Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

November 29, 2021
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Five charming hotels that have upmarket looks at downscale prices

Antwerp: 'T Sandt

Belgium's second city is the heart of the country's Flemish region, with a distinct cultural identity and language. While it has a lovely medieval Old Town, and even a turreted castle, Antwerp is also known for being forward thinking and design oriented, with plenty of creative talent generating intriguing shops. And if you're an art buff, you'll want to wander over to the Rubens House and tour the Baroque home where the master lived and worked; a dozen of his works are on display. The Hotel 'T Sandt (meaning "on the sand") with its breezy beachfront chic, calm colours and natural materials, reminds you that before the city was one of Europe's largest seaports, it was just a stretch of beach. The elegant 17th-century neo-Roccoco mansion has been converted into a 29-room hotel in the trendy South Quarter, rife with design stores and funky restaurants. The Victoria Suite, starts at €170. The Mandarin Oriental Suite from €210.

Bath: Brooks Guesthouse

The English city of Bath exudes 18th-century elegance and the genteel charm of a Jane Austen novel — which makes sense as this is the heart of Austen country. Just an hour and a half by train from London, the city offers glimpses of stunning Regency architecture as well as the vast bathhouses built by Roman legionnaires to take advantage of England's only naturally occurring hot springs. Today you can tour the Roman-era spas, but to take a dip in the waters you'll have to head to the sleek new Thermae Spa. Amid all this tasteful beauty, you'll want to stay somewhere chic. A 10-minute walk from major attractions, the 21-room Brooks Guesthouse mixes the stylish and traditional in two Victorian villas. The overall effect is colourful and hip, with a relaxed elegance. Antiques and modern furniture play off bold metallic wallpaper; every room has a flat-screen TV and iPod dock. A standard double starts at ₤80; a superior king at ₤100; full breakfast with local organic ingredients included.

Granada: Casa Morisca

Nestled at the foot of Spain's highest mountains, the city of Granada is a gem that is sometimes outshined by other Andalusian beauties like Seville, but this is where you'll find the best preserved Moorish heritage in the country. After all, the city was the last stronghold of a sophisticated empire that ruled Spain for over 700 years. The 14th-century Alhambra Palace is one of the big draws, but the city's distinct neighbourhoods all bear exploring on foot. Below the cliffs on which the palace sits is the Albaicin, the ancient Moorish quarter. In this narrow warren of streets, you'll find the Casa Morisca, a 15th-century house renovated with great care. It has many of the features that make Moroccan architecture so enticing: tiled walls, a central fountain in a courtyard ringed by open wooden galleries, marble columns and stuccoed archways. Many rooms have views of the Alhambra towering above, and it's a 30-minute walk up the winding streets to reach it. Interior (patio-facing) rooms start at €85. The special double with its own sitting room, starts at €155.

Paris: Hotel Design Sorbonne

The great capitals of Europe never have a shortage of hotels. But great style for a fair price? That's harder to come by. Which makes the Hotel Design Sorbonne a total find. Across the street from the fabled university in the heart of the Left Bank, the area has the low-key charm that is far removed from the more touristy sectors of the city. You're just a couple of blocks from the grand Jardins de Luxembourg, the Musée de Cluny filled with the city's medieval heritage, and the jazz clubs of St-Germain. Design Sorbonne is the most affordable of a quartet of stylish hotels. Here, the rooms are small, but the decor is eye catching and fun, with designer wallpaper in punchy colours and stylish new bathrooms. The custom carpets have famous words from French authors woven into them, and each floor has a photo gallery with works by contemporary photographers. Rooms comes with an iMac ready for watching TV, surfing the Web or listening to music. A small design classic room starts at €100.

Warsaw: Hotel Rialto

The Polish capital was almost levelled during World War II (though the painstaking reconstruction of the Old Town is so good it was added to UNESCO's World Heritage list), but in the '20s and '30s it oozed glamour, sweeping the 1925 Paris Expo with its bold take on Art Deco and iconic paintings by Tamara de Lempicka. The Hotel Rialto harks back to that world of glamour with a totally Deco redesign of a 19th-century townhouse. All the rooms include antiques as well as period-appropriate fittings and decor, and there are plenty of paintings by De Lempicka as well. Even the deluxe single rooms are large, with great style. But the real draw are the Junior Suites which come with wonderfully appointed sitting rooms with classic Deco furniture. The hotel also offers a large collection of CDs and DVDs on loan, has free WiFi and you get access to a fitness room, sauna and steam room. Executive double starts at €92; suites from €139.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.


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