The hotel is in the city centre.

On a recent trip to Croatia’s charming capital Zagreb, Jonny Payne finds Hotel Dubrovnik is a perfect base from which to explore the colourful local market, imposing Gothic cathedral and the lively café culture.

After departing sunny London, I land in a grey and rainy Zagreb, which is surprisingly on average wetter than the English capital in the summer months. But less than 30 minutes later, I’m in central Zagreb, a city I’ve longed to visit – so I wasn’t about to let a shower or two dampen my enthusiasm.

I check in and decide to quickly drop my bags off in the room before heading out; but that’s before I notice the inviting bed. I  rest my weary feet on the king-sized bed for a minute or two, but wake up 45 minutes later surrounded by the comforting tube-shaped cushions, fluffy pillows and soft linen sheets. But I tell myself I must make the most of my short stay in the Croatian capital, and rather belatedly venture out.

Banajosip200Bana Josip square is close to the hotel.
Jonny Payne
Perched on the corner of Zagreb’s main square, Hotel Dubrovnik stands as proud as the statue portraying Bana Josip Jelačića the Croatian viceroy after whom the square is named. Its commanding height and architectural style, a mishmash of art deco styling and 1980s glass and steel, differs from the relatively low-rise and colourful baroque buildings bordering Croatia’s largest square. But while not the most aesthetically pleasing building in the city centre (from the outside at least), the hotel provides the perfect base for exploration.

The 4-star Hotel Dubrovnik is in a prime location, just moments from Dolac the bustling daily market (one of the finest I’ve seen), with its perfectly stacked local produce and carefully woven handicrafts; and the impressive neo-Gothic cathedral, which is still standing despite 13th century attacks and an 1880 earthquake. The shopping district and restaurant-lined streets, overflowing with locals enjoying the laid-back café culture, are also just a few minutes from the hotel’s entrance on the pretty Ljudevita Gaja Street.

Dolacmarket200Nearby is Zagreb's bustling food market
Jonny Payne
After exploring the upper and lower parts of Zagreb’s charming old town, I return to the hotel in search of a bite to eat. Hotel Dubrovnik has its own restaurant serving a range of Italian and local specialities, served in French-style brasserie surrounds with black and white floor tiles and a wooden serving area. But the food I order sadly does not live up to the surrounds - my mushroom soup has small lumps of flour that have not dissolved, the chicken escalope is a touch on the dry side, and the fruit salad is at best uninspiring. I’m one of the few eating in the restaurant and the bar area is also relatively empty – admittedly it’s no surprise given Zagreb’s laid-back café culture and bustling streets lend themselves to going out for the evening.

Dubrovnikrestaurant200Zagreb has a thriving café culture
Jonny Payne

A good selection of restaurants, bars and cafés are on the doorstep, particularly along the nearby Skalinska and Tkalčićeva streets, which line the medieval fortifications surrounding the Franciscan monastery. These thriving areas are the places of choice for locals choosing to relax within the baroque cottage-style establishments.

After venturing into the town to sample the night-time atmosphere, made even better by street performances and local musicians at the annual Cest is d’best street festival, I head back to the hotel.

Dubrovnikroom200Our reviewer found the bed very comfy
Jonny Payne
While the exterior of Hotel Dubrovnik may be a mix of the 1920s and 80s, the interior is firmly in the 21st century. My room, a plush and spacious offering with a large, ultra-modern bathroom complete with snazzy pebble-shaped toiletries, has magnificent views of the square and the cathedral’s imposing neo-Gothic towers. Understandably given its central location, the hotel attracts the business market with the recent redevelopment of function and meeting rooms overlooking the square, and for those needing to work there is a large desk with ample stationary in the corner of my room, while free Wi-Fi access is also available throughout a guest’s stay.


Dubrovnikstreet200Zagreb city centre is ideal for strolling
Jonny Payne
After a long day, I’m glad to sink back into the comfortable bed, but was worried the street performances would stop me sleeping. Thankfully due to the double-glazed windows, any noise was blocked out, while the heavy curtains blocked any morning sun sweeping into the square.

Breakfast is a substantial hot and cold buffet with some unusual early-morning offerings such as fried squid and spinach and cheese flan, but the requisite bacon, eggs, sausages and selection of cheeses, hams and cereals are present and of good quality – a hearty start to the day and a perfect precursor for another day of sightseeing just steps away.

Its location makes Hotel Dubrovnik the ideal choice for a weekend break in the character-filled city, with most of what you’ll want to see within walking distance plus transport links to outlying areas just steps away. But my tip would be to eschew the dining options within its walls and experience some local delicacies in the surrounding streets.

Hotel Dubrovnik
1 Ljudevita Gaja, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Tel: (01) 486 3555.
Price: Double from £145 per night


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