Our drive leads us between walls that seem ancient, judging from the old-growth bougainvillea scaling the stones and deflecting attention from the palatial villas beyond. When they abruptly end, we’re granted the exclusive view of the neighbors: it opens over a cliff to the glistening Adriatic, with an island breaking the horizon and regal Dubrovnik in the distance. The only other thing to see is an elevator door – very James Bond – with a discreet name: Villa Dubrovnik.
About the reviewer
I’m a superlatives kind of girl. As in, “this chocolate has got to be the single most luscious thing you’ve ever even dreamt of trying.” Want to know a great beach, Christmas market, or seat on a Boeing 747? I’ve got a list of “very bests” stored in my head.
This is not to say that I’m easily won over. Poor service? (Yes, Luxury Link, that’s you.) Count me out. That probably explains why there’s one superlative I’ve never used: “This is the very best hotel.”
After all, hotels have a lot of ground to cover. They may have excellent service, or really fantastic linens, or a gorgeous location … but all of it? That’s tough.
But I’ve just found hotel nirvana in the form of Hotel Villa Dubrovnik in Dubrovnik, Croatia. And that’s a first which is worthy of its very own post.
Without further ado, here’s how Villa Dubrovnik excels in each category, and why it’s imperative that you consider it for your Dubrovnik holidays:
The wow factor
I already mentioned the entrance, and the only way to up the wow factor there would be to install Daniel Craig next to the elevator, leaning against the polished wood and casually glancing at his shiny Omega.
But there is more: The two open-air restaurants and rooftop cocktail bar are aligned for full views of Dubrovnik, and the hotel’s gleaming Vaporetto speedboat – piloted by handsome young men in stylized slim white suits and custom loafers – will transfer guests to the Old Town if you want a closer look. Indescribable wow.
Location, location, location
We live for great destinations, and without one, it just couldn’t be a favorite hotel.
The 5-star Villa Dubrovnik is positioned on the cliffs of the prestigious St. Jacob precinct, the view of the sunset over UNESCO-listed Dubrovnik, as the city’s lights begin to twinkle behind its world-famous fortified medieval walls, is unparalleled. The sea in front of the hotel offers postcard-worthy shades of aqua-emerald-azure while surrounding gardens fill the air with pine, lemon and lavender. It’s such an idyllic, quintessentially Mediterranean spot that you’ll find it hard to ever even leave the hotel. (This from a travel writer who thought she would be itching to visit the area!)
When you enter your room and find a hand-written welcome note, it’s a sign that things will go well.
This independent boutique luxury hotel is the kind of place where everyone is friendly, from housekeepers to managers. How would we know about the managers? They make time to kick back with guests at least once a week up at the SkyBar.
You can feel the heart when they talk about their respective responsibilities – the different personal training courses dreamed up by the fitness team (like morning yoga by the water or jogging uphill to the best secret Dubrovnik lookout), the hotel’s top-to-bottom “go green” policy, spa packages that include couples massages in your room which has been strewn with rose petals, and private tours that showcase the best of off-the-beaten-path Dalmatia – all while sipping world-class cocktails hand-selected by a mixologist who can also show you exactly where to stand for the best sunset photo.
Resting Your Head
Each of the 56 rooms has a stunning sea view and private balcony or terrace, and some face Dubrovnik directly and have terrace Jacuzzis. Need even more space and privacy? Elect to stay in a villa, with separate parking and entrance and three floors of luxury.
I loved the luxurious linens, comfortable bed and Bulgari toiletries, but was especially excited about the thickest, fluffiest hotel slippers I’ve ever seen. Then there was the glass-enclosed shower area, which means you never have to miss the view. It also means your partner has his choice of views: the sea or you! Very romantic. (Yes, there is an optional curtain for privacy.) Ben? He was won over by the TV placement: in the middle of the room, practically touching the bed.
Vila Dubrovnik has a subdued, clean design that does not detract from the coastline. Whereas some minimalist looks feel cold, this remains warm, with smart touches that add life and texture like traditional rugs made by local artisans.
Taken together, the hotel is so meticulously crafted – in both aesthetics and ambiance – that it crossed my mind to wonder if this family-run business even makes a profit on their investment. It feels far more like a labor of love than a business. Their promotional literature nails the description:
“contemporary luxury and refined elegance – a world that is exclusive and intimate in every way imaginable.”
Don’t you hate luxury hotels that charge for wifi internet? That’s my equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard.
Luckily, here you are made to feel like an honored guest rather than a revenue stream. Wifi is complimentary, as are umbrellas and beach chairs as well as valet service for your car.
There is a gorgeous pool attached to the fitness center and spa, as well as a dress boutique and conference rooms (so you will be well cared for whether travelling for business or pleasure).
We enjoyed the best wine of our Croatia trip in the haute cuisine restaurant, which showcases local gastronomic specialties. Breakfast is complimentary a la carte and always a pleasure, and at lunch you can enjoy fresh, light meals and a raw bar underneath a canopy of trees.
The vibe here is chic but not stuffy: my idea of an adult luxury playground. The feeling of exclusivity felt like a spontaneous result of elegant details and privacy, not contrived through obsequious waiters and high prices. We felt blissfully removed from loud groups, dour fellow patrons, or nosiness; our fellow guests were respectful, polite, and enjoying the mellow atmosphere far too much to bother about anything else. When we were checking out, we saw one woman that was holding back tears! We looked on empathetically, because, yes, it really is difficult to tear yourself away.
Out of all Dubrovnik hotels and luxury hotels, this is definitely where to stay in Dubrovnik. But I would urge you to think larger: it can easily be argued that this is the nicest hotel in Croatia, and we think it’s the best hotel, period. (Want independent verification? The hotel has accrued awards from Conde Nast, is a Mr. & Mrs. Smith member, a Virtuoso member, and belongs to the Small Luxury Hotels of the World consortium.)
*We will always disclose sponsorships when applicable in any of our reviews (though opinions are candid, regardless). In this case, we stayed at Villa Dubrovnik anonymously and received no sponsorship.