Favourite Starwood Hotels In Europe

Hotel Maria Cristina San Sebastian

This is the first in a series of posts that I’ll use to look at some of my favourite hotels in Europe, brand-by-brand. Most will be hotels that I like to visit using the hotel chain’s loyalty points (some are staggeringly expensive otherwise) but there are a few that are really good value for cash bookings too.

Choosing a hotel is one of the more personal aspects of travel. Everybody’s needs and tastes will vary (as will their budget) so this isn’t meant to be a definitive list of the best Starwood Hotels in Europe – just the ones I like. Feel free to disagree (vehemently or otherwise) in the comments section below.

Favourite Starwood Hotels In Europe

St. Regis Florence – Italy:

St Regis Florence

The St. Regis Florence is all about grandeur and opulence – and it does both very well. Its position in the heart of Florence’s luxury boutique district places it a stone’s throw away from the major sights and its location on the river Arno makes it a perfect place to relax.

Each of the 80 rooms and 19 suites are decorated in a luxurious, over-the-top way that only a hotel in Italy and of the stature of the St Regis can get away with – but it works. The service is impeccable, the staff are friendly and the bar is a very nice place to relax after a day of Renaissance overload.

Starpoints/night: 30,000 – 35,000 (SPG Cat 7)
Tripadvisor rating: #2 of 460 Hotels in Florence

 Hotel Maria Cristina – San Sebastian, Spain:

Hotel Maria Cristina San Sebastian

Described by one travel writer as the “Grande Dame of San Sebastian Hotels”, the Hotel Maria Cristina celebrated its centenary in 2012 with a revamp.The old fashioned chintz was replaced with a clever mixture of traditional and contemporary decor.

The 136 spacious rooms combine modern artwork and soft colours to give a feeling of modern sophistication while period furniture and chandeliers are there remind you of the hotel’s grand history.

Situated in the centre of town, on the banks of the river Urumea, the Maria Cristina is within easy reach of everything San Sebastian offers, including the famous pintxos bars (the Basque equivalent of tapas) that are the cornerstone of San Sebastian food culture.

Starpoints/night: 20,000 – 25,000 (SPG Cat 6)
Tripadvisor rating: #1 of 50 Hotels in San Sebastian

Le Méridien Wien – Vienna, Austria:

Le Méridien Vienna

Just to prove that this list isn’t all about the more expensive Starwood hotels in Europe here’s one of my very favourites: The Le Méridien Vienna has one of the best locations you could hope for in Vienna. Located directly on the “Ringstrasse“, the property is within a short walk of the best shopping, dining and attractions Vienna has to offer. And, with transport links very close by, it’s only 30 minutes away from Vienna airport.

One of the best things about the hotel is the size of the rooms – the smallest is a little over 320 square feet (30 square meters) and, for a hotel in the heart of an old European city, that’s palatial. Just as with the Hotel Maria Cristina, the Le Méridien Vienna has married contemporary decor with a few period-style pieces – like the free-standing Victorian-style tub found in most of the rooms – but style hasn’t given way to substance. Even the standard rooms come with free mini-bar refreshments and with just about everything else you could need. You can pay a lot more (in Starpoints or cash) in Vienna but this is the best value.

Starpoints/night: 10,000 (SPG Cat 4)
Tripadvisor rating: #67 of 365 Hotels in Vienna

The Gritti Palace – Venice, Italy:

The Gritti Palace Venice

Situated on The Grand Canal in Venice, the original Place was constructed in 1475 but was completely re-done in 1525 for the Doge Andrea Gritti. The hotel’s 82 rooms (21 of which are suites) are all distinctly decorated in period style in keeping with the hotel’s heritage.

The smallest rooms can feel a little compact at 269 square feet (25 square meters) but the standard rooms come in a range of sizes up to 409 square feet (38 square meters) so you could get lucky. A recent update (late 2013) has seen the technology in the rooms improved considerably (Bang & Olufsen 40″ flat screens have taken the place of some truly antiquated TVs).

The highlight of the hotel is the floating terrace on the Grand Canal – this is where breakfast is taken and where you can enjoy a drink after a day of sightseeing. With the enviable property of being bathed in sunlight throughout the day it’s a fantastic place to while away a few hours just watching the world go by.

The location, a short walk from St. Mark’s Square, makes the Gritti one of the best positioned Hotels in Venice but, this being Venice, you’ll still need to use water transport to get around to see other sights.

Starpoints/night: 30,000 – 35,000 (SPG Cat 7)
Tripadvisor rating: #2 of 384 Hotels in Venice

Hotel Kämp – Helsinki, Finland

Hotel Kämp Helsinki

The 179 rooms in Hotel Kämp have all been decorated to “retain the original character of the hotel from the late 19th century“. Starting at 355 square feet (33 square meters) the rooms are a good size for a European hotel and, although the decor is late 19th century, a recent upgrade of the technology in the rooms (and a general refresh of the decor in the past few months) has brought them up to 21st century needs.

Located in the centre of Helsinki, the hotel is within a short walk of the main shopping district and “pedestrian zone”. With the Esplanade Park just opposite the hotel you get a nice combination of being in the centre of it all while maintaining a sense of space around you. Helsinki isn’t the largest of cities so, providing the weather allows, almost all the sights are within walking distance.

I included this hotel in my list because it’s pretty good value for cash bookings. All the other hotels in the list range from “expensive” to “how much?!” (which is why they’re all a good use of Starpoints). Hotel Kämp, on the other hand, is pretty affordable – peak-season rooms can be available for under $170/night.

Starpoints/night: 12,000 – 16,000 (SPG Cat 5)
Tripadvisor rating: #7 of 65 Hotels in Helsinki

Well, that’s a list of some of my favourite Starwood Hotels in Europe? Which ones do you think I shouldn’t have missed out? What are your favourites?


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