I may have forgotten a few, but my best and latest count puts us at 80 different hotel stays during our European travels. I put a ridiculous amount of time and effort into choosing a hotel, as well as which room type I want to reserve. For some of my tips on finding and booking a hotel, take a look at my tips section.
Some would argue that you don’t spend much time in your hotel room, and that your hotel doesn’t really matter. I violently disagree. Even on one night stays when we arrive late and depart early, a memorable hotel and hotel room can make a tremendous difference in your experience in a city or even your entire vacation. Our favorite places tend to correspond with our favorite hotels, and the right hotel and hotel room is always worth the splurge.
Just like travel in general, people and couples have different priorities when looking for a hotel. Some are all about the service, some want a larger room, some need a great spa, some only care about the pool, and on and on goes the list. For me, one of the amenities I feel is always worth paying for is a great view.
A memorable view from your hotel room can enhance your entire trip. It can offer you a different perspective on the landscape, a skyline, or a landmark. While many nice hotels have rooftop bars with panoramic views, there is something more special about having a balcony or window to yourself, with a cup of coffee or wine, depending on the time, to really sit back and soak in where you are and the experience you are having.
For that reason, I wanted to put together a list of the 15 most memorable views we’ve had from our hotel room. This was a tough list for me to put together, and I’ve changed the order at least a dozen times already. Also, I should emphasize that I tried not to let the impressiveness of the balcony itself factor into my decision – I based it purely on the view itself. Maybe I’ll put another list together of most impressive balconies or terraces, but for now, here’s a list of my top 15 most memorable hotel room views:
15. The Xara Palace – Relais & Chateaux, Mdina, Malta.
The Xara Palace is the only hotel actually located within the Mdina walls in central Malta. Game of Thrones fans may recognize Mdina as the city that served as Kings Landing. Mdina is worthy of the honor, as it is one of the largest and best preserved Medieval walled cities we’ve ever visited. When we saw that Relias and Chateau had converted a 17th century castle into a five-star hotel within the city walls, we knew we had to book a stay. This is important: you are going to want to book the “Executive Duplex Suite, Terrace and Jacuzzi”! You might be tempted to upgrade to the Presidential Suite, but don’t, as it doesn’t have nearly the view (or a Jacuzzi). While our room’s bathroom and shower were in desperate need of renovation, the rest of the hotel was charming and the balcony and view lived up to our wildest expectations. From the room’s entrance, there is a staircase leading up to a set of French doors. As if ascending to meet your subjects, these doors swing open to a huge cliff side balcony, complete with private Jacuzzi and lounge chairs, overlooking the Malta countryside. You can see the side of St. Paul’s Cathedral just to your left, Mosta, which looks more like a Middle Eastern town than one in Europe, and all the way to Valletta and the Mediterranean. We had breakfast delivered to our balcony each morning so we could enjoy the view as the sun came up, and then we had wine in the hot tub each evening as we toasted our wonderful time in Malta. Mdina is amazing, but staying in that room, with that view, truly helped enhance our entire experience.
14. Palazzo Manfredi – Relais & Chateaux, in Rome.
On our second trip to Europe, way back in 2009, we went to Rome. Everyone has certain places they feel a connection to; due to family history, a general interest in the history, a favorite movie, or just a general unexplainable draw. For me, I’ve always been fascinated with Rome. Rome kind of feels like one of those places that doesn’t actually still exist in today’s world, like Babylon…Constantinople…Mesopotamia…or something like that. Rome can feel like a place that only exists in stories and history books. Add my love of the movie “Gladiator” to all of that, and the idea – the mere possibility – that it was possible for us to stay in a hotel room that looked directly out over the remains of the actual Gladiator Barracks and onto the Coliseum was just too incredible to miss. As the commercial says: “Priceless”. The Palazzo Manfredi boasts small but luxuriously appointed rooms, a rooftop deck, and a handful of rooms with a direct view of the mythological Roman Colosseum. It is magical!
13. Agriturismo Costa di Faraggiana, Levanto, Italy.
Just above Levanto, nestled in the hills above the Italian Riviera, sits this boutique five-star property. While the booking sites might conflict with that five-star declaration, and while the “agriturismo” label means it’s technically classified as a “farm house stay”, this is a small luxury hotel experience. Anyone that’s read my “Moy House” post knows I have a fear of B&B’s, Air B&B’s or feeling like a guest in someone’s home. I want to feel like a customer at a hotel, and we loved our stay at the Costa di Faraggiana. With newly renovated, welcoming rooms, gorgeous and well-maintained facilities including a jaw-dropping infinity pool, an excellent breakfast, wonderful staff, and a relaxing view of the hillside stretching all the way down to the Mediterranean, this place will impress even the most finicky traveler. They offer seven rooms, and while each of them provides beautiful French country design and décor, the Marina Suite is where you want to book in order to make sure you get the view that we were able to enjoy. The Marina Suite has a private terrace that looks out over the stunning coastal valley. The Costa di Faraggiana is also a perfect choice if you want to visit Cinque Terre, as the train station in Levanto is close by and from there it’s only a 4-minute ride from the first of the five villages.
