Run Down of The Top 16 Cities to Visit in 2017 – Part 1

By NH | 15:34

 

New Year, new destinations to visit! The world is a big place and it’s practically impossible (although we wish we could) visit all the incredible places that this Earth holds in one year. To help narrow the list down a bit, we’ve made a selection of The Top 16 Cities to Visit in 2017:

16. Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a great city to visit, whether it’s with friends, with that special someone, or with family. Did you know that Amsterdam is also known as the Venice of the North? More than 1.500 picturesque bridges welcome visitors to a breathtaking cityscape that you must see at least once in your lifetime.
Visiting the Royal Palace you’ll learn all about Holland’s fascinating royal history, and afterwards, the historic Dam Square and The Amsterdam Museum immerse you further into the city. For a taste of art, visit the wonderful Rijksmuseum and pass the time learning about its extensive collection of paintings, artefacts and sculptures from Holland and around the world. Another museum to include in your list is the Van Gogh Museum, one of the most popular galleries in the World!
After some exclusive shopping? Then you can’t miss The Nine Little Streets, a photogenic neighbourhood with unique speciality stores and trendy designer shops.

 
15. Berlin
Many tourists agree that Berlin, the third most visited city in Europe, has something other world cities don’t. Berlin is young, fresh, and represents a symbol of freedom and tolerance. This, together with its fashion, its architecture and its charged political history, make Berlin one of the most beloved cities among visitors.
And what to see during a visit to Berlin? There is something for all tastes, whether you’re visiting Berlin for one day or a week, on a budget or without limits, whether you’re visiting Berlin alone or with family. Include these city sights to your itinerary: the iconic Brandenburg Gate, the spectacular Tiergarten (is the second largest garden in Germany), the Reichstag Building, the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Museum Island”, the trendy commercial district of Hackeschen Hoefe, the ultramodern Potsdamer Platz, Alexanderplatz, and the world-famous graffiti decorated East Side Gallery.

 

14. Frankfurt
Another German city makes our list! Located on the River Main, Frankfurt is known for its importance as a commercial and economic centre in Europe. The city’s skyline, formed by impressive high-rise buildings that remind us of North America, blends itself with Frankfurt’s historical and reconstructed Altstadt (the old town), creating an impressive blend between the old and new.
Any visit to Frankfurt should include the following main sights: the Romer-Platz, the house of legendary German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goeth, the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew, the Old Opera House (reconstructed in 1981 after it was completely destroyed by Allied bombing in 1944), the fine Staedel Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. These are a few of the many reasons to visit Frankfurt, the Manhattan of Europe in 2017.

 
13. Brussels
Brussels, a city of contrasts, where art fanatics will fall head over heels in love with its famous museums, and beer lovers will have the chance to taste the very best Belgium has to offer. The little ones in the family will have a blast with Brussels comic book route!
Anyone who’s visited Brussels before would recommend you to visit the Grand-Place, the city’s market square surrounded by guildhalls, the city park Cinquantenaire, the iconic Atomium and the Royal Palace of Brussels. Our last tip for your visit to Brussels? Make sure to spend a few hours in the miniature park Mini-Europe, kids will have a great time and so will you!

 
12. Madrid
The Spanish capital offers endless possibilities for cultural activities to enjoy during a business trip, a family vacation or a romantic getaway.
It is not uncommon for tourists to fall in love with Madrid’s castle-like and opulent buildings, or the beautiful sights found between the Puerta Del Sol and the great Royal Palace, which happen to be two of Madrid’s most notable attractions.
Whether exploring by foot or by public transport, make sure you don’t miss Plaza Mayor (where you should order a caña and watch people enjoy Madrileño culture), the classical meeting point of Puerta del Sol, La Latina neighbourhood with its delicious tapas, and the nearby outdoor market El Rastro. Make some time for a touch of shopping on Gran Via and raise your cameras at the picturesque Plaza de Cibeles, home to Madrid’s City Hall.
Any visit to Madrid should also include a stroll to get some fresh air at the Parque Del Retiro, after spending a few hours admiring some of Europe’s finest artwork at the Prado Museum, and a visit to the upmarket Barrio de Salamanca, filled with fancy shops and restaurants. Finally, the San Anton Market, a modern foodie paradise with rooftop included!

Have we whetted your appetite? Well, there is more to come in part two of our Run down of the top 16 Cities to Visit in 2017.

A Look Back at 2016

By NH | 12:47

This time of year is like no other. It’s when people take time to relax, reflect and share stories. making a list of the dreams and plans that have become a reality, and setting new goals for the brand new year that lies ahead of us. 

At NH Hotel Group we’re taking the opportunity to look back at the main developments within our irresistible brand, NH Collection. A brand with a mission; to create extraordinary experiences for our guests, in the best locations and with the best standards of service and comfort.

April 2016

April marks the beginning of our journey. During this month, NH Hotel Group had the pleasure of launching the NH Collection brand in Holland. An official ceremony took place for the presentation, chaired by the Mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan.

The launch was celebrated together with the re-opening of three unique gems:

  • NH Collection Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, a historic building that dates back to 1855. It is centrally located, found on Dam Square, putting it very close to Central Station and the Royal Palace. Any guest who stays at this hotel really must indulge themselves at the hotel’s restaurant, The White Room, under the guidance of 3 Michelin Star Chef, Jacob Jan Boerma.

  • NH Collection Barbizon Palace. Conveniently located opposite Amsterdam’s main train station, the hotel welcomes guests to the city of canals with big, cosy and comfortable rooms. Something that never fails to impress our guests is the unique design and architecture that this property holds. Another highlight is The Restaurant Vermeer, fronted by Michelin Star Chef Chris Naylor.

  • For travellers who are interested in a modern, comfortable, cosy yet historic stay, there is NH Collection Amsterdam Doelen. Guests will find their home away from home in this captivating building with views over Amsterdam’s canals. 

