The hip hideaways experts at i-escape.com have given us their insider tips on stylish apartments where you can live like a local in some of Europe’s coolest cities.
In the elegant district of Vinohrady, away from the maddening crowds of Prague’s centre, is this beautiful two-bedroom apartment on the first floor of a 19th-century building. It’s packed with Baroque bohemia, Eastern artefacts and luxurious mod cons (iPod docks, surround sound, a snazzy kitchen-diner), making it the perfect base for one or two couples. The sights and sounds of central Prague are only a 15-minute walk away, so check out the famous castle and cathedral before hitting the bars and restaurants (there’s a handy ‘black book’ of recommendations to help you along the way).
This Georgian apartment-hotel was named ‘Scottish Hotel of the Year’ in 2012, and it’s easy to see why. Set on a quiet street in Edinburgh’s chic West End, it has a selection of one- and two-bedroom apartments, each with cool and classy interiors, contemporary kitchens stocked with high-tech gadgetry, and beautifully restored features such as huge sash windows and sweeping staircases. There’s even a VIP suite with a hot tub and a cinema room for extra-special stays. A 24-hour concierge is on hand to help you make the most of the city (why not treat yourself to an in-room massage after a busy day’s shopping?), and you’re a stone's throw from the castle, the restaurants and shops of Princes Street and tranquil Dean Village.
In a 19th-century seafront mansion in Porto’s Foz district, José Carlos Cruz, one of Portugal's foremost architectural firms, has designed five boutique one-bedroom apartments. This is contemporary cool at its best, with state-of-the-art fittings, clever kitchens and prints by up-and-coming artists. Ingenious rollaway beds mean each apartment can sleep up to five, and breakfast is delivered to your door each morning. Buzzing Foz is packed with interesting independent shops, restaurants and grocery stores, and it’s only a quick tram ride to the city centre, where you can wander the cobbled passageways of the World Heritage-listed Ribeira district, take in the historic sites and enjoy lazy drinks on the quayside.
These comfortable self-catering apartments are located in the vibrant Prenzlauer Berg district, known for its bohemian atmosphere and thriving café culture. The mix of studios and one- to four-bed abodes means there's something for everyone (couples, friends, families), and each pad is stylishly furnished with a mixture of modern, vintage 70s and antique furniture. Red, yellow and moss-green sofas provide splashes of bright colour, while bulbous lamps and graphic art add a dash of cool. You’re in the heart of the local action: don’t miss the restaurants and bars on Oderberger Strasse and the huge weekend flea market in nearby Mauerpark (a strip of parkland where the Berlin Wall once ran).
This funky apartment sits in the heart of Cannes, only 200m from the beach and its famous promenade, La Croisette. The 4 bedrooms (all en-suite) sleep two-nine, so it’s ideal for groups of friends and families; there’s also a bright and airy sitting room, a kitchen and a huge dining room. The modernist décor combines vintage wallpapers, retro furniture and movie-star portraits, and big windows mean you can turn the lounge into an indoor balcony. It’s well-placed for exploring the town’s markets, chi-chi shops and restaurants and yacht-filled marina.
These luxurious one-bedroom suites combine cutting-edge style with homely comforts. They’re set in the up-and-coming Galata district and reflect the changing face of Istanbul – now as renowned for its boutiques and art galleries as for its ancient mosques and minarets. The suites are housed in an eye-catching new build and mix concrete floors and exposed metal with warmer touches like local artwork, subtle lighting and sumptuous silks. All the mod-cons are in place (rain showers, music systems, flat-screen TVs, sleek kitchenettes) and breakfast is served in the communal lobby each morning. The streets nearby are packed with restaurants and bars, and historical sites such as the Galata Tower, the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace are just a stroll or tram ride away.
This super-stylish two-bedroom apartment is located in the heart of the Eixample district, overlooking Gaudí’s famous La Pedrera building. The owner, interior designer Alex, lives here and rents it out on demand, meaning guests really feel part of Barcelona life. It’s a great bolthole for couples and small families, and the handy location is within walking distance of the boutique-lined Passeig de Gràcia and all the main sights. The fully equipped kitchen makes it easy to cook, but you can also take advantage of the many local restaurants – Alex has even written a booklet listing his favourites.
These contemporary, well-priced apartments are set in the vibrant Brera district of Milan. Sleeping between two and six, they make stylish homes away from home, with minimalist open-plan living areas, one or two bedrooms, small but well-equipped kitchens and snazzy fixtures. Their central location means it’s easy to get around the city (ideal for a romantic weekend escape or a family city break), and there’s a wealth of shops, restaurants and buzzy bars in the immediate vicinity.
Spacio Loft is an oasis of tranquillity in the heart of Paris’ vibrant second arrondissement. Spread over three floors of a converted 18th-cenutry printing house, it manages to be both modern and intimate, with soaring ceilings, airy living areas, floating walkways, cathedral windows and cosy corners. There are three bedrooms and a double sofa bed, sleeping up to eight in total, plus a private balcony and a wonderful sunken bath. To top it all off, you’ll find a gym and a sauna in the basement. Like Paris itself, it’s steeped in history yet effortlessly chic.
Live like a local in a chic apartment for two in central Barcelona. Just minutes from Plaça de Catalunya, this contemporary bolthole sits in a 200-year-old building (the 39 steps leading up to its door provided the name) and comes with a well-equipped kitchen, a funky living and dining space, a walk-in shower and a quiet bedroom with a huge bed. You're in the heart of the city, so shop ‘til you flop before picking up some super-fresh supper ingredients at the world-famous Boqueria market, which is only 10 minutes away.