Two European luxury hotels that stand out + three more

by Europe

When our travel lodging experts recommend European luxury hotels, it’s not just because the hotel boasts 5-star status and finds its way onto lists of the world’s best hotels each year. The team prefers to be a bit more selective, sending its luxury travel experts to seek out hidden boutique gems you have perhaps never heard of, but should know about. When choosing a hotel that’s considered a standout, the team looks for superb location, thoughtful design with a sense of place, a commitment to a light footprint, cuisine that is so good you will not want go outside the hotel to eat, and a staff that makes its guests feel so at home they never want to leave. Here are two European luxury hotels that stood above the rest among all the hotels where the travel team stayed in 2016:

Killiehuntly Farmhouse – Scotland

Setting: Pristine Scottish highlands in the Cairngorms National Park.

One of the European luxury hotels, Killiehuntly has a magnficent living room.
Design: A 1603 stone farmhouse delicately refurbished with a Nordic aesthetic. Handcrafted white pine furnishings by Danish and Scottish craftsmen fill the rooms. Interiors are in dove grays and Danish blues with brass accents.

Imagine sleeping in this bed?
Food: Wander into the open kitchen, have a seat at the family table, and watch the cook go to work. If you’re filling nibbly, there are homemade breads, cheese plates, and whatever is picked from the vegetable patch on hand. Meals are sourced from the working farm that is part of the property, and guests dine together at the oversized oak table.

The kitchen at Killiehuntly.
Adventure: Hike through heather fields, moorlands, and along ancient lakes on the 4,000-acre estate.

HITT Tip: Our lodging expert says: “We chartered a private helicopter and soared from remote estates to private castles set on forgotten lochs. We photographed silver lakes, gentle waterfalls, and glowing green moorlands from the sky at golden hour, and touched down to hike territory unreachable by car.”

Cotton House Hotel – Barcelona, Spain

Setting: A revitalized 19th-century landmark building, once the headquarters of the Cotton Textile Foundation.

Cotton House hotel is another of the amazing European luxury hotels.
Design: Deserving of all the buzz, this Barcelona hotel is part neoclassical hideaway a la Catalan bourgeoisie, part contemporary tropical oasis. Original elements like a 1957 suspended spiral staircase and parquet floors have been seamlessly incorporated into modern interiors with airy glass walls, globe chandeliers, and touches of teal upholstery.


Our award-winning photos make a perfect gift – to yourself, a friend, or a family member. Prints for a wall, on a desk, as greeting cards, cozy fleece blankets, ornaments, fridge magnets, coffee mugs, luggage tags, coasters, mouse pads and puzzles.  

Cotton house hotel Batuar.
Food: Mediterranean cuisine made from market ingredients served in a hip, cosmopolitan bar (pictured in our opening photo).
Adventure: Experience the culture and history of Barcelona through the lens of textiles and 19th-century high society — the Spanish cotton barons. Visit haute couture ateliers still producing some of the finest fabrics in Spain, walk through life-size jewelry boxes filled with gold Art Nouveau brooches, and go behind the scenes of Circulo del Liceo—a mysterious 1847 private club that remains one of the city’s most exclusive closed-door gathering places.

HITT Tip: Our adventure travel expert, Brooke Garnett, stopped over in Barcelona for a few relaxed days. There, she sampled tapas and took in Gaudi architecture before heading to the snow-dusted Dolomites for trekking beautiful landscapes and enjoying après-climb champagne picnics prepared by renowned chefs.”

Three other European luxury hotels you’ll also love

If you like Killiehuntly or the Cotton House, the Absolute Travel team is very sure you will also like: Kinloch Lodge, Scotland; The Pig near Bath, England; or Aman in Venice, Italy.

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Heads up! This information on the European luxury hotels was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). It is your sole responsibility to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, and any other important details before your adventure.

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