20 of Europe’s most beautiful hotels

CNN  — 

With so many iconic cities and diverse landscapes, beautiful hotels in Europe are commonplace. But some are, quite simply, more beautiful than others.

From clifftop luxury retreats on Italy’s Amalfi Coast to art nouveau masterpieces in the heart of Budapest, we’ve handpicked Europe’s 20 most beautiful hotels where you can stay:

1. Monastero Santa Rosa (Amalfi Coast, Italy)

Located atop a limestone cliff 1,000 feet above the Tyrrhenian Sea in Italy, the views alone from this incredible spot are worth the trip to Monastero Santa Rosa. But the hotel itself – a converted, 17th-century monastery – is as impressive as its Amalfi Coast surroundings.

Everything from its original wooden doors to the long, arched corridors have been kept intact and beautifully restored. Its 20 suites have high, vaulted ceilings, Jerusalem stone floors and 17th-century furnishings handpicked by owner Bianca Sharma.

The piece de resistance: a heated infinity pool on the edge of a cliff, 660 feet above the ocean.

Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa, Via Roma 2 Amalfi Drive, 84010 Conca dei Marini Italy; +39 089 832 1199

2. Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet (Istanbul)

Built in 1918, this buttercup-yellow hotel is so unabashedly opulent you’d never guess it was Istanbul’s first prison.In fact, the neoclassical property is built completely around what was formerly an exercise yard for inmates – now a landscaped courtyard.

Its 65 rooms are individually decorated with opulent furnishings, handwoven kilim rugs and original Turkish artwork. It’s located in the heart of the Old City, steps away from the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace.

Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet, Teyfikhane Sok No 1 Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34122 Turkey; +90 212 402 30 00

From $561 per night
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3. Mystique (Santorini, Greece)

Pool with a panorama: Santorini's Mystique.

Though it’s hard to find a poor view in Santorini, Greece, Mystique has the most Instagram-worthy vista around thanks to its lofty perch on the rim of the caldera, on the southernmost tip of Oia. From the hotel’s infinity pool, guests can soak in an unrivaled panorama of Santorini’s dramatic volcanic cliffs and the glittering southern Aegean Sea.

The airy, free-form rooms are carved directly into the cliff and feature private, ocean-facing terraces. The highlight of the property is its pool bar, Aura, which serves up cocktails to match the showstopping sunsets.

Mystique Luxury Collection Hotel, Oia, Oia 84702 Greece; +30 2286 071114

4. The Peninsula Paris (Paris)

Opened in 2015 after a four-year, $850-million transformation, the Peninsula Paris in France proved worth the wait. It was once the Hotel Majestic, where George Gershwin penned “An American in Paris” in 1928.

The building’s sculpted stone facade – covered in intricate bas-reliefs – was meticulously restored to its former neoclassical splendor. Inside are similarly restored marble, gilt work and 19th-century mosaics, which complement the hotel’s modern artwork and fixtures.

There are 200 bright, spacious rooms, a 19,000-square-foot spa and a sleek indoor swimming pool. But what everyone’s really here for is the rooftop restaurant, L’Oiseau Blanc, with its sweeping 360-degree views over the entire city.

The Peninsula Paris, 19 Avenue Kleber, 75116 Paris France; +33 1 58 12 28 88

From $1717 per night
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5. Cliveden House (Berkshire, England)

Though it’s just an hour’s drive from London, Cliveden House feels worlds away, flanked by acres of thick woodland and rolling countryside. Built in the 1850s in a blend of English Palladian and Roman Cinquecento architectural styles, it looks and feels more like a grand private home than a hotel.

There are just 38 rooms and suites, each named after a figure from the house’s past – Henry James, Lady Astor, The Prince of Wales – and individually furnished to match. Outside, there’s a historic maze, a heated pool within a walled garden and a magnificent 17th-century parterre formal garden.

Cliveden House, Taplow SL6 0JF England; +44 1628 668561

From $607 per night
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6. Ashford Castle (Cong, Ireland)

Luxury lounging: Ashford Castle.

Reopened in March 2015 after a year-long renovation, Ireland’s oldest castle – built in 1228 – also doubles as one of its most beautiful and beloved hotels.

It’s unsurprisingly grandiose, decked out in Connemara marble and adorned with brocade silk, crystal chandeliers and antiques. Its 82 rooms are individually furnished, though most have four-poster beds, fireplaces and claw-foot tubs. Though the castle is a destination in and of itself, it’s also conveniently located on the picturesque shores of Lough Corrib, Ireland’s second largest lake.

Ashford Castle, Ashford Castle Estate, Cong Ireland; +353 94 954 6003

7. Four Seasons Hotel Firenze (Florence, Italy)

The Four Seasons in Florence feels more like a sprawling Tuscan country estate than a hotel in the heart of a bustling metropolis.For starters, it’s built within Giardino della Gherardesca – Florence’s largest private garden, spanning 11 acres.