Find out more about NH Collection in Netherlands here. 

Also during the month of April, the NH Collection brand was launched in Rome. The official ceremony was chaired by Italy’s Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, Dario Franceschini. Furthermore, we celebrated the opening of the NH Collection Palazzo Cinquecento, an extraordinary historical building that dates back to the 1900’s, and conveniently located within reach of Rome’s famous cultural sights.

For more of NH Collection in Rome.

May 2016

During the month of May, NH Hotels Group crossed off a much-awaited event off the list; the launch of NH Collection in Germany, an event attended and chaired by the Spanish Ambassador in the country, Pablo García-Berdoy.

But this wasn’t the company’s only reason to celebrate this month. To accompany the celebration of this important milestone, we hosted, for the first time, the NH Collection Video Art Awards at NH Collection Berlin Mitte Friedrichstrasse. This prize was created in collaboration with curator Leo Kuelbs and promotes talented young video artists.

NH Collection in Germany and more, here. 

September 2016

The presentation of the upper-upscale brand NH Collection in America took place during September, in Mexico City. The official event was chaired by the Secretary of Tourism of the Mexican Federal Government, Enrique de la Madrid, and the Spanish Ambassador in Mexico, Luis Fernández-Cid de las Alas Pumariño.

The presentation of the brand in America started off with the inauguration of the NH Collection Mexico City Reforma, recently refurbished and located in the heart of the tourist district in Mexico City.

NH Hotel Group operates 60 hotels in 11 countries in America, of which, 19 hotels fall under the NH Collection brand and are located in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico. An eclectically vibrant set of properties that perfectly reflect the ancient and modern history of their locations.

More of NH Collection in Mexico and beyond, here.

November

With the international openings and inaugurations of the NH Collection Gran Hotel Calderón in Barcelona and NH Collection Suecia in Madrid, November was the month of NH Hotels Group’s expansion in Spain. Both hotels are located in historical buildings near to the main cultural attractions, making them the perfect spots to explore the city, whether on a leisure or business trip.

The NH Collection Gran Hotel Calderón is located along the Rambla de Cataluña and some of its highlights include a terrace with a pool, a solarium and 360-degree views of Barcelona, 10 event rooms and a video wall in the lobby.

The NH Collection Madrid Suecia is located just off Gran Vía, making it easy for the visitor to tour the city and enjoy the high variety of entertainment options Madrid has to offer. The hotel’s restaurant, Casa Suecia, offers food lovers a very interesting and unique gastronomy experience that’s not to be missed.

So, there we have it. 2016, an extraordinary year! And we can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring us: new inspirations, new goals and new dreams.

Find out more about NH Collection!

Road Trippin’: The basic list of Can’t Miss sites in Ecuador

By NH | 17:41

Not too long ago we took you on an adventure through the magical country of Chile. This time, we’ll guide you on an extraordinary trip to some of Ecuador’s most incredible places. Using Quito as our starting point, you’ll discover the amazing nature, wildlife and activities that the country has to offer. Are you ready for an exciting Latin American escapade through Ecuador? Let’s go!

Your Base, Quito!

At 2.850 metres above the sea level, Ecuador’s historic metropolis, Quito, is the highest capital city in the world and is the closest one to the equator. It boasts one of the largest, best-preserved historic centres, featuring baroque-esque structures, neo-gothic churches, colonial houses, and oh so much more. Any travel lover will be dazzled by the rich history that this city is teeming with, and makes the perfect base for anyone looking to discover the nearby nature or take on excursions further outside the city. But where?

Mindo Nambillo Cloud Forest Reserve

A little over a 2 hours’ drive away from Quito, and on your way to Esmeralda, the Mindo Valley is located on the western slopes of the Andes. The protected area covers 48.267 acres, a world of natural wonders that are the home to a vast number of endemic species, and an unforgettable tourist attraction that will keep even the most demanding of nature lovers occupied: hikes that lead you to unique green landscapes and incredible waterfalls, butterfly farms, birdwatching tours, tubing, and several zip lines and cable cars that give visitors beautiful views of the cloud forest.

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Quilotoa Lagoon

Next, we’re are taking you to a volcano Crater Lake located almost 3 hours south of Quito. A very special one, as it is considered the most beautiful lagoon in South America. The fantastic Quilotoa Lagoon is a beauty that comes with a challenge. What do we mean? Before you visit, you’ll have to make sure you’ve given your body enough time for altitude adjustment, and that’s because the Quilotoa crater is at 3.800 m!

But, once you reach the rim of the crater, you’ll have an unbelievable view of the lagoon’s shimmering blue water. Ever wanted to go canoeing inside a volcano? This is your chance! Walk down the crater towards the lagoon, and you’ll have the opportunity to rent a canoe and marvel at the stunning views.

Besides its beauty, another reason to visit Quilotoa is that it will serve as the perfect training for our next highlight in Ecuador!

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 Cotopaxi Volcano National Park

60 Km separate Quito from one of South America’s most active volcanoes, Cotopaxi. It’s also the second highest peak in Ecuador at 5.897 m and it is definitely worth the trip. Can you imagine the adrenaline rush of being close to an active volcano? Be ready for breathtaking views and fantastic landscapes, wild horses and unique flora on your way.

Our tip: make sure to pack a pair of alpaca fur gloves, and a hat won’t hurt either! Also, make sure you’re ready for the altitude. How? Spend a few days in Quito in order to give your body to adjust to higher altitudes.

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Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve

Located in the region of Esmeraldas, this is the largest protected area in Ecuador. A natural paradise formed by several rivers, the Toisan mountain range, the Cotacachi volcano and lagoons. Such a varied geography favours different climates, resulting in an incredible biodiversity: more than 2.107 plant species, 139 mammal species, 689 of birds, 111 reptiles and 124 amphibians await the visitor in a unique environment. If you’re looking to reconnect with nature, this is the place to be!