12. Clarion Hotel Admiral, Bergen, Norway.
The Bryggen Wharf in Bergen, Norway is one of the most charming and atmospheric areas in Europe. When you do a Google search for pictures of the Bryggen, you’ll see wonderful shots from all kinds of angles, but the best pictures are taken from a perspective across from the bay that encompasses the entire street, as well as the green hills above. This is what you get if you stay at the Clarion Hotel Admiral. We stayed in a Deluxe Double room, which are on high floors, with huge walk in showers, and windows everywhere looking directly out onto the captivating harbor. If you stay here, do not be tempted by the suites. While they have a little more room, our Deluxe Double had plenty of room, and the suites are not situated to enjoy the view as well due to their attic style windows. Wonderful hotel, great breakfast, perfect location, and an amazing view!
11. Burghotel Auf Schoenburg, Oberwesel, Germany.
The castle hotel experience is a must do in Europe. There are of course many wonderful options throughout Ireland, England, Germany, France and beyond, but I can’t imagine it gets much better than staying at the Burghotel Auf Schoenburg. First of all, in terms of the eye test, some “castle” hotels seem borderline mansions, villas or estates (how awful!). Don’t ask me to define the difference, but you know it when you see it. Aug Schoenburg is all castle; I mean, Medieval, “have fun storming the castle”, fairytale, time traveling, castle! From the entrance to the lobby to the restaurant to the lounge, everywhere you look will feel like you’re on a movie set, it is truly remarkable and indescribably fun. However, since this list is solely about view, I’ll narrow in my praise and focus on both the patio AND balcony our amazing room offered. We stayed in Suite 13, the “Suite of the Seven Maidens”. The story of the Seven Maidens is available via a theme-appropriate rolled up scroll left in the room. The room itself is fantastic, complete with 4 post wooden bed, sitting area with a window view over the Rhine, quality antique furniture, an entirely separate, cozy reading room, and, best of all, two separate, private outdoor areas to enjoy. The balcony off the bedroom is large, with a way-more-comfortable-than-you-expect-it-to-be wooden recliner chair, a table for four, and an eagle-eye view of the Rhine Valley. On a clear day you can see all the way to Pfalzgrafenstein Castle. It’s really the quintessential, cover shot worthy view of the Rhine Valley. We visited in early December, which was wonderful due to the lack of crowds and the Christmas Market in Rudesheim, but we can only imagine what this view is like during the Spring bloom. As if that weren’t enough, on the other end of the room, out the back door from the reading room, is a fenced off little “back yard” with a couple of chairs where you can take the time to really study and appreciate the condition, authenticity, and splendor of this castle that dates to the TENTH CENTURY!!!
10. Grande Fjord – Geiranger, Norway
The rooms at the Grande Fjord were one of our least favorite. They were clean and it was okay for two nights, but they were quite dated and without much in the way of amenities. However, it looks like they have renovated the rooms since the time we stayed there, which now makes this hotel very easy to recommend. Regardless of the rooms, for us, this hotel was all about the view. Waking up and having coffee on the little sanctuary of a balcony we had, while looking up and down the winding majesty of the famous Geiranger Fjord is truly a special way to start a vacation day. While the view isn’t high up enough to qualify as one of the better views we had in Norway, the fact that it’s right there waiting for you when you wake up in the morning is wonderful. This should go without saying, but if you take the time to go all the way to Norway, and then drive all the way out to Geiranger Fjord, please, please do not book one of the rooms at the Grande Fjord hotel that doesn’t face the Fjord. Book a Superior Fjordview room!
One side note: When the day comes that I put together my most memorable experiences in all of our travels, high on the list will be kayaking on the Geiranger Fjord. At the bottom of the hill below the Grande Fjord Hotel is Active Geiranger. Rent a 2-person kayak from them (go by yourselves and not with a group), paddle down to the entrance to the Skagefla hike, take the hike, and relive one of the best travel days of my life.
9. The Moy House, Lahinch, Ireland.
For a full review of The Moy House, please click here.
