Visiting Croatia with Adriatic Luxury Hotels
At the end of July, I visited Dubrovnik for the first time on a group press trip with Adriatic Luxury Hotels. I’d never visited Croatia before, and was thrilled to visit King’s Landing (Game of Thrones fan over here), across a quick three-day trip. Read on for a review of my stay at the recently renovated Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik, and what we got up to…
Location: Hotel Bellevue is located in a prime position, just a fifteen-minute stroll from Dubrovnik’s Old Town and nestled within a sandy cove. It’s perch on the cliffside edge affords fantastic views over the Adriatic sea (which is all different colours of blue), and allows for a super relaxed and coastal escape, given that it’s slightly removed from the tourist-packed centre of town.
To do: Our arrival in Dubrovnik unfortunately coincided with thunderstorms and heavy rain (only occasional in Dubrovnik during the summer months), which meant that we spent the entirety of our first afternoon relaxing at the hotel spa (but more on that later). The following morning we headed into the beautiful and historic Old Town to explore the city centre; by midday, you’ll find that the streets are already swarming with tourists and Game of Thrones enthusiasts, but if you get lost amongst the winding alleyways and just have a wander, you’ll find multiple photo opportunities and hidden gems; as I’d never been to Croatia before, the closest comparison I can make to the sandstone buildings and winding flights of stairs is Matera in southern Italy, or perhaps Oia on Santorini. After pounding the streets for a couple of hours, we rewarded ourselves with a coffee stop at Cogito, a specialty coffee roasters with two branches in Dubrovnik. We headed to the one located just outside the Old Town walls, as it’s a little roomier, where you’ll find the best flat white in town.
If you’re visiting for the first time, I’d also recommend climbing the city walls for incredible views over the sea and the entire Old Town, which is what we did early on our third day in Dubrovnik. By 9am, the walls were already filling up with keen tourists, so I’d recommend getting there by 8am (opening time) in the summer months, as I’d imagine that it would only get busier and hotter as the day goes on. Whilst guides claim that it will take an average of two hours to walk the length of the walls, we covered this easily in one hour, and were rewarded with multiple breathtaking photo opportunities. If you’d like even higher views, you can also take the cable car from the city centre, but if there’s one thing you can’t miss, it’s definitely the city walls!
Comfort: The hotel is a five-star property owned by Adriatic Luxury Hotels, housing two in-house restaurants, a spa, and a beach. Interiors are slick and modern with a nautical theme running throughout, and there are 91 refurbished rooms within the property. We were each hosted in one of the hotel’s luxurious and spacious suites, which feature a private balcony with sea views, and separate bedroom, bathroom, and living area.
Hotel staff were all accommodating and friendly throughout our stay, and I was extremely comfortable in my bedroom; the generous space felt super luxurious, yet still managed to not feel overwhelmingly big for one person. Design-wise, despite the hotel’s renovation, aspects of the property still felt a little dated: I personally prefer more rustic boutique hotels with more individuality, as there were certain parts of the hotel that felt clinical rather than characterful.
The spa is boutique in size, featuring a small gym, indoor pool, and private treatment rooms, but was perhaps one of my favourite parts of the hotel; we were each kindly gifted a spa treatment of our choice, and I had one of the most relaxing massages I have ever had here (I most certainly dozed off), followed by a dip in the pool, and then some more dozing on one of the sun loungers.
Food and Drink: Most of our meals were eaten at Vapor, the hotel’s ‘fine dining’ restaurant, where food was beautifully presented, and dishes are seafood-based and clearly influenced by Mediterranean cuisine. Whilst satisfying, the food lacked the ‘wow’ factor that we were expecting; meanwhile, the hotel’s beachside restaurant Nevera offers more casual dishes such as pastas and club sandwiches, and breakfast is a continental spread with several cooked options. In comparison, the meal that we had at Hotel Excelsior (another property owned by Adriatic Luxury Hotels) was more impressive than our meals eaten at Hotel Bellevue, and I would have perhaps appreciated the chance to sample some of the local restaurants in town rather than eat every meal at the hotel.
Final words: Overall, I had a great time exploring Dubrovnik, and visiting Croatia for the first time. The city really is stunning and full of history, and its location right next to the Adriatic is truly unique and allows for stunning views wherever you’re staying (inside the city centre or just outside it). Next time I visit Dubrovnik, I’d love to spend more time trying the local cuisine and spending some time at sea, visiting the nearby islands.