Maybe endless hours of watching home improvement shows have turned me into a construction junkie—whatever it is, I love a renovation. Especially one that preserves the history of a place and marries it with modern comforts. Three recent hotel renovations in Rome, Paris and Amsterdam get this combination just right. It's enough to make me wish I could live there.
Here, three recently renovated European hotels you'll never want to leave:
1. Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris
Originally opened in 1913, this iconic hotel recently completed a yearlong, $200 million makeover. The original plan was to close briefly to connect the buildings that make up the hotel, but the plan changed to incorporate a bit of a face-lift, too. In a nod to the hotel's location on Avenue Montaigne, which is surrounded by world-renowned fashion designers, interior designer Marie-Jose Pommereau used silks from top couture houses in each of the rooms. Chef Alain Ducasse continues to oversee the hotel's restaurants, including La Cour Jardin, which is in the center courtyard surrounded on all sides by the ivy-covered hotel and window boxes overflowing with flowers. It's still one of the most beautiful and unique settings in the city. The restaurant is open from May through October and becomes a skating rink in the winter.
Try superstar pastry chef Christophe Michalak's incredible cakes and pastries for breakfast or afternoon tea in Le Galerie, a stunning space just off the lobby of the hotel.
2. Waldorf Astoria, Amsterdam
Opened last year, the 93-room hotel is a combination of six stunning canal homes, two of them former mayoral residences, that were originally built in the 17th and 18th centuries. It's located on the Herengracht, the city's oldest canal and a UNESCO protected area. Each building has five or six windows on each level overlooking the canal, installed at a time when home owners were taxed on the number of windows they had. The hotel's color palette, rich blues and cool grays, is inspired by Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring painting. If the Dutch masters are your thing, private museum tours can be arranged by a personal concierge (each guest gets a personal concierge).
Go for afternoon tea in the hotel's beautiful Peacock Alley and enjoy the honey from its rooftop apiary. Or visit The Vault Bar on the lower level for a gin and tonic with toasted juniper berries, which the bartender sets alight right in front of you.
3. JK Place, Rome
After looking for a space in Rome for eight years, the team behind JK Place hotels finally found the perfect location: a 17th-century building not far from the Spanish Steps that formerly housed the University of Rome's architecture school. The hotel has 30 rooms, and an incredibly elegant yet homey lobby and library on the main level. Adding to the homey feel is the hotel's attentive and flexible service. You slept through breakfast? No problem. You can order breakfast anytime.
Try a perfectly made Aperol Spritz in the bar or make a reservation for the popular weekend brunch at JK Café, which includes traditional breads from the amazing Roscioli, cheeses from Lazio and an amazing cacao e pepe. Brunch is free for kids under 10.