site.
Why not leave the urban jungle behind and head to Borgo Della Marmotta (doubles from £80) in Italy’s Umbrian hills. This romantically rustic retreat set among hundreds of olive trees – you can bring great bottles of the stuff home – has been carved from a 17th-century hamlet. It features eleven rooms and seven apartments and a pretty outdoor pool, open between 1 June and 30 September. Expect deliciously fresh homemade breakfasts plus lunch and dinner five days a week and several great restaurants within striking distance.
For a complete barefoot beach escape, why not opt for Ekies All Senses Resort, (doubles from £92, with a four-night minimum stay) in Halkidiki (fly to Thessaloniki). On its own Aegean-lapped beach, this boho-chic, family-friendly resort works well for multi-generational groups and couples alike. When not stretched out by the pool, or in a hammock or in a treatment room at the eco-spa, there are coves and islets to explore by boat and the most amazing modern Greek food to feast on at the resort’s several restaurants.