8. Hotel Das Rübezahl; Schwangau, Germany
I still remember it. The morning I woke up at the Hotel Das Rubezahl and took a cup of coffee out onto our room’s balcony. I remember having a different kind of feeling, a different kind of mood than usual. Sure I was happy and excited, as I always am when we are traveling, but it was also a sense of serenity, of calmness, somehow spliced together with a feeling of being in another time and in a special place. I’d seen a million pictures of the Neuschwanstein Castle, and knew about it being the inspiration behind the Disney Castle, but I had never seen it from this perspective. Starring out onto the stretch of Bavarian farmland, and then directly onto the Majestic, purple Alps lording over the valley. As if out of a fairy tale, a distant view of both of Ludwig’s former castle residences are perched deceptively close to the bottom of the mountain. It is truly a magical view, and the Hotel Das Rubezahl is one of our favorite overall hotels. In addition to the view, it has an amazing pool, bikes you can use to explore the infinite surrounding natural beauty, an excellent restaurant, and inviting rooms that have an Alice in Wonderland kind of whimsical luxury.
7. Palace Hotel, Sliema, Malta
Malta is full of all kinds of great hotels. Valletta, the capital city of Malta, has a proportionally large number of newly renovated, high-end boutique hotels with beautiful design and luxurious touches. Just outside of Valletta sits St. Julian, a peninsula area full of large, brand name resorts, and the entire island is dotted with other great choices. In between Valletta and St. Julian, for those that want easy access to everything both areas offer but without the noise issues you can sometimes find in the center of a city like Valletta or in a party zone like St. Julian, sits The Palace Hotel. The Palace Hotel doesn’t look extraordinarily impressive from the outside, and its lobby is nice but nothing spectacular. However, it has one of the most jaw-dropping pool areas you’ll ever find and it boasts 6 differently themed “Designer Suites” that are each unique and memorable. To clarify, if you travel to Malta, stay at the Palace Hotel, and you don’t love it, then you clearly didn’t stay in a Designer Suite, and you can’t blame me! We chose the View Suite, and if having a view is important to you, then this is where you need to stay. Not only do you have two separate balconies, one aimed directly at Valletta and one aimed out to the Mediterranean, but the enormous balcony wraps around the entire room so you can enjoy the view from all sorts of different angles. Best of all, your private living room includes a freakin’ telescope, as well as (3 separate) floor to ceiling sliding glass doors so you can enjoy the exceptional view from almost every spot in the room. Valletta’s skyline is unlike any in Europe. It will both transport you back in time and you’ll notice architectural and design elements from different cultures, continents and centuries. That suite at that hotel is truly an experience to remember.
6. Hotel Belvedere Bellagio; Bellagio, Italy
While the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni is the go to place to stay for those that covet a luxury stay while in Bellagio, the Hotel Belvedere is ranked higher on most travel review websites and is currently the #1 ranked hotel in Bellagio on TripAdvisor®. They have beautifully appointed rooms, hard wood floors, a perfectly positioned infinity pool, great facilities, and a hypnotic view of the West side of Lake Como from high up on the hill. While I have the view from Villa Marie (next) as slightly more impressive, the Hotel Belvedere is a nicer overall property and I would recommend staying there if you plan an extended stay on Lake Como.
5. Hotel Villa Marie, Tremezzo, Italy.
The rooms of the Hotel Villa Marie are not fancy or luxurious, but they are comfortable, combining an antique vibe with some dated furniture and a touch of cheesy yet ultimately enjoyable charm – such as the ceiling mural in our room. However, in the category of “view”, the Hotel Villa Marie more than holds its own against any hotel we’ve ever stayed. The “Blue Junior Suite” is the room you need to book if you stay here, as it is not only larger and nicer than most of the others, but it has a romantic, stone, wrap-around balcony that provides a panoramic look at one of the most breathtaking parts of one of the most breathtaking places on Earth: Lake Como. While people still primarily associate Lake Como with George Clooney and Bellagio with Las Vegas, this area is one of the most photogenic, breathtaking landscapes in the world and should be way higher on people’s travel list. Further, while this list is specifically aimed at the view from the room, there is also a magnificent, movie-like terrace for the use of hotel guests that frames Lake Como as well as any single spot on the lake. Grab a bottle of Barolo from the hotel bar, and have yourself one of those perfect Italian vacation moments.
4. Hotel Schonegg; Wengen, Switzerland
This is another hotel where the room you reserve matters just as much as choosing the hotel itself. The Hotel Schonegg is nestled in a quaint, traffic-free, jewel box of a town in the heart of the Bernese Oberland; meaning almost everywhere you look is a postcard view. However, you are going to need to reserve the “Lifestyle Room” at the Hotel Schonegg if you want the best view in town! The Lifestyle room isn’t huge, but it’s well laid out and is designed to fully incorporate the breathtaking and direct view onto the famous Jungfraujoch, as well as its neighbors: Eiger and Monch. If you really want to splurge, book the entire luxury penthouse on the top floor – of which the Lifestyle Room is a part – and have a state of the art kitchen and living room to relax in as you enjoy the view. With a huge, private balcony all to yourself, as well as a lovely standalone bathtub and sliding glass doors throughout, there are all kinds of ways you can soak in the view as you relax in this wonderful hotel. The room is newly renovated, has a great shower, and the hotel is easy walking distance to multiple lifts so that you can easily hike and explore the entire area. The hotel also offers a multi-course dinner menu which is included in your room rate. As you can tell, we loved every bit of our stay at the Hotel Schonegg, but the view is what reigned supreme.
