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What's new in Europe? Read on to find out what's recently opened, what's changed, and what's hot for your trip in the year to come.
AUSTRIA-Vienna-Rivaling the long-established Imperial or Bristol, Ana Grand Hotel Wien, Karnter Ring 9, A-1010 Vienna ([tel] 01/515-800), is a seven-story deluxe hotel, only a block from Staatsoper, that's become the new "Grand Hotel" of the Austrian capital. Also in the center, Das Triest, Wiedner Hauptstrasse 12, A-1040 Vienna ([tel] 01/589-18), a 5-minute walk from St. Stephan's Cathedral, is an emerging favorite with artists and musicians. A 17th-century building is now a hip hotel, attracting media types.
Do & Co., in the Haas & Haas, Stephansplatz 4 ([tel] 01/512-26-66), is stylish, upscale, and a delicious venue from one of Austria's most esoteric food stores.
BELGIUM-Brussels-The Parc de Bruxelles, rue Royale, between Parliament and the Royal Palace in the center, has been renovated and restored. The Belgian government has decided to legalize possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal consumption Bruges-The city has been selected as European Capital of Culture for 2002.
THE CZECH REPUBLIC-Prague-Visiting stars Bruce Willis and Italian pop legend Eros Ramazzotti have enjoyed the Four Seasons Hotel, Veleslavínova 2a, Praha 1 ([tel] 02/2142 7), and its view of Prague Castle and Charles Bridge. Now more than 10 years into the post-Communist transformation, Prague's physical regeneration is gaining pace, while the variety of eating experiences improves by the year. There are so many newly reopened and renovated places to try, along with wholly new haunts. KOGO, Havelská 27, Praha 1 ([tel] 02/2421 4543), which brought you some of the best seafood in town, has now opened a light, breezy cafe in the Slovanský dum shopping center. Angel Café, Opatovická 3, Praha 1 ([tel] 02/290 166), offers tasty sandwiches, in a crisp, modern setting near the National Theater. The rococo gem Kinský Palace (Palác Kinských), Staromstské námestí 12, Praha 1 ([tel] 02/2481 0758), reopened hosting some of the best Czech art collections on Old Town Square. Also, President Havel and Prince Charles have just opened the Ledeburská, the Small and Great Pálffyovská, Kolowratská and Small Furstenberská gardens below the Prague Castle-beautifully sculpted terraced spaces with stunning views of the city below.
Karltejn Castle-On this most popular day trip from Prague, don't miss the recently reopened Holy Rood Chapel featuring early Renaissance paintings by Theodoricus.
DENMARK-Copenhagen-A great new moderately priced hotel has opened here, the Copenhagen Strand, Havnegade 37, DK-1058 Kbenhavn K ([tel] 33-48-99-00), dramatically created out of a pair of old brick-and-timber factories. The big culinary news is Michelin's long-delayed recognition of Copenhagen as one of the dining capitals of Europe-Era Ora (Italian), Torvegade 62 ([tel] 32-54-06-93), and Godt (international), Gothersgade 38 ([tel] 33-15-21-22), are the two hot new ones. The latest see-and-be-seen place is Sren K, on the ground floor of the Royal Library's Black Diamond Wing, 1 Soren Kierkegaards Plads ([tel] 33-47-49-49). It's hot and happening, not like the philosopher for whom it is named. The two night clubs generating the most local excitement are Enzo, Norregade 41 ([tel] 33-13-67-88), which has more bars than any other club-each one different-and NASA, Gothersgade 8F, Bolthensgaard ([tel] 33-93-74-15), which features the latest and most avant-garde musical groups.
ENGLAND-London-In Soho, Charlotte Street Hotel, 15 Charlotte St., London W1P 1HB ([tel] 800/553-6674 in the U.S.), is creating a sensation, London chic at its finest but with a Los Angeles cutting edge. Also creating shock waves is Myhotel, 11 and 13 Bayley St., Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3HD ([tel] 020/7667-6). It's designed according to the ancient Chinese art of feng shui. Each traveler is assigned an assistant responsible for one's happiness!
On the restaurant scene, The Square, 6 and 10 Burton St., W1 ([tel] 020/7495-7100), in St. James's is hailed by savvy London foodies as the city's "next great restaurant" thanks to chef Philip Howard. Oxford-In this university city, Gee's Restaurant, 61 Banbury Rd. ([tel] 01865/553-540), in a Victorian glass conservatory, has emerged under a new chef as one of Oxford's finest dining choices, with a Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.
