6 Iconic Road Trips to Rediscover Europe While Luxury Hotel-Hopping
As travel restarts, for many travelers, Europe is calling. We have a lot of catching up to do, and to celebrate the true spirit of travel, luxury hotel chain Four Seasons has developed six new “Scenic Route with Four Seasons” road trips that connect 13 of its landmark European hotels in uniquely curated routes, with castles and wineries, caves and mountains, lakes and cityscapes and so much of the history, scenery, cuisine and culture we love so much about Europe.
They’ve tapped into the intimate destination knowledge and insider expertise of concierges in each destination to suggest can’t-miss experiences, just as guests visiting its hotels collaborate with concierges on site to customize dream European trips like these:
A Thoroughly British Jaunt: Between Hampshire and London
Discover hidden gems alongside renowned sights in this two-part quintessentially British road trip. The first leg is a quick trip practically around the block in London – less than 4 miles along the River Thames between sister Four Seasons hotels Park Lane and Ten Trinity Square. The second leg takes you a couple of hours’ drive out of the British capital to the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire and its beautiful lush surrounds.
During your journey from one of the world’s most bustling metropolises, you’ll navigate centuries – as well as counties – from the contemporary art of the Tate Modern to the fine countryside art of clay-pigeon shooting, from the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace to the cottage garden and writing rooms of 19th century novelist Jane Austen. Take traditional afternoon tea in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew before taking in the mysteries of Stonehenge. Your very English journey reveals 5,000 years of British history and culture along the route between these three, very English Four Seasons hotels.
The Soul of the Iberian Peninsula: Between Lisbon and Madrid
A 6-hour day-trip drive between the capitals of Spain and Portugal highlights UNESCO World Heritage Sites, medieval villages, buzzing cities, and coastal and mountainous beauty – with plenty of options en-route for an authentic taste of both countries of the peninsula. Your road trip is bookended by the contemporary flair of Four Seasons Hotel Madrid and the art deco charm of Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon.
At one end of the under 400-mile journey, feel the heat of a flamenco performance in Madrid… to the thrill of a sidecar photography tour in Lisbon at the other end. Along the way, you can raise a glass to slow travel in bucolic Alentejo, one of Europe's most exciting wine destinations. Step into a 14th century fairy tale in the tiny walled town of Reguengos de Monsaraz. Stimulate your tastebuds in Badajoz, home of melt-in-the-mouth jamón Íberico, or marvel at the ancient Roman ruins including the Temple of Diana at Mérida.
An Alpine Odyssey: Between Megève and Geneva
Only a two-hour drive through the spectacular French Alps takes you from the chic Mont d'Arbois retreat of Four Seasons Hotel Megève to the tranquil lakeside location of Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva. You’ll weave through soaring mountain landscapes, past beautiful lake views, and the breathtaking scenery of Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc. (Perhaps you’ll treat yourself to an eponymous luxury pen to mark the occasion.)
There’s more to savor in the Alpine lifestyle than the view – as hard as it is to drag your gaze away along your roughly 40-mile drive, and in the towns at both ends. Four Seasons concierges recommend: a Swiss chocolate-making class and sunset lake dip in Geneva. A picnic overlooking shimmering Lake Annecy – one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe – that sets the scene for an adrenaline-fuelled afternoon paragliding from Col de la Forclaz. Or for those who don’t crave the rush, a 7-minute cable car ride and 10-minute walk that brings intrepid adventurers to the remote farm of La Ferme de Lorette for a tasting of Reblochon, a traditional cheese.
A Russian Tapestry: Between Moscow and St. Petersburg
It’s nearly 440 miles between Four Seasons hotels in Russia’s two legendary capital cities. The road trip is an immersion into the history and culture – as well as the natural beauty often missed in trips to either city alone.
Rich with monumental architecture, natural beauty, and vibrant culture, the 8-hour trip takes you into the depths of the Moscow countryside, where a local family shares folk songs, accordion playing, food and fairy tales by their cosy home fire. And in the cities, spectacle and legend, from a backstage tour of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow to a caviar tasting menu in St. Petersburg. You’ll experience Russia’s finest, from the “76 lakes”, the 17th century monastery and holy springs of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and the architecture of the “Russian Leonardo da Vinci” – in Torzhok.
A French Feast for the Senses: Between Paris and Cap-Ferrat
From Paris to Provence, this journey is an indulgence in what we love most about France. The grandeur of Four Seasons Hotel George V is your home in the capital, and the timeless elegance of the Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, another Four Seasons Hotel, awaits you at the other end of your 600-mile road trip.
From a Champagne cruise on the Seine to a romantic sunset sail along the French Riviera, raise a glass to some of the country's most classic experiences along the iconic Holiday Route (Route des Vacances). Visit the favourite Loire Valley wineries of World's Best Vice-Sommelier Eric Beaumard, Director of the three Michelin-starred Le Cinq. Or soak up the atmosphere of Avignon's 14th century Palais des Papes, the world's largest Gothic building, as you chase the smell of Provence's lavender fields, the music of cicadas, and breath-taking views of the Mediterranean.
Riverside Romance: Between Prague and Budapest
It’s an epic journey between two of Central Europe’s most iconic cities and their equally evocative Four Seasons Hotels. If you were to drive the route non-stop, it’s less than 6 hours, but it’s over 300 miles of epic adventure through history, art and culture, old-world elegance and geological majesty, along the waters of the Vltava and Danube Rivers.
You’ll discover the famous fairy-tale chateau of Lednice that provides a pretty foil to the awe of Macocha Gorge in Czech Republic's Moravian Karst cave system. For a regal experience of Budapest, set off from the Four Seasons Gresham Palace's private dock and float along the Danube for authentic goulash, chicken paprikas and cheese dumplings set to the tune of the city's vibrant music scene.
Where some travelers love the independence of navigating the open roads themselves, others like to have the driving done for them. And everyone loves to arrive in style at a storied, landmark hotel that sets the scene for your new discoveries.
No matter how you like to travel, if one of these routes between some of Europe’s most iconic destinations and coveted hotels sparks your travel imagination, your travel advisor can help you build your triumphant return to Europe in style.
Photos courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts