Hotel Hunting in Europe

On our upcoming trip to Europe, where to go and what to see is pretty much up to my son Matt since he is responsible for the itinerary. I’m game for anything – except where I sleep. A well rested mom is a happy mom. I’m doing the hotel hunting in Europe – he can have an opinion, but I make the final decisions on this one.

My first criteria for finding hotels is to use hotel credits and frequent stay rewards. The next are safe locations, clean rooms, family run, old and interesting. A good review on Trip Advisor is also a plus. And, I wanted a price range of 100-150 Euros a night. The credits and rewards took care of London (Four Seasons Canary Wharf), Vienna and Ghent. Marriotts in Vienna (Imperial Riding School) and Ghent (Marriott Ghent Hotel) even met the old and interesting criteria – old on the outside but new on the inside – close enough. I wanted to stay at the Four Seasons George V Hotel in Paris but I think our credits would have bought us about 45 minutes in a room there – beautiful and luxurious but expensive. Using Four Seasons credits at the Canary Wharf in London is a great deal by comparison. The Canary Wharf property looks more contemporary than other Four Season hotels we’ve stayed at and it’s also smaller, but no doubt will have same great service they are known for.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered reading about being able to stay in castles in Austria. Why not? What better place to stay in a castle than in Austria and they certainly would be old and interesting. I found two websites (Schloss Hotels and Castle and Palace Hotels) with several listings in Austria. Some castles were beautiful but muc too expensive, however, two looked promising. The first, Schloss Haunsperg, is only 15 minutes outside of Salzburg. One review described it as, “… a fairy-tale castle, with old-world charm, operated by an energetic, gregarious husband-wife team, who seemed to genuinely enjoy their guests.” Plus it was built in the 14th century and had a chapel and a moat. It seems to me every respectable castle should have a chapel and moat. I emailed the owners and their response included, “Thank you very much for your request. We would be happy welcoming you and your son to our castle….” Wouldn’t you love to say that to someone about your home and you actually live in a castle! I booked it immediately – and it was within our budget.

The second castle is an hour outside of Vienna: Hotel Schloss Mailberg. Built in 1146, it has been continually the property of the ‘Sovereign Order of Malta’. Built in the year 1146 – that’s amazing! You could almost feel the history from the photos. According to their website (, “The Order of St John of Jerusalem is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilization. Present in Palestine in around 1050, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. The Order of Malta is one of the few Orders created in the Middle Ages and still active today.” How often can you stayed in a building originally built for knights? The twin room is 80 Euros and maybe a bit spartan from the photos, but any discomfort is worth discovering the history of the Order. This is also wine country and they have a huge wine cellar. That is worth a few extra points and I booked a room.

You’ll have to wait until we visit the other hotels to hear about them, except for Paris, which deserves a post of its own. Booking a hotel in Paris can be, well … challenging. More on that tomorrow. Thanks for joining us.


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[image title=”Schloss Hausnperg, Salzburg, Austria”][/image]
[image title=”Hotel Schloss Mailberg, Mailberg, Austria”][/image]