Anyone heading to Europe with the intention of immersing themselves in local history and culture might find older hotels have more to offer than their modern counterparts. Sleeping in a historic hotel can feel like spending the night in a museum, with wall plaques detailing historical events, small exhibitions on-site, and chatty staff eager to impart local lore.
Historical hotels are typically centrally located near train stations, museums, and other cultural attractions already on your to-do list. The potential downside? Sometimes the convenience and glamor of these grand old hotels can cost well beyond what you’d budgeted for the entire trip, let alone a single night’s stay—but that doesn’t have to be the case. Here are the best historic hotels in Europe for every budget.
Luxury and heritage properties don’t come cheap, and Paris certainly proves the point with some of Europe’s best-known and most expensive historic hotels. Splurge-worthy classics like the Hôtel de Crillon, Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Le Bristol, George V, and the Ritz tend to be the top choices for milestone celebrations and for excellent reason. For most travelers who can’t afford to drop four digits per night on a room, Paris offers plenty of other historic options at a fraction of the price.
Hôtel Verneuil: Francophiles will swoon over this cozy Saint-Germain hotel that was once home to badboy poets Verlaine and Rimbaud, as well as French crooner Serge Gainsbourg. Room rates are reasonable (maximum $250 for dates in spring), considering that the Louvre is a mere 9-minute walk across the Pont du Carrousel over the Seine.
Hôtel Raphael: Built in 1925, this glamorous 5-star hotel in the 16th arrondissement may not be considered old by Parisian standards, but it certainly has some stories to tell. Film buffs may recognize the hotel from its brief role in Wes Anderson’s 2007 short film Hotel Chevalier. Rooms are classically French and feature Louis VX style furnishings, ornate wood moldings, and oodles of toile. Room rates have been known to dip below $300 for a basic room in winter and tend to fluctuate between $400 to $600 otherwise. Suites with balconies and Eiffel tower views are available but be prepared to pay more.
Check Prices for Hotel Raphael in Montecatini Terme
Le Meurice: It’s easy to spend big on fancy hotel stays in Paris, but the trouble is in choosing. The options are endless, and they’re sure to exceed both your budget and your expectations. At just under $2,000 a night, they’d better. If you’re looking to deviate from the usual big names in grand Parisian hotels, the recently revived Le Meurice is worth more than a look. Le Meurice originally opened its doors in 1835 and has put up everyone from Queen Victoria to Jay-Z and Kayne West (who, by the way, recorded a song here). The hotel sits directly across from the Tuileries Garden and the Seine, and is a mere 6-minute walk from the Louvre. And though this property is by no means cheap, rooms are nearly half the price of other nearby heavy-hitters. Room rates hover around $800 to $900 per night.
Check Prices for Le Meurice in Paris, France
The beauty of Italy’s Eternal City has been a lure for tourists for hundreds of years. Many of the city’s earliest hotels are still welcoming guests today, along with a stylish crop of grand hotels that sprung up during Rome’s post-war heyday.
The Albergo del Sole: Across from the Pantheon sits Rome’s oldest hotel and one of the most reasonably priced in town. The Albergo del Sole has been in operation since the 1400s and is surprisingly unassuming minus a few commemorative plaques out front. Interiors can be best described as Nonna-minimalism. Italian antique furnishings sit atop terrazzo floors, and a lush hideaway terrace garden awaits outside. Room rates hover below $250 per night, which, considering its prime location and history, is awfully hard to beat.
Check Prices for Albergo del Sole in Province of Syracuse, Sicily
Hotel de Russie: Sandwiched between Piazza del Popolo to the north and Piazza di Spagna to the south is the elegant five-star Hotel de Russie. Since its opening in 1901, the hotel has been the preferred haunt of writers, composers, and royals, as well as artists like Pablo Picasso, who has a suite named in his honor. The hotel is most noted for its interior gardens, designed by architect Giuseppe Valadier and recently renovated. Shoppers will also appreciate the hotel’s proximity to Italian fashion behemoths like Prada, Gucci, and Rome’s very own Fendi. Room rates average around $450 in the low season to $600 and higher in late spring and summer.
Check Prices for Hotel De Russie in Rome, Italy
Hotel Hassler: A honeymoon destination for Princess Grace and Prince Rainier of Monaco, the Hassler has been a longtime favorite of the rich and famous since 1893, and it’s easy to see why. The hotel has the enviable position of sitting at the tippy top of the Spanish Steps, giving guests access to some of the best views in Rome. Also of interest, the Villa Borghese Gardens are a 10-minute walk from the hotel, as are two of the more striking Caravaggio paintings in Rome: The Crucifixion of St. Peter and The Conversion of St. Paul located in Santa Maria del Popolo. Room rates average around $650 off-season and $900 or more for peak summer.
