Live Your Love Story in the 13 Most Romantic Hotels in Europe
America may be the world capital for a hedonistic good time (our country enshrines the pursuit of happiness, after all), but when it comes to the pursuit of love, Europe retains an undeniable charm. It’s fitting that the homeland of the Romance languages should remain the expert at seduction: "We’ll always have Miami" doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as "We’ll always have Paris." The mythology of these storied European cities persists to this day, promising an escape to "la dolce vita." From the Swiss Alps to the English countryside, we’ve rounded up the most romantic European hotels to book for your next vacation a deux. In such amorous settings, it’s impossible not to believe in the eternal promise of the rom-com happily-ever-after, but even if this relationship doesn’t have a fairytale ending, at least you’ll always have Paris... or Geneva, or Vienna, or Budapest.
Grand Hotel Kronenhof, Pontresina, Switzerland: One step into the Grand Hotel Kronenhof, and it’s easy to believe you’ve walked into a fairy tale — the Neo-Baroque architecture, the formal dinners in the ballroom, the families that seem to have been coming to this place forever, the McLaren show that casually rolls into the parking lot. But what makes this place most worthy of a visit — an afternoon tea at the very least — is that after you walk in, you won’t ever want to leave. It’s not because of the luxurious spas or the chaises on the lounge for sunbathing (the lawn becomes an ice rink in the winter, because of course). No: It's the warmth and kindness of the people. Unlike in five-star hotels in, say, New York, where they communicate their exclusivity with snobbishness, the people in Pontresina demonstrate Swiss hospitality through genuine kindness. Now that’s something to write home about! (Photo via Grand Hotel Kronenhof)
Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland, Grindavik, Iceland: If you’re looking for a blend of awe-inspiring nature and luxurious, modern elegance, then look no further than the The Retreat, located in the now-iconic (and Instagram-famous) Blue Lagoon in Grindavik. The crystal blue waters are even more striking in person (#nofilternecessary) and the quiet sophistication of the suites (designed for two) provide the ideal setting for romance. Plus: Some suites come with their own private lagoon access. Head to dinner at the Retreat’s Moss Restaurant, and order the Bjork liquor. When in Iceland.. skol! (Photo Retreat at Blue Lagoon)
Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Bad Ragaz, Switzerland: One visit to the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz will have you believing in magic. European spa tourism originated in Bad Ragaz in 1535, when the Swiss philosopher and doctor Paracelsus first testified to the restorative powers of the natural spring in the town’s Tamina Gorge (which was once believed to house a dragon). Mann and Nietzsche were regular visitors. Today, the Grand Resort is frequented by the likes of Roger Federer and Martina Hingis, the latter of whom was wed on the property recently. If it's good enough for Wimbledon winners, it's good enough for you too. (Photo via Grand Resort Bad Ragaz)
Lausanne Palace, Lausanne, Switzerland: The historic Lausanne Palace has everything you could possibly want for a romantic getaway: vineyards and wine tasting, boating, chocolate-making, and a charming, historic French-speaking town. Best of all, its views of Lake Geneva are breathtaking, and the morning mist on the water is something out of a work by Monet. Except, of course, unlike a Monet painting, which in the eternal words of Cher Horowitz, becomes less harmonious and appealing when viewed up close, a long weekend in Lausanne will have the opposite effect on your psyche. The more time you spend admiring this Swiss city — strolling up the cobblestone streets and fraternizing with the flock of swans by Lake Geneva — the more beautiful it becomes. And, yes, like a true fairytale, the city comes replete with swans, who loiter by the harbor in regal hordes. Speaking of fairytales, the city is also known for its wine, chocolate, and cheese. (We are in Switzerland, after all). We suggest satisfying your taste for all three while enjoying dinner a deux at La Table d’Edgard, , Lausanne Palace's flagship restaurant. Dine on the terrace in order to enjoy your Michelin-starred, candlelit meal while watching the sun set over Lake Geneva — a date so utterly romantic that even the ever-discerning (and only slightly delusional) Cher Horowitz would approve. (Photo via Lausanne Palace)
Hotel St. George, Helsinki, Finland: The Hotel St. George is part of the Kamp Collections of luxury hotels in Finland's underrated city of Helsinki. The elegant décor is steeped in history and is the perfect way to begin and end your trip across the Finnish countryside. The Finnish Lapland is heaven on earth any time of year, whether you're a devotee of the Northern Lights or the Midnight Sun. Book your flight to Helsinki and start your journey in grand sophistication at Hotel St. George before flying north to Rovaniemi to venture into the wild. Trust us, the hotel's luxurious sauna is best enjoyed after a few days of husky sledding in wintry forests north of the Arctic Circle. The scenery in Lapland is the ultimate escape from the modern world, a retreat from our hectic (usually urban) lifestyles back home. So, what better way to ease back into the nine-to-five city life than with a stay at the most urbane and sophisticated hotel in Finland? The refined decor and ambiance of the Hotel St. George is sure to impress even the most jaded of travelers —though you may become one yourself after experiencing the Arctic luxury on display at the igloos and cabins of Lapland. The combination of the two experiences is one of the most romantic vacations available on the continent. And it's shockingly undiscovered amongst travelers from the US. So, book now, before the rest of your friends and family (and Instagram) finds out, as well. (Photo via @DiscoverFinland)
