Summer holidays have long been synonymous with beautiful hotels by the sea, and for good reason. Few sights are more spectacular than the sun shining down on cerulean waters, and water-based activities – from sailing to swimming and surfing – are all the more enticing in the hotter weather. Keep reading for some of our favourite properties based near Europe’s best oceans, bays, lakes and more: perfect for satisfying your wanderlust by the waterside…
1. Hotel Villa Schuler: Italy
Built in 1902, this flamboyant four-star boutique hotel gazes out across the Ionian Sea, and is only a stone’s throw away from Mazzarò Beach and Isola Bella. These gorgeous coasts grow no less enchanting over time, and are the perfect places from which to sunbathe by, swim in and admire the aquamarine waves. That is, if you can bring yourself to leave your hotel. Villa Schuler overflows with enchanting natural areas, including an orangery and subtropical botanic garden, which contains over 350 species of mediterranean flora and horticultural rarities. The words “exotic paradise” definitely apply.
2. Esperas: Greece
Santorini is world-famous for its jaw dropping coastal sunsets, and nowhere offers a better view of them than Esperas hotel: one of Greece’s most exquisite hotels by the sea. Based high on the rugged cliffs of Oia and composed of several traditional island houses – carved directly into the rock – visitors can enjoy unrivalled views of the Aegean Sea while experiencing life in a traditional Greek home. Hotel highlights include a remarkable on-site swimming pool and panoramic terrace, where you can eat, relax and daydream each day away in total bliss.
3. Eccles Hotel: Ireland
Eccles Hotel is an exemplary hotel and spa by Bantry Bay, and when you’re not living it up at its top-end spa, you’ll most likely be enjoying one of the many water-based adventures on offer just outside. Take a ferry to the island garden, Garinish, or try your hand at fishing, kayaking or more. It’s all at your doorstep. The hotel’s West Cork location also puts it right in the heart of what is arguably Ireland’s most famous culinary locale, the Wild Atlantic Way: a prime spot for foodies. The area’s influence is clear to see through the unforgettable fare dished up at the hotel restaurant, which wins awards regularly. Just one bite of their melt-in-the-mouth Fritto Misto, and you won’t struggle to see why…
4. Hotel Villa Astra: Croatia
Say hello to another of the continent’s most captivating coasts. Hotel Villa Astra, based in Lovran in the Kvarner Gulf, lays claim to yet more awe-inspiring aquatic views… this time, of the Adriatic Sea. Set against a backdrop of furrowed, leafy cliffs and filled with traditional parks, gardens and architecture, this coastal village is ideal for travellers who want their seaside stay to include a heavy dose of history. Intersperse walks along the Lungomare coastal promenade – flanked by trees and impressive villas – with dips into cafes and boutiques to get a taste of both modern and classic Croatian culture. You’re bound to love the privacy on offer at Villa Astra, as well. There are only seven rooms, and the property even has access to a secluded beach.
5. Dalen Hotel: Norway
When it comes to waterside holidays, hotels by the sea (although they’re sensational) shouldn’t take all the credit! Dalen Hotel is situated almost directly next to the Telemark Canal, which snakes through some of Norway’s most staggering scenery, including everything from forests to mountains. You can experience the canal first-hand in a number of ways, but one of the most popular means is by the boat M/S Henrik Ibsen, which you can catch almost directly from the hotel. For a completely different kind of way to engage with the water, head to the hotel’s unique spa, Soria Moria. Unlike most spas, it sits, glittering like a fallen star, in the middle of beautiful Bandak lake. You’ll never see anything like it.
6. Twr y Felin Hotel: Wales
The breathtaking peninsula on which St Davids lies is bound by the Celtic Sea. Equally close to “Britain’s smallest city” and the astonishing Welsh coast, Twr y Felin Hotel reaps the benefits of both: giving its guests direct access to the heritage-steeped streets and stunning sea at once. Those wanting to connect with the water as a priority will find plenty to do, in particular, starting with Pembrokeshire’s 11 Blue Flag beaches, renowned for their water cleanliness and quality. The closest to the hotel is Whitesands, which sees plenty of swimmers and surfers during the summer season. Setting it apart from the other hotels by the sea, Twr y Felin is also a remarkable refuge for art lovers. This converted windmill is home to over 100 pieces of specially-commissioned art, all of which are inspired by Pembrokeshire and the peninsula itself.
Want more inspiration for your next aqua-adjacent adventure? Browse our full collection of waterside hotels.