Barcelona

Europe is home to some of the world’s most luxurious properties. From exclusive boutiques to expansive castles, these hotels know how to cater to the rich and famous — if not royalty, itself. Now, you may not own a tiara, but that doesn’t mean you can’t at least dream of laying your head to rest at one of these penultimate establishments. And if you decide to do more than dream, please be sure to pack us in your suitcase: It would be worth it to get back inside these 12 uber-luxurious properties.

1. Conservatorium Hotel, Amsterdam 

amsterdam

The Conservatorium Hotel delivers a true five-pearl experience in Amsterdam‘s residential Museum Quarter. It’s housed in a 100-year-old former bank building, and the hotel’s warm, modern design melds seamlessly with the structure: The stunning atrium lobby, for example, is industrial-chic, featuring wood, brick, and glass. The rooms are decorated in earthy neutrals and every detail was considered, from the placement of the electrical outlets to the reading lights by the bed to the high-tech controls for the lighting and blinds. The big, modern fitness center, stylish indoor pool, and lovely spa, all located below ground, are highlights. It’s a premier choice for luxury travelers willing to trade a central location for added space and quiet. Read More »

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A spa day is a relatively romantic endeavor on its own, but move that spa day to Europe and it’s nearly guaranteed to spark some l’amour. Our expert hotel investigators have been busily traveling through Europe visiting tons of hotels, and along the way they’ve found a handful with some pretty epic spas. From sexy, cavernous lounges to state-of-the-art treatment rooms, these eight hotels are home to eight of the most romantic spas across the pond. And best of all, they’re NEW on Oyster! Take a grand tour…

Aquapetra Resort

Aquapetra Resort & Spa, Tuscany

This charming luxury resort, housed in the updated remains of a formerly abandoned 19th-century village, is set amid olive groves and cypress trees in the rolling hills just outside the spa town of Telese. The entire property combines rustic charm with modern comforts, and this includes the sexy, adults-only spa. In an old barn, where the original stone and wood materials have been painstakingly maintained, the spa overlooks an outdoor pool. Guests can receive signature treatments and then relax in the facilities, which consist of treatment rooms, a lounge, whirlpools, a steam room, a sauna, and therapy showers.

 

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Europe is home to plenty of gorgeous grande dames; large, stately hotels that are both iconic and sometimes imposing, with high-ceilinged entryways, sweeping staircases, tons of rooms, and large, bustling restaurants that attract tourists and locals, as well as hotel guests. Spots like these are certainly worth a visit, but there’s something to be said for the boutique hotel experience. Fewer rooms (and therefore fewer guests) often mean more attentive service, a more tranquil vibe, and ultimately a more authentic European stay. We just got back from another tour of Europe, and this time we made sure to seek out the continent’s hidden gems. We ventured down little alleyways and walked along winding cobblestone streets to find 10 charming boutiques in Paris, Venice, Rome, Madrid, and Barcelona — and now on Oyster!

1. Ca’Riccio, Venice

Ca'Riccio

A six-room bed and breakfast in quaint, quiet Cannaregio, Ca’Riccio is a bright, homey pick filled with fresh-cut flowers and a variety of attractive art on the walls. Rooms are cozy and clean with wrought iron headboards, Murano glass lamps, and minibars. A free continental breakfast is served in a charming breakfast room and Wi-Fi is free, but there is no elevator. Its offers wonderful value considering its level of charm, and it’s within walking distance of the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square.

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Europe is a popular destination year-round, and it becomes all the more popular as the temperatures rise and students and families opt to travel abroad during their spring and summer vacations. Those who have an extended amount of time off (and, of course, the cash to afford it) can visit numerous cities during one trip, but others with limited time and funds must decide upon one location — which can be a tricky feat. So we’ve come up with an expert guide for how to spend six months in Europe; whether you can take half a year and explore a handful of cities, or you have just a weekend in which to get away, we’ll tell you the best European destination for each month — starting right now with February!

February in Venice

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Venice’s Carnival is one of the most famous festivals in the world, and every February locals and tourists crowd the streets of the city to let loose before Lent begins. This year the celebration kicks off on February 15th and runs for two and a half weeks; parades, contests, special exhibits, and ceremonies take place along the Grand Canal.

