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The New Classics: Europe’s Most Exciting Hotel Debuts of 2019

Europe has never had a shortage of incredible hotels, from the Old World grande dames of centuries past to the sleek and sexy boutique bolt-holes of today, but it is currently enjoying a hospitality boom. A slew of luxury properties have opened in some of Europe’s most popular cities, from a home away from home in London’s chic Chelsea neighborhood to a buzzy newcomer atop Rome’s Spanish Steps. All embody a balance that only the best hotels strike: spacious yet intimate, design forward while retaining a sense of place, high touch but unfussy. Several represent exciting debuts, including the first Continental outpost of an artsy South American brand and a Parisian property joining a portfolio of sophisticated Italian hotels. These are the new European classics to have on your radar.

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Belmond Cadogan, London

The Back Story: In one of Europe’s most eagerly anticipated hospitality-related events, luxury brand Belmond opened its first London outpost, the Belmond Cadogan, in March. Located at the intersection of three fashionable neighborhoods—Knightsbridge, Chelsea and Belgravia—it is housed in the nearly 130-year-old historic Cadogan Hotel, once home to Oscar Wilde (who was famously arrested there in 1895). A $48 million renovation and full reimagining has transformed the structure into an elegant yet unfussy five-star property with the intimate feel of a private apartment building.

The Details: Sporting a contemporary design and with more than 430 original works by British artists displayed throughout, the hotel has a modern British restaurant helmed by talented young chef Adam Handling and an afternoon tea room that transforms into an evening cocktail lounge. Each of the 54 bright, stylish guest accommodations (including 39 suites and a spectacular penthouse) has a slightly different layout but all include special touches, such as tea cozies knitted by Handling’s mother and calming sleep sprays for bedtime. Perhaps its most distinctive offering is exclusive access to the 93-acre Cadogan Estate Gardens across the street. Designed in 1886 and typically open only to local residents, this elegant oasis is the perfect place for a quiet stroll or, in warmer months, a picnic or a match on the private tennis courts. The Belmond also provides its guests several uniquely British experiences, such as private breakfast with a London cabbie.

J.K. Place Paris

The Back Story: Although the Rive Droite has long laid claim to Paris’s top properties, the Rive Gauche is host to some of the city’s most exciting new offerings, thanks to the reopening of the Hôtel Lutetia last summer followed by the debut this year of the J.K. Place Paris. The latter is the chic brand’s first outpost outside Italy, where it owns boutique properties in Capri, Rome and Florence beloved by the fashionable set. The J.K. Place team searched for five years before finding this prime location: a former European consulate at 82 rue de Lille in charming Saint-Germain-des-Prés, two blocks from the Seine and a five-minute walk from the Tuileries Gardens, the Musée d’Orsay and the iconic Café de Flore.

The Details: The hotel has 30 guest rooms, each individually decorated by acclaimed architect and designer Michele Bonan with bespoke Italian furniture and antiques sourced from Paris’s legendary Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen. It also has an indoor pool, a Sisley spa and a Casa Tua restaurant (the brand’s first outside Miami and Aspen), serving Italian shared plates in a warm and relaxed setting.

Related: Shopping Guide: The Left Bank, Paris

Hotel de la Ville, Rome

The Back Story: With the late-May launch of this highly anticipated Rocco Forte property, the twelfth in its collection of high-style hotels and resorts around the globe, the brand raised its profile—and doubled its capacity—in Rome. Situated just up the Spanish Steps from its sister property Hotel de Russie on Via del Babuino, it will similarly appeal to style-setters looking to be in the center of it all. (Top Gucci clients from Tokyo were spotted in the lobby in head-to-toe Gucci in the hotel’s early days.) Occupying an 18th-century palazzo renovated by Tommaso Ziffer and Olga Polizzi in the spirit of the Grand Tour, it affords spectacular views of St. Peter’s and the entire city from its rooftop terrace and suites.

The Details: The public spaces and 104 rooms and suites (the ones to book are the Villa suites facing the Piazza di Spagna, one of which has a private elevator) boast modern amenities in addition to a stylish decor with classical  influences—obelisks, Roman-style busts, touches of black and gold and bold colors and prints on walls, fabrics and rugs. A small fleet of bellmen is at the ready to attend to your needs, as is the staff at the Rocco Forte Spa. For the peckish, there are multiple restaurants, including one off the lobby designed as a bistro café with a wall of glass looking onto Via Sistina, making it perfect for people watching.  The rooftop terrace is a lively spot for an aperitivo like an aperol spritz accompanied by a dim sum trio of dumplings, ceviche and quinoa.

Galleria Vik Milano

The Back Story: For stylish travelers to Milan, an afternoon of window shopping in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II has always been a must. Now they can find five-star accommodations under the same roof, thanks to Vik Retreats. The hotel brand is largely responsible for turning José Ignacio into the Hamptons of Uruguay with its luxury properties—Estancia Vik, Playa Vik and Bahia Vik—beloved by global jet-setters for their boho-chic atmosphere and eye-catching art. Now, after opening a vineyard and hotel in Chile, it has again expanded its portfolio with the launch this spring of Galleria Vik Milano, its first urban hotel and first property in Europe.

The Details: Just steps from Milan’s most famous landmark, the striking Duomo di Milano, the Vik Milano is situated inside the bustling 19th-century neoclassical Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, named for the last king of Italy and one of the oldest indoor shopping centers in the world, where its fashionable neighbors include Prada, Versace and Giorgio Armani. It occupies the former TownHouse Galleria, which has been completely renovated with artistic touches characteristic of the brand’s Uruguayan properties. Upon entering the lobby, guests are greeted by Auguste Rodin’s famous sculpture The Thinker and a mythologically inspired ceiling fresco, while pieces by contemporary Italian and South American artists fill the halls and the 90 guest rooms, each of which is unique. There are three on-site dining options: the all-day Vikissimo, overlooking the arcade; the Neapolitan pizzeria I Dodici Gatti, on the hotel’s rooftop; and the courtyard restaurant SPOtto.

Related: Insider Picks: Must-Visits for Your First Time in Milan

Contact Indagare to plan a customized trip to Europe.

– Nikki Erlick on October 1, 2019

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