5 Cities To Visit Via Eurostar This Spring
Travel time from St Pancras: 3 hours 50 minutes
Filled with cultural hot spots, excellent restaurants and independent boutiques, as well as cycle routes and canal tours, Amsterdam has all the makings of a memorable trip. Whether you explore the city on foot, bike or boat, there are several sites to tick off the list, including the Canal Ring surrounding Amsterdam’s Old Town. It’s now a Unesco World Heritage Site home to museums, monuments and beautiful architecture. Elsewhere, the Nine Streets are brimming with cool shops and cafés, as well as art galleries and vintage stores, while the vast 120-acre Vondelpark is one of the most popular outdoor spots. Be sure to try a traditional slice of apple pie topped with whipped cream at one of the many cafés, and book tickets to Museum Night, which welcomes guests into the city’s most famous institutions after dark.
Where To Stay
Affordable: Sonder Park House
Rental platform Sonder has a range of cool accommodation options for all budgets, including Park House in the upmarket Oud-Zuid neighbourhood. Choose from single, double and deluxe rooms, all of which are light and bright with simple, chic décor. Vondelpark is a two-minute walk away, as is P.C. Hooftstraat, which is lined with high-end shops.
Rooms from £110 per night
Luxe: The Dylan
In the Nine Streets shopping area, overlooking the Keizersgracht canal, the Dylan is ideally situated for a weekend of exploring. Rooms are simple yet elegant, with four types to choose from – Loft, Loxura, Amber and Serendipity – as well as your pick of a canal, atrium or garden view. For a leisurely morning coffee or pre-dinner drink, take a seat in the hotel’s brasserie courtyard and enjoy the summer sunshine.
Rooms from £250 per night
Travel time from Paris Gare de Lyon: 4 hours 5 minutes
More than just a layover en route to the Alps, Geneva is a slick city with a lot to offer. French-speaking Switzerland’s biggest city has beautiful scenery, with Lake Geneva to the north and snow-covered mountains in the distance. Head to the Quartier des Grottes neighbourhood to find its coolest bars and restaurants, including Japanese restaurant Kozan and casual spot Mon Café. Skip the busy Genève Plage and head to the scenic Perle du Lac to swim in the lake, or there’s Bain des Pâquis which you can swim in year-round. After a dip, book a sauna session or massage, then eat at its restaurant which serves excellent fondue. It’s also a great viewpoint for the Jet d’Eau – Geneva’s famous water fountain. For a culture hit, the cathedral is worth a visit, as is Palais des Nations, home to the UN. Popular destinations like Lausanne, Vevey and Montreux are all short day trips away from the city, as are the famous Lavaux vineyards.
Where To Stay
Affordable: N’Vy Hotel
This arty hotel is a hidden gem, tucked away on a quiet street in Les Pâquis. Guests can stay in quirky rooms with pops of colour or even sleep outside on the terrace of its top-storey Sky Suite. Elsewhere, there’s a bar which regularly hosts events and has a cocktail menu inspired by icons through the ages, plus an all-day restaurant.
Rooms from £155 per night
Luxe: La Réserve
One of Geneva’s top luxury hotels, La Réserve is nestled between the lake and mountains. Rooms are simple yet elegant, and there are three fine dining restaurants to choose from, plus an outdoor pool with impressive views. Kick back at the spa with its sauna and hammam, or let the team help you book anything from sports activities to cultural visits around the city.
Rooms from £450 per night
Travel time from St Pancras: 1 hour 50 minutes
Belgium’s underrated capital brims with cool shops, restaurants and quirky bars, along with a decent dose of sightseeing opportunities. For a culture hit, head to the Grand-Place, a cobbled square that’s alive with events throughout the year. The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert is a 19th century shopping arcade, or make a beeline for one of the many flea markets dotted around the city. For some open space, head to Parc de Bruxelles right in the city centre or Park van Tervuren. Belgium may be known for its chocolate, but it can do a lot more than that. Head for dinner at Noordzee, a fishmonger which serves creative finger food, or for something a little smarter there’s Michelin-starred Comme Chez Soi.
Where To Stay
Accommodation at Scandi-inspired Hygge ranges from single rooms to quadruples. Most have views of the hotel’s gardens or traditional Belgian architecture. There isn’t a restaurant on site, but there are plenty of brasseries in the Ixelles neighbourhood.