The hotel consists of two separate Renaissance palazzi: the 15th-century Palazzo della Gherardesca and 16th-century La Villa (a former convent). Between the two, there are 116 rooms and suites, most of which feature original frescoes, bas-reliefs and stuccoes. The Della Gherardesca Royal Suite spans 25,000 square feet and has original 18th-century majolica floors by artist Ignazio Chiaiese.

Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, Borgo Pinti 99, 50121, Florence Italy; +39 055 26261

From $772 per night
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8. Bela Vista Hotel & Spa (Algarve, Portugal)

Located on the pristine beachfront at Praia da Rocha, Bela Vista was the first hotel to open on the Algarve, back in 1934. Though it’s since been joined by dozens of other high-end lodgings, its eclectic charm and intimate boutique feel keeps it above the rest.

The hotel’s original decor – painted wooden ceilings and colorful wall mosaics – has been kept intact through a recent refurbishment that’s outfitted the property with modern updates and chic, bold furnishings. The highlight of the hotel is without doubt its outdoor freshwater pool, which is flanked by palm trees and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.

Bela Vista Hotel & Spa, Av. Tomas Cabreira, Praia da Rocha, Portimao 8500-802 Portugal; +351 282 460 280

From $37 per night
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9. Hotel d’Angleterre Geneva (Geneva)

Situated on the banks of Lake Geneva facing the Jet d’Eau fountain, this family-run hotel is a landmark in its own right. It’s been around since 1872, and is considered Geneva’s ultimate grande dame hotel thanks to its Old World elegance and A-list clientele.

Behind its stately facade are 45 rooms decorated with antiques, rich fabrics and original artwork. Its aptly named signature restaurant, Windows, features floor-to-ceiling panes of glass and overlooks Lake Geneva.

Hotel d’Angleterre Geneva, 17 Quai du Mont-Blanc, Geneva 1201 Switzerland; +41 22 906 55 55

From $606 per night
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10. Trianon Palace Versailles (Versailles, France)

Set in an ornate Belle Epoque-style building built in 1909, Trianon Palace is impressive from the outset. It’s flanked by manicured gardens and situated inside a three-acre wooded park, just 30 minutes from Paris. But it’s more than just a pretty face.

Inside are 199 plush rooms outfitted with fireplaces and terraces, as well as a two-Michelin-starred restaurant, Gordon Ramsay au Trianon. The best part?

Trianon Palace is built right on the doorstep of the Versailles gardens and within walking distance of the Palace of Versailles.

Trianon Palace Versailles, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, 1 Boulevard de la Reine, 78 000, Versailles France; +33 1 30 84 50 00

From $288 per night
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11. Schloss Fuschl (Fuschlsee-Salzburg, Austria)

Lakeside leisure: Schloss Fuschl.

Set in a 15th-century hunting lodge on the densely wooded peninsula of an alpine lake, Schloss Fuschl comes complete with fairy tale vibe. The romantic resort has 110 rooms and suites, including six lakeside cottages perched on the lake shore, each with its own private sauna, terrace and fireplace.

Much like the resort itself, decor is grand yet intimate. There are Renaissance-inspired antiques paired with comfy armchairs and wood-burning fireplaces. Close by is Lake Fuschl, where the resort’s private jetty provides the launch point for a wooden boat ride or swim.

Schloss Fuschl Resort & Spa, Fuschlsee-Salzburg, Schloss Strasse 19, Hof bei Salzburg 5322 Austria; +43 6229 22530

12. Blue Palace (Crete, Greece)

The striking simplicity of this low-rise, whitewashed resort proves that beauty doesn’t necessarily equal opulence. Its 256 rooms are bright, minimalist and bohemian, allowing luxe touches like the ocean-facing terraces and private plunge pools to shine.

Clay roof tiles, wooden shutters and pebble mosaics add to the property’s low-key charm, while palms and olive-tree-filled gardens help it blend into the wild landscape. From the main pool, guests can enjoy breathtaking views over the Cretan Sea and the island of Spinalonga.

Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, PO Box 38, Elounda, Crete 72 053 Greece; +30 2841 065500

13. Schloss Elmau Retreat (Elmau, Germany)

It’s hard to get more secluded than this: Schloss Elmau is placed inside a green valley at the foothills of the Bavarian Alps, flanked on all sides by thick forest.

In fact, it was founded in 1916 by philosopher Johannes Mueller as a sanctuary for artists and creatives looking to escape the “outside world.”

Comprising two separate hotels, aptly named Hideaway and Retreat, the resort is grand yet cozy, thanks to thoughtful, globally curated decor – carpets from Iran, linen from India, tables from Indonesia – and a warm, inviting color palette. In winter, the entire resort transforms into a snowy wonderland.