We strongly recommend a visit to the beautiful Lagoon of Quicocha. To get there, you can walk the 5-hour hike starting at the park’s visitor’s centre, or enjoy the boat ride that goes along the lake.

Our tip: Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, water and a sweater! 

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Galápagos Islands

If you travel as far as Ecuador, it is almost obliged to visit the unique and remote islands where Darwin’s theory of evolution was born. The Galápagos National Park is an archipelago of 18 volcanic islands & it’s the home to endemic creatures that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Being here is like being in a National Geographic documentary! Wildlife is abundant, snorkelling is an unforgettable experience and you’ll get the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch sea lions play, giant turtles glide in water, penguins, eagle rays and even explore volcanoes.

Today, we’ve highlighted 3 out of the 4 inhabited islands of the Galápagos Archipelago.

Santa Cruz
It isn’t often that you get the opportunity to walk along with giant tortoises in their natural habit, right? But it is possible in Santa Cruz, the main of the inhabited islands in Galápagos. The Charles Darwin Research Station and the headquarters of the Galápagos National Park Services are located on this island and can be visited by tourists. Here are our favourite things to do and visit in Santa Cruz:

  • The beautiful beach of Tortuga Bay and its marine iguanas

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  • El Chato, a ranch where you’ll be admire giant tortoises

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  • Las Grietas, a little piece of heaven where you’ll be able to swim in crystal clear water, make sure to bring your snorkelling equipment!

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San Cristobal
San Cristobal is one of the oldest islands of the Galápagos and is composed of 4 fused and extinct volcanoes. Did you know this is the island Darwin set foot on first when he arrived in Galápagos? Our two favourite places on the island are:

  • The spectacular Lobería beach, where you’ll want to stay forever observing the cutest sea lion pups!

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  • The 300m Punta Carola beach, probably the best surf in Galápagos and one of the best places in Galápagos to watch an unforgettable sunset.

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Our Tip: snorkelling is even better in San Cristobal than in Santa Cruz, so don’t forget your underwater camera!

Isabela

Isabel is the largest of the Galápagos Islands, almost twice the size of Santa Cruz, and as opposed to San Cristobal, Isabela is one of the youngest islands. The best wildlife in Galáapagos can be found here and it is definitely the best place to see whales, dolphins and rare endemic species like the mangrove fish, penguins and the rare flightless cormorant.

Five out of the spectacular six volcanoes that form Isabela are still active. We recommend a climb to the Sierra Negra Volcano, where you’ll get to see second largest caldera in the world.

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The best time to visit Ecuador is during the months from December through May, as you’ll find the weather warm enough to enjoy the coast, but also humid enough that you can explore the rainforest without being uncomfortable.

If, like us, you also think it’s a trip one must do in life… Now is the time! Remember that, as an old Asian proverb says, it is better to see something once, than to hear about it a thousand times!

 

Your hotel in Quito. 

CHILE: A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE

By NH | 15:51

Today we’re travelling to the beautiful and amazing Chile, a land of deserts, mountains, glaciers and beaches. A land that has it all. We are about to embark on a journey of discovery, during which we’ll briefly visit the main cities of Iquique, Antofagasta and Santiago de Chile. But don’t think we’ll stay there long… We’ll use these three cities as starting points for other unique adventures in the countries wilderness and some of the most inhospitable areas. 

Are you ready?

IQUIQUE

Iquique is a city that rests on the coast of northern Chile. It was founded in the 16th century, linked to small indigenous fishing communities, and evidence has suggested that the Chango people lived here as early as 7,000BC.

Its location between an enormous sand dune and the Pacific make this one of the world’s finest spots for paragliding. But if you’re not up to the challenge, there are still plenty of things for you to do and see! The city serves as an opening to incredible places, like the UNESCO World Heritage Sites towns of Humberstone and Santa Laura, the Isluga Volcano National Park or the hot-springs of Pica and Matilla.

1. Humberstone and Santa Laura
These two abandoned mining towns are located in the arid Atacama Desert and have gained a well-deserved spot in the world’s most ghostly places list! In spite of being uninhabited, both towns are being well preserved and the visitor will have the chance to visit the remains of the old industrial installations that were used in the towns’ more glorious times and learn all about saltpetre processing.

Our tip? We wouldn’t recommend a night visit, as it is rumoured that the dead of the local cemetery rises at night and pace the town!

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2. Isluga Volcano National Park

Although 190 km separate Iquique from the spectacular Isluga Volcano National park, it is definitely worth the visit. A popular choice for travellers in this area is to hire one of the special tours offered in the park and spend the day admiring and learning about the park’s endemic inhabitants… like the guanaco or vizcacha.

Curious? Or, if you prefer to discover the park on your own, there are several short and easy routes you can follow: the Isluga Trek and the Laguna Arabilla trek.

Our tip? Don’t miss out on the chance to appreciate volcano Isluga and to take in the fantastic panoramic views.

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3. Hot Springs of Pica and Mamiña
Another popular day trip from Iquique, both for local and tourists, are the hot Springs of Pica and Mamiña. If you ever wanted to visit an oasis in the middle of the desert, this is your chance!

Pica and Mamiña appear before your eyes after kilometres and kilometres of dry land, an incredible paradise where you’ll be able to relax in peaceful hot springs and savour delicious tropical fruits; mango, guava, grapefruit…

Our tip? Head to the gorgeous hot-spring of Cocha Resbaladero, in Pica.

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Your hotel in Iquique

 

ANTOFAGASTA


Antofagasta is the second large city in our route. Also known as “The Pearl of the North”, it is a port city located in the north of Chile, often overlooked by travellers visiting the country. We think the city is a great starting point for some amazing day trips to nearby areas, like the Atacama Desert. Here are some ideas to tease your travelling soul!

