Not all hotels are made equal. Some have a USP that makes it a destination in itself, rather than simply a place to lay your head while your real holiday happens elsewhere. We’ve rounded up nine European hotels with that little special something – whether simple, subtle or more obviously spectacular.

The one with the coolest pool

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Your holiday's bound to go swimmingly with a pool like this

WHERE Rixos Premium Göcek, Dalaman, Turkey

WHAT A tranquil resort looking over turquoise Göcek bay, in the shadow of the Taurus mountains.

WHY GO For the seriously serene swimming ops. This all-inclusive, adults-only pad is luxurious to the max, with only suites available – the most impressive of which come with private pools, saunas and even butler service. Did we also mention there's a totally private beach, which guests are ferried to via free boat shuttle, to lounge insouciantly on sunloungers elevated above the water? Well there is. Wetter, it seems, truly is better.

Read more: Go all kinds of green in Dalaman

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The one for living like a princess

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So close to the water that you could almost get your toes wet

WHERE Sina Centurion Palace, Dorsoduro, Venice, Italy

WHAT A five-star palace of a hotel right on the Grand Canal

WHY GO Many hotels promise to be palatial, but this spectacular stay can back it up. Once known as the Palazzo Genovese, it has been subtly and sumptuously converted into one of the most coveted stays in the city. If the view to the water gets passe – the best rooms overlook it – guests can retire to the traditional courtyard garden for a spritz or wander round admiring the neo-Gothic architecture and fascinating period details. The fact it’s minutes from the famous Guggenheim and practically opposite the Piazza San Marco means you’ll also struggle to find a more convenient place to rest your regal head in Venice.

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The one for interior stans

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Anyone for a game of Cluedo?

WHERE Mystery Hotel Budapest, Hungary

WHAT A picture-perfect, endlessly Instagrammable luxury hotel in central Budapest

WHY GO Whatever you think of social Illuminati sect the Freemasons, you gotta give ‘em their architecture. Budapest’s enigmatically named Mystery Hotel – located near the Országház parliament building on the Danube’s east bank – is housed in a former Masons’ lodge, and offers an influencer’s dreamscape of ornate styles and settings. Warrens of gothic corridors? Towering, Escher-indebted atria? Hidden gardens? A Victorian-Egyptian restaurant in a former temple space? It’s got it all (and far more).

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The one with the top tub

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Getting clean is incredibly serene when you've a bath like this

WHERE Grand Ferdinand Hotel, Vienna, Austria

WHAT A landmark pile on Vienna’s grand Ringstraße boulevard, replete with maximalist interiors, a rooftop pool, verdant courtyard oasis and schnitzel-specialist restaurant Meissl & Schaden. 

WHY To rub-a-dub-dub in a truly resplendent tub. Picture it: after a long day out, you retreat to your suite and run a bath in your regal tub. You sink into the water and gaze out the windows, where the twinkling Vienna skyline lies beyond. Once you’re scrubbed up, head to the rooftop Grand Étage, where guests sip cocktails to a heart-stopping view of the city. 

Read more: Feel Mozart's legacy in Vienna

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The one with the glam gazebos

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Relax to the very max in your own personal sunbathing tent in Antalya / Image: © 2020 Barut Hotels, All Rights Reserved

WHERE Lara Barut Collection, Antalya, Turkey

WHAT A five-star, family-friendly stay on the Turkish Riviera near Antalya – crafted in blue and white tones, with a spa to massage away your worldly troubles and an unending complex of pools.  

WHY To recline within one of the hotel’s many alfresco, ocean-facing gazebo beds, shrouded by gauzy curtains so you can relax like a Roman emperor in total privacy. They’re located just back from the hotel’s private beach where you can use the vast, turquoise sea as your own personal pool (or just flap around on the golden sands like some over-indulged turtle). Bliss. 

Read more: Gush over Antalya's wonderful waterfalls

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The one with the right-on reading nook

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Bookworms abound at this literary Barcelona boutique / Image: Sirhotels.com / Steve Herud

WHERE Sir Victor, Barcelona, Spain

What? An artfully-designed boutique hotel occupying a prime spot off the Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona. Its highly bougie rooftop sundeck club has become quite the meeting point for influencer types.

Why? If you’re looking for the playa, you’ve gone wrong, we’re afraid. But if you’re after some enlightening reading material, a fine selection of plushy furniture and a quiet corner to reflect, you’re in the right place. Plus, Sir Victor’s little hipster library has a pretty rad collection of books written exclusively by women. This is partly a tribute to the hotel’s namesake, Caterina Albert – a Catalan author who, due to sexist scrutiny, was forced to conceal her gender by adopting the male pen name Victor Català.

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The one with the green USP

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Time to get back to nature

WHERE Corfu, Greece

WHAT An ultra-luxe five-star surrounded by lush Mediterranean forest.

WHY GO Stuck between a loll-about beach holiday and an away-from-it-all cabin escape? You can have your cake and eat it at Marbella Corfu — perched on the island’s southeast coast, this plush spa-hotel is swaddled by miles and miles of green-blanketed hills and fragrant olive groves. Staying here is a holiday of two halves: you can spend the morning bumming it on the private stretch of sand below the hotel, and then strap on your hiking shoes for an afternoon spent zig-zagging along incredible, verdant mountain trails. But don’t exert yourself too much: the serene, shoulder-unclenching spa will almost certainly tempt you back.

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The one for design lovers

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It doesn't get cooler than Scandi cool

WHERE Copenhagen, Denmark

WHAT An award-winning city-centre stay where Scandi cool meets Scandi cosiness.

WHY GO Everyone knows the Danish do it better when it comes to design. So much that their understated, deeply tasteful sensibilities have spread out of their small country into every corner of Europe. But it’s still an eye-opener to see it in its native environment, so if you’re planning a trip to Copenhagen to soak up some style, make Skt Petri your base. Set in a Modernist former department store, it enjoyed a refurb in 2017 by a prominent Nordic design studio that gave it a laidback luxury and numerous talking points of texture and colour. Stay, feel inspired, hope some of it rubs off on you for next time you’re decorating the living room.

 
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