Europe’s festive markets are a great way to get into the Christmas spirit and stock up for the season, with glittering decorations, stalls delivering beautifully crafted gifts, seasonal food and drinks and a host of entertainments. Here’s how to enjoy the Christmas markets in six European cities and stay in style with NH Collection.
Regularly named among the world’s best Christmas market destinations, Prague is transformed with festive shopping through the season. Some of the most eye-catching events take place in the Old Town Square (26 Nov to 6 Jan), the grounds of Prague Castle (23 Nov to 6 Jan) and at náměstí Míru in front of the Church of St Ludmila (20 Nov to 24 Dec), where bargain hunters will find locally crafted, hand-made gifts and decorations. Those looking for a change of pace can head to Manifesto Anděl, a hip food hub with cool restaurants, a large beer bar, cocktail bar, live music, and a carousel for kids and adults that’s in place throughout the Christmas season.
Where to stay: NH Collection Prague Carlo IV is a five-star property set in a Neo-Renaissance palace on the border of Prague Old and New Town, with Old Town Square and other major sights just a few minutes on foot, and Prague Castle only 20 minutes by public transport. The elegant rooms are contemporarily styled, and guests can relax in the wellness spa, which is one of the city’s biggest, savour cocktails in the wooden-clad Vault Bar, and enjoy a seasonal menu in the 1890 restaurant.
The Ice Village at Amsterdam’s iconic Museumplein square (Dec 14-26) is a charming village of wooden chalets which sits alongside the Ice Amsterdam ice rink in the heart of the city. Stalls sell everything from Christmas gifts and decorations to clothing, the aroma of delicious seasonal food and drink fills the air and warming fire pits add to the festive atmosphere.
Where to stay: The NH Collection Amsterdam Barbizon Palace is in the heart of the city, an easy walk from the Royal Palace and popular museums, and close to Central Station, where guests can catch the metro for speedy access to Museumplein and RAI Amsterdam. The hotel is beautifully elegant with rooms spread across what were once 17th-century houses, and facilities include the Vermeer Restaurant and a wellness centre.
Berlin is jam-packed with festive markets over the Christmas season, from cosy and nostalgic celebrations to cutting-edge cool. The perfect place to buy Christmas gifts and decorations, highlights include the sophisticated WeihnachtsZauber market in beautiful Gendarmenmarkt square, with gourmet cuisine, jugglers and fire-eaters, the Spandau Christmas Market which offers horse-drawn carriage rides, and the Berliner Weihnachtszeit, with ice skating, carousels and a 50-metre-high Ferris wheel.
Where to stay: NH Collection Berlin Mitte Friedrichstrasse has a prime location close to Berlin’s best-known sights and shopping areas including Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and the magnificent, tree-lined Unter den Linden, as well as many of the city’s festive markets. After a day of soaking up the Christmas cheer, the hotel’s stylish bedrooms and sauna are perfect for winding down, while the TASTE! Bar & Restaurant offers everything from typical Berlin street food snacks to delicious haute cuisine.
Brussels is wonderful at Christmas, with a Winter Wonders festival (25 Nov to 1 Jan) that fills the centre with seasonal cheer. As well as a Christmas market bursting with gift ideas, delicious festive treats, an enormous tree, ice skating and fairground rides, it also incorporates a spectacular sound and light show at the Grand-Place, and Brussels by Lights, which illuminates more than 150 streets with dazzling decorations.
Where to stay: Built in the 1920s, NH Collection Brussels Centre boasts period features including an Art Deco-style façade, and there’s a stunning top-floor terrace where guests can enjoy sweeping views of the city skyline while admiring the winter streets and Christmas lights below. The spacious and elegant rooms offer high ceilings and comfortable beds, and many have fantastic views of the city.
Numerous festive markets appear in Vienna’s most beautiful squares in the run up to Christmas, but the biggest and best known is Wiener Christkindlmarkt (19 Nov to 26 Dec), located in front of the city hall. A giant tree sets the scene and is surrounded by dozens of stalls selling high quality gifts, and in the adjacent park the seasonal treats include the glistening Tree of Hearts, a large ice rink, sky-high Ferris wheel and carousels.
Where to stay: The remarkable glass-fronted NH Collection Wien Zentrum is decorated with a stunning mural painted by Charles Ludwig Attersee, one of Austria’s most renowned modern artists. The hotel is on one of Europe’s longest shopping streets and next to the Zieglergasse subway station for easy access to many of Vienna’s winter festivities. Guests also benefit from an extraordinary roof terrace that provides panoramic views of Vienna’s skyline.
Milan’s glamorous city centre is transformed into a winter wonderland through December, with designer stores dressing their windows with sparkling displays, and a giant, dazzling tree taking centre stage in the Vittorio Emanuele II Galleria. The most famous market is at Piazza Duomo (25 Nov to 6 Jan), home of the city’s magnificent cathedral, and it features more than 60 wooden chalets selling traditional decorations, treats and local delicacies.
Where to stay: The five-star NH Collection Milano President is a short stroll from Piazza Duomo, and close to the city’s fashion district, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and arty Brera, home of cobbled alleys, Instagrammable squares and historic restaurants. The hotel’s rooms are bathed in natural light while dining options include the stylish Verziere Restaurant & Bar, which serves speciality Milanese, Italian and international dishes & cocktails. There’s also a hire service for guests who want to explore the winter scene by bike.