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View from the Pool Terrace at the Grand Hotel Minerva, FlorenceIf asked to picture a postcard version of Florence, the views from the Grand Hotel Minerva are most likely what would come to mind. The lovely rooftop pool and terrace offer up some of the most picturesque views in the city, and many rooms have balconies offering similarly excellent outlooks (most balconies have great views of the Santa Maria Novella Plaza, and those on higher floors have spectacular views of Florence’s skyline). All rooms and suites are spacious, with high ceilings and elegant furniture, and bathrooms are modern (if a little tight). The hotel’s central location, high-end restaurant, and regal historic ambiance make it easy to justify the splurge. Read More »

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Red rooftops against the backdrop of Tuscany's hills create the perfect sight to take in on your first morning in Florence.

Red rooftops against the backdrop of Tuscany's hills create the perfect sight to take in on your first morning in Florence.

There’s nothing better than, well, being on vacation in the first place — and then looking out of your hotel room’s window to a gorgeous view. We’ve seen plenty of beautiful sights on our travels, and we’ve taken in some of the most breathtaking views we’ve ever seen in Florence, a city characterized by red rooftops, cobblestone streets, and distant rolling hills. Check out some of the most bellissimo views we’ve seen in the Italian city.

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The hotel's lobby combines funky new pieces with antiques to create a sleek look.

The hotel's lobby combines funky new pieces with antiques to create a sleek look.

The boutique-like Rocco Forte Hotel Savoy — with just over 100 rooms – is known for personalized service and contemporary style. Neutral tones and tasteful fabrics create an elegant look, and are livened up by colorful artwork throughout. The attached L’Incontro Bar and Restaurant features a renowned Tuscan menu created by Michelin-starred Chef Fulvio Pierangelini and a chic dining room that spills out onto the piazza during summer months. The hotel’s central location is a major draw, and most guest rooms offer spectacular views. Those facing front look out onto the piazza, which makes for a pretty vista, if a bit of noise during lively days and nights. Rooms in the rear overlook the stunning Duomo — even the fitness center has lovely views from its top-floor perch. See more incredible photos after the jump or read our full review now»
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Waking up on a Monday morning (especially after a holiday weekend) can be pretty tough — but it isn’t so hard to do at the Hotel Loggiato Dei Serviti. Located in Piazza della Santissima Annunziata — one of Renaissance Florence’s most stunning architectural complexes — this 16th-century property boasts a grand entrance of beautiful arches and columns. But the Tuscan elegance doesn’t end there: Wood-beamed ceilings, antique furnishings, and rich fabrics exude a classic Florentine vibe throughout the hotel. Still, nothing is more breathtaking than the views from the guestrooms. Adorable private terraces featuring flower boxes look out towards the Duomo so guests can sip on freshly-brewed espresso and greet the day — and the city  — with a smile. But until then, as we say every week, sit back, relax, and soak in the goodness that is the Hotel Loggiato Dei Serviti.

Waking Up Isn't Really So Hard to Do: The Deluxe Room at the Hotel Loggiato Dei Serviti, Florence

Waking Up Isn't Really So Hard to Do: The Deluxe Room at the Hotel Loggiato Dei Serviti, Florence

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Like the rest of the world, our office is abuzz with talk of Wes Anderson’s newest flick, The Grand Budapest Hotel. And sure, it may be mostly water cooler chatter, but we consider it research too — after all, it is about a grand hotel… one that may have seen some grander times. But even in its heyday, the Grand Budapest Hotel just can’t stack up to some of the gorgeous historic hotels that we’ve stayed in — from Irish castles to stately Southern mansions. Check out a dozen stunning stays that are far grander than the Grand Budapest Hotel (with the requisite storied history, to boot).

1. Ca’Sagredo Hotel, Venice

Ca'Sagredo

Originally built in the 15th century by the Morosini family, this beautiful palazzo — right on the Grand Canal — was purchased by the Sagredos (a family of noble blood) in the 1700s, which is how the hotel got its name. Besides luxurious rooms and a lovely terrace, the Ca’Sagredo Hotel features original frescoes and sculptures from the 17th and 18th centuries.

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It’s hard to resist the complex flavors and rich history that comes with drinking a glass of vino. And heck, it’s hard to resist sipping on wine even without all that history…but it is noteworthy — and fascinating: In a process dating back to 6000 BC (well before the Romans epitomized the drink across the Mediterranean), the transformation from crushed grapes to delectable alcoholic beverage has been an important part of the human tradition — whether it be celebratory, religious, you name it.

