From its intimate inns to its legendary grande dame hotels—which, in their heyday, became second homes to travelers spending months on the continent for their Grand Tours—Europe has long been the seat of hotel hospitality as we know it. These days, those traditions continue, although what defines “European hospitality” has slowly been changing.
“Europe has some of the most exceptional hotels, thanks to a strong culture of service and hospitality, and inimitable design roots, but it’s always exciting to see what is emerging next,” says Ivan Lartisien, cofounder of the Paris-based Grand Luxury Group, which sets up travelers at a curated collection of the world’s top hotels.
In 2019, the trends that are emerging are hotels that are re-imagining historic structures (including, in one case, a vintage ship), upping their food and beverage game, and—most exciting of all—bringing elevated hospitality to unexpected destinations. From a former olive oil mill in Italy to a converted palace in Budapest, here are 10 of the most exciting new hotels opening in Europe next year.
Note that projected opening dates are subject to change.
Edinburgh, Scotland Slated to open in January, the Fingal has been developed with a major investment by the Royal Yacht Britannia, resulting in the ultimate luxury floating hotel experience. Built in Glasgow in 1963, the Fingal spent its life in service as a lighthouse ship before coming to permanent rest on the Edinburgh waterfront. The interiors have now been completely reimagined into 23 sumptuous cabins, each named for a different lighthouse and featuring sophisticated decor with rain showers, underfloor heating, Wi-Fi and smart TVs, and maritime-inspired touches.
Some also have private balconies, second levels, or—in the case of the penthouse suite—separate living and dining areas. A panoramic restaurant and bar, ballroom (for up to 80 guests), and outdoor spaces made for sunset cocktails can also be found on board, while the base in the Leith neighborhood puts you a short walk away from Michelin-starred restaurants and other attractions.
The First Roma Dolce
Rome, Italy While there are always plenty of buzzed-about new openings to choose from in Rome, we’re excited about The First Roma Dolce (set to open in February) that will appeal directly to your hearts—or, more accurately, your stomachs. A sister to the nearby The First Roma Arte, this boutique property will be set in a converted 19th-century palazzo on the celebrated Via del Corso, near the Piazza del Popolo. The hotel takes the la dolce vita—or “sweet life”—concept to the next level, housing its own first-floor Italian pasticceria, which will craft sweet and savory pastries and desserts to enjoy in the chic space, along with gourmet items for in-room turndown and the 24-hour room service menu.
To balance the indulgences, eight of the 23 spacious rooms and suites will be outfitted with Technogym workout equipment (including treadmills, ellipticals, yoga mats, hand weights, and fitness balls), and two suites will have their own Kinesis Personal Vision multi-workout setup. All rooms will feature warm wood paneling and natural black stone details, as well as marble spa bathrooms with Acqua di Parma products, and bookcases with tomes on cuisine, art, history, and design.
Vintry & Mercer
London, England While you may not have heard of London’s historic Vintry Ward neighborhood, chances are you’ve been through it. Centered around Garlic Hill, the area is not far from St. Paul’s Cathedral and London Bridge and is just across the Thames from Borough Market. The neighborhood was once home to the Vintry Guild, which traded wine, and the Mercer Guild, which traded fine fabrics (both were founded in the 14th century). Vintry & Mercer—opening in February—will pay tribute to that history with touches like a barrel-aged cocktail program and the use of bespoke textiles and vintage trading maps in the decor.
The 92 rooms are vibrant and design-forward, with velvet headboards, leather door handles, and—in the bathrooms—colorful ceramic tiles, walk-in showers, and C.O. Bigelow products. (Some suites also have glass-walled balconies overlooking the Southbank skyline.) The eating and drinking options will include a ground-floor spot for all-day menus, an indoor/outdoor rooftop terrace with a charcoal oven and farm-to-table dishes, and Do Not Disturb (DND), an underground speakeasy-inspired cocktail bar.
Matild Palace, A Luxury Collection Hotel
Budapest, Hungary Budapest is renowned for its stunning (and diverse) architecture, and the setting for Matild Palace—the first Luxury Collection property in Hungary—will further showcase that design heritage. Slated to open early in 2019, the hotel will occupy the landmark Matild Palace, a neo-baroque structure completed in 1902 under the direction of Princess Clotilde of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Guests of the 130 rooms and suites will enjoy easy access to city sites (the building is set near the Elisabeth Bridge), along with elegant interiors, five-star service, and multiple dining and drinking options—including a signature gourmet restaurant, a Sky Bar, and a reimagining of the historic Matild Café, which was the first café in the city to open after the end of World War II.
Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens
Athens, Greece The first Four Seasons property in Greece is set to launch in late March, in a seaside location about 30 minutes away from the city’s historic center. Long a favorite of an elite international and Greek clientele, the historic Astir Palace hotel will undergo a 100 million euro renovation before re-emerging with 303 stylish accommodations (choose from rooms, suites, villas, and bungalows), seven restaurants and bars (from an Italian trattoria to a beachfront tavern), a cigar lounge, and a spa inspired by the studies of Hippocrates.
There will also be a tennis academy, basketball court, and kids’ club, along with multiple pools and access to three private beaches. In addition to the resort, the peninsula—which stretches across 75 pine-dotted acres—will house a beach club, seafront residences, a marina, and upscale retail and dining outlets; the latter includes Matsuhisa Athens by Nobu and Nice n Easy Seaside, an outpost of the sustainably minded local mini-chain.
Oslo, Norway A 1919 building that once served as the HQ for the Norwegian American Line—whose ships ferried travelers back and forth across the Atlantic—will be reborn in March as Amerikalinjen, a chic boutique hotel near Oslo’s main attractions. Its 122 rooms and suites will all have an eclectic-yet-sophisticated mix of contemporary and vintage elements; some will include separate seating areas, bathtubs, or balconies overlooking the city or a lush inner courtyard.
The Haven courtyard is also where guests can enjoy breakfast, coffee, or an afternoon snack, while the Nordic-cool Atlas Brasserie will serve three meals a day. Pier 42 is the place for cocktails and wines by the glass, and the intimate Gustav—inspired by the New York jazz scene—will host concerts and other evening events.
Hotel Château du Grand-Lucé
Loire Valley, France A quick 55-minute train ride from Paris, this 18th-century chateau was once the country home of a baron who hosted such illustrious Age of Enlightenment guests as Voltaire and Rousseau. Following a meticulous restoration performed under the watchful eye of the French government, the manor will open in late spring as the Hotel Château du Grand-Lucé, paying homage to its history, while also catering to the modern traveler.
The rooms and suites will have views of the village or formal gardens and feature original wood flooring, marble baths (stocked with Maison Caulières products), bespoke wallpaper, and period-inspired furnishings. In addition to the extensive planned gardens, the property will feature lush kitchen gardens (which will supply the chefs), a spa and fitness center (set in the former laundry house), a grand ballroom (once the stables), and other stone buildings that have yet to be restored.
Ānanti Resort, Residences & Beach Club
Rezevici, Montenegro Views of olive groves, beaches, and the Adriatic Sea surround you at the Ānanti Resort, Residences & Beach Club, which will be the second Leading Hotels of the World member in Montenegro when it opens in May. With a name that’s derived from the Sanskrit words for “joy” and “peace,” Ananti draws from Asian and Middle Eastern hospitality and design traditions, so you’ll find plenty of thoughtful touches and amenities throughout.
The rooms and suites are spread over eight spacious villas, which lead to resort facilities, including a fitness center, a kids’ video room, and multiple dining options (a signature Asian-fusion restaurant among them). There’s a private beach for when you want to relax and easy access to the towns of Sveti Stefan and Budva when you want to explore.
Masseria Torre Maizza
Puglia, Italy Rocco Forte is poised to have a big year in 2019, thanks to two major openings in Italy alone. But while its in-the-works Rome property might be getting a lot of buzz (it will be in the former InterContinental Hotel site, at the top of the Spanish Steps), we’re most excited about the Masseria Torre Maizza resort in Puglia, which will bring new levels of hospitality to the Adriatic coast when it opens in May.
Set in the restored buildings of a former 16th-century olive mill, about an hour from the cities of Bari and Lecce, the seaside getaway will feature 40 rooms and suites envisioned in chic, contemporary style by the brand’s signature designer, Olga Polizzi. Suites will have extras like fireplaces, private gardens, or rooftop terraces, while the Presidential Suite will be set in one of the mill’s original towers. Dine on regional specialties and wine in the garden-set restaurant, at the rooftop bar, or on one of the poolside terraces, then work them off on the nine-hole golf course, at the private beach club, or in the spa.
Bucharest, Romania Formerly the Grand Hotel du Boulevard, this 19th-century building in the heart of the Romanian capital sat empty for a decade—until Corinthia swept in to reopen it as the Corinthia Bucharest. Following extensive renovations, the place will reopen under the brand’s umbrella with 34 rooms and suites, as well as a grand ballroom and multiple dining options.
Because the hotel isn’t set to open until December 2019, specifics are still scarce, but we’re excited about it nonetheless—both because of Corinthia’s past successes in restoring historic hotels (see Budapest, Malta, and London) and because burgeoning Bucharest needs some true upscale options.