Rooms from £70 per night
Luxe: Hotel Des Galleries
This hotel promises quiet luxury in a buzzy central location. Spread over four floors beneath the Royal Galleries of Saint-Hubert, it has 23 contemporary rooms and suites, some looking out to the statue of St Michael, others with views of City Hall. Its ground-floor restaurant, Le Comptoir de Galeries, has an open kitchen where diners can choose from French-inspired dishes. Come morning, breakfast includes a continental spread and platefuls of hot waffles.
Rooms from £145 per night.
Travel time from St Pancras: 1 hour 20 minutes
Bypass the Paris crowds and head to Lille instead. Whether or not you aspire to be an art lover, an afternoon spent at Palais Des Beaux-Arts never disappoints. This fine arts museum houses an extensive selection of work by established and lesser-known artists. History buffs should take a trip to the Citadel. A military base built by King Louis XIV, it’s open on select days for guided tours. In Vieux-Lille, the streets are peppered with luxurious delis, boutiques and wine bars offering some of the country’s best bottles – Au Gré Du Vin also serves up platters of local cheese. Otherwise, Rue de Gand has some of the city’s best restaurants and cafés, as well as bars and the opera house.
Where To Stay
Affordable: OKKO Hotels Lille Centre
This simple but stylish hotel is right next to the Grand Place and some of Lille’s best restaurants. Rooms are practical with everything you need for a short trip, like laptop-friendly workspaces and bathrooms with rainfall showers. There’s also a terrace and bar for sundowners, plus a fitness suite with a sauna, and a library.
Rooms from £85 per night
Luxe: Clarance Hotel Lille
Easily one of the smartest spots in Lille, Clarance Hotel is housed in a former 18th-century mansion in the Old Town. There are 19 simple and elegant rooms with marble en-suites and luxury toiletries. The main attraction is its fine dining restaurant La Table, where head chef Thibaut Gamba’s modern approach to French cuisine has earned a Michelin star.
Rooms from £150 per night
Travel time from Brussels: 40 minutes
On the Scheldt river just 25 miles north of Brussels, Antwerp is probably best known as a diamond centre – there are over 1,500 diamond shops here. But you’ll also find picturesque architecture and a thriving art, design and fashion scene. Explore MAS, a 10-storey complex with various galleries and exhibitions, before heading to the Rubenshuis, a mansion filled with antiques and 17th-century art. Middelheim Museum, an outdoor sculpture park just outside the city centre, is also worth a visit, as is Kanaal, a cool residential hub with small, independent galleries and the newly reopened Royal Museum of Fine Arts. Antwerp has an excellent food scene too, with plenty of independent restaurants, cafés and bars, especially along the historic port which transforms into a buzzy spot each evening. For Michelin-starred dining, secure a table at The Jane which is housed in a repurposed military hospital chapel. The food is modern and sophisticated, served under a striking 900kg chandelier. For something more causal, new restaurant Album showcases local Belgium ingredients, while locals go to Native for salads, sandwiches and simple dinners like pasta and meatballs.
Don’t miss Dries Van Noten's Modepaleis flagship store. The Belgian designer – one of the ‘Antwerp six’ who made the town a fashion capital in the mid-80s – has his menswear collection on the first floor of a building that was built by his grandfather in the 1880s. Wooden counters and tiled floors make for a gentlemanly experience.
Where To Stay
Affordable: Hotel Pilar
Hotel Pilar is an affordable option but with the luxuries you’d expect of somewhere more expensive. Set across the road from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, there are Scandi influences throughout, from the industrial interiors to the clever storage within its 17 minimalist rooms. There’s the all-day Foodbar downstairs for hearty brunches and Middle Eastern-inspired dishes, as well as an ‘eco room’ with wooden bath tubs.
Rooms from £114 per night
A sister property to the renowned Hotel Julien, August is an Antwerp hotspot for those in the know. A former convent in the Green Quarter has been updated by architect Van Duysen which has delivered ultra-modern interiors across 44 rooms. Set across five buildings, the hotel’s hub is the nun’s chapel which now houses an impressive bar and lounge leading onto a walled garden. Then there’s the restaurant – overseen by Nick Bril, owner of two Michelin-starred The Jane – which serves fine dining dishes.
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