Check Prices for Hotel Hassler in Rome, Italy
Travelers to the Spanish metropolis will find plenty of history-rich digs to call home for a night or two, and at rates that are surprisingly less than other nearby sun-soaked cities.
NH Collection Madrid Suecia: Is it the oldest hotel in Madrid? Not by a longshot. In fact, the Hotel Casa de Suecia has only been in business since 1956, a mere blip on the city’s very long timeline. In the 1960s, the Casa de Suecia made a name for itself as a hub for visiting writers, intellectuals, and revolutionaries. Che Guevara stayed here whenever passing through Spain, and Ernest Hemingway made the Casa de Suecia his home while reporting on the Spanish civil war. The 5-star hotel has gone through several renovations in the last decade, most recently in 2016 by the NH Hotel Group, and is now known as the NH Collection Madrid Suecia. Room rates are reasonable even in summer at around $150 per night.
Check Prices for NH Collection Madrid Suecia in Madrid, Spain
The Westin Palace Hotel: The Westin Palace Hotel, originally known just as the Palace, has been at the very center of Spanish arts and culture since it opened in 1912. It was, at the time, Europe’s largest hotel and the only one to provide guests with their very own in-room telephones. Hemingway mentions its bar in his 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises, and Spain’s own Picasso and Dali were regular guests. During the Spanish civil war, the hotel served as a hospital to troops. The Palace has been the backdrop to a number of Franco-era political dramas, including a failed coup, as well as fashion shows, and film premieres. Rooms in the winter months can go for around $270 per night, with summer rates at about $100 more.
Mandarin Oriental Ritz Madrid: Citing Madrid’s lack of grandiose hotels after returning home from a trip around Europe, Spain’s King Alfonso XIII began lobbying for the construction of a hotel on par with the Ritz in Paris. In fact, it was Swiss hotelier Cesar Ritz of Paris Ritz fame who was tapped to supervise the creation of this hotel. Since opening in 1910, the hotel has been a popular stop for the rich and powerful and was even temporary home to exotic dancer and German spy Mata Hara. Today’s Ritz is not only one of the better places to stay in all of Madrid, but it’s also one of the most expensive. A room can easily set you back $1,000 per night and that’s even in the off seasons.
From Mozart to Beethoven, hotels in Austria’s hyper opulent capital of music have served as temporary homes to some of history’s most talented composers, creators, and thinkers. Many of them are still in operation today, welcoming those who flock to Vienna’s world-class opera houses and concert halls. Room rates in Vienna are generally much lower than in larger nearby capital cities, even at some of the more impressive properties. No matter your budget, a stay at a classic Vienna hotel is sure to include all things gilded and chandeliered for the gods.
Schlosshotel Römischer Kaiser: A night’s stay in an imperial baroque palace that won’t leave you broke? Ja, bitte! Built in 1684, this 4-star hotel promises full Viennese kitsch decor at every turn, with some suites even renovated to feature Versace flourishes in the bathroom. Room rates are typically north of $150 per night in the off-season and can exceed $200 in the summer months. Again, not bad for a baroque Barbie-esque palace a mere 5-minute walk from the State Opera House.
Check Prices for Schlosshotel Roemischer Kaiser in Vienna, Austria
Hotel Imperial: Built in 1862, the Hotel Imperial was originally home to Duke Philipp of Württemberg and later transformed into a hotel during the 1873 Vienna World Exhibition. The hotel has long been the place to stay for visiting heads of state including Queen Elizabeth and JFK, and a favorite of major celebs like Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra. Interiors are classically Austrian with imperial reds and pastel-hued damask wallpaper, ornate gilded mirrors, and colorful marble. Prices at the Imperial can range from $300 in off-season to $500 in peak summer months.
Hotel Sacher Wien: The Hotel Sacher is most known for its namesake cake, the sachertorte, but it’s actually the cake that came first. Austrian baker Franz Sacher created the cake way back in 1832 for then State Chancellor Klemens von Metternich. The cake was a hit and word soon spread about this delicious chocolate cake with its single layer of apricot jam. When the Hotel Sacher opened its doors in 1876, the sachertorte was naturally on the menu and has remained there ever since. Cakes aside, the hotel stands just fine on its own as one of the most fashionable addresses in town, and its proximity to the opera ensures there’s always a crowd. Rooms can exceed $600 in the summer months but are a tad more affordable in winter at around $400 per night.
Check Prices for Hotel Sacher Wien in Vienna
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