Why not start 2020 with a quick Euro hop? The next few months will see cheaper flights, fewer crowds, and there’s plenty of stylish available apartments in unbeatable central locations. Here are 8 of our favourites
Home to ancient frescoes, incredible live opera and Juliet’s famous balcony, Verona oozes romance. Base yourself at this equally romantic apartment, set on a cobbled street across the river from medieval Castelvecchio. Verona Boutique Apartment combines 50s furniture and sleek contemporary design, it may not be huge but it makes up for it in style: we loved the classic design pieces, including a superbly comfortable Silvio Cavatorta bed.
From: £102/night, sleeping 2
Live like a local: Pop to the nearby bakery for morning pastries, and try the neighbourhood’s excellent bars and restaurants.
Locals say their city is at its most magical in winter, when snowflakes dance over the Charles Bridge and the Old Town empties right out. Hole up in stunning Vinohrady Boutique Apartment, set in a genuine Czech neighbourhood, but just 10 mins’ walk from the Wenceslas Bridge. Owner by an interior designer, it is both luxurious and comfortable, with giant mirrors and chandeliers from East India plus pocket-sprung mattresses. There are two super-kingsize bedrooms so it’s ideal for two couples travelling together.
From: £128/night, sleeping 2-4
Live like a local: Uber is super-cheap in Prague, so you can zip to and from restaurants in the evening if it’s really cold.
Antwerp, the fashion and diamond capital of Belgium, is stylish, fun, artistic — and much underrated. There are world-class boutiques to shop in, modern art meccas to visit, and there are gourmet delights a’plenty (including exquisite chocolate and gourmet fries!). We love Antwerp Boutique Apartments & Suites for 2-4, set in a classic old townhouse, with gorgeous design pieces and little kitsch details.
From: £127/night, sleeping 2-4
Live like a local: Make it a long weekend; around the corner is the famous Vrijdagmarkt flea/antique market, which runs all day Friday.
Super-cheap to fly to, Girona is home to world-class restaurants, gourmet tapas bars and a stunning medieval Old Town (which Game of Thrones fans will recognise as the city of Braavos.). Right in the heart of those cobblestoned streets – steps from the Cathedral and 13thC Arab Baths – lies Del Vi Apartments. With a modern, Scandi feel and masses of space, they’re chic but not intimidatingly so, with two or three bedrooms and excellent kitchens. Staying here also gives you access to the sister hotel’s indoor pool and spa.
From: £110/night, sleeping 2-6
Live like a local: Have a drink at the romantic wine bar Plaça del Vi 7, next door to the apartments, and popular with locals. There’s an excellent list of wines and an expert sommelier to guide you through it, plus traditional tapas.
Ah, Lisbon! How we love your edgy vibe, rattling trams, urban art scene and buzzy restaurants. If you haven’t yet visited the Portuguese capital, come and fall for its beguiling mix of majesty and shabbiness. These stunning apartments in Baixa House are a perfect base to explore, set downtown, near the historic districts. Quirkily furnished and flooded with light, they’re brilliantly kitted out for self-catering and rates even include breakfast (fresh bread is delivered to your door; everything else awaits in your fridge).
From: £123/night, sleeping 1-7
Live like a local: Eat at a fado restaurant (reception can recommend); this haunting music is a window into the Portuguese soul.
Ljubljana is utterly enchanting, with cobbled streets winding along an emerald green river. In the warmer months, the cobbled streets teem with alfresco cafes, but we visited in deep winter and found it mesmerising, beautiful old buildings wrapped in snow and ice. Ljubljana Boutique Apartment is a sleek modern bolthole right in the centre, a haven of calm that’s perfect for a romantic weekend away. Owner Matevž has compiled a personal almanac of his top restaurants and the bed is a kingsized marshmallow of comfort. Bags of space means you can really relax.
From: £161/night, sleeping 2
Live like a local: Zoom up to the top of Nebotičnik for a glass of wine – a 70m-high skyscraper with stunning views.
If you need an injection of sunshine to get through an English winter, jet off to Palma. This lively harbourfront city buzzes all year round, with temperatures averaging 16°C from December to March. Santa Catalina is Palma’s ‘Soho’, with great bars, cafes and boutiques, plus the lovely light-filled StayCatalina Boutique Apartments for 2-5. Whitewashed interiors are chic and minimalist with splashes of bright colour, and all have terraces or patios for soaking up that blissful warmth.
From: £85/night, sleeping 2-5
Live like a local: If cooking feels like a chore, big breakfast baskets are available on request: cheeses, Iberico ham, freshly-squeezed orange juice and pastries, along with warm boiled eggs, olives and muesli.
Edgy Berlin is famed for its history, graffiti and world-class museums and galleries. (Some come for its all-night-long techno clubs, but we weren’t that cool!). Whatever you’ll be doing here, Linnen is our favourite place to stay, set in trendy Prenzlauer Berg. There are romantic rooms or self-catering apartments for 2-6, all gorgeous with quirky and chic interiors. Staff are wonderful, and downstairs, the street-level communal area serves great breakfasts.
From: £63/night, sleeping 2-6
Live like a local: Grab a city bike and follow the course of the old Berlin wall.