Where to Stay: Hotel Al Sole

This boutique hotel may have simple — verging on bland — rooms, but canal views, a charming courtyard, and a great location — the hotel is housed in a 15th-century mansion within walking distance of numerous sights — make Hotel Al Sole a solid pick.

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Fall is an ideal time to visit Spain, thanks to the season’s mild climate and reduced tourist crowds. (It’s still a popular time to go, but September and October aren’t nearly as busy as August, when most Europeans plan a vacation.) And visitors can avoid the hoards not just as the tourist sights, but within their hotels, too — provided they select an intimate boutique pick, like these five attractive options.

Abac Barcelona

Abac Barcelona

Abac Barcelona

This exclusive 15-room luxury boutique hotel embodies contemporary style at its best, fitting right in in a city that treasures design. Rooms are avant-garde, from the clean, white and beige decor, to the modern under lighting, to the remote-controlled blinds, to the Bang & Olufsen sound system. An amazing spa with Turkish baths shouldn’t be missed, and the hotel’s Michelin-starred on-site restaurant is a highlight. But the slightly out-of-the-way residential location is a drawback. Read More »

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Sometimes spa treatments tip over the edge of relaxing and enter the realm of downright strange. From fish pedicures to snow rooms, hotels around the globe are offering unique (and kinda weird) options for guests to indulge in. Some might swear by these alternative services, others may be skeptical — but we at Oyster will try (almost) anything once! Here, we’ve rounded up the craziest spa services we’ve come across during our travels. Take a look and prepare to get pampered in a whole new way!

The Treatment: Sparience Oxygen Bubble

The Spa Hotel: Gran Hotel La Florida, Barcelona 

The Sparience Oyxgen Bubble experience is stress-reducing.

At the Zen Zone Spa in Barcelona, guests can try out the Sparience Oyxgen Bubble. Meant to relieve stress and minimize injury recovery time, these bubbles are filled with 99.5 percent pure oxygen, which should induce intense mental and physical relaxation. The sculpted AlphaSphere bed combines color, shape, and light with sound, vibrations, and warmth to increase the effects of the treatment. It all sounds well and good, but doesn’t it remind you a bit of this John Travolta classic? Read More »

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Ohla Hotel, Barcelona

Ohla Hotel, Barcelona

Barcelona attracts tourists from all over the world for its vibrant nightlife, excellent cuisine, beautiful Gothic and Modernist architecture, and laid-back beach vibe. And sometimes the best place to soak it all in is while taking a dip — which is made abundantly easy in a city where rooftop pools are a staple at many hotels. Check out some of our favorites.

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Thanks to our friends at the Captivate Network, you can catch this story in your office elevator this week! And don’t miss Captivate’s Summer Fridays Sweepstakes!

Planning a European getaway this summer? These cities are some of our top picks for the summer months. Whether you’d rather chill on Barcelona’s beaches or explore Rome’s many outdoor ruins, warm weather makes all the difference in these spots.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is one of Europe’s most vibrant cities, with hopping nightlife, excellent cuisine, and beautiful Gothic and Modernist architecture. But it also has a prime location on the Mediterranean sea, with beaches such as La Barceloneta accessible right in the city limits — making this a popular summertime travel pick.

  • Oyster’s Pick for Where to Stay: Ohla Hotel, for its stunning rooftop pool, great for a summertime dip 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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Visiting Europe is often composed of a whirlwind tour, during which visitors hurry from one tourist destination to another. Therefore — in between trips to museums and monuments — finding the time to breathe can be surprisingly difficult. To help speed along to the moment where you actually find relaxation — you’re on vacation, after all — some of our favorite hotels across the pond are outfitted with top-notch spas designed to get you to that “Ahhh” feeling faster than you can say “Euro Trip.” Whether all you want is some downtime in the sauna or a deep tissue massage, these properties have you covered. So sit back and relax—the Louvre will still be there tomorrow.

1. K West Hotel & Spa, London 

The intimate spa encourages relaxation at every corner.

K West is a smart and sophisticated option in London, with its main attraction being the beautiful K Spa. Featuring sleek style and impressive facilities — the hydrotherapy pool and “Snow Paradise” room are particularly noteworthy — the spa is well-regarded throughout the United Kingdom. The “Snow Paradise” room is meant to follow a hot steam treatment, and is based on Finnish spa techniques of using hot-cold therapy to stimulate circulation and the immune system.

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