Rácz Hotel & Thermal Spa in Budapest

Also Blooming in Europe
These fab four cities have much to brag about as well. Here's an executive summary.

Paris
Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée has undergone revitalization with artistic design tweaks and a new culinary concept dubbed Essential, which concentrates on pure and simple cooking techniques that emphasize natural flavors rather than showmanship (plaza-athenee-paris.com). Shangri-La’s first European property, the Shangri-La Hotel, Paris, opened last December in a former mansion in the 16th arrondisement, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower (shangri-la.com). Philippe Starck transformed a historical palace into the newly refurbished Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris, which reopened last fall after an extensive makeover (raffles.com/paris). Occupying a classic Haussman town house in the 8th arrondisement, the literary-themed Le Pavillon des Lettres speaks to your inner bookworm with 26 rooms, each devoted to a letter of the alphabet and featuring an international writer corresponding to that letter (pavillondeslettres.com). For an enchanting stay outside of the city, visit Domaine de Farcheville, a beautiful sanctuary bordered by parks and forests (domainedefarcheville.com).

Clockwise from left:Shangri-La Hotel, Paris; a room at Le Pavillon des Lettres; figues en feuilles at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée in Paris.
Budapest

With American Airlines adding direct service from New York’s JFK airport to Budapest this spring, there’s no better time to see this city. Also new this spring, the five-star contemporary Rácz Hotel & Thermal Spa sits among gardens in the center of Buda, close to the famous Castle district (raczthermalbath.com). The new four-star Hotel Continental Zara blends art nouveau, art deco, and modern styles on the site of the former Hungária Spa and historic Continental Hotel in the city center (continentalhotelzara.com). Nobu Budapest, the latest addition to chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s global portfolio, is located in the Corvinus Kempinski Hotel (noburestaurants.com/budapest). At Costes, chef Miguel Rocha Vieira pushes the creative culinary envelope with international cuisine that earned it a Michelin star (costes.hu).

Milan
The Moschino fashion brand puts its creative stamp on a 65-room boutique hotel, Maison Moschino, located in a circa-1840 neoclassical railway station in central Milan (maisonmoschino.com). Hotel Milano Scala, a four-star boutique property located in the heart of the city, celebrates music and culture with opera-themed suites and an eighth-floor terrace with sweeping views of the city (hotelmilanoscala.it). Giorgio Armani has restyled the Emporio Armani Caffe and is preparing to open its 95-room Armani Hotel Milano this fall (armanihotels.com). Decantermilano Restaurant & Brasserie in the new Ramada Plaza Milano features the creations of chefs Marco Magri and Flavio Milton D’Ambrosio (decantermilano.it). Escape the city to nearby Lake Como, where spectacular scenery is the backdrop for CastaDiva Resort, the former home of 19th-century opera diva Giuditta Pasta and the first five-star hotel to open on the lago in a century (castadivaresort.com).

Clockwise from Left: Wagner cider pub in Frankfurt; Hotel Milano Scala; Asian fusion at Frankfurt’s Zenzakan.
Frankfurt

A member of the Rocco Forte Collection and Leading Hotels of the World, Villa Kennedy claims the title of Frankfurt’s most indulgent five-star hotel (villakennedy.com). Make yourself at home in the residential-style accommodations of the Adina Apartment Hotel, just a few minutes from the city center (adina.eu/adina-apartment-hotel-frankfurt/home). If design is your thing, visit Roomers, a former office building that has been transformed into an arty 116-room boutique hotel with 11 suites (designhotels.com/roomers). Surf ’n Turf will satisfy your craving for steak, while its sister restaurant, Zenzakan, serves up Asian fusion cuisine (the-steakhouse.de). For regional specialties, head to Wagner, the best apfelwein kneipe (cider pub) in Frankfurt (apfelwein-wagner.com).