Best Historic Hotels in Europe
Traveling throughout Europe is an opportunity to travel through history. In London, Prague, Paris and other top destinations, you can step back in time while visiting churches, monuments and city centers dating back centuries.
And of course, you can also stay in some of the world's grandest hotels found on historic registers.
In the following old-school elegant properties, royal families, U.S. presidents and countless notables have laid their heads to rest. Many decades on, they offer the same superb service and accommodations that they have from the beginning, while delivering the historic style that makes Europe great.
Austria: Hotel Sacher
Dates back to: 1876
Starting nightly rate: $400
Celebrity guests: Queen Elizabeth II, John F. Kennedy, Grace Kelly, John Lennon
Directly across the street from Vienna’s famed State Opera house, the Hotel Sacher is one of the most historic hotels in Austria, and has contributed greatly to the city’s culture with the invention of the Sacher-Torte.
Prince von Metternich requested this cake made of chocolate and apricot jam, and it fell upon the shoulders of a 16-year-old apprentice, Franz Sacher, to create the special treat. His creation has remained a symbol of the city since its delivery in 1832.
The Sacher family went on to create the esteemed Hotel Sacher in 1876, where it remains in the family to this day. Decorated with subtle Baroque accents, it boasts 86 rooms and 63 suites, with roof-terrace suites available.
A street-facing restaurant and bakery sell the still-handmade Sacher-Tortes, with more than 350,000 shipped around the world annually. Still the epitome of luxury, the Hotel Sacher is within steps of Vienna’s most historic attractions.
Hotel Sacher, circa 1890
Belgium: Hotel Metropole
Dates back to: 1895
Starting nightly rate: $123
Celebrity guests: Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover
Brussels has long been a city where European leaders converge — and often, they've done so at the five-star Hotel Metropole, which opened in 1895.
Designed in an Art Nouveau style with a blend of Art Deco architecture, the hotel was originally built to be a café supporting a family brewery. It went on to become one of the grandest hotels in the city, and eventually was taken over by the Germans during the Second World War.
When the hotel was returned to its service as a luxury property, it welcomed the World Fair in 1958. Today, it continues to see presidents and dignitaries roaming its hallways.
Hotel Metropole, circa 1920s
Croatia: Esplanade Zagreb Hotel
Dates back to: 1925
Starting nightly rate: $158
Celebrity guests: Elizabeth Taylor, Louis Armstrong, Orson Welles, Ella Fitzgerald
Soon to celebrate its 95th year as one of Zagreb’s most luxurious and famous hotels, the Esplanade once was a stopping point for visitors traveling between Europe and Asia along the Orient Express, as it was located mere steps from the train station.
Featuring more than 200 rooms and suites overlooking the city, the hotel received a full makeover in 2004 to modernize without sacrificing its historic touches. It remains, today, a hot spot for celebs, including those dining in Zinfandel’s, rated one of the best restaurants in Croatia.
Esplanade Zagreb Hotel, circa early 1900s
England: Brown’s Hotel
Dates back to: 1874
Starting nightly rate: $735
Celebrity guests: Theodore Roosevelt, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde
Centrally located in London’s Mayfair neighborhood, Brown’s Hotel opened in 1874 and is the epitome of the Victorian sophistication one would expect of a historic property in the city.
You’ll find traditional high tea served every afternoon in the hotel’s tea room, which has welcomed writers from across the generations, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, J.M. Barrie, Robert Louis Stevenson, Agatha Christie and modern-day authors like Stephen King.
Rudyard Kipling wrote “The Jungle Book” while staying in one of the hotel's posh rooms, today rebranded as the Kipling Suite.
Alexander Graham Bell also made the first-ever phone call from this five-star hotel, which continues to pamper its guests as it did more than 100 years ago.
Historic illustration of Brown's Hotel
France: Le Meurice
Dates back to: 1815
Starting nightly rate: $977
Celebrity guests: Salvador Dali, Wilbur Wright, Ginger Rogers
Paris’ original palace hotel, Le Meurice is located on one of the most sophisticated shopping streets in the city, the Rue de Rivoli. Across the street is Tuileries Garden, with the Louvre and Champs-Elysées steps from the front door.
Le Meurice is another Baroque-styled property that's welcomed renowned artists and characters over the decades. Salvador Dali was such a fan, he stayed there annually for 30 consecutive years, each time for a stretch of one to two months. Today, diners can eat at Restaurant Le Dali, which serves French and Mediterranean fare and includes decor inspired by the surrealist legend.
The glitz-and-glam hotel, which received a massive interior redesign in 2017 courtesy of acclaimed French designer Philippe Starck, will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time, a la “Midnight in Paris.”