Beau-Rivage, Geneva, Switzerland: The historic Beau-Rivage in Geneva is an absolute bucket-list destination for all romantic souls. There are Celestial Suites where you can look up at the stars from your pillow, and even an Elizabeth Taylor suite (who else loved, and lost, better, or with more style?). For the literary among us, the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry suite honors the author of Le Petit Prince, while Eleanor Roosevelt’s suite is where she worked on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Lake Geneva is also just outside your door, with its picture-perfect swans and boats and beckoning vineyards, all waiting to make your fairy tale come true for a day. Wondering why so many Swiss hotels on this list? Five-star hotels in Switzerland are simply superior to anywhere else in the world — a quality the Swiss attribute to their hospitality schools and a difference you can sense immediately. (Photo via Beau-Rivage)
Widder Hotel, Zurich, Switzerland: The Widder Hotel is an art and design lover’s dream. Its combination of contemporary art and centuries-old architecture is endlessly elegant and aesthetically appealing, much like the city itself. And, considering the Old Town’s plethora of bars and density of youthful revelers, it’s safe to say that even what’s old is new again. Every room in this esteemed hotel is slightly different, though guests shouldn’t be surprised to discover Eames lounges or modern art in their bedrooms. The hotel's involvement in the art world, well-known in Zurich, was on display in the fall of 2016 with their collaboration with Ruinart. Best of all, the Widder Garage and the Widder Bar & Kitchen draw locals and travelers alike, ensuring a memorable experience even if you’re too jet-lagged to wander far from the hotel lobby. (Photo via @WidderHotel)
Hotel Sans Souci Wien, Vienna, Austria: The boutique Hotel Sans Souci Wien is considered one of the top hotels in Vienna, which is saying something. Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe — if not THE most beautiful. Live your best life as a pretend empress in the luxury of Hotel Sans Souci by attending one of the many Viennese balls that are thrown year-round. Don't forget to treat yourself to some street sausage afterward: That’s where the real afterparty is always happening. (Photo via Hotel Sans Souci Wien)
Schweizerhof Hotel & Spa, Bern, Switzerland: The Swiss call cities “boutique villages” for a reason, and this elegant establishment presides over one of the most underrated towns in the nation. It was a favorite of Audrey Hepburn, who used to dance in the ballroom (encourage your S.O. to recreate the scene, even if it’s high noon and no one else is in the ballroom yet). Gorgeously appealing any time of year, the hotel is located walking distance from the train station, making it the ultimate place to stay in Switzerland's capital. Be sure to visit the bears at the Bear Park before going for the hotel’s restaurant, Jack’s Brasserie, to enjoy some schnitzel and Champagne. (Photo via Switzerland Tourism)
The Grand Pigalle Hotel, Paris, France: With its dark green walls and fantastic cocktails, the retro and fabulous Grand Pigalle is perfect for the traveler who wants ideal ambiance without spending an exorbitant amount of money. The City of Light is often regarded as the most romantic destination in the world, so lean in on the romance with trips to the Eiffel Tower or the Arche de Triomphe. Just don’t be shocked if everyone asks when you’re getting engaged if there's not already a ring on your finger. (Photo via The Grand Pigalle)
The Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, Budapest, Hungary: The historic Gresham Palace is so #AccidentallyWesAnderson it’s truly unbelievable. While it may appeal most to the hipster couples among us, the hotel's combination of the old-world elegance of the Gresham Palace with the modern luxury of the Four Seasons is sure to appeal to all coupled-up travelers. We’ve already written about why Budapest is the most underrated city in Eastern Europe, so there’s never been a better time to splurge on a romantic trip. Plus, the palace’s imperial viewpoint above the Danube is perfect for watching the sunset on the water before a night out on the town. Also romantic? The Budapest train station, when you arrive via the Eurail from another glamorous European city — may we suggest Vienna? Train travel is the most classically romantic means of transportation, after all. (Photo via @FSBudapest)
Hotel Adler, Prague, Czech Republic: The Hotel Adler, tucked away on a charming side street in Prague, offers an authentic Czech experience — with an indoor courtyard and daily happy hours — at a non-overwhelming price. Plan a full weekend away in this colorful capital to capitalize on time together exploring the gorgeous city. If you can spare the time, book a train ticket on the Eurail to explore different cities as well. May your romance be as captivating as your European journey! (Photo Hotel Adler)
The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, Bath, England: The Royal Crescent just celebrated its 251st anniversary, making it a truly pedigreed romantic option. Book a room in the secluded Garden Villa and enjoy cocktails in The Montagu Bar & Champagne Lounge before exploring the town of Bath, which should delight both history and literary buffs alike. (Who can resist a side of culture with their romance?) Plus, the Georgian architecture is divine to behold and contemplate, especially when you’re in a particularly mellow mood after one of their signature spa treatments. Go ahead and waste the afternoon away doing nothing with your plus one — you deserve it. (Photo via The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa)
Katherine is a freelance writer focusing on travel, culture, lifestyle, and politics. Her work has appeared in The Week, Tasting Table, Elite Daily, POPSUGAR, and Electrify, among other publications. She's traveled to all 50 states and 40 countries, but calls New York City home. Follow along on Instagram at @katherineparkermagyar or visit her website at www.katherineparkermagyar.com.