By Connell Barrett
Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Sail away from the safe harbor," Mark Twain said. "Explore. Dream. Discover." No offense to Orlando and Myrtle Beach, but when it comes to dreams and discovery, Europe's iconic cities have you beat, offering good golf and sublime art and culture. (Paris has Pigalle. Myrtle has Piggly Wiggly. I'm just sayin'...) And when you return, you're armed with stories that go beyond your flying right elbow. Here are three great European cities that offer rich rewards on and off the course.

Hit the road, Jacques. France has about 600 courses for only 300,000 avid home-grown golfers, so designs by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Harry Colt and Peter Alliss are wide-open, and play is brisk. One of several superb courses in the City of Light is Nicklaus' Paris International Golf Club, which, in addition to being a tough (but fair) test has a luxe clubhouse featuring a spa and a swimming pool. Viva la difference!

The Hilton Arc de Triomphe Paris — an elegant hotel with art-deco-style rooms, spa, and stunning views of Paris — is a mere 10-minute walk from the Champs-Elysees and the eponymous arch that Napoleon erected in 1806.
From 295 Euros, including breakfast;

Golf in the Netherlands? 'Dam right! True, Poa annua is not the exotic grass that first springs to mind at the mention of Amsterdam, but the capital of the Netherlands has some good golf. My favorite course, Kennemer Golf & Country Club, has been rightly praised by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the top golf destinations on the continent. And the 27-hole layout is a 30-minute drive from the cobblestone-covered city center. Just keep in mind that if you stop into a "coffee" shop for a pre-round cup, you may never reach the course.

If location, location, location is what you seek, the NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky is ideal. Dating to 1866, the stately, 486-room hotel overlooks "The Dam," the city's main square, and is a mere five-minute walk to the Red Light District.
From 149 Euros;

A favorite of golf-loving Hugh Grant, The Grove — a 7,170-yard, par-72, Kyle Phillips design — has hosted the WGC-American Express Championships, and with good reason. It's "a chic, nouveaux track that oozes quality and is fun to play," in the words of one golf writer. And British weather means you can play virtually year-round.

While the Grove's 18th century hotel is a charmer, you may want something closer to London Town. The Hilton-London Canary Wharf is located in a bustling shopping area, is a quick tube ride from the West End, and has a staff that goes above and beyond. I needed to send a package back to the States, and the chipper concierge happily offered to run out and find a box for shipping, then dropped the package off at a FedEx location.
From 108 pounds, including breakfast;

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