Cugó Gran Macina Grand Harbour
If we could, we’d be in Europa every month – though we’d grudgingly admit that February in the Baltics might not be everyone’s idea of happiness. Yet springtime will be here in a few blinks of an eye – and what better time to start planning a more eastward push towards the expansion of your Euro horizons?
We’re thinking Helsinki and Vilnius, specifically – and each has a stylish new hotel to lure you into their web of intrigues. If you’re nevertheless inclined towards Mediterranean climes, another will be opening in the Maltese fortress city of Senglea.
Each also happens to be a member of Design Hotels, so expect a set of aesthetic values to lord over each.
If you’re a design junkie, you’ve probably hit up Scandinavia’s most high-profile capitals, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo. But Finnish design has perhaps the most distinctive signature – and Helsinki (part of the Cities of Design Network) is where it blends so seamlessly with the city’s more historic character. The new Hotel St George – sister to the legendary Hotel Kämp – opens here in March, and will decisively rise to meet the aesthetic splendor of its locale. In the former Finnish Literary Society building, it features a stunning winter garden, and an art collection that includes a large-scale dragon sculpture by Ai Weiwei (a reference to Saint George, of course). There’s also a holistic spa, and a restaurant, Andrea, overseen by Finnish-Turkish chef duo Antto Melasniemi and Mehmet Gürs. While visiting, make sure to pop in to the Design Museum, nearby on Korkeavuorenkatu.
Every few years since the fall of the Soviet Union, some or other Eastern European city becomes a next “must” destination. But beautiful Vilnius doesn’t need a zeitgeist to bolster its appeal. Lithuania’s capital has majestic baroque architecture (its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), extraordinary cultural offerings, and a distinctly bohemian spirit. The plush new Hotel Pacai will open this spring, in the former palace of the same name, dating to 1677. Stylish rooms feature 17th Century frescoes, and public spaces rich in original historic details include two restaurants and a luxury spa. Plan to hit the Vilnius Contemporary Art Centre, which boasts a cinema and sculpture garden.
For something a bit more temperate, consider Malta, whose capital Valletta will serve as one of the two European Capitals of Culture in 2018 (the other is Leeuwarden, Netherlands). Just south of the capital, the dramatically monikered Cugó Gran Macina Grand Harbour hotel will open in the fortified city of Senglea this spring. The landmarked 16th Century structure that houses it gives it a sort of “fortress-chic” vibe – think vaulted ceilings, slate stone and spectacular harbor views, for which the elegant, muted color schemes are perfectly suited. Local culinary god Chris Hammett will lord over the in-house Maltese restaurant, and there’s a rooftop pool that is beyond breathtaking in its vistas.