Schloss Elmau, In Elmau 2, 82493 Elmau, Bavaria Germany; +49 8823 180

14. Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace (Budapest)

With its two-million-piece mosaic tiled floor, 19th-century stained glass roof panels and intricate ironwork, the Four Seasons in Budapest is an art nouveau masterpiece. The lobby is a work of art in and of itself, with its Moorish glass-domed ceiling and dazzling spiked-glass chandelier.

Rooms are spacious and luxe with vaulted ceilings and marble bathrooms; many are outfitted with private balconies overlooking the Danube or Buda Castle. It sits at the base of the Chain Bridge, within easy walking distance of the Castle District on the opposite side of the river.

Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, Szechenyi Istvan ter 5 - 6, Budapest 1051 Hungary; +36 1 268 6000

From $442 per night
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15. Le Sirenuse, Positano (Amalfi Coast, Italy)

When it comes to Amalfi Coast hotels, Le Sirenuse’s iconic status is well deserved. Everything about it is legendary, from its illustrious guests to its swimming pool overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Its 60 majolica-tiled rooms are thoughtfully decorated with handpicked antiques and feature vaulted ceilings, French doors and private terraces. The hotel’s alfresco bar, Franco’s, is a new addition to the grande dame hotel with its quirky decor and unmatched coastal views.

Le Sirenuse Hotel, Via C. Colombo, 30, 84017, Positano Italy; +39 089 875066

16. Belmond La Residencia (Mallorca, Spain)

Mallorca's Belmond La Residencia: Mediterranean magic.

In the foothills of the Serra de Tramuntana on Mallorca’s beautiful northwest coast, La Residencia is perfectly situated between the mountains and the Mediterranean. Made up of several 16th-century farmhouses sprawled across the hillside, the hotel’s local stonework and cantilevered gardens blend seamlessly into the mountainous landscape.

Inside, dark wood furniture and wood-beam ceilings offset the whitewashed walls and understated natural tones. Its 67 rooms are decorated in traditional Mallorcan style with terracotta tile floors and canopied, hand-carved beds.

Highlights of the property include its sculpture garden – a nod to the area’s artistic heritage – and its two freshwater swimming pools.

Belmond La Residencia, Son Canals s/n, 07179 Deia, Majorca Spain; +34 971 63 90 11

17. Mandarin Oriental Prague (Prague)

In the quiet, cobblestoned Mala Strana district, this Gothic-Baroque beauty feels like an urban oasis hidden in plain sight.

A 14th-century monastery, the hotel blends original architectural features with contemporary touches. Its 99 rooms feature vaulted ceilings, parquet floors and views of either the old monastery courtyard or Prague Castle. The highlight of the hotel is its two-level spa, which is housed in a former chapel and showcases the remains of its 14th-century foundations beneath the glass floors of the lobby.

Mandarin Oriental, Prague, Nebovidska 459/1 Mala Strana, Prague 11800 Czech Republic; +420 233 088 888

From $401 per night
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18. Gravetye Manor (Sussex, England)

Built in 1598, this stately Elizabethan manor was the former home of pioneering gardener William Robinson, considered the father of the English natural garden.

So it comes as no surprise that Gravetye Manor is bordered by the most enchanting and colorful wild gardens in Sussex, created by Robinson himself. There’s lots to admire inside, too, from the 16th-century art to the grand fireplaces that burn in the sitting rooms. Throw in a wood-paneled, Michelin-starred restaurant and sweeping countryside views, and you’ve got the perfect English countryside retreat.

Gravetye Manor Hotel and Restaurant, Vowels Lane, West Hoathly RH19 4LJ England; +44 1342 810567

19. Hotel Savoy (Florence, Italy)

Located steps from the Duomo and overlooking lively Piazza della Repubblica, the Hotel Savoy occupies the best address in the city.

Its aristocratic, 19th-century facade belies its whimsical modern interiors – a pleasant surprise in a city dominated by posh Renaissance-era hotels.

Its 102 rooms are brightly decorated with fashion-inspired art by local artists and bookshelves stuffed with literary classics. Many have small balconies overlooking the piazza. The hotel’s sixth-floor gym has excellent views of the Duomo and Campanile.

Hotel Savoy, Piazza della Repubblica 7, 50123, Florence Italy; +39 055 27351

From $659 per night
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20. Villa Gallici (Aix-en-Provence, France)

Situated in a dense cypress tree forest just north of the Old Town, this 18th-century Provencal villa is the ultimate French countryside escape. Its 22 rooms are decorated with antiques, four-poster beds, rich tapestries and hand-painted Chinoiserie wallpaper.

Common areas are similarly lavish, blending old-world Provencal opulence with French Colonial elements. Outside is a leafy seven-acre garden centered around a beautiful swimming pool where guests do dinner and cocktails.

Villa Gallici, 18 Avenue de la Violette, 13100, Aix-en-Provence France; +33 4 42 23 29 23

Krisanne Fordham has written for Conde Nast Traveler, Fodor’s Travel, Departures and Travel + Leisure. She grew up in Sydney and now splits time between Umbria, Italy and New York.