1. The Atacama Desert
Located between the Pacific and the Andes, the incredible Desert of Atacama is a 131 km drive away from Antofagasta. Without a doubt, a MUST visit during any visit to Chile, the desert offers a unique landscape where rust-colored ravines, salt flats, geysers, rocks and active volcanoes welcome the visitor to the driest place on Earth.

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The desert extends covers over 100.000 square Kilometres of savage beauty but we’ve highlighted some of the top attractions that will ensure an unforgettable experience:

● The Moon Valley, one of our favourites! After a 45 walk, you’ll be rewarded with stunning scenery and fantastic sunsets. Our tip? Make sure to bring lots of water and some warm clothes, it gets chilly at dusk!

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● Salar de Atacama, a healing oasis. Isolated and beautiful, it’s the world’s third biggest salar (salt lake), just behind Uyuni’s. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting your camera, as you will see landscapes you never imagined, lagoons mirroring the cloudless sky and beautiful flamingos flying in the horizon.

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Our tip? A night visit will grant you a memorable stargazing experience.

● Tatio Geysers, a show of nature’s power for the early birds among you, as 6 am is the best time to see the geysers in full action. One thing to keep in mind is that the geysers are one of the major attractions in the Atacama Desert, you’ll most likely find yourself enjoying the show with hundreds of people!

A curious fact about the Tatio Geysers: at 4.320 meters above sea level, it is one of the world’s highest elevations geysers.

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2. Huanchaca Ruins
The gorgeous Huanchaca ruins are the remains of an old silver smelter that operated in Antofagasta from 1982 to 1902, co-owned by Bolivia, Chile and Britain.

We recommend wandering around the ruins while enjoying the views of the sea, you’ll realise that the place actually looks a bit like a medieval castle! Afterwards, enter The Museum and learn about the natural, archaeological and historical heritage of the area. 

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Your hotel in Antofagasta

 

SANTIAGO DE CHILE


From the northern city Antofagasta, we move down to the more cosmopolitan Santiago, the capital of Chile. However, after discovering the city’s unique flavours and personality, we invite you to discover some of the surrounding points of interest, such as Valparaiso or Cajón del Maipo.

1. Valparaiso
As Chile’s second largest city, Valparaiso is the total opposite of Santiago de Chile. Here, the visitor will discover bright coloured buildings, vibrant street art and a bohemian atmosphere.

And did you know that Valparaiso is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site? You’ll appreciate an incredible mix of cultures, as immigrants from Italy, Spain, Germany and Yugoslavia have left their mark on local traditions throughout history.

Our favourite thing about Valparaiso? Its authenticity and people’s kindness.

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2. Cajon del Maipo
Just an hour south of Santiago, Cajon del Maipo is a natural paradise of wineries, Incan history, beautiful waterfalls, picturesque little towns that spread through the wilderness and a wide range of sports activities perfect for adrenaline seekers.

Our tip? Don’t miss the stunning Cascada de las Animas, a beautiful and relaxed setting.

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Your hotel in Santiago de Chile

These are just some of the beautiful treasures that can be found in Chile. Next month we’ll be taking you to another of our South American destinations: ECUADOR.

 

TOP 5 EUROPEAN CHRISTMAS MARKETS TO VISIT THIS YEAR

By NH | 17:59

As Christmas time approaches, many are searching for that next trip to take that will add even more cheer to this special holiday. Are you one of those? Our proposal for this year is to visit one (or some) of our favourite Christmas markets found in Europe, some of which are well known and others a bit off the beaten path.

Follow us to Winter Wonderland, we promise it will be filled with traditional delights for the senses, mugs of delicious mulled wine and some very unique Christmas decorations!

Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg (Germany)

Our first stop takes us to one of the World’s most famous Christmas Markets, and Germany’s largest. It takes place every year in Hauptmarkt, the central square of the magical and medieval city of Nuremberg, which gets even more beautiful as the sun sets. The market is large enough to handle the crowds that come here to enjoy the festive atmosphere, gingerbread and all.

Make sure to dress warm and ready yourself to discover beautiful decorations and ornaments, including the wonderfully peculiar Prune Men, the infinite variety of Christmas biscuits, Nuremberg bratwurst (a recipe that’s over 700 years old), pretzels and, of course, Glühwein!

When: November 25th to December 24th
Times: Daily from 10:00am to 09:00pm
Where to stay: NH Collection Nürnberg City
Closest Airport: Airport Nürnberg

 

Striezelmarkt, Dresden (Germany)

As one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets, the Striezelmarkt is very traditional. It takes place every year, since 1434, on the old cobblestoned Altmarkt square. Over 200 amazingly decorated stalls and thousands of colourful Christmas lights welcome the visitors along with puppet shows and other performances that will be the delight for both children and adults.

Make sure you save a bit of your travel budget! You’ll be thankful later when you see the traditional decorations and craft gifts displayed in the beautiful fairytale themed stalls.

Our personal advice? Look for the famous Dresden Stollen cake, sausages, potato cakes, chocolate apples and the traditional mulled wine.

When: November 24th to December 24th
Times: Daily from 10:00am to 09:00pm
Where to stay: NH Collection Dresden Altmarkt
Closest Airport: Dresden International Airport

 

Schönbrunn Palace Christmas Market, Vienna (Austria)

Our next stop in magical Christmas Markets brings us to Austria. Right outside the Grand Palace in Vienna, the Schönbrunn Palace Christmas Market is smaller than the Christmas Market located in Vienna’s Town Hall Square, but yet we find it fascinating.

