From the glamorous Côte d’Azur to the rugged Algarve, the white sands of Greece to the unmistakable sweep of the Amalfi Coast, travelers in Europe are spoiled for choice when it comes to beaches.
European coastal resorts are emerging from the last few years more loved and lively than ever, and there’s a whole clutch of exciting new openings and top-class renovations in the mix.
Here we take you on a virtual sail around the coastline of Europe, stopping off at some stunning hotels along the way, from mid-century chic in northern Italy to brutalist luxury in Greece, plus some old-school glamor beach clubs. You’re going to love it, just make sure you’ve packed your swimming togs.
The best European beach hotels
This design-led property on the Côte d’Azur opened in 2022, the creation of hip hotel group La Clé, also behind Paris design addresses Hotel National des Arts et Métiers and Chouchou. Like its sister properties, it makes a big impression with its impressive design credentials.
This 1930s hotel building has been brought bang up-to-date by Jerusalem-born, Paris-based designer Raphael Navot. Navot has worked with the original features of the building, adding his signature undulating walls and installations and adding natural quartz and stone to the lobby and bar. The general look is pared down, though throughout you’ll see bold splashes of color in the furnishings and fixtures, reminding guests of Cannes’ legendary reputation for flamboyance.
The hotel has a gorgeous sea view out onto the Côte d’Azur and the palm trees and gardens of the Cannes promenade.
There’s a big focus on rest and relaxation, evidenced in the chic and inviting feel of the rooms – think whitewashed walls, inviting armchairs and linen cozy linen throws on the bed. Each room is even equipped with a yoga mat. There’s also a spa offering massage and other treatments.
Other highlights include the food offering from renowned Israeli chef Eyal Shani, whose Miznon restaurant chain is a firm hit on the Paris food scene, and the rooftop cocktail bar with panoramic views.
After closing its doors to its last guests in 2005, this charming 26-room hotel is back and looking mighty fine after a head-to-toe interior renovation.
The Windsor is located in Laigueglia, a car-free fishing village near the French border, along the same coastline as the more tourist-trodden Cinque Terre. This part of the coast, the Riviera di Ponente, knew its heyday in the 1960s and the retro interiors nod back to that time with chintzy velvet-upholstery and Hungarian parquet floors.
There’s a strong cultural feel, with art and sculpture dotted throughout the property and a generous offering of books on the elegant shelves in the common areas. The in-house restaurant serves a quality selection of local foods including, naturalmente, freshly caught seafood.
But perhaps the biggest draw is just outside the doorstep – Bagni Windsor, the hotel’s private beach where guests can splish around, rent a boat or simply enjoy the dolce vita on the elegant mint green and white sun loungers.
This innovative hotel is different in every way. Firstly, it’s a little off the usual tourist trail, on the coast on the Peloponnese peninsula, not far from Elis. Secondly, its an astonishing example of brutalist beauty. The hotel is housed in what was once an industrial wine making plant, so guests actually sleep in hollowed-out fermentation tanks.
The wildly ambitious renovation was the work of Athens-based K-Studio. Inside the immense metal structures you’ll find details like terrazzo flooring and huge windows allowing the sun to stream in.
You can even stay in a villa that was once a wine production lab. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of opportunities to drink the nectar of the gods, too! The in-house restaurant has dozens on the menu, and we’ve heard their rather good.
Views don’t get much more winning than this. Set high on a cliff on Madeira’s southern coast, this renovated manor house makes quite the impression. The village where it’s located gets more sunshine than anywhere else on the island, hence the name.
Inside the 54-room property, simple sophistication reigns, with a monochrome color palette in the rooms thanks to Portuguese designer Carvalho Araújo. The drama comes from the hotel’s craggy location as the structure drapes itself deftly down and around the slate cliff.
While you’re not technically on the beach, but rather above it, you can enjoy a pretty unique panorama of the sea while swimming in the hotel’s infinity pool. Bikes are also available to zip to nearby villages and the hotel arranges shuttles and car rental. Meanwhile, the clifftop location makes this a hiker’s paradise.
After all that hard work, head to the spa where indulgent massages and facials are on offer.
We’re staying in Portugal now and heading to the perennially popular Algarve to a little port town called Sagres. Here you’ll find Memmo Baleeira, a sleek and understated hotel that lets the craggy coastline do the talking.
