A luxury hotel experience used to mean fine dining, velvet curtains and a smartly uniformed porter to carry your case. And, while there’s still space for those Grand Budapest Hotel style-stays, there’s an exciting new wave of affordable luxury hotels popping up in our favourite places.
Like any big city, London is full of glamorous hotels: from jaw-dropping rooftops to incredible spas, there is nothing money can’t buy in The Big Smoke. But in 2019, the year (or decade) of low paid jobs and extortionate rents, the old school luxury price tag could be hard to swallow.
Sadly we can’t transform the economy, but the demand for different types of ‘luxury’ has arrived. Hotels around the globe are embracing a more bank account-friendly idea of luxury and some of the small chains pioneering this movement are finally coming to London.
French chain Mama Shelter is already well-established in mainland Europe and the United States, and will open its first UK venue in East London in September 2019. Just like their other properties, Mama London’s primary feature will be the social area: expect Japanese-style karaoke rooms, pinball machines, retro video games and an outdoor courtyard for al fresco dining.
On the other side of the city, Ruby Lucy – the first opening from the cool Ruby hotel group outside of Germany and Austria - will be hitting the Southbank from January 2020. Their philosophy is “lean luxury”, rooms are well designed, but not over-sized; they would prefer to direct you to a brilliant restaurant in your host city than run their own eatery. Ruby Lucy will feature communal work stations, a library and musical instruments free to be borrowed from reception.
In the heart of Manchester and on the fringes of the popular Ancoats areas, is Native Manchester, an aparthotel built in a refurbished, Grade II listed warehouse. It boasts 166 luxury apartments and includes a cinema, one of the famous BLOK gyms and, of course, a restaurant and bar.
While we wait for some of these gems to open, here are a few hotels in Europe that have already embraced doing more for less.
Affordable luxury hotels in the UK
The Dixon, Autograph Collection Hotels - London, England
Walking into this sleek hotel it’s hard to believe it was once the home of courtrooms, a police station and jail cells. Before transforming into a hotel, The Dixon was Tower Bridge Magistrates’ Court.
Decades later, the hotel still keeps its Edwardian heritage, but thieves and cells are long gone, replaced by a cocktail bar, a pastel-coloured restaurant and 193 well-curated rooms, including ten suites.
Room rates start from £128 per night.
University Arms - Cambridge, England
First opened in 1834, University Arms is one of Cambridge’s landmarks. After two years of intensive refurbishment, the hotel reopened in 2018, boasting 192 sleek and modern rooms, all of which include a curated library.
The hotel’s restaurant, Parker’s Tavern, headed up by Chef Tristan Welch, is one of the city hotspots for good food. The design is inspired by the communal college dining halls and the menu is full of British classic made of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients.
During August 2019 rates at University Arms will start from £111 per night for rooms - in celebration of University Arms’ first birthday. Regular rates from £143 per room per night.
Radisson Red – Glasgow, Scotland
The Radisson might make you think of a big chain, but their hotel in Glasgow is actually one of a kind in the UK. Opened in 2018 – after the first Radisson Red opened in Brussels in 2016 – the Scottish property is still the only Radisson Red in the Britain.
A new hotel family from Radisson, Red is focused on ‘Millennials needs’. All the comfort and the facilities secured by an established chain, plus a sleek and modern design.
Rates at Radisson Red Glasgow start from £75.60.
Affordable luxury hotels in Europe
Ruby Marie – Vienna, Austria
Before bringing their ‘lean luxury’ to London, Ruby Hotels took over Vienna. Their property Ruby Marie is in the heart of the city next to public transport, which makes for easy access to the must-see landmarks and the buzzing central shopping.
The hotel boasts 186 simple and sleek rooms – most of them with a great view of the beautiful Austrian capital – a library and meeting room, a cinema showing different films every night, a yoga room, a fantastic roof-terrace and a lounge with musical instrument to pick up for free and use in the privacy of your room. Modern luxury at its finest.
Nightly rates at Ruby Marie, Vienna start from €69 per night for a Nest Room, including breakfast.
Mama Shelter Paris East – Paris, France
The French chain is growing fast – they already count hotels in Prague, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro and, of course, all over France – but they are not losing their laid-back attitude.
Like most of their properties, the main attraction of Mama East is the rooftop. A little green oasis where you can sip a good glass of French wine before moving to the real party in the restaurant where DJs are invited every weekend, to transform the space in a dance-floor.
Nightly rates at Mama Shelter Paris East start from 79EUR.
The Melegran – Rovinj, Croatia
Located in the stunning city of Rovinj – in one of the most beautiful and still quite untouched regions of Croatia, Istria – this little boutique hotel is the ideal summer escape.
A four-storey stone building, the Melegran is the perfect mix of old and new. The interiors are flawlessly curated: the colourful walls, the velvet furniture and the art deco touches make this boutique hotel a real gem, hidden in Rovinj’s old town. If you get the chance, book the Luxe Suite. This room features a spacious terrace that boasts a jaw-dropping view of the Adriatic Sea and St. Katerina Island.
Nightly rates at The Melegran from £65, including breakfast.
Pictures: provided by the hotels.