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Craving a quick city break? It's easy to see why. These days, you can jet out at a moment's notice to wonder at the priceless art of Florence or people-watch in the hip cafes of Barcelona. You can go craft tasting in the beer bars of Prague or wander the leafy parks of Berlin. There's also Paris and Rome, Lisbon and castle-topped Salzburg, all vying for the attention of the would-be weekender in Europe.
What makes that possible hop to a city abroad all the more enticing is the prospect of staying in a townhouse. Not your usual hotel, these spacious pads mean really getting a feel for a place. They're small and tight-knit, built like bed and breakfasts but offering an urbane and cosmopolitan air throughout. Some channel the heritage and culture of the spots in which you find them – a touch of artistic flair in Florence, a wall of patterned azulejos tiles in Porto. Others are more modern, hiding contemporary lounges and plush bedspreads behind a frontispiece of Baroque stucco or Italianate carvings.
The real bonus of opting for a townhouse is surely in the location. Because they are relatively small compared to chain hotels, these accommodations are able to nestle into the historic blocks of old towns, closer than you'd ever get to the main attractions. That might mean a broadside view of the Grand Canal in Venice, a balcony that spills out onto the Piazza del Popolo in Rome or a pad that's just a whisker from the meanders of the Seine and the Louvre in Paris – right in the thick of the action.
These sorts of stays are a popular choice for short city breaks all over Europe. They come in loads of shapes and sizes but promise to really engross travellers in the heart of a metropolis. Take the townhouses in Venice and the townhouses in Florence. They lurk in streets that shoot off from St Mark's Square or pepper the banks of the Arno River close to world-class attractions like the Uffizi Gallery – the elegant Luxury B&B La Dimora degli Angeli is a fine example, sat only a stone's throw from the Florence Duomo. And it's the same in the Eternal City, with townhouses in Rome like La Mongolfiera offering a pad blocks from Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and other bucket-list-busting sights.
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