FRANCE-Paris-Small and charming, Hotel de Jeu de Paume, 54 rue St-Louis en l'Îsle, 4e ([tel] 01-43-26-14-18), is chic and hip, formed from a pair of 17th-century town houses. It's an instant success. In dining, Georges, 19 rue Beaubourg, 4e ([tel] 01-44-78-47-99), is a hot new ticket, a restaurant on the top floor of Centre Georges Pompidou. No mere tourist trap, it's a venue for artisty Paris drawn to its refined international cuisine.
GERMANY-Berlin-Two little hotels are the talk of the town. On the fourth floor of an Art Nouveau building, the aptly named Art Nouveau Hotel, Leibnizstrasse 59, D-10629 Berlin ([tel] 030/3-27-74-40), is upmarket, atmospheric, and desirable. Hidden away from the bustle of Berlin, Bleibtreu Hotel, Bleibtreustrasse 31 ([tel] 030/ 88474-0), is media hip and trendy, set in the labyrinthine premises of what was originally an Art Nouveau apartment house.
Among Berlin restaurants, Rockendorf's Gourmet Restaurant, Passauerstrasse 5 and 7 ([tel] 030/219-92-170), has moved into the very heart of central Berlin, and the city's serious foodies are flocking to the new location for some grand eating.
Munich - It's called merely Der Tisch, Maxvorstadt, Nymphenburger Strasse 1 ([tel] 089/557-154), or "the table," but it's one of the best and most fashionable dining venues to have emerged in the Bavarian capital.
GREECE-Athens-The biggest news these days is the opening of the new Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos. But most of the news is about what's not open at the airport. Services, access roads, and public transportation are still under construction, so check the airport's status before you land here.
One of Athens's most popular restaurants, Socrates' Prison, 17 Robertou Galli St. ([tel] 01/922-3434), has moved from its old location at 20 Mitseon Street just around the corner to a new location with a roof garden at 17 Robertou Galli St.
Wonderful news: the Benaki Museum, 1 Odos Koumbari 1 ([tel] 01/367-1), in Kolonaki, has reopened after a 10-year restoration and renovation project. The new wing doubles the exhibition space of the original 20th-century neoclassical town house that belonged to the wealthy Benaki family. Display cases in the Syntagma Square Metro station showcase objects unearthed during the excavations for Athens's new Metro system.
Suddenly Psirri, an old warehouse district off Athinas Street, is one of Athens's trendiest neighborhoods. To find out about the bars, cafes, restaurants, theaters, and galleries that are springing up in Psirri, check out www.psirri.gr.
Delphi-The Delphi Archaeology Museum ([tel] 0265/82-313) at the ancient site should have opened its long-awaited extension and almost doubled the number of objects on view.
Nafplion-Everyone's favorite town in the Peloponnese has its first "boutique" hotel: the Hotel Nafsimedon, 9 Sideras Merarhias St. ([tel] 0752/25-060), on Kolokotronis Park.
Santorini-In Fira, the new Thera Foundation ([tel] 0286/230-16) near the cable car station en route to Firostephani has an exhibit of spectacular reproductions and recreations of the frescoes from Akrotiri, sometimes called the "Greek Pompeii."
HUNGARY-Budapest-The Gresham Palace, the once-grand Art Nouveau structure at the head of the Chain Bridge in Pest, is being rescued from its long-time state of woeful disrepair and being converted into a new luxury hotel (of the Four Seasons variety). As anyone who has visited Budapest in the last 30 or 40 years has no doubt noticed, the historic New York Coffeehouse, on the Outer Ring at VII. Erzsébet krt. 9 and 11 ([tel] 061/352-1326), an architectural gem located near Blaha Lujza tér on the Outer Ring, is in awful disrepair. Well, all that is about to change. A Swiss investor group recently won a tender offer to purchase the building and plans to renovate and open a five-star hotel.
Check out the amazing "Tropicarium" at a mall in southern Buda called Campona, located at XXII. Budapest, Nagytétényi út 37 and 43 ([tel] 061/424-3). The Tropicarium features both an aquarium-the largest in Central Europe-and a miniature rain forest, with snakes, alligators, and the like (and rain!).
