Samantha O’Connor, senior retail consultant at one of our newest travel agents in Lymington, spent five days exploring Croatia. Her trip included many hotel inspections that will help you decide where to stay should you visit this part of the world.
Operator/Host: Prestige Holidays
(Hotel names/Ship name): Various hotels
Duration: 5 days
I met Pam Bryans from Prestige at Gatwick North Terminal, before experiencing an easy check-in and pleasant flight with Easyjet. The flight time from London to the Croatian city of Pula is about one hour and 45 minutes. Here, we met Julia Berg from Prestige and took a short transfer to the Park Plaza Histria Hotel.
The rest of the day was spent visiting the amphitheatre in Pula and exploring the city centre. We had a very knowledgeable guide who showed us the lovely shops, bars and cafés. We had dinner in the evening and a tour of the hotel with Thomas the manager. My room was lovely, with a balcony and fantastic sea views and the hotel benefits from a great bar and even has a small cinema on site.
We met Julia in reception and travelled to the amazing Meneghetti Wine Hotel in Bale near Rovinj. This hotel is within its own gated estate, with vineyards and olive groves all around, and is a member of Relais and Chateaux.
We then visited the lovely town of Rovinj and took a short 15-minute ferry over to the Island Katarina Hotel. This was great for families and couples alike and had a lovely rustic restaurant with outdoor pool overlooking the sea. After travelling back on the ferry, we took a short drive to the Hotel Monte Mulini which had stunning views of the ocean and a large outdoor pool with swim-up bar. The rooms were very modern and so was the restaurant, with its red and glass ornaments hanging from the roof.
Travelling north, we headed for the resort of Novigrad and had lunch at the Hotel Makin. This is a boutique hotel with a lovely pool and tavern-style eating area. We also visited the Hotel Nautica, which is on a beautiful marina and decorated with a nautical theme. This hotel has an indoor pool and spa and an outdoor pool is planned for summer 2016.
Our last hotel of the day was the Valamar Club Tamaris, which is great for families and has the option of staying on an all-inclusive lite basis. It has an outdoor pool right by the sand and shingle beach and lots of activities for adults and children. This hotel also has interconnecting rooms with a double in one room and bunk beds in another room.
This morning, we checked out of the hotel and transferred to Porec town for some sightseeing. We visited the basilica and the old town, whilst also having a site inspection of the Hotel Palazzo and Hotel Flores. The former was right in the centre of town and the latter was situated by the sea, surrounded by pine woods and just a few minutes’ walk from the town centre.
Leaving the Istria Region, we travelled across the peninsular to the Kvarner region and the resort of Lovran, before having lunch at the lovely Taverna Bella Vista. We walked the Lungomare to the Hotel Remisens Excelsior Lovran; a four-star superior hotel which has had extensive renovation to give it a stylish contemporary feel. You can reach Opatija from here in ten minutes or walk the Lungomare in just under an hour.
Afterwards, we transferred to the Hotel Milenij in Opatija which offered fantastic five-star service and rich furnishings. There was also a great indoor pool and spa area. Dinner was at the Hotel Continental. One of the main draws of this hotel is that it has its own chocolate factory and a shop selling the most amazing hand-made treats.
Today, we walked along the Lungomare seafront with a guide who took us around the lovely parks and gardens of Opatija. We visited the Hotel Grand 4 Flowers, which has a pool with retractable roof and a beach club is due to open in 2016. The main restaurant has six different speciality meals from around the different areas of Croatia.
We then transferred to Rijeka to get the catamaran to Rab Island, which took about an hour and a half. On arrival, we checked-in to the Hotel Grand Imperial with its very spacious rooms, lovely new outdoor pool and a terrace area that’s located in a beautiful sub-tropical park. We were intrigued to learn that this was a previous lunch location for Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson in 1936.
The day started with a site inspection of the Hotel Padova. This has a massive refurbishment planned for the coming winter months and overlooks the old town of Rab. The planned bar and terrace will have amazing views overlooking the quaint harbour.
On our return journey, we travelled back down the coast to have lunch at the Hotel Navis which means 'ship' in Latin. This hotel has a truly stunning design and is right on the waterfront. The manager has previously worked for Carnival Cruise Line and has everything working “shipshape”. There is a stylish nautical theme throughout, with 44 rooms that all have a sea view and balcony. The double beds have the position of looking straight out across the ocean and are first class. Outdoor and indoor pools are connected by glass and the hotel operates a free shuttle bus to Opatija. Failing that, you can walk along the Lungomare in about 40 Minutes.
Our return transfer to Pula Airport was around two hours and our flight was slightly early going home with Easyjet. I met some fantastic people on my trip to Croatia which was a stunning location with fantastic food, wine, chocolates, scenery and olive oil and I can not wait for my next visit.
As they say in Croatia; zivjeli! (Cheers).
If you would like to visit Croatia for yourself, our dedicated team will be happy to find you the perfect deal. Simply drop by one of our travel stores in East Anglia or on the south coast, call us, or submit your enquiry online.
Must see? Pula amphitheatre
Must do? Explore the islands off the coast
Must try? Chocolates and olive oil