January 11, 2023
Tablet is your source for discovering the world’s most exciting boutique hotels — places where you’ll find a memorable experience, not just a room for the night. For over twenty years we’ve scoured the earth, evaluating hotels for every taste and budget, creating a hand-picked selection that’s proven and unforgettable. Now, we’re the official hotel selection of the legendary MICHELIN Guide.
Here are the top boutique hotels in Croatia, plus the Michelin star restaurants located nearby:
The Croatian coastline is no longer a secret; it’s no longer reasonable to describe Dubrovnik as “underrated.” But even though travelers’ expectations are high, this gem on the Adriatic is perfectly capable of meeting them — all the more so now that the Hotel Excelsior is back in business. In an earlier incarnation it played host to guests like Queen Elizabeth II and Elizabeth Taylor; in an even earlier incarnation it was a royal villa. And now, after a renovation that’s brought it up to 21st-century luxury-hotel standards, it’s poised to retake its place in the top level of Dubrovnik’s hospitality scene.
It’s proudly placed on the waterfront, just outside the historic old town, and it’s divided between two very different buildings: the 1913-vintage Villa Odak and a late-20th-century tower. The architectural details are necessarily different, but the atmosphere and the experience are more similar than you might expect — rooms and suites in both buildings are contemporary in style, and their spa-like bathrooms are stocked with L’Occitane products. An extravagant spa with a stunning indoor pool provides plenty of reasons to stay in, as do the hotel’s three restaurants: Salin, on the terrace, Sensus, with its open kitchen, and Prora, down by the rocky beach.
Croatia’s Dalmatian coast has never had to work very hard to attract landscape junkies or seafaring lifers. It’s got a bit of everything: here, the handsomely rugged Dinaric Alps peter themselves out in a patchwork of national parkland, olive groves, and vineyards. Zoom in a bit to the Krka river estuary, emptying placidly into the Adriatic, and you’ll find a narrow spit of land just south of the Renaissance stronghold of Šibenik. Right on the tip of that peninsula, luxuriating in the clement Mediterranean breeze, sits a four-story, teardrop-shaped contemporary edifice, flanked by a fleet of swanky yachts. Welcome to D-Resort Šibenik.
Sensibly, the proprietors didn’t attempt to outdo the old town’s arched, cobblestoned, clay-roofed grandeur; it’s quite correctly considered impossible beauty, after all. Instead, the 63 rooms (plus 6 suites and 3 villas) espouse bright, roomy, 21st-century minimalism, highly polished and equipped with gorgeous hardwood flooring. The view is nearly the entire point, which explains the floor-to-ceiling windows; it works both ways, too, shedding supernaturally vivid light on the interiors as long as the sun’s out.
The streets of heaven, we’ve heard, are paved in gold — but in Split, we can confirm that they’re lined with white marble. They’re a throwback to the city’s glamorous heyday: around 300AD, to be exact, when the Roman emperor Diocletian chose this seaside settlement as the ideal place to build his retirement palace. Thanks to the Roman ruins and the idyllic location on the Adriatic coast, Split remains one of Croatia’s most popular destinations — the kind of place where you’d like to stay close to the historic center, but not right in the middle of the tourist action. Someplace like the Hotel Luxe, a quick five-minute walk from the palace.
The Luxe is a contemporary boutique hotel, but the aesthetic is far from minimalist. With shiny metallic design accents, deep purple satin, sculptural white chaises longues and ceilings studded with tiny lights resembling stars in the night sky, the look is more extravagant than understated. The bold design is especially noteworthy considering the simple building the hotel is located inside — an old waterfront factory. The converted spaces aren’t lofty and atmospheric, as you might expect: guest rooms are on the boxy side, but smartly designed with painted wood furnishings, striped rugs, spacious bathrooms, flat-screen TVs. All but the most basic rooms feature views of the water; Superior rooms have private sea-view balconies.
The way Dubrovnik has exploded onto the international travel scene, you might expect to see a massive amount of brand-new development. More cheering is the sight of some characterful old faces getting a bit of a makeover — old faces like the Hotel Villa Dubrovnik, long a fixture on the Croatian seaside, surveying the old city and the waters of the Adriatic from its late-modernist cliffside perch, in what's possibly Dubrovnik’s prime location.
After an extensive renovation it’s still got plenty of personality — there’s no chance you’ll mistake it for some faceless new build. Still intact too is the Villa Dubrovnik’s notoriously mellow atmosphere. What’s improved is almost entirely a matter of the physical facilities, including the addition of an indoor-outdoor swimming pool, and the rooms are looking crisper and sharper than ever, their slightly retro earth-toned look subtly updated for a new century. Add a private jacuzzi out on the terrace in each of the suites and executive rooms, and it’s not exactly a hard sell.