While there are guides that try to do it all, covering food, hotels, sights and travel arrangements, DK's Great Places to Stay in Europe takes a different approach. Rather than tackling European travel in its entirety, the guide focuses on one aspect of Europe: lodging. Luckily Europe is rich in its diversity of fine lodgings for travellers, and the guide's listings of hotels, bed and breakfasts, farmhouses, chalets, pousadas and country inns makes for entertaining and inspiring reading for the prospective traveller.
The crew at DK takes a rigorous approach to selecting places to stay. At the top of their list of criteria for a "great place to stay" are setting, atmosphere and personal welcome. Service, food and sophistication of facilities are also taken into consideration, though, as the editors note, readers will probably remember lodgings that excel in the former criteria rather than those that cushion their experience with "standardized comfort and facilities". Most of the hotels featured have between 15 and 50 rooms and are privately owned and operated. Taken together, the listings reflect the great variety of lodgings to be had.
The "great places" are listed by country, and a brief introduction to each country includes geographical background, information about food, a locator map and some practical information. But the strength of the book is the listings themselves. A good number of the listings include colour photographs of the lodgings (a rarity in more-general travel guides), and a paragraph itemising the hotel's best qualities. The book would more accurately be called Great Places to Stay in Western Europe--it includes hotels in Austria and Greece but not the Czech Republic or other former Eastern Block countries. Still, it represents an impressive gathering of detailed, quality information that is sure to enhance the serious traveller's experience of Western Europe. --Kathleen Keefe [via]