Each of these hotels in Europe help set the gold standard for travel – they’re all beautiful but different, exceptional but original. They might be old classics: the glamorous Belmond Hotel Splendido in Portofino; The Connaught, which has stood on the same corner of London’s Mayfair since the early 19th century; or Gstaad Palace, a fairy-tale castle with a magical allure. Others have had a fresh lease of life; Paris’s Hôtel Lutetia is a masterclass in belle époque revival, while Cheval Blanc has taken over at St Tropez’s legendary La Résidence de la Pinède.
MANDARIN ORIENTAL HYDE PARK, LONDON
After a roof fire in June 2018, this flag-flying regal stalwart reopened last April. No one has dared to mess with the turreted exterior, and staff still meet guests at the door in red tails, but gone are the heavy curtains and throws. Instead, everything is lighter, fresher – even the marbled lobby – and rooms have been painted a pale grey with gold lampshades
THE LANESBOROUGH, LONDON
The Regency dandy of Hyde Park, The Lanesborough is an unashamed concoction of gold leaf, trompe l’oeil and marble that has all the interiors oomph of a palace hotel – and, with a butler for each room, service to match.
THE CONNAUGHT, LONDON
With smart dining from star-spangled chefs (Vongerichten, Darroze), an ethereal Aman Spa and quite possibly the best hotel bar in London, The Connaught is a distillation of everything that makes Mayfair tick.
THE ROSEWOOD, LONDON
The Rosewood London brought a neglected Edwardian pile back to life – the Mirror Room is fabulous – but it’s also helped put Holborn back on the map for Londoners.
THE LANGHAM, LONDON
The Langham has kept up with the times admirably, adding a smart boozer, cookery school and unbuttoned Roux restaurant, while maintaining a reassuringly old-school swish of palm-court elegance.
ZETTER TOWNHOUSE CLERKENWELL, LONDON
In Clerkenwell, the maximalist Zetter Townhouse taps a rich vein of Victorian eccentricity to create an urban den with genuine warmth – a theme hotel without the cheese.
HAM YARD, LONDON
Snug within its own Soho enclave, Ham Yard, from artful townhouse maestros Kit and Tim Kemp, still feels as fresh as when it opened in 2014 with its procession of fabrics, textures, collector’s pieces and fizzy commotion that rebooted the whole concept of boutique.
THE BEAUMONT, LONDON
In Mayfair, The Beaumont puts a playful spin on Prohibition-era New York with an impeccably realised bubble of Art Deco escapism best approached through the Magritte Bar; sculptor Antony Gormley’s three-storey Room makes this a hotel that’s totally unique for the city.
The thing about the hotel game is, as soon as anyone hits a good design note everyone else jumps on it, until its ubiquity makes us forget the very freshness that first turned our heads. It’s here, among the noise of shifting-sand trends, that there is a renewed place for the aristocratic hotel; the weightiness of it all giving us something solid and stately to hold on to, undiminished by centuries
THE WESTBURY, DUBLIN
The Westbury may not have the gracious Georgian proportions of some of its rivals, but it’s a less-buttoned-up local charmer with real flair. The Doyle Collection is a family-run Irish hotel group that counts London’s The Bloomsbury among its premises, and The Westbury is its flagship on home turf
ADARE MANOR, CO LIMERICK
Toss a pebble in any direction across Ireland’s 26 counties and you’ll likely hit all manner of manor hotels. But when you’re dashing across the island from Dublin to Limerick, the one to stop at is Adare.