From the Greek Isles to Australia’s Yarra Valley, from Chardonnay to Shiraz, some variation of the grape stuff can be found the world over. And for the discerning traveler looking to explore a region’s gustatory offerings, many wineries await with open arms (and free-flowing wine) to offer tours of their operation and — most importantly — samples of their best vintages. Picturesque backdrops set the scene across the globe for a truly delicious (and perhaps tipsy) experience. So whether you’re a wine aficionado or an eager wino student, pack your bags and make sure to bring a corkscrew, because these far flung locales have just the bottle of wine for you.

1. Napa Valley, California

napa

Napa Valley — home to some of the most charming cities in the U.S. — is also one of the world’s best wine-growing regions, with hundreds of wineries sprawling across the rolling hills. Wineries can occasionally feel a little touristy (it’s not uncommon to see a tour bus parked outside), but perhaps that’s inevitable in one of the world’s top wine-tasting destinations. The valley is actually divided into fourteen sub-regions, each suited to a particular grape, so you can map your tour based on your wine preferences.

Where to Stay: If you’re daydreaming of a luxury stay in the heart of wine country — complete with impressive views, rustic-luxe charm, and lavish  amenities — you can’t do much better than the Harvest Inn. Each guest receives a bottle of wine upon arrival, and many rooms overlook the neighboring vineyards of St. Helena.  Read More »

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Ever dreamed of being king or queen of a castle? Lord or lady of the manor? Well, you’re not the only one — and plenty of hotels around the world can make that dream come true. We scouted out nine luxury hotels that were formerly the elaborate private homes of blue bloods, aristocrats, and royals, from an Irish castle to a Gatsby-era Gold Coast mansion. Feelin’ fancy? Then check these out.

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Ireland

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Ireland

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Ireland

This charming stone manor house dates to the 18th century and the 450-acre country estate embodies the sort of wild country beauty that Connemara is famous for. Past owners of the lands have included the O’Flaherty clan (the 16th century “Pirate Queen,” Grace O’Malley, married into the clan and was one of its more noteworthy members); Richard Martin (a member of Parliament nicknamed Humanity Dick for founding the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals); and the Indian Maharaja, Ranji, who bought the estate in 1922. Read More »

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There are those who say that your room on vacation doesn’t matter — you won’t spend any time in it anyway, right? Wellll, being the hotel geeks that we are, we have to respectfully disagree. That kind of logic is perfectly fine if you’re hopping hostels, but the truth is, the hotel room is a major component of a vacation experience for most of us. And if that hotel room provides a stunning outlook of the place you traveled all that way to see, all the better. That way you won’t miss a moment of experiencing your wonderful destination. These nine views aren’t just nice, they’re jaw-dropping — taking your vacation to a whole new level.

Jade Mountain, St. Lucia

Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia

Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia

The guest rooms at Jade Mountain are among the most luxurious in the world, and all have a missing fourth wall featuring stunning views of the Caribbean Sea and St. Lucia’s iconic Pitons. Most also offer private infinity pools. This romantic resort is an architectural marble, built into a mountain about 100 feet above the sea. Read More »

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Some hotels are more than just hotels — they are former castles, royal residences, or Gatsby-esque mansions. Or they opened their doors many years ago to offer accommodations of unsurpassed luxury, attracting royalty and famous names. These grand dames around the world have drawn on their rich pasts in order to offer present-day magnificence.

Grand Hotel Baglioni, Florence

Grand Hotel Baglioni, Florence

Grand Hotel Baglioni, Florence

Housed in the former residences of the Bertolini princes, the Grand Hotel Baglioni lives up to the grand image painted by Florence’s past. The hotel is filled with heavy-handed regal touches and ornate decor from top to bottom. The 193 rooms are very spacious (not often the case in a historic building), and feel luxurious, decked out with classic Italian furnishings, large leaded windows, gorgeous dark wood (the ceilings, floors, and furniture), and equally spacious dazzling white bathrooms. Both the rooftop garden and Terrazza Brunelleschi restaurant offer stunning views of Florence. Read More »

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The term “boutique hotel” can be applied to a host of very different properties — whether quaint or trendy, traditional or avant-garde. But they all have at least one thing in common: They’re intimate, and fewer rooms means fewer guests get to experience them, so staying at one can feel like discovering a secret hideaway. But secrets are no fun if you don’t get share them — so we’re spilling the beans on 11 of our favorite boutiques across Europe.

Draycott Hotel, London

Draycott Hotel, London

Draycott Hotel, London

This 35-room combo of Edwardian townhouses is warm and intimate with a country home feel, and in a great location for exclusive West End shopping. With wonderful boutique perks such as the free English afternoon tea (guests at other hotels will have to pay at least a £15 premium to enjoy such a tradition), free pre-dinner champagne, and free hot chocolate before bed, it’s hard to find much at the Draycott to complain about. Unless, of course, your priorities are a pool and fitness center, both of which the hotel lacks. Read More »

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