Five Star- Eight City Summer Tour of Europe
By Cara Jay
For discerning travelers seeking a bucket-list-worthy international summer vacation rich in cultural enlightenment and with five-star accommodations, choosing where to go and where to stay can prove daunting. We can help narrow the search. In this issue, South Florida Opulence takes you on a five-star tour of eight historically rich cities in Germany, Czech Republic, Denmark and the Netherlands and the fabulous upscale hoteliers that dote on your every need. So get cozy…you’re about to embark on an adventure sure to leave you reaching for the phone to ring your travel planner.
What to see: Amsterdam offers far more than its stereotyped “coffee shops” and red light districts. For example, Bloemenmarkt is the world’s only floating flower market, bustling year-round with vibrant blooms. Visitors should also embark on a canal tour. The St. Nicolaas Boat Club restores 80-year-old Dutch garden flats, called “tuindersvletten,” originally used to transport farm goods between markets. Now, they offer intimate tours. Also not to be missed is the historic Anne Frank house.
Where to stay: Stay with the Dutch Masters in the art of exceeding expectations. Hotel De L’Europe exudes decadence. Towering above the Amstel River, the stunning property boasts Alfred Heineken’s private collection of original Dutch Master works, adorning each room with a replica of Dutch Master paintings on display in the reopened Rijksmuseum. De L’Europe seamlessly amalgamates old-world sophistication with every modern convenience you can imagine.
Be sure to visit De L’Europe’s recently renovated spa where you can rest under the stars in the heated indoor pool while gazing over the Amstel River, or recharge in your choice of an infrared sauna, a traditional sauna or steam room.
Brace yourself for a culinary voyage with Executive Chef Richard van Oostenbrugge at two-time Michelin star Bord’Eau, where your taste buds can indulge in their guiltiest pleasures of exquisite ingredients delicately woven together like culinary Dutch lace and all paired with a prodigious selection of fine wines.
Why: With the third largest port in the world, Hamburg is a bustling maritime city with its wartime history delicately preserved among new architectural marvels.
What to see: Humming with excitement and local vendors galore, the Hamburg Fischmarkt is a must-see on Sunday mornings for a glimpse into the coastal German lifestyle. History buffs should visit the somber relics of St. Nikolai Memorial, a Gothic church dating back to 1195. With only its spire still standing, it is a tragically beautiful sight to behold. Park Planten un Blomen, Hamburg’s botanical garden, offers concerts tuned to illuminated fountain shows in the summer months. Another popular attraction is Miniatur Wunderland, a specialty museum showcasing the world’s largest model train exhibit.
Where to stay: Take in the “epitome of Hanseatic hospitality” from the most attractive area of Hamburg at the Louis C. Jacob Hotel. Delicately nestled in upscale, suburban Hamburg, Jacob’s hospitality will leave you feeling like you’re family. You’ll be planning your next stay before you’ve even departed. Enjoy serene views of the river Elbe in a quintessential Hanse town from the comfort of your river-view suite, or during brunch fit for a king from the beautiful Lime Tree Terrace. Allow your gourmet taste buds to twinkle at Jacob’s Restaurant, where two Michelin-starred chef
Thomas Martin composes gourmet symphonies of flavor.
Why: A city devastated by the war adorns a magnificent Gothic church keeping watch over the city like a queen to her kingdom.
What to see: During WWII, Allied forces were given strict orders not to bomb Cologne Cathedral, a footprint which dates back to the ancient Romans. The
Cologne Cathedral, the Dom, stands today like a beacon of perseverance. If you’re feeling adventurous, do take the climb through a clock tower and to the top of one of the spires. Also, stroll across the Hohenzollern Bridge where lovers fasten locks to the covered fences, then throw the key into the Rhine River to signify everlasting love.
Where to stay: Excelsior Hotel Ernst epitomizes timeless refinement. Located at the base of the Cologne Cathedral and in the heart of Cologne, this 1863 building emanates everlasting elegance. While the majority of the hotel sets an era of sophistication with its mahogany features and gold embellishments, enjoy a sophisticated yet tranquil, feng shui inspired atmosphere at Taku, the sublime Michelin star East Asian cuisine restaurant, where a koi-filled stream flows under glass walkways. For a nightcap, swing on into the Piano Bar for a cigar selection fit for an aficionado and swooning piano music.