Businesswoman, stylist and trend forecaster Sharmadean Reid knows what cool girls like. So much so, in fact, that she built an entire brand - supercool salon, WAH Nails - on catering to the nail art needs of ‘downtown girls worldwide’. Here, she shares her five favourite boutique hotels in Europe: all chic and stylish, with just the right amount of edge. A bit like Sharmadean herself.
When looking for a hotel, my criteria is pretty simple - first and foremost, I always look for a small, boutique hotel. I find that the staff are a lot more knowledgeable about the area, and as hosts they invest more energy in making your stay perfect. You’re also less likely to encounter party animals or yobs that can make your trip with a small baby unbearable (I always try to travel with my two-year-old son).
Secondly, the interior has to be well thought out, ideally a base of local tradition with a dash of modern, designed to make you swoon. Europe is home to so many amazing boutique hotels that dance between the titles of Bed and Breakfast, Apartments and Cafes and below are some of my favourites
Posada Del Dragon, Madrid, Spain (View in the Directory)
In the hip La Latina district of Madrid, this stay was a welcome respite from the blistering Spanish heat. Modern rooms nestled happily alongside cooling centuries old stonework and the courtyard lets the light into the narrow, bustling restaurant and cafe. What made this place extra special was a head chef who showed my curious son around the kitchen and a receptionist who happily warmed up and delivered a 3am bottle of baby milk to my room. An in-room meal of seared sea bass and squid-ink infused leeks was the cherry on the cake for this ultra-cool hotel.
Casa Talia, Modica, Sicily (View in the Directory)
Breakfast in an olive garden overlooking the city, grapes growing over our terrace that I could literally pick and eat and the most beautiful Mediterranean tile work that literally made me gasp with glee were just a few of the highlights of our stay in this architect-designed boutique stay in the hills of Modica. Owned, built and ran by a young, Milanese family who wanted to escape the big city life, Casa Talia was the perfect hideaway in the hills with views to die for.
House Hotel Galatasaray, Istanbul, Turkey (View in the Directory)
As the meeting place for the East and the West, Istanbul holds many treasures and one of them is the House Hotel brand. We stayed in the Galatasaray branch of this cool chain of restaurants and hotels, a narrow affair several storeys high. All of the rooms are elegant with a touch of glamour - polished parquet flooring and marble tiled bathrooms sit comfortably next to brushed velvet sofas and gold rimmed coffee tables. Located in the middle of the antique district, this place is a must for market hunters as the cluster of stores surrounding the hotel serve up the best finds from around the world.
Linnen, Berlin, Germany (View in the Directory)
Linnen is a warm and welcoming cafe/bnb/apartments, located in the Prenzlauer-Berg district of Berlin, that was nothing short of perfect. Run by a German and a American who were brilliant hosts throughout our stay, the chic interior design and huge rooms meant we happily stayed indoors during the harsh winter temperatures, topped up with coffee and hot chocolate and pastries from downstairs. The gorgeous bed linen that the hotel gets its name from are custom made and available for sale. So, of course, I was happy to take a little piece of Linnen home with me.
Miauw Suites, Amsterdam, Holland: (View in the Directory)
I was overwhelmed by the hospitality shown by my gorgeous Dutch host at Miauw — a cluster of apartments and suites which is one of my all time favourite European stays. Overlooking the canal, this tall building complete with white gloss floors and polished walnut wardrobes just made me feel like I didn’t ever want to leave! The beds were big and comfortable and the views from the top floor were stunning. Well-designed, affordable chic.