The problem with Zagreb hotels in the past was the dearth of venues between the bunk-bed and smoking-jacket ends of the spectrum. This is no longer the case, given attractive range of options available. As Zagreb continues to spread its wings as a destination in its own right – rather than a spot to lay over before the coast – hotel options continue to grow. Here are the best.
The best hotels in Zagreb
A true five-star on any scale, the Sheraton has 306 rooms, all with marble bathrooms, well lit and expansive living spaces, handsome wooden nightstands and desks, and high-speed internet connections. All in all, like a polished version of home – with turndown service. The lobby flows from the café bar across to the restaurant under cascading glass chandeliers and leather armchairs. There are 17 conferences rooms, a fitness facility, spa and indoor pool. When you factor in the location, service and level of pampering, it really is quite good value for money. Make sure you ask about weekend specials when prices can drop down.
Something of an urban landmark ever since it first opened in the 1970s under the Intercontinental banner, this cool five-star slab has frequently been the top choice for high-end Zagreb visitors: the Stones, Sophia Loren and Nick Cave have all graced its halls. In 2005, a €10-million renovation gave the hotel its contemporary feel and current 378-room, 13 conference-room look. The rooms come equipped with fog-proof mirrors and marble-effect bathrooms. The north-facing units have grand views of the Old Town and Sljeme Mountain. The hotel's 'Heavenly Bed' philosophy prioritises a good night's sleep with deluxe mattresses and pillows and high thread counts. The sparkling, jet-set-worthy fitness and beauty centre contains Turkish and Finnish saunas, cutting-edge Nautilus equipment, and massage treatments alongside pedicures, manicures and facials. The 17-metre pool is surrounded by tasteful wooden lounge chairs and black stones, bathed in an ethereal blue light.
Rising serenely above Radnička cesta, Zagreb's developing commercial and financial district, the sleek bronze block of the DoubleTree was the major hotel opening of 2011 and brings a new dimension of contemporary design and comfort to Zagreb's upper-bracket accommodation. All rooms feature a svelte mixture of charcoal, chocolate and ochre surfaces and fabrics; big windows provide both plenty of light and a a sense of outside bustle. Desks and luggage space are well provided for, even in the smaller 'standard' doubles. Wifi, and media hubs that allow you to play your gadgets through the hotel TVs and speakers, are standard throughout. Importantly, every room has a bathtub. Another major plus is the top-floor gym and spa centre, with a small pool on one level and a large exercise area just above it, big wall-to-ceiling windows offering breathtaking panoramas of the city as you pedal way or pump iron. Down on the ground floor, the the hotel bar and the Oxbo restaurant share a relaxing open-plan social space.
The phrase you hear thrown around with regard to this property is 'a good bang for the buck'. The re-named Panorama Hotel Zagreb is located next to the Dom Športova arena on the western edge of the city centre – five stops on the No.9 tram from the train station – and thus a favourite for those travelling to Zagreb for sporting events and various mid-sized-venue concerts. The 279 straightforward and ample-sized rooms are internet-ready and equipped with everything you would expect: tea- and coffee-maker, safe and satellite TV. The part you might not expect – how helpful and nice the staff are. Sweeping views from the upper storeys live up to the hotel's name.
A courtyard on Zagreb’s main shopping street harbours this engaging former dry-cleaning and textile-dying factory, still featuring an atmospheric combination of exposed brickwork and industrial floors. There are some cute double rooms alongside the regular dorms, and the communal areas (complete with kitchen facilities, bar, and leafy backyard) come with exactly the right mix of laid-back vibe and social buzz.
The President, which opened late 2008, is a beautiful boutique hotel built specifically for the community it inhabits – guests of ritzy businessmen and embassies in the vicinity of this posh street that's a ten-minute walk uphill from Britanski trg with its outdoor market and weekend antique stands. Designed by the owner/architect, who's the son of an art critic, the interior is a combination of old and new. The walls and floors are all teak. The furniture is designer-chic with Persian throw rugs and centuries-old trunks and tables scattered artfully about. The paintings and sculptures come from the owner's collection and are sprinkled throughout the rooms, which are variously equipped with two-person jacuzzi baths, LCD TVs, Wi-Fi, silk-cotton linens and ceiling-to-floor windows looking from the hotel onto the terraces and into the wooded park. Looking from the lobby, across the café, and through wall-sized windows, it feels as if you were in a tree house with a drop-off, infinite view of the forest. The restaurant – with retractable and sliding windows so that the forest-side wall disappears for morning coffee or evening summer breezes – stocks caviar, champagne and fine cheeses.
It's a mystery why this hotel, which opened in 1999, gets so readily ignored within Zagreb hotel circles. A four-star set in Zelengaj Park, it has 22 spacious rooms – 19 rooms, two junior suites and a business suite – with overstuffed furniture, two-sink bathrooms, reproductions of Impressionist paintings and views of the leafy park. The sensation here is that you are at a fancy mountainside retreat. The architecture is a wave of green glass that's a cross between feng shui and tree-hugger retro. Also on the property is the longstanding and chi-chi Restaurant AS, renowned for its seafood specialities. To get to the centre of town from the AS, take the ten-minute footpath over the hills and trek through the woods – seriously.
The black exterior of this new hotel at the bus-station end of town provides little inkling of what it’s like on the inside, which is a bit like the hollowed out interior of a giant wedding cake. The reception area and first floor are almost totally white, furniture included, save for the black-and-white photographs in the rooms. The second ‘silver’ floor has more white, although here the chairs and couches are upholstered in silver-coloured material. The third and final ‘gold’ floor, done out in black and gold, is the kitschest of the lot, but is undeniably sexy with it. It’s by no means an overpowering place to stay, however, and the excellent buffet provided in the third-floor breakfast room is eloquent proof of Hotel 9’s focus on quality comforts.
Open since 2005, the Movie hotel is a rarity in Zagreb: a three-star that's a boutique, is affordable and has a little attitude. The complex's 37 rooms – also a handful of apartments – have Hollywood themes, naturally, with splashy images of stars in all. Sleeping is better when done beneath the stable gaze of Sharon Stone. As well, there are pics of the Governator, Clooney and Brad Pitt. The rooms are reasonably sized and spotless.
Owned by an Austrian chain, this was Zagreb's first designer hotel when it opened in 2003. The marble-clad lobby, with an aquarium and colourful fish, gives access to Joe's Bar and the Mediterranean-themed Radicchio restaurant. The 151 uncluttered rooms come with good soundproofing, pine furniture, funky fabrics with portraits of celebrities (Kahlo, Picasso and Kafka) and DVD players. Look out for the world map, with a red dot marking Zagreb, on the blue carpets in hallways and rooms. The top floor has a sauna and gym, and rooftop views. Ask about weekend rates. It's convenient for the city centre, the train station and the bus station – and therefore the airport.