10 European city breaks to book now

·7-min read
Canal plus: the waterways of Ghent (Getty Images/Westend61)
Canal plus: the waterways of Ghent (Getty Images/Westend61)

While Europe’s sparkling shores and sandy beaches are the main draw during the summer months, it’s officially time to turn your attention to urban hotspots such as Seville, Oslo and Ghent.

As temperatures drop, now’s your chance to immerse yourself in city life without the crowds, visiting magical museums and galleries, dining at top restaurants and hitting the shops. Whether you’re after a weekend with friends or a romantic trip à deux, here are ten trips to start planning now.

Corral del Rey, Seville

 (Corral del Rey)
(Corral del Rey)

One of the loveliest cities to visit in Spain, Seville is small but perfectly formed, with picturesque winding streets and a medley of Andalucian, Moorish and Art Deco architecture. Stay at Corral del Rey, a pretty boutique hotel set across three 17th-century townhouses in the historic Alfalfa quarter, boasting a rooftop plunge pool with views across the city. You enter through huge wooden doors into a traditional Andalucian courtyard, surrounded by chic bedrooms where old-world charm meets modern comfort, and fine art lines the walls. Feeling peckish? Grab a table at the all-day bar that serves a light tapas menu starring all the classics, including jamón ibérico, croquettes and tortilla.

Price: from about £264 a night; corraldelrey.com

1898 The Post, Ghent

 (1898 The Post)
(1898 The Post)

For a minibreak to remember, book into 1898 The Post, a warm and inviting boutique hotel located in Ghent’s former post office. All the bedrooms, including a romantic octagonal duplex built into the 54-meter clock tower, pay homage to the building’s past and are painted a deep green, with brass details and dark wood. There’s an excellent bar, The Cobbler, displaying a fascinating selection of treasures, from glass ink bottles to antique globes, that add to the fairy-tale feeling. The room also serves as a sun-dappled breakfast and afternoon tea spot for hotel guests, with everything from freshly baked bread to homemade chocolate cake on offer.

Price: from about £127 a night; 1898thepost.com

The Hoxton, Paris

 (The Hoxton Paris)
(The Hoxton Paris)

Forget Paris’ palace hotels with their eyewatering rates and check in to The Hoxton instead – where a more affordable price tag doesn’t mean compromising on style. The 172 bedrooms, which range in size from Shoebox to Biggy, are calm and sophisticated, mixing bold navy paint with leather headboards and oak chevron floors. Downstairs, the communal areas are effortlessly cool, with a front courtyard covered by a soaring glass atrium and decked out in lots of lush greenery and jewel-coloured velvet sofas. It’s a great place for a cocktail before dining at the chic all-day restaurant Rivié – opt for the burger with all the trimmings and you won’t be disappointed.

Price: from about £310 a night; thehoxton.com

Gleneagles Townhouse, Edinburgh

 (Gleneagles Townhouse)
(Gleneagles Townhouse)

Promising its guests ‘a place to gather and be glorious’, the Gleneagles Townhouse is the first city outpost from the iconic sporting and country estate of the same name. Having opened this summer in the former Bank of Scotland, a historic building on Edinburg’s St Andrew Square, the hotel emanates grandeur, with ornate cornicing, stone columns and canopy crown headboards. On the ground floor, The Spence is a fabulous restaurant that serves up delicious brasserie fare such as beef tartare and baked Alaska. Venture down to the bank’s former vault and you’ll find an incredible wellness space complete with yoga studio, cryotherapy chamber and infrared sauna.

Price: from £370 a night; gleneagles.com

Ett Hem, Stockholm

 (Ett Hem)
(Ett Hem)

Nestled in the heart of Stockholm’s exclusive Lärkstaden district, Ett Hem was originally a residential home built in the Arts and Crafts architectural style. Today, guests are still encouraged to treat the space as if it were their own abode, whether helping themselves to a tasty snack in the kitchen, playing a tune on the grand piano in the living room, or enjoying a cup of tea out in the courtyard garden. There are just 12 bedrooms in total, which have been beautifully curated by the British interior designer Ilse Crawford, with details such as handblown water glasses by the bed and custom-made wooden stools and Aesop toiletries in the bathrooms.

