Rovinj’s tasteful but limited accommodation stock has been transformed by the maistra group, which has created gleaming, family-friendly resorts, turned whole islands into self-contained hotel complexes festooned with pools, spas and restaurants, and conceived two of the finest properties on the Med, one an architectural wonder. The lodgings in historic properties remain in place for those who wish a quiet stay amid the cobbled streets of the Old Town.
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Best Rovinj hotels
Idyllic is the word you’re looking for. Set near but apart from the Island Hotel Istra, the All Suite Island Hotel Istra is just that – all suite and certainly idyllic. Catered for by a concierge, room service and the Lanterna fish restaurant, guests are accommodated in 32 executive or deluxe suites, each featuring a balcony or loggia. In a huge spa and pool area, cosmetic treatments and Mediterranean-herb massages can be reserved, alongside the aroma sauna, Kneipp foot baths and indoor and outdoor whirlpools. Sports on offer include archery, kayak canoeing, windsurfing and diving, and among the high-end gym equipment are ski-running simulators. Clubs, activities, workshops and programmes for kids are provided in four age categories.
Rovinj may now have a whole phalanx of top-of-the-range, contemporary resort hotels but it’s still got historic ones, too. The unique Angelo d’Oro is one of the most expensive places in town, a beautifully restored old building on the site of what was once a 17th-century bishop’s palace. The location, along a narrow, winding stone-paved street halfway up the hill that defines Rovinj’s Old Town, is both quiet and central. The lobby, the museum-quality stairway and the unique rooms all ooze antique opulence. The garden café, hidden from the street by ancient stone walls, and the sheltered rooftop loggia, with its beautiful sea views, provide stunning sanctuary. There’s also a sauna, jacuzzi and solarium, plus a decent restaurant and a wine cellar where you can arrange tastings. Quick, courteous service and attention to detail add to the luxurious feel of the place, but there are only 23 standard rooms, so book early.
A much talked-about property in the heart of the Old Town, the beautifully restored boutique Casa Garzotto comprises four studio apartments. With its old window shutters and classic furniture from the turn of the last century, Casa Garzotto is already winning repeat custom – two of the apartments are heated by a roaring fire in winter. Breakfast consists of a varied selection of buffet treats partaken in the ground-floor tavern bar.
A new addition to the maistra fraternity in and around Rovinj, this light, spacious, panoramic property basks in its own expanse of green set out on a peninsula facing both Rovinj’s Old Town and the Adriatic. Adjoining its own beach, the Family Hotel Amarin offers three pools, a thermal zone and therapy areas, eight tennis courts, kayak and cycle rental, as well as sailing and water skiing provided from sister hotel the Resort Amarin nearby. Fine local cuisine awaits at the Istrian Beach House and Marsea restaurants.
The grand old lady of the Rovinj accommodation scene, the Hotel Adriatic has been treated to a thorough makeover. The town’s oldest lodging, a former old-fashioned three-star, was relaunched as a boutique hotel complete with designer interiors, contemporary art on the walls, and chic social areas including a French-flavoured restaurant and popular terrace café. It hasn’t lost any of its charm and now looks every inch the upscale accommodation choice; the suavely decorated rooms are bright and airy, and count tea- and coffee-making facilities among the extras.
Its 300-plus rooms completely renovated for 2017, the Hotel Eden is the most convenient of the maistra properties to Rovinj’s Old Town. All rooms have a balcony, and these balconies face either the Adriatic or a century-old, pine-filled park. The in-house spa complex, where expert professionals treat guests to sea-based salt, algae and mud treatments, has also been completely renovated, with its heated indoor seawater pool, jacuzzi, and Finnish and Turkish saunas. Mulini Beach is another new feature, leading down to the sea, complemented by a huge outdoor pool with whirlpools and water massages. You’ll find classic Istrian cuisine in the Burin restaurant, boškarin beef, local prosciutto, fish, truffles and Lim Bay shellfish – not to mention glasses of red Teran or white Malvazija to accompany.
The kind of hotel that will be gracing the architecture textbooks in fifty years time, Hotel Lone is also a fine place to stay, offering the kind of smooth interior design that soothes an relaxes rather than just drawing attention to its own colour scheme. Probably the most important contribution to the Croatian hospitality industry since the 1970s, the amorphous-looking, Y-shaped Lone was designed by Zagreb architects 3LHD to suit an awkward, forested hillside site. Filled with contemporary art and design, it is very much a showcase for the Croatian creative industries, even down to the staff uniforms provided by Zagreb design team I-GLE. The hotel is full of fascinating features, with sculptor Ivana Franke’s wiry installation hovering above a multi-storey lobby linked by sweeping spiral staircase. Rooms feature solid oak desks, swanky-showroom furniture, and cheeky glass partitions where the bathroom walls should be. ‘Jazz’ rooms have jacuzzi-style dipping-pools right on the balcony. There is a fully equipped spa centre with indoor pool, and at least one of the hotel’s three restaurants, (the L restaurant) has a serious gourmet reputation. Decked out in heavy textiles, the bottom-floor nightclub looks (probably intentionally) like something from a David Lynch movie.