3. Albergo Londra Palace; Venice, Italy
It’s the postcard view of Venice you’ve dreamt of, but instead of sharing it with a wall of tourists and getting bumped by selfie sticks, you’re sipping Amarone and enjoying Parma ham and parmesan cheese in the comfort and space of your hotel room. That’s life as a guest at the Londra Palace in Venice. While not one of Venice’s more famous five-star hotels, it’s actually ranked higher on TripAdvisor than most of the hotels you’ve heard of in Venice. The hotel is very regal, with exceptional service and rooms flush with the luxurious Venetian décor. Most importantly, the location looks directly out onto the Venice Lagoon, with unobstructed views to the Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore, over to the Basilica di Santa Maria, and even onto the side of the Doge Palace by the entrance to Piazza San Marco. It is truly epic, and one of the most romantic views in the world. In fact, the only reason I don’t have this hotel room as my #1 is because of the way windows in our particular room were situated. Our room had two nice sized windows, but the bottom of the window came down to our waist, making it necessary to stand in order to really soak in the entire panorama of the view. Many of the other rooms have balconies and window configurations better suited to take in the view. We will try for one of those the next time we travel to Venice.
Bonus Super Tip: While the view from the room is reason enough to stay at the Londra Palace when in Venice, it’s not the best part of staying at this property. On the roof of the hotel is a small balcony, and from there you can ascend another flight of stairs to reach a small wooden patio. This is one of the more magical spots I’ve encountered in all of my travels. I came up here, alone, at 6am, on a cold but crystal clear, blue sky morning. As the fiery sunrise began to engulf the red rooftops, I could see a 360 degree view of Venice like no other. I could see all the way to the Italian Alps, I could see the boats heading into and out of the Grand Canal, I could see all the landmarks from my magical birds nest above this unique, wonder of a city. If you stay at the Londra Palace, wake up early, make yourself an espresso, and head to this spot to watch the sun rise. You’ll remember it forever.
2. The Yeatman; Porto, Portugal
The Yeatman is my wife’s favorite hotel in the world. I have a full review and lots of pictures of the Yeatman within my guide to Porto, so here I’m just going to focus on the view. It should be noted, some hotels have beautiful views posted on their websites – usually with an attractive couple toasting with champagne and gazing into each other’s eyes at sunset. However, many times that perfect view is only attainable if you book the right suite, and the standard rooms end up facing the garbage bin in the alley behind the property on the first floor. This popular bait and switch is not an issue at the Yeatman. Nope, there is not a bad view room in the house. Sure, they have a handful of larger suites, and some rooms are a little higher and at a bit better angles, but even their base rooms have large patios and every single room has a front row, all-encompassing view of the spectacular Porto skyline and magnificent Dom Luis Bridge. Further, the rooms have floor to ceiling sliding glass doors, so even lying in bed or sitting at the desk it feels like this remarkable city is right at your doorstep.
1, Montelirio Hotel; Ronda, Spain
The Ronda Bridge is Instagram gold. From the moment your post goes live you can almost hear all of your friends, family and random spam followers saying “where the hell is that”?! It is truly majestic and the entire area feels like a fictional movie set on another planet. The Montelirio Hotel, and specifically the Marbella Suite, provides a perfect perch high above the Tajo Gorge of Ronda, in Southern Spain. Lots of cities and town have rivers running through them, but how many have a bleepin’ gorge!? From the Marbella Suite, you have an eye level view of the incredible bridge, a sweeping, dizzying view of the gorge and the surrounding countryside, as well as the town’s Parador and other buildings clinging to the Cliffside. As with many hotels, not all rooms are created equally, so don’t travel all the way to Ronda (not easy) and book a room with a view of the street! All three of Montelirio’s Jr. Suites have large living rooms with 12th-century furniture, plenty of charm, and views that make the entire trip worthwhile. There is a small French balcony off the living room of the Marbella Suite with just enough room to stand, but you really don’t want to as it literally hangs you off the side of the cliff. However, pick-up some Iberico Ham, cheese, and a bottle of tempranillo from town, then open up the French doors and enjoy the view from the comfort of your couch, you’ll be in heaven. Due to the required journey to get there, the unique perspective of the view, the magnitude, the scope, the beauty and the overall “wow” factor, the view from the Montelirio Hotel is a worthy winner of the GoGoGordon’s top hotel room view!
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