Glistening blue waters, rocky cliffs, beach towns brimming with outdoor concerts and festivals—Europe’s seaside destinations come alive in the summer and fall when urbanites swap concrete streets for the shore. Follow their lead and check into one of these stunning waterfront hotels, from a stylish boutique in Santorini to a grand estate on the coast of England.
1.Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, Sorrento, Italy
Walking into this 19th-century cliffside grand dame is like stepping into Italy's glamorous past, when the who's who of the country's creative set would gather here. Among the many big name guests was famed tenor Enrico Caruso, whose eponymous suite is still decked out in antiques and black-and-white photographs. At sunset, the hotel’s terrace is the perfect place to savor an Aperol Spritz with a view of the Bay of Sorrento before dinner at the Michelin-starred restaurant Terrazza Bosquet.
2. Le Sirenuse, Positano, Italy
When it comes to luxurious hotels on Italy’s glammed-out Amalfi Coast, it doesn’t get much more iconic than Le Sirenuse. Made famous by John Steinbeck, who wrote about his stay here in 1953, the hotel still attracts movie stars and jet-setters to the once sleepy fishing village of Positano. Colorful mosaic tiles, antiques, and a breezy nautical-inspired color scheme epitomize seaside Italian style. Request a sea-facing room so you can enjoy endless views of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
3.W Barcelona, Spain
If you want your vacay to combine city and beach, Barcelona has the best of both worlds: architectural marvels by Gaudí, next-level restaurants and bars, world-class museums, and a powdery stretch of sand dubbed La Barceloneta. Book a room at the sleek W Barcelona, which overlooks the water and has rooms with private balconies and lounge chairs for taking in the view, cocktail in hand. At night, the 26th-floor Eclipse lounge is the place to be for both locals and tourists.
4.Gran Meliá de Mar, Mallorca, Spain
On the largest of Spain’s dreamy Balearic Islands, the Gran Meliá de Mar is an adults-only paradise in the coastal town of Illetas (near the island’s capital, Palma) that combines spellbinding sea views with a slick contemporary design, first-rate spa, and four standout restaurants whose cuisines range from sushi to tapas. All 144 rooms and suites overlook the water and the pool is dotted with Balinese-style cabanas where guests spend afternoons sunning, sleeping, and drinking fruity cocktails.
5. Le Negresco, Nice, France
A National Historic Monument overlooking Nice's famed Promenade des Anglais, this exquisite property is one of France’s few remaining independently owned hotels—and it’s got a world class art collection to boot. Inside, you'll find works by Dalí, Moretti, and Niki de Saint Phalle as well as over-the-top décor including a Baccarat crystal chandelier originally made for a Russian czar and a stained-glass dome by Gustave Eiffel. Bonus: Nice’s pebbled beach is right at your doorstep.
6. Pine Cliffs Residence, a Luxury Collection Resort, Algarve, Portugal
In Portugal's Algarve region, where urbanites decamp during summer, the Pine Cliffs Residence is a secluded stay with sweeping views of the Atlantic. Along with the neighboring Pine Cliffs Hotel and Pine Cliffs Ocean Suites, the hotel spans over 170 acres of the Portuguese coastline and has plenty of outdoor activities—from golf to water sports—to keep you entertained. Check into one of 154 recently renovated rooms decorated with soothing browns and creams, terra cotta floors, and headboards made from azulejos (hand-painted tiles fired in kilns in Lisbon).
7. Casa Ellul, Malta
With crystal-clear waters, mouthwatering cuisine, and a rich history that goes back centuries, the lesser-known island of Malta is a great getaway for travelers looking for an alternative to Italy or France. Make your base the capital of Valletta and check into the stylish Casa Ellul which has just eight rooms that blend heritage architecture with modern furnishings. The geometric tiles alone are Instagram-candy, while sea views from the rooftop terrace are an added bonus.
8. Mandarin Oriental Bodrum, Turkey
White-hot Bodrum is Turkey’s answer to the Amalfi Coast, a splashy resort town full of statement-making resorts—and the Mandarin Oriental is arguably its finest. The chic, contemporary design features lots of wood and earth tones that perfectly complement the stunning ocean vistas and the guest rooms take full advantage of the waterfront setting with floor-to-ceiling windows. Take a dip in the infinity pool overlooking the Mediterranean and don't miss out on the spa's hammam experience, inspired by the centuries-old Turkish steam room tradition.
9. Grace Santorini, Greece
On the idyllic Greek island of Santorini, this whitewashed resort is downright drool-worthy, thanks to a gorgeous infinity pool overlooking the sea, a sleek interior filled with modernist furniture, and an unbeatable location on the caldera's clifftop. Even standard rooms come with private plunge pools, and the new two-bedroom villa pulls out all the stops (we're talking private spa, kitchen, terrace and swimming pool). Watch the sunset with a glass of bubbly at the hotel's new 363 Champagne Lounge, so-called because of its location 363 meters above the sea.
10. Villa Dubrovnik, Croatia
You may have seen Dubrovnik on Game of Thrones, but this historic walled city has lots more to offer than cinematic settings. The Dalmatian Coast has long been a favorite of Europeans, who come to relax by the shimmering Adriatic Sea, enjoy fresh seafood, and take advantage of affordable hotel rates. Villa Dubrovnik is built right into the rocky cliffside. Guests have their choice between dips in the large indoor pool, whose floor-to-ceiling windows frame the sea, or the rocky private beach just below the property.
11.The Grand Hotel Eastbourne, East Sussex, England
England’s sleepy county of East Sussex is best known for its rolling hills, medieval towns, and the tallest chalk sea cliffs in all of Britain. The Grand Hotel Eastbourne is the region's finest hotel, thanks to its Victorian-era decor—huge marble columns, ancestral portraits, antique furnishings—and exceptional service; it was once a favorite gathering spot for British high society and former guests include Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, and Debussy. Spend your days hiking South Downs Way, a 100-mile long footpath between Eastbourne and Winchester; exploring the nearby Victorian Winter Gardens; or simply relaxing on the pebble beach before high tea in the hotel's Great Hall.