The cities to visit in 2024, according to luxury travel experts

Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark

For when you’re bored of holidays lounging by the beach and are craving the energy of city life, these buzzing city spots in Europe, the UK and Asia could be just the thing you need

Small Luxury Hotels recently surveyed its members to discern the top city destinations of 2024. While last year’s trend leaned towards beach clubs and turquoise waters, there is a noticeable shift towards urban experiences, possibly influenced by the resurgence of the ’90s grunge aesthetic. Travellers are exchanging sun lounges and leisurely moments for dimly lit jazz bars, iconic landmarks, and quaint cobblestone streets lined with cafes. 

“These trends reflect a broader global consciousness about environmental issues, personal well-being and a heightened desire to create meaningful travel experiences,” said Mark Wong, Small Luxury Hotels of the World’s Senior VP Asia Pacific. “As these trends continue to evolve, we’re seeing the travel industry adapt to meet the changing preferences of the consumer, offering an increasingly diverse range of sustainable, culinary and wellness-focused experiences that are very much connected to place and the surrounding community.”

Amsterdam, Netherlands

What makes Amsterdam so captivating? It’s a blend of tradition and modernity. The creative and cultural heart of the Netherlands, Amsterdam boasts canals adorned with cafes, historic art-filled galleries showcasing artworks from the likes of Van Gogh and Vermeer, and a picturesque backdrop for cultural exploration. When in Amsterdam, visitors should trip to the tulip markets, stroll in the parks, savour craft beer on the cobblestone street or traverse the city on a bicycle. As for the nightlife, Amsterdam comes alive after dark; there is the Music Building on the IJ for jazz and the Conservatorium for classical concerts. 

Stay at: Canal House, Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Maurits at the Park or Twenty Seven Hotel

Copenhagen, Denmark

Thanks to the rise of ‘Copencore’, an aesthetic rooted in its distinctive eclecticism, Copenhagen‘s popularity is soaring. Visitors are eager to experience the effortless coolness of the Danish capital. Copenhagen offers delectable pastries, and innovative Nordic cuisine and aims to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. The streets are designed for cyclists in Copenhagen, visitors must hire a bike to explore the city on two wheels. 

Stay at: Nimb Hotel, right in the Tivoli Gardens and be rewarded with a sweeping view of Copenhagen.

Florence, Italy

The Renaissance city remains timeless. Florence is adorned with gracefully arched bridges, and gardens infused with the scent of citrus. Florence is as beautiful as Rome or Milan, without the madding crowds. Strolling along the Ponte Vecchio, with the serene Tuscan countryside in view, remains a notable highlight despite its tourist attraction. If you can drag yourself away from the cafés and trattorias lining Piazza della Signoria, explore the opulent rooms of nearby Palazzo Vecchio.

Stay at: Hotel Lungarno, Hotel Regency, Palazzo Vecchietti, Villa Petriolo or il Salviatino Firenze

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Western Europe. Overlayed with terracotta and mosaic tiles, Lisbon is lined with sunshine-yellow trams, cobblestone streets and pastel-coloured buildings. The River Tagus winds its way beneath the San Francisco-style bridge. Douro Valley wine flows freely in Lisbon, and the intoxicating scent of freshly baked pastel de nata fills the air. Don’t miss Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest quarter, where you can enjoy fine dining and delicious Portuguese wine while listening to the moving melodies of fado music. 

Stay at: : The Ivens, Palacio Principe Real, Four Seasons Hotel Ritz, The Lumiares Hotel & Spa or Verride Palácio de Santa Catarina

Read our guide to Lisbons’ best neighbourhoods

Explore our Lisbon City Guide

Madrid, Spain

There is something for every traveller in the Spanish capital. In Madrid, visitors wander the Salamanca quarter and indulge in the seafood scene. For art lovers and historians alike, there are a plethora of museums and galleries, from a treasure trove of Velazquez masterpieces in the Prado Museum to Picasso’s deeply moving Guernica in the Reina Sofia. If you want a taste of true Spanish nightlife, don’t head out on the town until late, at least 11pm. ‘Madrugada’ is the local word for the time after midnight, when things really get going. 

Stay at: Hotel Único Madrid, The Principal Madrid Hotel, TÓTEM Madrid or Urso Hotel & Spa

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

The Capital of Scotland, Edinburgh melds homeliness with an aristocratic aesthetic. Walking through Edinburgh, you can feel equally at home and like you’ve stepped into a 1940s TV show scene. Row upon row of grey-washed Georgian townhouses sit prettily along cobblestone crescents and each district is brimming with artisan bakeries, boutiques, second-hand bookshops and wine bars. Edinburgh’s pub culture is about more than whisky – explore the favourite haunts of writers like Robbie Burns and Sir Walter Scott.

Stay at: Nira Caledonia or The Roseate Edinburgh

Kyoto, Japan

In the recent report from Small Luxury Hotels, the company explained that ‘although Europe has always been a firm favourite for Small Luxury Hotels’ members, it is unsurprising that a few far-flung surprises have been added to the list.’ Japanese aesthetics notably influence design choices in Western society – key principles such as Wabi Sabi and Japanese minimalism, deeply rooted in Japanese culture, are frequently referenced. It comes as no surprise that Kyoto, the heart of ancient Japan, ranks among the top city destinations for 2024. The city comprises over 1000 temples, traditional teahouses and the Geisha district of Gion. It’s worth mentioning Fishimi-Inari Taisha, a shrine characterised by a tunnel of hundreds of vermillion gates ascending the mountainside.

Stay at: Sowaka

Bangkok, Thailand

At the heart of Thailand, Bangkok offers an array of ancient traditions with luxury tourism. The emerald-green jungle of the Khao Yai National Park is an easy day trip away, with roaming elephants to spot amidst the palms, maybe even consider staying at the Intercontinental Khao Yai Resort, which embodies the romantic era of train travel. Indulge in sweet and spicy food stalls, ancient palace tours, sunset river cruises and hair-raising tuk-tuk rides, before relaxing in one of the city’s sky-skimming rooftop bars for a coconut-chilli cocktail or two.

Stay at: 137 Pillars Suites Bangkok

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