Why? The visitor will find a jaw-dropping assortment of stalls with handcrafted decorations, toys and beautiful art and folkloric items at reasonable prices. Live music, Christmas lights and the wonderful foods, such as Kaiserschmarm and Bauerngröstl, give the market a very festive mood!Plus, here you’ll find a wide variety of mulled wines to sip (or gulp, depending how cold you are.)

Our tip: the Schönbrunn Palace Christmas Market is known for releasing a limited edition of Christmas mugs each year. If you want one, look for it at the Visitors Booth by the market’s entrance!

When: November 19th to December 26th
Times: Daily from 10:00am to 09:00pm
Where to stay: NH Collection Wien Zentrum
Closest Airport: Vienna International Airport 

Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival, Budapest (Hungary)

Our next destination is Hungary where the Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival await you. This fantastic Christmas Market is located in the Vorosmarty Square and one could say that it really feels just as Christmas should feel; lots of people, traditional, toned down nostalgic lighting, and lots of wine and traditional foods.

Unfamiliar with the Hungarian cuisine? Just wander around the stalls and try some of the delicacies that Hungary takes pride in and are eager for visitors to try; chicken goulash, sour kraut, fried polenta, apple and kirsch strudel, cherry grog and rum hot chocolate…

And of course, you can’t leave without trying a chimney cake, called Kurtoskalac, a bread spiral rolled in cinnamon, sugar, cocoa or coconut flakes. Delicious!

When: November 11th to January 6th
Times: From 10am to 22pm, Christmas Eve until 18pm
Where to stay: NH Budapest City
Closest Airport: Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport

 

Santa Lucia Christmas Market, Bologna (Italy)

 

And last but not least, follow us to Italy and the beautiful Bologna, home to the oldest University in the world. One of the reasons to visit this romantic and historical city is its unforgettable Christmas Market. During this time of the year, the porticos (arched, covered walkways) that line the city like veins are decorated with fairy lights, red and green garlands. It is under the portico of Santa Maria dei Servi that the traditional market of Santa Lucia (or Fiera di Santa Lucia) takes place since the 18th century.

An interesting tradition in Bologna is the unique figures they create for the Nativity Scene, one of the most important Christmas symbols in Italy. The Bolognese nativity scene also includes unfamiliar characters, one known as the Sleeping Man and the another known as La Meraviglia, a woman caught in a moment of overwhelmed enlightenment.

Don’t leave without trying some Torrone, a Christmas nougat made of almonds and honey!

When: November 20th to December 26th
Times: Daily from 9.30 to 20:00
Where to stay: NH Bologna de la Gare
Closest Airport: Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport

There is nothing better than Europe at Christmas, there something special about visiting the markets with beautiful architecture in the background, historic traditions shared with visitors, and delicious aromas dancing in the air. Ready for a memorable winter break?

The Top 8 Instagrammable Destinations

By NH | 19:14

Instagrammers unite! In today’s world, when planning a vacation, almost everyone anticipates the beautiful pictures they are going to take. Those pictures are then uploaded to our Facebook or Instagram profiles for the world to share and, often, inspire.

Whether it’s to remember your vacation, share moments with loved ones of your or simply be the envy of your friends and followers, here is a list of cities where getting that perfect shot is almost 100% guaranteed. Pack your bags and get your filters ready!

New York
No surprise here that the big apple is the World’s most Instagram city, with over 59.7 million visitors delving into every nook and cranny of this cultural capital. The city is the perfect playground for amazing shots like these, by @frankreporter. Are you up to the challenge?

Discover your perfect NH hotel in New York.

 

London
England’s capital, The Old Smoke, is the most Instagrammed city in Europe and a paradise for all manner of photography lovers with an eye for detail and color (as long as your happy with gray backdrops). We’ve made a list of our favorite 3 London instagramers that have conquered our hearts with their special view of the capital:

1. @MissUnderground: A girl in love with the London Underground.

2. Jacintha Verdegaal: Dutch travel blogger living in London Always dreaming about my next trip and my next meal

 

3. Alexandra Lhermite-Schwass: I love traveling, autumn, Earl Grey tea, dreams, the sea, bicycles, dogs, fluffy white clouds, perfume and kissing.

Discover your perfect NH hotel in London.

Budapest

Mesmerizing Budapest is Hungary’s city with two personalities, full of eye-catching architecture, camera-ready urban jewels, and a positively rich history that steal your heart and your imagination. Fall in love with its traditional gastronomy and its vibrant ambiance, then make photographic keepsakes for your Insta personality. And here’s a curious fact, did you know Budapest often plays Paris’ doppelganger in movies? Easy to understand when we see pictures like these, by @markpozsonyi:

Discover your perfect NH hotel in Budapest.

 

Amsterdam

Also known as The Venice of the North and one of the most photogenic cities in the world, Amsterdam offers fascinating views of canals and bridges, romantic houseboats & traditional narrow houses and courtyards that date back to the 13th century. A few well-composed shots in this city will guarantee you instant likes between your followers! If you don’t believe us, take a look at these beautiful Instagram accounts:

1. Sander • Hi, I’m Sander

2. Mylittleamsterdam: Capturing the most beautiful city in the world.

Discover your perfect NH hotel in Amsterdam.

Habana

We move to more vibrant lands. Ever dreamed of visiting La Habana? It certainly is an unforgettable trip, where the visitor travels back in time to a city marked by its culture, colonial past, and its preserved architecture, perfectly captured by @low843:

Discover your perfect NH hotel in Habana.

Rome

Our Instagram adventure takes us to Rome, the Eternal City. With its ancient roman ruins, museums, crooked streets, robust aromas and beautiful churches, the 2000+ years of history certainly make Rome well-rehearsed for the camera. Perfect places for breathtaking snapshots! In case you can’t travel to Rome, let us take you there. Just swipe through following gallery by @Giuliopugliese:

Discover your perfect NH hotel in Rome.  

