Rick Steves Reveals His Favorite Hotels He's Stayed At In These European Cities

When it comes to the perfect European vacation, there are few people who possess more expertise than travel writer and authority Rick Steves. After all, he's managed to make a career of traveling all over Europe to share his passion for the culture with others — and, as Steves told The New York Times, he doesn't count the number of countries he's visited. (How does one sign up for Steves's life? Asking for ... ourselves.)

Steves' specialty is Europe and he's been to many of its most famous cities multiple times, so he knows a thing or two about the best places to stay. And though, like any traveler, he seeks out new experiences, it turns out that Steves has some tried-and-true favorites when it comes to hotels — and he's not opposed to staying at the same place more than once.

"Over the years, I do develop my favorite hotels in each city. And when I'm getting lazy, I don't go to a new hotel, I go to my favorite hotel," Steves said during an interview on Johnny Jet's Travel Podcast. "So when I'm in Madrid, I go to Hotel Europa. When I'm in Sevilla, I go to Hotel Amadeus. When I'm in Rome, I go to Albergo Santa Chiara. For me, the key is to find a hotel that's kind of convivial, family run, and beautifully located. The location is critical." Let's take a closer look at Steves' recommended hotels. 

All about Hotel Europa and Hotel Amadeus

Hotel Europa in Madrid boasts being the only hotel in Puerta del Sol, which is a public square in the city. It's also one of the busiest areas of Madrid, so if crowds aren't exactly your favorite part of traveling, it may not be the best option for you. But if you love the hustle and bustle, it's an excellent location.

It's also surprisingly affordable — as of this writing, a night at Hotel Europa in February averages 167 euros (or 180 dollars), per Booking.comTripAdvisor describes it as a 3-star hotel, but it has a 4.5-star average from guests, so it seems like Steves isn't the only fan of the hotel.

"Spectacular location to explore Madrid. The staff service was excellent and the restaurant was very convenient. They went out of their way to satisfy all the needs that we brought to their attention during our stay," wrote a reviewer on TripAdvisor. "The view of the Plaza del Sol from the balcony was really magical."

Hotel Amadeus in Seville is also reasonably priced (the nightly average for February is comparable to Hotel Europa, per Booking.com) and is located in Seville's historic center. The hotel has a classical music theme, as the name implies, and it regularly hosts exclusive concerts. Plus, there are musical instruments available that guests can use to practice (don't worry — there are soundproofed rehearsal rooms).

All about Albergo Santa Chiara

When in Rome, Steves likes to check in to Albergo Santa Chiara. The hotel was built in 1839 and the building served as a wine shop before being converted to an inn, and eventually expanding into the 96-room hotel it is today. It includes an open-air wine bar that's perfect for mingling with the other guests, and the rooms are a mix of styles — some with more classic decor, while others have a modern feel.

Albergo Santa Chiara is located in the historic center of Rome, directly behind the famous Pantheon. According to its website, the location on Piazza della Minerva is "a quiet and peaceful oasis." And Steves isn't the only person who chooses Albergo Santa Chiara as his "go-to" hotel during trips to Rome. In fact, one reviewer on TripAdvisor plans their vacations around the hotel's availability! 

All in all, Steves has some general advice for selecting a hotel in Europe: "I look for places that are clean, central, relatively quiet at night, reasonably priced, friendly, small enough to have a hands-on owner and stable staff, run with a respect for local traditions, and not listed in other guidebooks," he wrote on his website's blog. "If I can find a place with, say, six of these eight criteria, it's a keeper. I'm more impressed by a convenient location and a fun-loving philosophy than flat-screen TVs and pricey laundry service."