Bonjour! Salut! Ciao! Hola! Hiya! We know it’s going to be a good day when an enthusiastic welcome comes in a romance language (or British accent!). As we find ourselves wading through peak winter, I bring to you a wanderlust-filled highlight of mine and my team’s favorite gems across Europe.
This blog post dives into our favorite European destinations, a few hidden gem hotels that we adore booking as well as a tip here and there on European travel for Spring and Summer 2024.
Please note, too, that we are entering the high season of European travel booking now through March for summer trips abroad. With the Olympics happening in Paris and France this summer, we couldn’t recommend booking early enough for any adventures to the UK and Europe as flights, train bookings, hotels and excursions are in high demand.
We have some special spots in the ever-favorite Italian country and coastline, cool haunts in Portugal & Spain, off the beaten path suggestions for Greece, charming oases in the UK and a highlight property in Croatia. For our team, it has been a priority over the last 2 years – as the world came out of the pandemic and we saw a huge rise in international travel – to find and experience destinations across Europe that offer our clients great options in popular cities as well as exclusive properties that offer an escape from tourist hubs. Through our recent travels to Europe, we have refined our best restaurant recommendations, sharpened our concierge skills for cultural immersion and have found undiscovered (by the masses) locales for adventuring, relaxation and experiencing.
Let’s hop across the pond, shall we! My team and I are here and look forward to conversations on what your next European itinerary might be…
A favorite recommendation of ours at the moment is for our clients to stay at the charming Il Pellicano on the coast in Tuscany. A gem for travelers interested in experiencing the Italian coastline but perhaps hoping to avoid the crowds of the Amalfi Coast, Il Pellicano is a dream. We also book this property often for travelers flying out of Rome as it is an easy drive from the airport.
Rated as the number one hotel in the world at the moment, Passalaqua is a destination we have sent a few of our favorite clients. An historic country home on Lake Como, this property is bursting with exclusive charm. Featuring a stepped terrace garden down to the lake, guests are invited to workout on outdoor equipment overlooking the lake to start their days, enjoy a bottle of champagne while playing bocce ball in the afternoon, taking a Gin Masterclass in the basement of the house and so much more.
If Lake Como is on your list, we’d love to share more about Passalaqua and a few of our other favorite properties on the lake.
For those of you looking for a coastal European getaway but interested in a destination beyond Italy and France, we couldn’t recommend a visit to Croatia more. This is a new favorite of mine personally and I love talking through various itinerary options with clients traveling to Croatia.
A special property to us is the Villa Dubrovnik. A gem in the heart of the Adriatic Sea set into the rocky cliffs on the Dalmation Coast, Villa Dubrovnik is a chic retreat for guests searching for exclusive luxury and exquisite hospitality. A stay at this property brings everything from sea excursions to cultural wanderings across Dubrovnik to private cooking classes and so much more. This is an ideal destination for relaxing and adventuring alike.
Spain is such an incredible place to visit, in our expert opinions. It is a magical country to enjoy a coastal getaway, immerse yourself in the wonders of its culturally vibrant cities and/or dive into its natural landscape, hiking in the Pyrenees.
For a hidden gem suggestion in a city, we’re loving Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville. Commissioned by the King of Spain to play host to international dignitaries in 1929, the hotel is located in the city center and the historic quarter of Santa Cruz in Seville. Within close proximity to ruins, museums, the Reales Alcazares Palace and Seville’s Gothic Cathedral, we’d recommend this spot for travelers of all ages.
For those of you dreaming of a warm seaside European trip, we couldn’t recommend Hostel La Gavina in Costa Brava. An exclusive property right on the water, this century-old hotel encapsulates luxury at every touchpoint. With a robust amenity offering on site (including a decadent spa, beautiful tennis center, golf course, pool etc), guests can add experiences to their stay including boating outings, walks along the coast, visits to local towns, a cycling outing, beach visits and/or visits to local vineyards.
Portugal is one of our most requested destinations for European travel in 2024. It’s hard to choose our top three but we are particularly taken currently with Six Senses Douro Valley, Pine Cliffs Algarve and Reids Palace Madeira. Each of these exquisite properties gives travelers a taste of a different area of Portugal waiting to be enjoyed and discovered.
