While Europe isn’t exactly exempt from winter’s chill, there is something about snowflakes on cobblestones that makes everything seem more romantic.
The chilly months are one of the best times to plan an escape to one of the continent’s big cities, where tourists are thinner on the ground and hot chocolate is thick in all mugs.
Europe’s most elegant urban properties embrace the season in different ways, from full-on hygge (the Danish concept of pure coziness and contentment) to pampering packages.
These are a few of our favorites:
Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire
Escape the bustle of London for a relaxing winter weekend in the country at this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star estate, which offers a complimentary third night through February 24.
The cold-weather months see the property transform itself into a frosty playground, with its very own ice rink and vast grounds for bracing winter walks.
Those who prefer the crackle of a fireplace can opt instead for hotel-organized tours of nearby Highclere Castle, the setting for the popular British television show Downton Abbey.
Prince des Galles, A Luxury Collection Hotel
January might be the most fashionable month to pay a visit to one of the world’s style capitals, and this Four-Star art-deco gem provides a posh perch from which to explore Paris’ designer scene.
In addition to playing host to Paris Fashion Week’s haute couture shows from January 21 to 24, the City of Light runs winter sales from January 9 through February 19, with soldes signs going up as holiday decorations come down.
Famed brand Hermès even gets involved, discounting its bags, ties, jewelry and scarves at Palais de Congrès from January 10 through 12.
Check into this Eighth Arrondissement favorite for easy access to your shopping sprees — with an Avenue George V address that’s just six minutes from the Hermès store and adjacent to the Champs-Élysées, the hotel acts as a chic starting point.
“Banksy: Genius or Vandal” explores the legacy of the famed British street artist at Feria de Madrid through March 10, while “Leonardo da Vinci: The Faces of the Genius,” an extensive exhibit commemorating the 500th anniversary of the painter/inventor’s death, kicks off its European tour in the capital through May 19 across two venues: Alhajas Palace and the National Library.
Booking into design-forward Only You Boutique Hotel Madrid ensures no let-down from gallery to guest room, as the colorful property boasts some of the city’s most stylish interiors.
Hotel Principe di Savoia
While Italy is known for its deep and abiding love for coffee, in winter the drink of choice is hot chocolate — and you haven’t truly experienced this cold-weather favorite until you’ve had it Italian style.
Rich and thick enough to coat your spoon, cioccolata calda is practically a meal itself.
Those staying at this Four-Star Milan icon are ideally situated to begin a cocoa-fueled crawl through town, beginning with the property’s own legendary hot chocolate at plush lounge Il Salotto.
After a busy holiday season, make a resolution to reconnect with friends at this luxurious Four-Star stunner, where the Ultimate Girlfriends Getaway package provides a pampering winter retreat.
Chock-full of perks (including a £250 or US$286 Sense Spa credit, in-room coiffing with a Matthew Curtis stylist, champagne, a special dessert and a £100 or US$114 credit to the must-visit Scarfes Bar), the trip aims to cement friendships and sow new fashion statements.
Throw in a $300 gift card to the Farfetch style site, and winter blues will be the furthest thing from your mind.
Start your getaway by reserving a room at this historic Four-Star boutique, where a tempting Tasting Florence package kicks off your experience in style — bask in a three-night stay that includes daily breakfast and a three-course dinner (with wine) each night from the hotel’s acclaimed chef, Rocco De Santis.
If you can tear yourself away from the property’s exquisite Duomo views, be sure to visit Florence’s annual craft beer festival, Birraio dell’Anno (January 18 to 20), or plan a day trip to Bologna to explore FICO Eataly World, an immense Italian food theme park.