One of Rovinj’s true big hitters, Monte Mulini has five-star trimmings to match its fabulous setting. All of the 99 rooms (including 14 suites) are fitted with contemporary-design carpets, bespoke furniture jacuzzi-tub bathrooms, and the balconies overlook a small open-air pool. The hotel brushes up to a rocky beach with natural shade from nearby greenery, while a string of cove-like beaches run along one bay to the south. Sports facilities include four clay tennis courts, a basketball court, a bowling alley and gym. A fabulous spa area and an indoor pool are shared with the next-door Lone. Med fusion dishes feature at the Mediterraneo and Wine Vault restaurants – the same renowned chef oversees both venues.
A gleaming white, modern resort-style complex with superb views of Rovinj’s Old Town on the opposite side of the bay, the three-star Hotel Park has the kind of services you might expect of a five-star establishment: valet parking, laundry, car wash and 24-hour room service. With the marina on one side and the centennial forest park on the other, the Park
comprises comfortable en-suite rooms ranged above sweeping social areas. Close to the nearest beach, the Park also has a host of activities and extras designed to keep the whole family occupied. Diversions include a fitness centre, nearby bike, scuba and boat rentals, a sauna, massages, evening entertainment and a children’s club to keep youngsters busy. The large swimming pool in the front of the building has a relaxing patio area and great sea views. Dinner is included in the standard price.
Many hotels in Rovinj provide spas or gyms. Few come with telescopes. The Hotel Vila Lili is a petite, three-star lodging of 17 rooms and three suites, located in a residential quarter near the sea. It also accommodates a sauna, day bar and a mansard room, fitted with two decent-standard telescopes for stargazing from the roof. Breakfast includes own-made jams and marmalades, and there are supplementary rates for three- and four-course dinners thrown in. Pets welcome.
Many high-end hotels today in Croatia have spa facilities – none occupies a whole island, namely St Andrew’s, referred to as Crveni otok, ‘Red Island’. The Hotel Island Istra is a four-star hotel complex comprising 326 rooms (plus 32 suites), six restaurants and three pools. A beach is within 50 metres, while activities include yachting, windsurfing and football on a real pitch. As for the spa, there’s relaxation and recharge massages, whirlpools indoor and out, Turkish and Finnish saunas and Kneipp baths. All is set amid lush greenery, the interior imbued with relaxing scents and colours – and all 15 minutes from Rovinj.
Sv Katarina, a 140,000-square-metre pine-covered island in the harbour that’s about the same size as the Old Town in Rovinj, is dominated by a 110-room resort hotel built around a former mansion. The Island Hotel Katarina also offers ten suites. The island and its rocky beaches are pretty much given over to hotel guests, who can enjoy the beach bar, a shaded terrace by the sea, tennis courts, two swimming pools, garden spaces and beautiful stretches of pine forest. A free boat that leaves every half hour carries tourists on the five-minute journey between the Old Town and the car-free island. There are pretty garden spaces around the island and two large freshwater pools with nice patio space next to them. Because Katarina is a family-oriented resort, there are also tennis courts and children’s playground, as well as mini-golf and beach volleyball courts. The large, tastefully decorated restaurant, with stone walls and a fireplace, serves breakfasts and dinners that are included in the room price, so you don’t really need to leave the island. The rustically furnished rooms are simple, comfortable and new, and surprisingly affordable. Many Germans and Italians have already discovered what may be Rovinj’s best resort-style hotel.
Six kilometres north of Rovinj, the Amarin resort comprises an attractive cluster of two-person to six-person apartments situated on a green slope overlooking the sea. Two thirds are renovated units originally built in the 1970s; the other third is completely new, designed by 3LHD, the Zagreb-based architecture practice responsible for the nearby Hotel Lone. A contemporary Croatian design theme runs throughout the resort, with furniture by NumenforUse, Bratović & Borovnjak and Grupa: signage by Lana Cavar, and graphic art inside the rooms courtesy of street artist Oko. Famous for drawing phantasmagorical creatures with the heads of animals, Oko was inspired by the local Istrian fauna (sheep, donkeys, boškarin cattle) to create the playful images that adorn the apartments here. Amarin also offers a well-shaded campsite, two pools between the accommodation units and the beach, tennis courts, entertainment for kids, restaurants and bars.
For those who really want to get away from it all – yet still be close to Rovinj, a short drive north – then the Resort Villas Rubin is the ideal retreat. For an active or relaxing break, or both, it offers a blue flag beach with showers and sunloungers, 11 tennis courts, beach and indoor volleyball, diving and all kinds of watersports including jet skiing, plus boat rental. Along with a play area with video games and a trampoline, there’s a fortnight-long programme for kids, four hours of daily activities bookended by shows, cabarets and cartoons. Apartments with kitchenettes make up the bulk of the accommodation – all rooms have a balcony or terrace.
Right in the Old Town and close to the sea, this renovated 18th-century townhouse of four studio apartments offers tasteful lodging, a great location and extra services – laundry, laptop rental and cycle hire included. The friendly staff at the Villa Valdibora is keen to point out the other sporting activities close to hand: tennis, mini golf and kayaking, all paid extras. There are boat excursions, a children’s pool and playground close by.