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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: Citi Prestige, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Nothing wrong with April in Paris or Sicily in September, but euro for euro, winter is a fantastic time to go to Europe. The continent’s capitals get decked for the holidays, flights are more affordable and you can get a lot more — and a lot better — hotel for your money. Here are some great ones to check into this season.
1. SLOVENIA: InterContinental Ljubljana
Lowdown: This 165-room IHG property opened in August in the center of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia — a country that’s been appearing on must-visit lists the last couple years for its fairytale looks and Italian-adjacent food and wine scene. Tailored taupe rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, the 18th floor spa has views of the Alps and the main restaurant, B, is overseen by a Michelin-starred chef.
Getting There: Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (LJU) can be reached through connections in Paris, Amsterdam, London Gatwick and Luton, Frankfurt and several other European gateways. The airport is 15 miles (25 minutes) from the hotel.
Price: From $160 or 25,000 IHG Rewards points per night. Book with the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card for 5x points at IHG Hotels.
2. CROATIA: Brown Beach House
Lowdown: Located on the water in the town of Trogir, Brown Beach House is an Israeli import to Croatia that you’ll be able to enjoy without the oiled summer tourists and Game of Thrones fanatics filling Dubrovnik to the south. Set within a walled garden, this villa has 42 huge suites with hardwood floors and whitewashed beam ceilings. It might be too chilly for swimming in the Adriatic this time of year, but the views aren’t a bad consolation prize.
Getting There: Split Airport (SPU) is served mostly by seasonal routes, but Croatia Airlines, the national carrier, flies year-round from Munich, Frankfurt and Rome. Lufthansa operates year-round service from Munich. The airport is 4 miles (15 minutes) from the hotel.
Price: From $175 per night. Book with the Citi Prestige card to earn 3x points on your stay and take advantage of its nifty fourth night free perk, or the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card to earn 3x points on travel purchases — the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card lets you earn 2x points on travel as well.
3 and 4. LONDON: The Distillery and The Great Northern
Lowdown: Two properties in famously expensive London can lodge you up for less than two Benjamins a night. The Distillery features a trio of midcentury-inspired rooms in a neat Portobello Road building that also houses a distillery (obviously), gin museum, tasting room and two bars. The Great Northern operates on a different scale, housing 91 idiosyncratic rooms at King’s Cross/St. Pancras Station. It was the first European member of Starwood’s Tribute Portfolio, joining in 2015.
Getting There: There are plenty of nonstop routes to London from the US on American, United and Delta. Want to spend less? Consider flying WOWAir through Iceland — fares from Newark through the winter are as low as $199 one-way. WOW serves London Gatwick; hop aboard a Thameslink train at Gatwick (toward Bedford) and get off at Kings Cross/St Pancras.
Price: From $198 per night (Distillery). From $173 or 12,000 Starpoints per night (Great Northern). Book with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express so you can earn up to 5x Starpoints on eligible Starwood stays.
5. ROME: Le Meridien Visconti
Lowdown: Le Meridien dropped $20 million to renovate this classic property a block from the Tiber River. The former Visconti Palace now sports a clean, modern look with 240 rooms in soothing neutrals, an open-plan lobby and rooftop lounge with views over Rome’s rooftops.
Getting There: American Airlines flyers: you’ll need to route through Philadelphia, the carrier’s only year-round nonstop service to Rome Fiumicino (FCO). Delta does Rome from JFK and Atlanta all year, and United from Newark. As long as the times make sense, if you need to connect, do it in the US—maybe use it as an excuse to check out PHL’s new Centurion Lounge. FCO is 19 miles (40 minutes) to the hotel.
Price: From $139 or 12,000 Starpoints per night. Book with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express so you can earn up to 5x Starpoints on eligible Starwood stays.
6. AMSTERDAM: Apollo Hotel
Lowdown: Situated on a canal in Amsterdam’s Oud-Zuid (Old-South) neighborhood, the Apollo is new to Starwood’s Tribute Portfolio as of November. The 223 rooms vibrate with personality —think flamingo-print wallpaper, suede upholstery and tiles that shine like they’re wrapped in gold lamé — and the public areas share a similarly eccentric aesthetic, as if they were designed by a rich playboy uncle.
Price: From $132 or 10,000 Starpoints per night. Book with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express so you can earn up to 5x Starpoints on eligible Starwood stays.
7. MONTENEGRO: Regent Porto Montenegro
Lowdown: Gaining traction as the next Croatia, Montenegro is a pain to get to out of season but worth it for the stunning coastline, medieval towns and inland lakes framed by dragon-backed mountains. Here is where you’ll find one of two Regent European hotels (the rest are in Asia), set on a marina in the Bay of Kotor. The buttercup-yellow palazzo has 87 and 62 rooms in two respective wings, three year-round restaurants and a petite spa with a Turkish hammam and aromatherapy treatments.
Getting There: Like its neighbor Croatia, Montenegro’s air traffic is largely dependent on seasonal routes; Belgrade and Moscow are the only year-round cities serving Tivat Airport (TIV). Instead, consider flying into Dubrovnik Airport (DBV), which is served year-round by British Airways (Gatwick) and Croatia Airlines (Rome, Frankfurt), and then driving. The airport is 30 miles (90 minutes) to the hotel.
Price: From $179 per night. Book with the Citi Prestige card to earn 3x points on your stay and take advantage of its nifty fourth night free perk, or the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card to earn 3x points on travel purchases — the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card lets you earn 2x points on travel as well.
7. TUSCANY: La Tabaccaia
Lowdown: Part of the Toscana Resort Castelfalfi, this boutique hotel-within-a-hotel on 2,700 acres of picturesque Tuscan hills ensconces guests in the village’s former tobacco-drying barn. Pops of chartreuse enliven the 31 bright, woodsy rooms. Within the larger resort, you’ll find two restaurants, two golf courses, a driving range, a spa and an indoor pool. So even though it’s winter, pack a bathing suite.
Getting There: Pisa (PSA) and Florence (FLR) are the two international airports in Tuscany, but neither offers nonstop service from the US, so plan to route through Rome, Paris, London or any of several other major European cities. You can also fly to Rome and train it to Florence (a scenic 90 minutes), pick up a regional train to Castelfiorentino (40 minutes), then taxi 20 minutes to the hotel. Or just rent a car and drive from Florence (40 miles, 1 hour).
Price: From $154 per night. Book with the Citi Prestige card to earn 3x points on your stay and take advantage of its nifty fourth night free perk, or the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card to earn 3x points on travel purchases — the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card lets you earn 2x points on travel as well.
Featured image courtesy Regent Hotels
This post was updated (12/11/17) to correct information about London transit.
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