Price: from about £320 a night; etthem.se

The Yeatman, Porto

 (The Yeatman)
(The Yeatman)

Porto may be Lisbon’s underrated sibling, but discerning travellers have always admired the city for its history in port wine production. The Yeatman makes the most of its setting: the master suites are named after local wine producers, the spa offers grape treatments, and the swimming pool is even shaped like a decanter. Most recently, its Orangerie Restaurant, where oenophiles can sample more than 1,000 wines from around the world, has been awarded its second Michelin star. As an added bonus, you can book a twin stay with the sister property Vintage House Hotel and immerse yourself in Portugal’s rustic side.

Price: from about £194 a night; the-yeatman-hotel.com

Sommerro, Oslo

 (Sommerro)
(Sommerro)

After a seven-year revamp, Oslo’s National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design – the largest collection in the Nordic region, home to works such as Edvard Munch’s The Scream – finally reopened this summer. Visitors now have somewhere stylish to lay their heads, at Sommerro, a 231-room hotel with the city’s first rooftop pool, an in-house theatre and an underground wellness space with restored Roman baths. The property occupies the former headquarters of the capital city’s electrical company, Oslo Lysverker, and stays true to its heritage, from the Norse furniture motifs inspired by local artists to the giant wall frescos by Per Krohg and the unique local flowers found at each of the seven restaurants and bars.

Price: from £312 a night; sommerrohouse.com

The Nimb, Copenhagen

 (The Nimb)
(The Nimb)

Originally built as a fantasy Arabian castle to exhibit arts and crafts in the famous Tivoli Gardens, The Nimb is now home to 17 spacious suites that epitomise the clean lines and simple forms of Danish design. Each room has a four-poster bed, crisp white linens and Bang & Olufsen technology, and many have log fires and views of the retro amusement park, to which guests have complimentary access. Foodies are spoilt for choice, with seafood and steakhouse classics at Bar’N’Grill, Nimb Terrasse’s French-Nordic fusion, or traditional Danish open sandwiches at Fru Nimb. There’s even a decent snack selection at the wine bar, a lofty-ceilinged space that was once the building’s ballroom.

Price: from about £293 a night; hotel.nimb.dk

Iniala Harbour House, Valletta

 (Iniala Harbour House Hotel)
(Iniala Harbour House Hotel)

An exciting new addition to Malta’s hospitality scene, the Iniala Harbour House is a bijou property with 23 guestrooms housed within three beautifully restored 19th-century mansions on Valletta’s St. Barbara Bastion. Suites are the height of luxury, decorated in elaborate wallpaper, velvet rugs and leather armchairs, and up on the rooftop there’s an excellent restaurant, ION Harbour, by the Michelin starred chef Alex Dilling. Highlights include marinated prawns topped with caviar and foie gras truffles served with Amalfi lemon. After a long day of sightseeing, head to the Essensi Spa for soothing massages and facials.

Price: from £278 a night; inialamalta.com

The Principal Madrid

 (The Principal Madrid)
(The Principal Madrid)

In the lobby of The Principal Madrid, deep leather Chesterfields, gilt-framed portraits and vast, dome-shaped windows lend an ambiance that is part Manhattan loft, part English gentlemen’s club. Eat Spanish cuisine at the 24-hour Atico restaurant, relax with a signature massage in the spa, or soak up some vitamin D on one of the rooftop terrace’s hot pink loungers – surely the chicest drinking spot for Madrileños this autumn. The hotel is conveniently located on Gran Via, the city’s main street, so it’s an easy walk to the Prado museum, the Retiro park and the shops around Puerta del Sol. As night falls, retire to your bedroom where super-sized pillows and soundproofed windows guarantee a peaceful night’s sleep.

Price: from about £225 a night; theprincipalmadrid.com