A number of times I have been challenged by clients with a specific brief: they don’t want to stay somewhere ‘chic’ or ‘trendy’, but in a truly outstanding feat of architecture. Luckily for them I have a few aces up my sleeve – Prestige Holidays’ selection of Croatian design hotels.
For architecture enthusiasts, the wonderful thing about staying in a design hotel – a hotel with a striking concept-driven style and décor – is that you get to eat, breathe and sleep design during your stay. If you’re appreciative of bold architectural forms and striking interiors, you can immerse yourself in the cutting edge of Croatian design at the following five-star hotels.
Hotel Lone, Rovinj
Hotel Lone made waves in the press when it first opened its doors in 2011. It was designed by renowned Croatian architectural firm 3LHD, who are based in Zagreb. I recommend this hotel for clients who love bold, statement buildings: its minimalist curves are anything but minimal! It’s also refreshingly family-friendly, with a children’s pool and a kids’ corner to keep the little ones entertained while you soak up your stylish surroundings.
The driving element of the Hotel Lone’s design is its situation: it perches on a hillside facing the Adriatic Sea, wrapped around by ancient woodland. Its unconventional Y-shaped footprint ensures that every room on each of its six floors has a view of the sea or the forest.
The outside is reflected in its interior styling, with pale stone floors, charcoal grey walls and water pools that give this cutting-edge space a sense of tranquillity. A recent guest told me that this concept slowly reveals itself as you explore the hotel, in features like the leafy mural in the main lobby and the large, strategically-placed mirrors in the suites that reflect framed views of the outside landscape.
The Hotel Lone has three onsite restaurants, named L, ON and E. Restaurant L provides à la carte dining, where global cuisine is recreated using fresh local ingredients. There is a team of experienced sommeliers on hand to recommend one of the 150 wines on the drinks menu.
My tip: ask for an outdoor table to make the most of the spectacular views.
Restaurant ON is the main eatery where you can enjoy breakfast every morning; it also provides served and buffet dining in the evening. If you’re travelling with children, I have heard a lot of good feedback about the restaurant’s children’s menu, which manages to win over even picky little ones.
For an exclusive dining experience, you can make your way to the 40-seat Restaurant E. Three nights a week it offers the chance to indulge in authentic Japanese sushi, accompanied by green tea, natural juices and specially-selected wines.
The fantastic thing about a design hotel of the Hotel Lone’s calibre is that there is rarely a temptation to leave the luxury it provides. The spa facilities on offer are, unsurprisingly, top of the range. Whether you choose to take advantage of the outdoor and indoor swimming pools, sauna and whirlpool rooms with hydromassage beds, or range of body treatments, you are sure to go to bed at night feeling utterly relaxed.
Design Hotel Navis, Opatija
If you’re looking for a secluded romantic retreat or a honeymoon spot, I have to recommend the Design Hotel Navis, which first opened in 2014. Unlike its grand neighbouring hotels in Opatija, famous for their lavish Austro-Hungarian style, the contemporary feel of the Navis makes a strong statement. Look out for the designer furniture that populates the hotel, which was specially produced by a number of famous Croatian designers.
The hotel was conceived and brought to life by the Kapetanović family, who took advantage of a stunning cliffside location on Kvarner Bay to tell a maritime story through the design of their hotel. This luxury ocean-liner of a hotel has dark blue corridors, reminiscent of a ship, and nautical miles marked on each room. With the Kapetanović’s at the helm – the name is derived from the Croatian for ‘captain’ – there is a distinct personal touch to this glamorous hotel.
The theme continues in the Restaurant Navis, which offers an array of freshly-caught seafood dishes, exquisitely reimagined. One happy couple told me how wonderful it was to wake up to the sound and taste of the sea – they ate oysters and smoked salmon for breakfast on the restaurant terrace looking out over the ocean.
The à la carte dinner menu is put together by head chef Nenad Posavac, whose passion for seasonal ingredients and the finest seafood is abundantly evident. Whether you fancy steak with Istrian truffles, Adriatic tuna carpaccio or gregarda fish, expect a gourmet dining experience both in taste and looks!
One of the biggest selling points of the Navis, in my opinion, is the opportunity it gives you to utterly relax and de-stress. The outdoor-indoor pool is definitely not a splashing and dive-bombing zone – you can float serenely between the two with no distractions other than the sound and smell of the sea, which provides a breathtaking backdrop.
The opportunities for pampering are also varied in the elegantly-designed spa. I have heard excellent things about their Turkish bath, although a number of pampering treatments from all over the world are available, including a Filipino hot shell massage and an invigorating session in the Finnish sauna.