Here’s a conundrum. Is Christmas shopping the best excuse for a city break? Or is a weekend away a great reason to go shopping? While you mull that one over, we’ve found the best places that combine style-strong stopovers with top shops. Each hotel, whether a Fifth Avenue icon or a Milanese oasis, excels on the inside – and offers inspiration beyond its front door. From a London townhouse to a chic Paris suite and a cool Berliner, these hotels are an easy walk from big-name stores and quirky boutiques – no matter how many bags you’re carrying.
What’s more, each establishment is attentive to foot-sore guests’ needs, offering spa treatments, cocktails and superior bathrooms to rejuvenate body and soul. So you might even get to visit some galleries too.
The lowdown La Belle époque-era Paris seen with a contemporary eye.
Best for Dipping into Le Marais and beyond from a chic base.
Haussmann architecture and a plum location gave this Paris hotel a head start. But then Jean-Louis Deniot set his interiors imagination free, creating rooms as if they were within the home of a fictional (and rather wealthy) traveller. He’s cherry-picked Seventies furniture, abstract art and dazzling mirrored surfaces and then added subtle lighting and petrol-blue hues. The public spaces are even laced with the hotel’s own spicy scent, so that from the moment you step inside, you feel blissfully removed from the hubbub of the city. Within easy walking distance lie a wealth of fashion boutiques and concept stores on Rue St Honoré (we love the Astier de Villatte chinaware shop), which you can combine with local sites such as the Louvre and Jardin des Tuileries. For more adventurous browsing, the boutiques and galleries of Le Marais (including Merci and Fleux’) are easy to reach. There’s a mineral spa for post-spree rejuvenation, while the hotel’s Brasserie Réjane is a further treat for the senses.
NEW YORK, USA
The lowdown The ultimate luxe landmark in Manhattan.
Best for Latter-day Carrie Bradshaws on a fancy spree.
This establishment has a lot to live up to. For one, it’s The Peninsula: a byword for luxury. Two, it’s at 700 Fifth Avenue, in the heart of Manhattan’s shopping heaven and close to Central Park. But, boy, does it deliver. From the lobby onwards, this place exudes old-school glamour. Upstairs, suites have been treated to a classic-meets-modern update by NYC supremo Bill Rooney. Soft greys, taupe and gold bring out the beauty of the Art Nouveau architecture and marble floors. Art in the suites includes a mural by Brooklyn’s Michael Davis, hand-painted floral murals by Hong Kong’s David Qian and headboards by Londoner Helen Amy Murray. Livingetc loved a post-shopping relax in the marble bath, watching Hollywood reruns on the built-in screen. Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany & Co and Barneys are nearby and the spa has a special ESPA treatment for jet lag, so you can hit the shops running…
Book itSuperior rooms from £539.
Photography Guillaume de Laubier
The lowdown Life is still a cabaret, old chum.
Best for Decadence with an avant-garde bite.
Berlin’s past as a swirling maelstrom of creativity is reflected in the expressive mix on show at this west Charlottenburg hotel. Amsterdam-based designer Saar Zafrir has tapped into the city’s ‘anything goes’ vibe, contrasting plush velvets and leather with inky, frenetic collages by Katharina Musick. They hang over the beds, framed by huge Deco-feel mirrors that reflect the softer side of the décor. Downstairs spaces are designed by Baranowitz + Kronenberg and include The Butcher restaurant, which cuts straight to the carnivorous chase, with a (faux) cow suspended from a meat hook à la Damien Hirst. The hotel is by Savignyplatz (where David Bowie and Iggy Pop hung out in the Seventies), minutes from design store Stilwerk (think Heal’s with a heavier European accent) and close to the Ku’damm, with boutiques, big-name brands and famed department store KaDeWe.
Book itDoubles from £119.
The lowdown An immaculately turned-out Italian.
Best for Those who appreciate perfectly tailored interiors.
Whether you’re in town for the Furniture Fair, Fashion Week or simply a sashay along Via Monte Napoleone, this hushed haven of calm is a balm to the shopper’s soul. Just a few steps from Milan’s ‘Golden Quadrilateral’, it’s a renovated 18th-century palazzo inside leafy gardens. The interior spaces are as slick as an Armani suit and without a hint of stuffiness. Rooms feel suitably tailored for Milan, with layers of taupe and grey wool set against black marble and bleached oak. Nothing shouty – this place whispers luxury. Unwind in a bath hewn from black granite (with Bulgari products to hand, naturally) or retreat for a relaxing session in the subterranean spa and hammam. Heavyweight design destinations nearby include Fornasetti, Missoni, Moroso, Cassina and Nilufar, while the Rossana Orlandi gallery and Brera Design District have more cutting-edge offerings. After a day sauntering the streets, don’t miss aperitivo time back at the hotel – this is a favourite Milanese spot to see and be seen.
Book itDoubles from £626.
The lowdown A mixologist’s hideaway with a bookish past.
Best for Those who never tire of London, life… or gin.
Once upon a time, this Covent Garden street was home to publishing houses, where tweed-clad editors and struggling writers would discuss the finer points of literature. This hotel is, in fact, two Victorian townhouses joined together, one of which once rattled to the typewriters of publishers Victor Gollancz Ltd. The louche literati may have gone, but an air of creativity remains. This is the first UK hotel by the Experimental Group, which brought a speakeasy vibe to cocktail hour in Paris, Ibiza, New York and London. Designer Dorothée Meilichzon is on board (fresh from a stint at the Grand Pigalle Hotel in Paris) to add deep velvets and library-mood lights, which feel subtly reminiscent of the building’s bookish past. This neighbourhood is ideal for fashionistas and interiors magpies alike, with Liberty, Aram Store and the design locale of Clerkenwell within very easy reach. The restaurant, led by Michelin-starred chef Ollie Dabbous, is a destination in its own right.
Book itDoubles from £250.