Duke and Duchess of Gloucester in front of Le Meurice, 1938
Greece: Hotel Grande Bretagne
Dates back to: 1842
Starting nightly rate: $300
Celebrity guests: Winston Churchill, Laurence Olivier, Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot
Originally built in 1842 as a private residence, Hotel Grande Bretagne came to life in 1874. Its mission: make accommodations so high end, kings would want to lay their heads on the pillows, even though Athens was not a modern city at the time.
Sure enough, the property, which first received electricity in 1888, did receive foreigners from other countries, becoming the place to stay until the city fell to the Germans in 1941. Nazis turned the hotel into their headquarters for three years before it became a home to refugees following the war.
In 2003, the five-star, 320-room hotel, now operated by Marriott, went through a massive renovation, regaining its place as the best and most elegant hotel in Athens.
Hotel Grande Bretagne, circa 19th century
Italy: Grand Hotel Tremezzo
Dates back to: 1910
Starting nightly rate: $500
Celebrity guests: Greta Garbo
Lake Como has long been a destination for esteemed travelers from across Europe; a grand hotel was necessary to provide the level of service dignitaries and royalty could enjoy.
Enter the opulent Grand Hotel Tremezzo.
Opening in 1910 to huge fanfare, the hotel struggled during two World Wars, but in between, prospered as a luxury property. One of the original Grand Tour properties of Italy, the family-owned hotel offers 90 rooms and suites bedecked in Italian furnishings and décor.
An all-suite rooftop provides panoramic terraces with views of Italy’s most beautiful lake, famously the home of George Clooney’s villa.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo, circa early 1900s
Switzerland: Hotel Splendide Royal
Dates back to: 1870
Starting nightly rate: $270
Celebrity guests: Luciano Pavarotti
A celeb playground in Switzerland, the seasonal Hotel Splendide Royal is world-famous for its high-end décor, service and amenities.
The Belle Époque-style property is located on the grounds of the former Villa Merlina, which opened in 1870, and became a hotel in 1887.
The property is memorably perched above Lake Ceresio, overlooking the Alps, and offers a refined sense of elegance throughout.
Hotel Splendide Royal, circa 1888
Ireland: The Merrion Hotel
Dates back to: 1760
Starting nightly rate: $300
Celebrity guests: Jonathan Swift, George Frideric Handel
Dublin’s most iconic hotel actually began as a block of residences for the city’s wealthy society members during the 1700s. Built by the first Viscount Monck in 1760, the property is a combination of four different Georgian-style homes, including one that was home to Arthur Wellesley, who became Duke of Wellington and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Today, the five-star Merrion serves as a luxe hotel with 123 rooms and 19 suites located near Grafton Street, Stephen’s Green and Trinity College. Highlights of the property include two period gardens from the 18th century, an expansive collection of 19th and 20th century artwork, and family-friendly services to make staying with children not only refined, but comfortable.
Historic drawing of Mornington House, before it was converted into The Merrion Hotel
Netherlands: Hotel Pulitzer
Dates back to: 17th and 18th centuries
Starting nightly rate: $270
Celebrity guests: Pulitzer-prize winning authors
Although the Hotel Pulitzer opened less than 50 years ago, in 1970, it's composed of 25 canal houses from the 17th and 18th centuries. The united property was originally a Howard Johnson’s; today, it is one of the most luxurious hotels in Amsterdam.
The hotel’s name comes from its owner, Peter Pulitzer, the grandson of Pulitzer Prize founder Joseph Pulitzer. Fittingly, Pulitzer Prize winners often stay at the property, which sometimes hosts lectures with the luminaries.
The five-star hotel is the city’s oldest and offers 225 rooms, all recently renovated and within steps of Amsterdam’s historic city center.
Amsterdam canal houses, before they were converted into the Hotel Pulitzer
Czech Republic: Hotel Century Old Town Prague MGallery
Year built: 1894
Starting nightly rates: $158
Celebrity guests: Franz Kafka
Designed by the same architect who created Prague’s State Opera house and National Theatre, the Century Old Town Prague touts a Baroque aesthetic — but it is not at all from the 17th century.
Actually dating back to 1894, it originally housed an insurance company where Franz Kafka worked between 1908 and 1922, before he became one of the 20th century's most notable authors. Kafka's former office is today room 214, aka the Kafka Suite.
Converted into a hotel in 2002, the property now operates under the banner of the prestigious Sofitel brand. Though it's retained its historic charm, the hotel also touts new embellishments, like Art Deco touches added to the interior.
This is the perfect spot for those following Kafka and Prague’s literary trail.
Historic photo of Franz Kafka at Century Old Town Prague