For the discerning traveler expecting nothing but the best, Europe offers a diverse array of breathtaking resorts. But for the casual traveler with a limited budget still looking to indulge in that once-in-a-lifetime experience, these same resorts may not be as far out of reach as one would think. With careful planning and choosing the right time of year to visit, most any of the award-winning European resorts known for attention to fine detail, natural beauty and gorgeous accommodations could be selected as the ultimate getaway in the not too distant future. Here are just five of the best European resorts to consider for a magnificent getaway that won’t ever be forgotten.
Cong, County Mayo, Ireland
+354 94 954 6003
Set across 350 pristine acres overlooking the shores of Lough Corrib, Ashford Castle was once the home of the famed Guinness family. With a glorious history that dates back to the 13th century, this award-winning luxury hotel offers 83 individually designed rooms and suites, in addition to a charming Hideaway Cottage. All are graced with original artwork and antiques, fine linens, hand crafted furniture and elegant chandeliers, with views of the lake or the River Cong. Also on the exclusive property is an extraordinary spa and fitness center considered the best in Ireland, several dining options including the opulent George V Dining Room and a wealth of recreational activities such as golf and tennis, boat cruises, equestrian riding and last but not least, world class fishing in Lough Corrib. The winner of a bounty full of awards including Best Resort Hotel in the United Kingdom and Ireland by Travel+Leisure and among the finest resort hotels on the continent, Ashford Castle is located in the northwestern portion of Ireland 26 miles north of the historic city of Galway and 149 miles west of Dublin.
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Canaves Oia Santorini
84702, Oia, Santorini, Greece
+30 22860 71453
Recently named the No. 1 Resort in Europe by Condé Nast Traveler, Canaves Oia Santorini is an incomparable luxury resort on the picturesque Greek island of Santorini. Built along the cliffs with astounding views of the Aegean Sea and the Santorini Caldera, Canaves Oia Santorini features three extravagant properties all within a short walk of one another: the all-suites Canaves Oia Hotel, Canaves Oia Suites each with a minimum of an outdoor plunge pool, and the swanky three bedroom, 1300-square-foot Canaves Oia Villa, with its own private Infinity pool and a pool bar. While each of the stunning properties features an Infinity swimming pool and shares the breathtaking Petra Pool Side Restaurant, Canaves Oia Suites also has a state-of-the-art fitness facility, as well as the luxuriant Canaves SPA and the Outdoor SPA. Another exceptional dining experience may be enjoyed with the Panorama Balcony Experience, featuring just one table, gourmet Mediterranean dining and uninterrupted views of the infinite blue sea and the island’s 980-foot-tall caldera.
Hotel Castello Di Casole
53031 Casole d’Elsa
+39 0577 961501
A luscious blend of Old World charm and contemporary elegance and sophistication, Hotel Castello Di Casole has been named the finest resort in Europe for the past four consecutive years by Travel+Leisure. Spread across 4,200 acres amid the organic vineyards, olive groves and the breathtaking countryside of Tuscany, the historic castle dates back to the 10th century when it was originally named Querceto Manor. Acquired by Colorado-based independent luxury developer and operator Timber Resorts in 2005, the castle underwent an extensive renovation and now offers 41 luxury suites, in addition to a two-story penthouse, two and three bedroom hotel villas and eight expansive Tuscan Farmhouses equipped with modern conveniences and glass-tiled infinity-edged pools. The world-acclaimed property also features a number outstanding dining options, a high-end spa and fitness facility, in addition to 100 glorious acres of organic vineyards producing a nice collection of fine red and white wines and 30 acres of some of the finest olive groves in the world.
Badrutt’s Palace Hotel
Via Serlas 27, St. Moritz CH-7500, Switzerland
+41 (0) 81 837 1000
With breathtaking views of Lake St. Moritz and the Swiss Alps, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel has been a favorite destination of celebrities, notable politicians and royalty ever since its doors first opened in 1896. Universally acclaimed for its superb service, attention to detail and classic elegance, the historic luxury hotel features 157 lavish guest rooms including 37 suites, seven marvelous restaurants, — such as Chesa Veglia, housed within the oldest farmhouse in St. Moritz and the signature Le Restaurant — in addition to a stunning fitness center and one of the world’s most celebrated luxury spas. Among the other services and amenities of the luxury hotel owned by multiple generations of the Badrutt family are hotel transportation with a Rolls Royce, indoor swimming pool with direct access to an outdoor pool, tennis courts, the Kids’ Club Palazzino and complimentary butler service for each of the 37 suites. The most popular time of the year to visit is during the winter months, when the outdoor tennis courts are transformed into an ice skating rink and the jet set crowd hits the legendary ski slopes of St. Moritz. A member of the Leading Hotels of the World and a consistent selection among Europe’s best resorts, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel has attracted several well-known celebrities over the years, including Audrey Hepburn, Alfred Hitchcock and Marlene Dietrich and more recently George Clooney, Laurence Fishburne and Hugh Grant.
Terre Blanche Resort
3100 Route de Bagnols-en-Foret
83440 Tourrettes, Provence, France
+33(0)4 94 39 90 00
A multi-year award winner as the Best Luxury Resort in France by the World Travel Awards, Terre Blanche is an exclusive golf resort nestled within the enchanting Provence region of Southern France. Situated on a 741-acre property once owned by the famed British actor Sean Connery, the lavish resort features 115 suites and villas, one of France’s finest spas, four gourmet restaurants, two 18-hole championship-caliber golf courses and an indoor and outdoor swimming pool. Of the four elegant restaurants is the Michelin-starred Le Faventia, led by acclaimed executive chef Philippe Jourdin, who is world renowned for his exquisite French cuisine. Terre Blanche Resort also offers a children’s club and children’s pool, as well as a number of other outdoor recreational activities on or near the property, including electric bike riding, dune buggy excursions, gliding, helicopter rides and scenic boat rides along the coast of the glamorously trendy French Riviera.
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer covering national/international travel for CBS Local and all things San Francisco for CBS San Francisco. In 2012, he received a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. He may be contacted via Twitter or Linkedin .