IRELAND-Dublin-Visitors seeking a panoramic view of Dublin's skyline will be glad to hear of two new observation towers opened to the public in the past year: For the first time since the 1966 demolition of Nelson's Pillar on O'Connell Street, it's possible to get a close-up look at the rooftop layout of Dublin's city center. The "gravity bar" is a glass-walled room perched at the summit of the Guinness Storehouse, James's Gate, a dramatic way to conclude a visit to the new Visitors' Centre ([tel] 01/408-4800). Not quite as lofty but closer to city center is the Jameson Chimney, off Arran Quay, part of the elaborate renovation of Dublin's Smithfield district.
ITALY-Rome-Near Villa Borghese, Testa Food & Wine, Via Tirso 30 ([tel] 06-8530-0692), is a real culinary find, attracting disconcerting palates to a decor both classic and elegant. One of Rome's most acclaimed restaurants is Il Convivio, Vicolo dei Soldati 31 ([tel] 06-686-9432), attracting haut Roma to its 16th-century site near the Piazza Navona. Another chic, hot dining ticket is Il Chicco d'Uva, Corso Rinascimento 70 ([tel] 06-686-7983), also near the Piazza Navona, an emporium of refined Italian and international cuisine.
Florence-The landmark luxe hotel, Savoy, Piazza della Repubblica 7 ([tel] 055-27-351), has returned to give the Excelsior and Grand serious competition in luxury. After a long decline, the hotel has been completely restored.
THE NETHERLANDS-Amsterdam-Try out the new All Amsterdam Transport Pass, which allows unlimited travel for a day by Canal Bus, tram, bus, and metro.
NORWAY-Oslo-One of Oslo's newest large-scale hotels, First Hotel Millennium, Tollbugate 25 ([tel] 23-00-30-00), was successfully created from a 1930s Art Deco office building. Rising nine floors, with a stylish kind of minimalism, it's become an instant hit.
In a warehouse-like building, Restaurant Huset, Universitatsgata 26 ([tel] 22-41-36-33), has blossomed as the nightlife center of Oslo, with dance areas, dining rooms (one devoted to Cajun cookery), and discos, with enough bars to drown the navy.
Bergen-The hotel scene here has brightened considerably with the opening of the first-class First Hotel Marin, Rosenkrantzgaten 8 ([tel] 53-05-15-00), an elegant harbor front choice with more suites than any hotel in town. From fitness center to Turkish bath, it's amenity loaded.
PORTUGAL-Lisbon-Right in the heart of the city, the Orion Lisboa Hotel, 24 Praca dos Restauradores ([tel] 21-321-6600), has been formed from the old Eden Theater. Now you can rent an apartment at Lisbon's most central location. The restaurant of the hour, Notre, Edificio Nau, Marina Expo '98 ([tel] 21-893-1604), has reincarnated itself in its new location by Expo Marina. Its Portuguese/Continental cuisine is among Lisbon's noblest.
SCOTLAND-Edinburgh-The Caledonian Hilton Hotel, "The Caley," Princes St. ([tel] 0131/459-9988), one of Edinburgh's most enduring landmark hotels, has emerged anew under the Hilton umbrella. At first Edinburghers were shocked at the Americanization of this virtual monument, but they seem to be adjusting. For dining, the town's most excitement is generated by The Tower, Chambers St. ([tel] 0131/225-3003), set on the top floor of the Museum of Scotland. Some of Scotland's tastiest fare, especially seafood, is served at this chic new location.
SPAIN-Madrid-In the heart of Madrid, Errota Zar, Jovellanos 3 ([tel] 91-531-25-64), next to the House of Deputies, has emerged as a serious challenger to all other Basque restaurants.
SWEDEN-Stockholm-In Gamla Stan, the old town of Stockholm, Pontus in the Green House, Österlanggatan 17 ([tel] 08/23-85-00), in a building from the 16th century, is all the rage with its French, Swedish, and Asian fusion cuisine.
SWITZERLAND-Geneva-In Geneva, Bal-Esperance, 1 rue de la Vallée ([tel] 022/818-3737), is an accommodation oddity, set right near the landmark place du Bourg-de-Four. Once owned by the rawbone Salvation Army, it's been turned into a hotel of grace and charm.