Barcelona

This city is an unforgettable trip for the senses. Let your imagination fly while you admire Gaudi’s architectural work, embrace the jostle of modern vs. classic, and discover Picasso’s legacy. Awaken your taste buds with the best of the Mediterranean gastronomy and treat your ears to the sound of Classic Spanish guitar. If this doesn’t tickle your fancies, these incredible pictures by @nicanorgarcia surely will:

 

Discover your perfect NH hotel in Barcelona.

Porto

Located by the Duoro river, Porto is one of our favorite settings for Instagram-perfect shots. Take a stroll along its historic riverfront and make sure you stop the Palacio da Bolsa, the Sao Francisco Church, the colorful medieval district of Cais da Ribera or the iconic Clerigos Tower! Instagrammer @davo_dw shows us some amazing shots of Porto: 

Discover your perfect NH hotel in Porto. 

So, the big question is, which of these cities will become the prized subject of your next travels?

The 3 most beautiful European cities to visit this autumn

By NH | 11:22

For many travellers, autumn’s arrival opens the door to an excellent time to travel: lower temperatures, fewer crowds and beautiful colours that remind us of impermanence. So, where to? We’re taking you to some of our favourite European cities to visit during the autumn months. The hard part for you is deciding where to go.

Lisbon
The capital of Portugal offers visitors a wide range of things to do, from cultural hotspots that immerse you in the country’s history, to gastronomy, music, arts, and wonderful parks and gardens. Here’s a list of things not to miss when visiting Lisbon in autumn!

The Alfama District is Lisbon’s oldest area, where visitors can stroll around narrow cobblestone streets while discovering cute and cosy cafes, shops, historical buildings and a special ambience accented with the unmistakable Fado music in the background.

The old Alfama District in Lisbon

Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, a must visit if you want to enjoy the best views of Lisbon at sunset. From the terrace and after a little hike, you’ll have a spectacular view of the Castle de São Jorge and the river.
Talking of views, if you’re not in the mood to stroll up to the castle, our NH Collection Lisboa Liberdade is not only the perfect choice for the best stay when in the city, but also has one of the best terraces in the city, bar Atico. From here, you can soak up the cityscape whilst tasting a top class cocktail from our menu designed by Diego Cabrera.

As for gardens and parks, Parque do Palácio Pena is a favourite! Less than an hour train ride away from Lisbon’s Rossio train station, this wonderful area encompasses several historical sites such as the Palácio Nacional de Sinta, de Palace of Pena and the Moorish Castle. Bring your camera out and don’t leave without capturing its magnificent gardens of vibrant beauty with an autumn tint.

Parque do Palácio Pena

There are many luscious parks to enjoy at this time of year, and our NH Lisboa Campo Grande is perfectly positioned to make the most of them, including the aforementioned Campo Grande, Parque da Bela Vista, the Jardim Zoologico de Lisboa, and much more.

After so much walking around, you’ll want something to eat! When it comes to gastronomy, Lisbon has lots of delicacies to offer. Make sure you go into a tasca and ask for sardinhas assadas (charcoal-grilled sardines), pastéis de bacalhau (cod fishcakes) or caldo verde (a soup of cabbage and potatoes). And for those who have a sweet tooth, our advice is to try the typical Pasteis de Belem from Antiga Confeitaria de Belem, the only bakery where they still work with the original recipe!

Pasteis de Belem

Budapest
The capital of Hungary is a picturesque city, friendly to tourists and easy to get around. It is considered by many as one of Europe’s most beautiful capitals and is home to many World Heritage Sites. And did you know that the Budapest Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the world? It opened its doors on 9 August 1866. Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with Budapest after a few days!

Budapest

Any visit to Budapest should start with a walk around its quiet streets. Let your feet take you to The Parliament, stop to admire this Gothic building with more than 350 towers and its intricate and artistic stonework. Located right next to the Danube, this building is one of the most eye-catching you’ll encounter! If you have the chance to visit it at night, be prepared to be amazed. 

Another impressive landmark is St. Stephen’s Basilica. Those who appreciate architecture will be infatuated with the beautiful dome and ceiling inside the Basilica, simply stunning! Afterwards, climb the more of 300 stairs to get an incredible 360-degree view from Budapest, unmissable!

The icing on the cake will be a visit to the Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden, a must for those travelling with children this autumn… Or without them! Located within Városliget Park, a short walk from our NH Budapest City, it is the home to more than 1.072 animal species and is considered a natural reserve. Have you ever fed a Bactrian Camel? Here you can! And keep an eye out for the most special animal in the Zoo: the Komodo Dragon. Our advice is to keep a whole day aside to get most out of the visit!

Last but not least, if you’re planning a visit to Budapest this year, keep in mind that starting on November 11th you’ll have the chance to visit the Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival, which some say, wins hands down against German Christmas Markets! In the lovely Vörösmarty Square, the market is located right in front of the prestigious Gerbeaud Coffee and exudes a fantastic atmosphere full of inviting sights, smells and sounds. Don’t forget to stop by the cottage-style wooden food stalls and order a Krampampuli, a traditional Hungarian punch drink, together with traditional honey cookies.

Berlin
Berlin is a city that has a lot to offer but it is in autumn when it turns into a huge work of art. Can you imagine walking on an endless carpet of red and yellow leaves bordered by golden trees? That’s how it feels to walk around Berlin’s parks during this time of the year, the perfect mood for a romantic autumn stroll… You’ll have plenty of parks to choose from, as there are approximately 2.500 in the city! Some of our recommendations are the Wuhlheide Park or the fascinating Tiergarten Park, a favourite for locals and visitors alike thanks to its marvellous lakes and of course, the park’s Biergarten.

