Lamplight falling onto shining cobbled streets; Baroque and Romanesque churches rearing up from in between the squat grey bricks of Eastern European buildings; large snow-dusted squares containing a statue of a saint or a soldier on horseback. A castle lit up in magnificent pale glory against a dark night sky shimmering with ice crystals.

This does indeed sound like the fairytale description of a medieval town, and country-wise you would be forgiven if your mind leapt to Prague, Budapest or Vienna. But in actual fact this picturesque scene can be found in a much less tourist-inhabited part of Europe – and yet a no less beautiful one. We are here to convince you why Bratislava should be next on your hit-list when planning a little getaway. Trust us – it’s the place to watch.

The City:

You’d be forgiven for scratching your head and blushingly admitting you’re not one hundred percent sure where Bratislava lies. Well, it is the capital city of Slovakia . Bratislava is compact and uncrowded, making it perfect for a short break. The whole city can be explored on foot, and nestled around Old Town are a bundle of churches, fountains, beautiful architecture and lovely squares that capture the true Eastern European charm of the city. The Castle sits grandly above the city, offering superb views once you’ve trekked up to the top. Bratislava is equally beautiful in all seasons – during the winter it is cold and snow-laden, while in summer a jovial air reigns – tables are placed in courtyards for al fresco dining, and there are plenty of lovely walks. There is also a first-class Christmas market to rival even Austria’s – and less crowded too. One of the main reasons for feeling so comfortable here is undoubtably the people. The Bratislavan hospitality industry has made a decisive effort to provide the highest quality of service for visitors, and any traveller is sure to feel welcome wherever they find themselves.

There are a number of hotels in Bratislava offering inexpensive rooms and staff who have an unquenchable desire to make you enjoy your stay. We’ve chosen the best of the smaller, independent offerings, and the prime place to visit if you fancy being part of a top-notch and well-loved chain.

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Hotel Danubia Gate

For those wanting to experience a small, family run establishment then they can no absolutely no better than Danubia Gate. Open for five years now, this charming hotel really has the personal touch. Rooms are large and comfortable, and for only a few euros more than the already inexpensive rate then you can upgrade to a Deluxe Room. We couldn’t believe the grand size and quirky amenities – we got most excited about the bathroom – a plasma TV in the wall and an actual jacuzzi to enjoy – plus the funkiest neon blue-lighting you can imagine! For couples looking to book a romantic getaway in luxury who are on a budget, then this is for you.

The reception staff are also incredibly helpful, and there is an intimate little cafe downstairs to get breakfast, or enjoy the daily changing Slovak menu for under €10. Book a stay and you’ll know you’re in the great hands of Lenka and her team. As she put it ‘We are all for innovation, but we want to make sure we get the service perfect. The most important thing is the comfort of our guests, which is why we have frequent return visitors.’ And, after the stay we have, we can completely see why people would make their stay a regular occurrence.

Visit website here

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Hotel Sheraton Bratislava

Are you looking for the ultimate in hotel-chic while staying in Bratislava? You’ve come to the right place. The Sheraton Bratislava pride themselves on offering the highest standard of relaxation and luxury in a gorgeous contemporary setting – stay in the elegant rooms, pamper yourself in the spa, and get the perfect night’s sleep in one of their famous Sheraton Sweet Sleeper beds.

On first entering the hotel you feel like you’re in good hands. The staff all look splendidly smart and will smilingly answer any question you have, while the decor of roaring fires, snug chairs and a glimmering bar will have you immediately at ease with its contemporary take on old-school glamour. Our room was the stuff holiday-dreams are made of – massive bed, great view across the snow-dusted landscape, sleek tiled bathroom with a rain-shower, plus mahogany fittings and a huge TV.

If you’re tired of going to luxury hotels where the staff have a cold snootiness about them, then have no fear – Bratislavan charm abounds here, and there is always someone to see to your needs. You couldn’t feel in better hands.

Visit website here

BOE Magazine