6 Underrated European Destinations to Put on Your Radar

Yes, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, and London are often travelers’ first choices when heading to Europe. That said, as your travel gurus who are lovers of a damn good, underrated destination and resident boutique hotel, we feel it’s our duty to share our favorite European locales and stays that fit this criteria — read on below. 

Bath, United Kingdom

Fancy a weekend in the English countryside? Ninety minutes away from London by train is the hamlet of Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site: Ancient Roman baths (FYI: you can’t swim in them), magnificent churches like Bath Abbey, and the Holburne Museum of Art.

Where to Stay:

The Gainsborough Bath Spa 

This is a five-star stay in the town’s center. It’s the only hotel that tapped into the area’s thermal waters, which means rejuvenating spa treatments aplenty and healing waters perfect for a dip after exploring the town.

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Ok, yes, Amsterdam is great, but can we please give some love to Rotterdam? The latter is more modern-appearing than the former, boasting a skyline that’s one of Europe’s best. The city was blitzed by bombs in 1940, which turned it into a blank canvas that saw it remerge after the war with architectural eye candy. Contemporary design is ubiquitous here, from the famous Cube Houses — small dwellings with eye-catching yellow facades summiting over a hexagonal base that tilts at a 54.7-degree angle — to the Markthal — a colossal avant-garde masterpiece shaped like a horseshoe, homing offices, apartments, and a diverse food hall underneath.

Where to Stay:

The Slaak Rotterdam, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel

A 74-room hotel in the erstwhile Het Slaakhuys building, which once was home of the influential Dutch newspaper Het Vrije Volk. It’s contemporary and design-centric, from the concrete parasol-shaped entrance area to its raw brick surfaces, its bronze lobby bar, and guestrooms pairing bespoke furniture with eye-catching murals.

Grindelwald, Switzerland

This fairytale-like town is the perfect gateway to UNESCO World Heritage Site and famed Swiss Alps mountain trifecta: Jungfrau, Eiger, plus Mönch (summertime hikes here are mesmerizing). Make sure to take the iconic cogwheel train, Jungfrau Railways, to Europe’s highest point — it meanders through craggy cliffs, towering peaks, svelte inlets, and verdant (or snowy, depending on the time of year) mountainsides, invoking a feast for the eyes. Adventuring is at your fingertips — anybody up for bungee jumping, ice climbing, or cliff walking?

Where to Stay:

The Bergwelt Grindelwald Alpine Design Resort 

This cozy boutique hotel — a Small Luxury Hotels of the World member — has awe-inspiring vantage points towards the Swiss Alps. You’ll love the Fire & Ice Spa, equipped with four saunas, a textile steam bath, pools, and an ice fountain.

Douro Valley, Portugal

Yes, we love France’s Champagne region and Italy’s Tuscany, but what if we told you Portugal also hosts one of Europe’s best wine regions? Northern Portugal’s Douro Valley — the birthplace of Port Wine — is chock full of terraced wineries sloping down its hillsides: Quinta de la Rosa and Quinta da Gricha are two sip-worthy ones to put on your itinerary. 

Where to Stay:

Quinta dos Murças

This secluded, riverside boutique hotel teems with vineyards producing stellar wine and olive oil. It’s a family-helmed farmhouse stocked with five rooms, including three suites.

Warsaw, Poland

A city flattened during WWII, Warsaw, Poland, has emerged from the ashes since. Poland’s intriguing capital is grey in more ways than one: not just the Soviet-era architecture but also the grim historical events that have taken place here and in its vicinity. You decide your experience, whether that be the fun-loving Polish Vodka Museum or a saddening yet impactful trip to the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews or the Warsaw Rising Museum, which covers the 1944 Warsaw Uprising that saw subversive Poles attempt to usurp the occupying Germans.

Where to Stay:

PURO Warszawa Centrum

Although homed in a 19th-century edifice, this 184-key boutique hotel employs a subdued modernist look with comfy splendors like Swedish-born Hilding mattresses.

Kos, Greece

Ok, we’re not telling you to forget Santorini, but rather putting one of Greece’s less-touristy islands into your orbit. Meet Kos — a picturesque Greek isle with turquoise seawater closer to Turkey than its own mainland. History buffs will love the ruins of Askelpion, which comprise ancient colonnaded temples, hydrotherapy baths, and an erstwhile medical school. Not into history? Spend time on Kos’ clutch of idyllic beaches.

Where to Stay:

Oku Kos

This adults-only boutique hotel sits right on the shore. While petite, its spa is one of our favorite parts, from its hammam with dove-grey walls to its herbalist-approved treatments: the signature Hippocratic anatripsis massage using rhythmic ancients and the Aegean Scrub promising silky smooth skin are our picks.

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