Fifteen minutes’ walk from Málaga station is the tiny and charming Dulces Dreams Boutique Hostel. It’s ideally located opposite the Church of the Holy Martyrs (most of the rooms have a church view) and a few steps from the Carmen Thyssen Museum, but also excellent value. The decor is clean and modern (lots of white) and the real highlight is the funky downstairs cafe with tables spilling out onto the plaza. The friendly, helpful staff recommended a tapas bar 10 minutes away – best tapas I’ve ever had.
• Doubles from €50 room only, dulcesdreamshostel.com
Built in 1499 as a citadel, the Blokhuispoort has been used as a fortress, a court, a place of execution and, from 1580 till 2007, as a jail. In 2013, four friends took on the project of converting the reportedly haunted cells into modern accommodation for travellers, including wifi, en suite showers, bike rental and a lounge for breakfast and drinks. Less than 10 minutes’ walk from the station, Alibi Hostel is one of the most atmospheric places I have stayed and a great starting point to explore Friesland.
• Dorm bed from €20, double cells €40 room only, alibihostel.nl
The four star Hotel Continental, bang opposite Genoa’s stazione Piazza Principe, is a good place for a stopover. It has an old-fashioned elegance, slightly worn but with modern facilities like comfortable beds and good showers. Like its sister hotel, the five-star Grand Hotel Savoia next door, it is built in the grand epoque style, with working cage lifts, chandeliers and swathes of plush red velvet. The Trattoria Tralalero specialises in Ligurian dishes – the fresh pesto was a revelation – and the service is friendly and efficient. The slightly over-the-top cocktail bar in the Savoia is a good place for a nightcap after a long journey.
• Doubles from €77 room only, hotelcontinentalgenova.it
A stone’s throw from Antwerp’s opulent Centraal station (often cited as Europe’s most beautiful terminus), La Gloria No.10 is an oasis of calm on leafy Huybrechts Straat, in Borgerhout, the city’s most atmospheric district. The owner, Erik, is the consummate host, with a keen eye for interior design and beautifully furnished rooms in this glorious period building. The excellent continental breakfast, consisting of organic meats, cheeses and fruits, will prepare you for a day of exploring the city’s main attractions – all a short bike ride away.
• Twins from £82 including breakfast, on Facebook
We stayed at the Gdańsk Craft Beer Central Hotel at the start of a trip across Poland by rail. Located right next to the main Gdańsk Główny station, in a building dating back to the turn of the 20th century, the hotel has attractively designed rooms at very reasonable prices. Best of all – as the name suggests – rooms are located above the PG4 brewery: after a day out exploring, guests can relax over a few beers before climbing the stairs up to bed.
• Doubles from £45 room-only, centralhotelgdansk.pl
The Sunset Destination hostel is just above the Cais do Sodré train station. The location is unbeatable – near the river, with a scenic rooftop bar, and close to a lot of sights. From here you can get a direct train to lovely beaches outside Lisbon, in Cascais or Estoril. The hostel runs events along with its two partner hostels in the city.
• Dorms from £16, doubles from £95, both including breakfast, hostelworld.com
We stayed at the lovely Hotel Bayerischer Hof a couple of years ago, on a summer’s cycling tour around Lake Constance. It’s on the tiny islet of Lindau, which has a surprisingly large train station connecting to Zurich, Munich, Innsbruck, Vienna and Bregenz (handy for the opera festival). Right on the lake, it’s a two-minute walk from the station, but because of the location you don’t hear a peep from the trains. It has rooms overlooking the lake and the Alps, or the secluded and beautiful garden, and the breakfast and restaurant overlooking the lake are tip-top.
• Doubles from €170 B&B, bayerischerhof-lindau.de
The Esplanade near the railway station in Zagreb was built in 1925 to provide accommodation for passengers passing through on the Orient Express. It has since been renovated, but retains the feel and glamour of old Europe. The breakfast in particular is quite an affair, in a delightfully art deco-ish dining room, and the waiting staff seem like they may have been there for ever. A highly recommended pit stop if you are passing through, and a good starting point for exploring the city.
• Doubles from €135 B&B, esplanade.hr
Leave the main exit from Gare du Nord and after a couple of hundred of metres you will find the oasis and charm of Hôtel Whistler. This quirky establishment evokes the age of steam – it even has a model train chugging round the ceiling of the restaurant. The rooms are beautifully appointed, with touches including steamer trunks. Ideally situated for bars, restaurants and, of course, transportation, this gem of a hotel is great for both business and leisure. And the honesty bar ensures that there is always a welcome nightcap on your return.
• Doubles from €115 room-only, whistlerparis.com
The Hotel Alex Guldsmeden is cool but not pretentious – the type of eco-hotel you’d expect to find in Asia: warm wood abounds, even in the gym; stone sinks and eco-toiletries in the bathrooms; the breakfast is organic and the full service spa is just lovely. There’s even a garden with an outdoor fireplace. This hotel has all the cosy lights, blankets and other Scandinavian hygge elements you’d expect, but so much more.
• Doubles from £113 room-only, guldsmedenhotels.com
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