Ever heard of the Light Festival? If you happen to visit the city between the 7th and 16th of October, you’ll have the chance to explore Berlin’s famed sights and cultural attractions in a new light, like the Brandenburg Gate, the Fernsehturm, Berlin Cathedral and the Berlin Victory Column. The event that takes place every year during 10 days, and turns the city centre into a giant canvas for light and video projections where visitors can enjoy different art and music events, as well as guided LightSeeing tours.

You might also be interested to know that autumn is kite season in Berlin, another great and fun activity if you’re travelling with children! Locals fetch their colourful kites and let them fly high at the former Tempelhof Airport, right in the middle of the city. The kids will love the colours in the wind! For more family plans in Berlin, check our travel guide.

And an old German tradition to adopt while in Berlin, is visiting its Christmas Markets. Most of them start on November 21st and go to the end of December or even into the first week of January. By popular choice, the Gendarmenmarkt, located next to the German church, is considered the most beautiful and popular. Just walk around while you enjoy the cosy atmosphere, its many food and drinks stalls, and beautiful Christmas decorations. Feeling the Christmas spirit yet?

Every season is a reason to travel but autumn is the best time of the year to fully take in the beauty of this three incredible cities. Where will the Autumn be taking you?

 

First visit to Hamburg? Here’s a list of the TOP things you need to do

By NH | 15:44

Did you know that Hamburg has a greater number of bridges than Venice and Amsterdam combined? And that it’s seven times bigger than Paris? These are just some of the things that make Germany’s second largest city well worth a visit. Want to know more? Keep reading!


Located on the Elbe River and known as the “Gateway to the World”, Hamburg was once considered the world’s most mercantile location, mainly thanks to the development of connections to distant lands like Africa, South America or the Far East. With time, the harbour city swallowed up many small villages in the vicinity and established itself as a major economic power in Europe.

Today, Hamburg is increasingly becoming a trendy tourist spot and one of the most amazing destinations in northern Germany. The best time to visit is between May and October, although each season has its own charm.

So, what is there to do? What to see? Let’s start with some must-see sights in Hamburg :

– The old Fish Market.

Don’t be fooled by the name, it’s not all about fish! This 300 year old market sells an eclectic range of wares and is a fun way to spend a few hours experiencing a unique atmosphere right on the harbour . Be ready for live music bands, all sorts of food and a fun crowd. Curious fact: Back in 1934, after a longtime rivalry between them, the Altona and Hamburg fish markets merged into the shared Fischmarkt Hamburg-Altona, becoming the leading market for gourmet fish in Germany.

– HafenCity.

The famous city quarter oozes history and shows an interesting contrast between the old and the new. Did you know that the city is Europe’s most important development project? Since 2008, this urban regeneration project focuses on turning the existing old warehouses into residential areas, shops, hotels and office buildings. Our tip? Take a stroll along the waterways and enjoy the UNESCO buildings, such as the Speicherstadt, the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall, the International Maritime Museum of Hamburg, and the numerous bridges. Visiting this place at night will give you a perfect sight of the ships’ and city lights reflecting on the water.

 

– Reeperbahn.

The “Dark Side” of the city, the place where the Beatles became famous. This street is one for Hamburg’s nightlife centers. Expect an interesting mix of bars, night clubs, walls covered with graffiti, live theaters and sex shops. Curious fact: Between the 17th and 18th centuries, Reeperbahn was a ropewalk, hence the name. Reeperbahn means ropewalk, the place where ropes are made. If you need a more detailed list of the sights and sounds of the Reeperbahn, check this travel guide!

 

Next stop, the museums . The city is home to many galleries and museums where you can learn all about the Hamburg’s wonderful history, like the International Maritime Museum, with a variety of exhibits and displays that will take you on a trip through the city’s past and the relationship between humanity and the sea. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll have the chance to learn how chocolate is produced (and then try some) at the Chocoversum Museum, they even let you make your own chocolate! The Miniatur Wunderland Museum is a must for the little ones and adults alike. Want to visit 15 different areas around the world in a couple hours? It’s not impossible thanks to the great mini-cities models, you’ll utterly love its details and quirks! Tip: don’t forget to press the button at the chocolate factory when visiting the Switzerland miniature exhibition, you’ll get a miniature chocolate!

And if you’re visiting Hamburg with the family, there are plenty of plans to do with the little ones, like a visit to the fantastic Hamburg Zoo, where the children can hand feed the elephants, admire the lions and tigers and enjoy the impressive underwater scenery of the Aquarium. The Zoo opened in 1907 and is one of a kind; there are no cages and the animals freely roam in open enclosures surrounded by moats. For more exciting Hamburg entertainment for families, here’s another useful list! 

You shouldn’t have any doubts by now, Hamburg is definitely a place to visit. Alone, with friends, with that special someone or with the family. There are interesting and fun things to do for everyone!

Top 6 European Cities for Autumn 2016

By NH | 17:12

From Summer to Winter holidays, this year, why not take a break during the season of change, Autumn?

A season of transition, where leaves start to fall from the trees and cities are dashed with spectacular reds, yellows and oranges. The days become shorter, making the indoors cosier while the sun hides and the wind carries the telltale signs of Winter.

Discover the top 6 European cities for that perfectly picturesque Autumn city break.

 

BERLIN

A city that beats with nightlife as much as it does with history, Berlin is easily one of the most loved and fascinating cities in Europe, and charms visitors even more during Autumn. This is the time for major events and art exhibitions, such as El Siglo de Oro: The Age of Velázquez and the Berlin Art Week, both happening on September. And of course not forgetting the Oktoberfest which kicks of September 23rd.

But out of all of this, it’s Berlin’s 2500+ parks and gardens to be explored, and what better way than in autumn, and using it as an excuse to walk on a carpet of yellows, oranges and red? Just to name a few ideas, there is the Unter den Linden, Berlin’s historic tree-lined boulevard, close to our NH Collection Berlin Mitte Friedrichstrasse, and the Volkspark Friedrichshain, the oldest public park in the city, only few minutes’ walk from our NH Berlin Alexanderplatz. If you want to go further afield, the majestic Spree River provides a different sight of the city, and also here you’ll find Graffiti and Street Art named East Side Gallery. As you can tell, Berlin is a city that implores you to be outdoors, even when the weather’s fresh.