20-century-architecture-lovers will dig the modernist structure of the building, originally built as a hotel in the 1960s and renovated more recently with a minimalist finish.
We love the clean lines of the outdoor pool and the mid-century-style sun loungers that surround it in neat rows, creating a calm contrast to the dramatic Atlantic coast that makes this spot a favorite with surfers.
The friendly local seafood restaurants and outdoor activities are popular with families and though this hotel is design-focused, it can also be great for families offering suites with their own kitchen facilities.
Best of all, the excellent value for money, allowing a slice of luxury for less.
This 2022 addition to Mallorca’s hotel scene is already making waves thanks to its striking multi-level rooftop terrace housing one of the hotel’s many pools as well as a panoramic cocktail bar with views over the Sierra Tramuntana mountains (a UNESCO World Heritage Site, by the way)
The luxurious rooms also impress. All of them are generously proportioned and the higher grades feature swim-up pools and private hot tubs, culminating in the ultra-swanky penthouse suite with its own roof terrace and pool.
Cala Sant Vicenç is one of the quieter corners on Mallorca’s coast, offering secluded sandy cove beach and clear, inviting waters. More lively Pollença and its Roman ruins are just a few miles inland. This is a great spot for water sports, biking and hiking.
The hotel offers two restaurants from Michelin-starred Chef Santi Taur, with more formal dining on the first floor or a more casual bistro by the water.
There’s a definite air of digital-nomad boho chic at this boutique bolthole, also set to the backdrop of the sea and mountain. The design is a joyous, colorful affair courtesy of Armin Fischer who has filled the 1970s structure with vibrant features like rattan lampshades and bed frames, rainbow-colored murals and even an ultra-kitsch floral peace sign on the bottom of the pool’s tile.
The overall effect is fun and inviting and the laid-back vibes continues into the food and drink offering comprising a flavorsome Mediterranean restaurant and lively poolside bar. And fittingly for this California-inspired retreat, guests can try out a range of outdoor activities including, of course, open-air yoga.
The day ends in the bright and cozy rooms and suites, all offering gorgeous views out over the mountain and coast.
This seaside beauty in Paphos on the west of Cyprus nails the tricky balancing act of being both ultra family-friendly and ultra chic.
Stylings come courtesy of Parisian designer Joelle Pleot (former director of Christian Liaigre’s Paris showrooms) who personally oversaw the creation of each piece of bespoke furniture created by local artisans. Inside you’ll find cozy banquettes that look out onto the glimmering ocean, paired with glass, marble and oak.
Harried parents will appreciate the comprehensive kids’ club, “Baby Go Lightly” facilities (meaning parents of infants can pack light) and child-free spa area, while there’s plenty for the little ones to enjoy, such as pottery lessons and treasure hunts and excursions to the nearby castle and harbor for older kids.
The practical but chic rooms are available in a load of different sizes and configurations and look out onto the garden or the sea.
This design-led and youthful hotel is a refreshing addition to the hotel scene in the legendarily glamorous Juan-les-Pins.
Parisian designer Stéphanie Lizée (Hoy, Le Coucou) is behind the zesty décor at this dinky boutique hotel, which pays homage to the storied past of the Côte d’Azur, while keeping things contemporary with clean lines and whitewashed walls.
With only 29 modern bedrooms, the property is small but perfectly formed, embellished with a hand-picked selection of modern art and ceramics, plus cane and wicker furnishings both in the rooms and common areas.
Play at being Brigitte Bardot at the elegant outdoor pool complete with modernist wooden sun loungers; we dare you not to feel glamorous!
It’s not easy to match the Amalfi Coast itself for beauty, but this luxury property comes pretty close.
This temple to the dolce vita opened without fanfare amid the pandemic, but with travel back in a more normal swing, it’s really starting to make a name for itself. Space along this stretch of coast is so coveted that this is actually the first Amalfi Coast opening in more than a decade, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Inside you’ll find 45 indulgently private rooms and suites, thoughtfully designed by Rino Gambardella who has renovated the origins 1960S version with taste and verve. The ocean-fresh blue and white finishings in the rooms – think tile from local artisans and hand upholstered sofas – set the scene for the endless blue views beyond.
The price point means that for most mortals a stay here would be a once-in-a-lifetime affair, but boy, would you remember it!