To start, Six Senses Douro Valley is located in the heart of wine country in a 19th century manor sitting high on a hill overlooking vine-covered terraces. Steeped in the rich heritage of the region, this property offers guests spacious and exquisite rooms, an outstanding spa, flourishing kitchen gardens and vineyards that bring a wealth of culinary delights to visitors throughout their stay.
For those interested in a coastal retreat, we love Pine Cliffs. A true hidden gem, Pine Cliffs is located on the coast of Algarve in Southern Portugal. With sweeping seafront views, the resort is equally perfect for guests who love activities and those who prefer to lounge in leisure by the pool. With golf, tennis, padel, pools, watersports, a children’s village for younger guests and a robust spa and wellness center, this destination has luxury touchpoints for everyone.
Interested in a little island hopping? Our favorite spot to do so in Portugal is Reids Palace Madeira. This is one chic spot! A Belmond property perched above the picturesque Funchal Harbour, Reids Palace has been welcoming guests to the island of Madeira for over 130 years. Leading with its exquisite level of service and great host of exclusive amenities, this destination is family friendly and one we never wanted to leave when we visited.
With 4 restaurants, an afternoon tea terrace and cocktail bar, the culinary delights of the property are accompanied by features inclusive of heated outdoor pools, a tidal pool and ocean access, a children’s club, The Spa, sauna and tennis courts. Located on a richly biodiverse island, guests are also offered opportunities to adventure on mountain walks and immerse themselves in flora and fauna through botanical tours.
Greece is a well loved favorite destination at Major Traveler and we’re here for it. It is such a special place and to visit during the high season (May – August), is really quite a treat. We have a great roster of itineraries to discuss with you based on your interest and how many places within Greece you might like to visit.
I want to highlight Costa Navarino as a hidden gem area of Greece that you might not have heard of. With 4 new luxury resorts including the Mandarin, Romanos, Westin and W, Costa Navarino is located on the Mediterranean on the south west corner of Greece. Brimming with luxury and authentic experiences, each of these resorts offers guests idyllic Grecian elegance and activities inclusive of watersports, wellness and spa services, biking adventures and great wine from surrounding vineyards.
For those travelers interested in a robust island hopping itinerary, we’d love to support you! A favorite off-the-beaten-path locale we love to send travelers to is Blue Palace Crete. Newly renovated, this resort is the boutique experience in Crete.
Full of luxury amenities and authentic cuisine, Crete is an ideal island for those looking to experience the cultural differences of the Grecian Isles but perhaps are less inclined to experience the crowds of more popularized islands such as Santorini and Mykonos.
We think the UK is a good idea any time of the year! That being said, it has much to offer in terms of experience and adventure throughout the summer months. We’d love to recommend the following three properties as idyllic destinations for inspired travel: Barnsley House in the Cotswolds, Gleneagles in the Scottish Countryside and Chewton Glen on the English Coast.
Barnsley House is an exquisite destination in the Cotswolds. Nestled in a fabulous garden, guests are invited to relax and unwind while enjoying the property, eating farm to table meals and enjoying walks, booking a restorative spa treatment or catching an outdoor movie in the garden. If the Cotswolds are on your list, we’d love to talk to you about Barnsley!
Gleneagles, located in the Scottish Countryside, is everything you might imagine it to be and more. It is a truly glorious playground for adventure to be enjoyed and experienced across a range of ages. A charming country estate, Gleneagles is perfect for a friends trip, romantic couples retreat and ultimately a home away from home.
As a luxury hotel, spa and golfing destination, the 850 acre property welcomes all guests in search of relaxation, luxury and country sport pursuits.
Chewton Glen is a quintessential English coast property brimming with enchantment. Set in 130 acres of Hampshire countryside a few miles from the coast, the hotel is located in an 18th-century country house ready to welcome you in all of its luxury and glory. The property boasts a great deal of activities that one would have been offered as a guest of a country house party of a bygone era: enjoy cooking glasses at The Cookery School, take an art class, shoot clays, play croquet, take a tennis lesson.
With its proximity to the coast, excursions on a boat are also a fun thing to add to a Chewton Glen itinerary!
As always, if you’re interested in planning a trip with our team to Europe and beyond, don’t hesitate to reach out on the contact form here. We would love to help your travel dreams come to life in big ways!