An exclusive weekend away... in Europe
Cox & Kings has hand-picked some of its favourite hotels based on their character, style and location and for offering exceptional value. All of the hotels are centrally located so you are just a stone’s throw away from the celebrated sights, galleries and museums of these cities.
Cox & Kings recommends staying at the classic Regent Berlin on Charlottenstrasse in Berlin’s Mitte district. We suggest a room overlooking the Gendarmenmarkt, said to be the city’s most beautiful square, where you can enjoy the view of the beautiful, neo-classical Konzerthaus (Concert Hall) and the French and German churches. The Regent is home to Fischers Fritz, a 2-star Michelin restaurant that serves outstanding French-inspired cuisine.
As you walk around the centre of the city, you will see reminders of Berlin’s history on almost every street: through remnants of the Berlin Wall; the moving Holocaust memorial; Checkpoint Charlie and the Brandenburg Gate. Delving deeper into the history at Hohenschönhausen Memorial, the guided tours from former inmates give an insight of the cells and interrogation rooms. Alternatively, the Sammlung Boros gallery is a collection of contemporary art from international artists housed in a converted war bunker.
On a clear evening, Cox & Kings recommends taking in the view from the Reichstag’s panoramic glass dome, spotting the landmarks from above. A popular weekly fixture is the Thursday evening food market at Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg. Showcasing an eclectic mix of cultures and cuisine, there’s a wide variety of gourmet dishes on offer from across the globe.
Set in a historic 15th-century Italian palace on Venice’s Grand Canal is the grandiose Ca’Sagredo. As you enter the Venetian palazzo and admire the intricately frescoed walls and ceilings, bellissimo is a suitable description: gold-leaf gilt interiors and a grand marble staircase where two cherubs greet you at the bottom. The hotel’s masterpiece is the music ballroom, which transports guests back to the era of masquerade balls.
For lovers of Italian cuisine, we recommend that you join a culinary tour with the hotel’s chef. Not only will you learn how to prepare and cook delicious and real Italian food, but you will also scour the Rialto market for all the best locally sourced produce and fresh fish. However, for most, the highlight is of course, eating your creations. If this has only left you desiring more Venetian culture, then Cox & Kings can point you in the direction of a local bàcari – a Venetian bar – where there are a wide selection of Venetian wines available to try alongside cicchetti, a typical bar snack of Venice.
The Grand Canal
Cox & Kings recommend staying at the opulent, belle époque Grand Hotel Wien. Dangling chandeliers light up the lobby and from 5 o’clock the piano is played to guests, while the rooms are elegantly upholstered with classic interiors and antiques. The hotel’s rooftop restaurant, Le Ciel by Toni Mörwald has one Michelin star and the restaurant’s terrace offers great views over the city. What’s more, the hotel’s prime location means that it is close to the Vienna State Opera and the Imperial Palace.
The famed Spanish Riding School in Vienna is an institution that practises the Renaissance tradition of Haute Ecole, and one that has been practised for over 450 years. Home to the gorgeous Lipizzaners, you can watch them demonstrate their skills, most notably leaping through the air. Vienna is graced with a number of fascinating art collections, including that of the Leopold Museum of Modern Art that features works by Gustav Klimt and the Kunsthistorisches Museum that houses the Habsburg collection of old masters. If you are planning to visit multiple museums and galleries, we would advise you purchase a Masterticket. Finally, for a traditional Viennese apple strudel and coffee is the L.Heiner café, which is one of Vienna’s oldest cafes.
The Spanish Riding School in Vienna
The Mediterranean city of Valletta has been deemed the European Capital of Culture for 2018 and we can see why, with so much to see and do, the city, and island is a treasure trove. The Hotel Phoenicia is a prime example of the island’s stunning architecture, showcasing 1930s British colonial elegance and light interiors that make this hotel very welcoming. The view over the Grand Harbour and the extensive garden add to the allure.
Few tourists venture out of the city walls, so the Valletta coastal walk is the perfect opportunity to escape the crowds and see the city from another angle. Exiting Renzo Piano’s new City Gate, the pathway will lead you down some narrow steps, across from the Mediterranean Conference Centre. After a walk, you will deserve to indulge in the high tea at the Palazzo Parisio, where you can enjoy the colourful gardens. Not far from Valletta is the picturesque Comino Island and its Blue Lagoon. Often overlooked as tourists favour Gozo, it’s a day trip suited to those looking for some rest and relaxation among blissful surroundings.
Valletta at sunset
A culture-rich city, St Petersburg’s historical centre is a Unesco World Heritage Site where Baroque, Neoclassical and traditional Russian-Byzantine architecture sit side by side. Stay at the Hotel Astoria, located on St Isaac’s square. The hotel looks across at St Isaac’s Cathedral, which is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in the city and the fourth largest in the world. A great perk to staying at the Astoria is that they have a private box at the Mariinsky theatre that you can book. The hotels’ Lichfield Bar on the other hand has live jazz evenings, perfect for an aperitif.
If you are fortunate enough to be travelling during the summer months, you will no doubt experience the midnight sun. During which, you can watch the Neva Bridge lifting to let ships travel to and from the Gulf of Finland. July plays host to the White Nights Festival, when cultural events are aplenty, the Mariinsky hosts opera, ballet and classical music while a stage in the Palace Square focuses on international artists. An absolute must-see is the Scarlet Sails water show and firework display on the Neva River.
Cox & Kings recommends strolling through the beautifully landscaped gardens of the Summer Palace, keeping an eye out for Chinese pavilions, obelisks and marble bridges. One of the largest art museums in the world, the Hermitage has an incredible display. Hours are easily spent as you travel through the era of Egyptian mummies to Picassos and see the evolution of Russian art. After which, you will more than likely be craving something sweet and a rather strong coffee that can be taken at Singer House, also known as the House of Books. Designed by Pavel Suzor, the six-story building is a magnificent Art Nouveau building, its centrepiece is a glass tower topped with a glass globe.
The Winter Palace
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- Tags: Art & Architecture, Berlin, City Guide, Culture & History, Europe, Exclusive Collection, Food & Wine, Hotels, Italy, Malta, Short Breaks, Venice