 

BRUGES

Fairytale or wonderland? Horses, swans, gothic cathedrals, medieval streets, vast greenery and boating canals makes this UNESCO listed city a perfect Autumn destination. During this season, the city transforms with colour, which can be taken in on foot or by boat along the quiet canals and medieval walls. Outstanding bursts of colour compliment the picturesque neo-gothic, Flemish facades and gothic peaks.
Known as the “Venice of the North”, the warm, cooling weather will make you want to do all kind of activities, but best choice is definitely gaze at clear skies of autumn, taking in the surroundings, eating local, handmade chocolate (if you’re a chocolate-lover you should definitely visit Choco-Story while in the city) and taking a stroll through Oud St Jan, close to our NH Brugge. Discover one of Belgium’s most precious hidden jewels!

 

LISBON

Named Europe’s top city break destination at last year’s World Travel Awards, Lisbon is full of culture, offers vibrant lifestyles, and, of course, the beaches close to the city center. The famed winding and undulating streets are filled with the indescribably wonderful smell of roasted chestnuts, as the leaves turn and the sun cools. September-November is the perfect time to visit Lisbon, a place made for every kind of traveler.

An interesting fact is that during the Autumn, many of the city’s loved museums and galleries, like the Chiado and the National Museum of Ancient Art, offer special events, and music lovers are invited to the Out Jazz Festival, which takes place in September. Our NH Campo Grande is 15 minutes by bus to Parque das Nações, with shopping center, aquarium and Vasco da Gama Tower. Get ready to soak up the Autumn sun with the spectacular light adding new colours to the beauty of Lisbon.

 

ROME

You know what they say, all roads lead to Rome! Well, it’s true what they say, and those roads lead to a historical city that’s paved with modern culture. This European Metropolis, teeming with Italian and local tradition, is perfect for an autumn break, to visit the festivals and art events happening, like the one and only Festa del Cinema and the very particular Chesnut festival. But trust us, there are many more to be found.

Obviously, as the weather and the hot summer ebbs away, a walk around the city is an obligatory activity; visit the Coliseum and the Pantheon, close to our NH Collection Palazzo Cinquecento. No visit to Rome is complete without tasting their culinary traditions and the fall season fits perfectly for lovers of wine, olive oil, broccoli, zucchini and chestnuts. Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce), as once you’re in the city, you’re sure to stumble upon many more culinary treats. After all, this is where the dolce vita is.

 

PRAGUE

A tour of colors! Even if you have been in Prague before, you haven’t really been there if you haven’t visited during Autumn. The days in this city are wonderfully chilly, with soft golden sunshine decorating Prague, fitting its title as Golden Prague perfectly.

First thing you’ll notice when going to the city is the majestic Charles Bridge, for incredible views of the castle and town, where you’ll see a collection of structures and historic buildings built between the 10th and the 20th centuries. Close to all of this is our NH Prague City, perfect to explore the city and find hidden treasures. In Autumn you can experience the most extraordinary panoramic of this historic city. Just don’t forget to pack long sleeves and jackets.

 

BARCELONA

After the long, humid summer, Autumn brings Barcelona to life again, with local stores and many restaurant owners returning from their holidays. The city kicks back into action, with the locals flooding the streets with that vibe that makes Barcelona one the world’s most popular tourist destinations. The weather during September-November in the city is warm, sunny days, complimented by cooler nights. But don’t worry! Just because it’s autumn, doesn’t mean you can’t go and relax on the beach; the sun still on the sky, the water remains warm and the city is lit by a deep yellow.

The city is known for football, festivals and free tourist attractions. Well, this Autumn is the best season to enjoy all three of them; La Liga season starts and Barcelona fans live it up at the Camp Nou, just a 10 minutes walks away from our NH Barcelona Stadium. There are also the events and festivals, Festes de la Mercè and the International Jazz Music Festival, to highlight a couple. Barcelona definitely comes to life at this time and should not be missed.

Discover the new gourmet paradise of the Amalfi Coast: Kyushu

By NH | 13:09

A table set on a suspended balcony on a cliff, 80 meters above the sea, peering over one of the world’s most loved coasts, is where you’ll find Kyushu, the first Japanese Restaurant in Amalfi.  The views is quintessentially Italian; from the terraces dotted with lemon trees, colourful bougainvillea flowers bursting with colour against the white walls, and cropped Mediterranean gardens setting greens against the blues of the sea. Kyushu is situated at our NH Collection Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi, where Spanish chef Julián Marmol’s menu offers a meeting of two traditions – the highest level of Japanese cuisine combined with touches of Mediterranean-Italian flavors, thus providing a unique and extraordinary dining experience; two distant cultures fused effortlessly. 

 

 

The location itself is charming, even chef Julián Mámol describes it as living in a constant delightful dream with the sea nearby, and the light of the Amalfi Coast, which is both seductive and beautiful. The coast is an extraordinary treasure of Italy, where different peculiarities harmoniously coexist and testify the glorious artistic, historic and cultural heritage of the territory. The gastronomical experience is the result of a meticulous and accurate research.

At Kyushu restaurant, choose to dine on the elegant terrace overlooking the Italian Dolce Vita, or within the dining hall that is fitted with beautiful furnishings, set against clean lines. There is also our infinity pool, where the blues of the water, sky and sea seamlessly meet, blurring the horizon with enchanting results. Whether a well-traveled lover of Italy or a new adventure, choose the Amalfi Coast and our hotel as your destination. For information and reservations, please contact our NH Collection Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi.