When my friend Elaine and I went to Croatia last year (you can read about Istria, Pula, Zagreb, and Plitvice Park), we stayed in a variety of locations. I had accumulated a number of free nights via hotels.com from my frequent business trips, so we used those nights to stay in some upscale hotels.
In Croatia, five star hotels costs less per night than a mid-range chain hotel (Hampton, Holiday Inn, etc) in some of the places I travel for work (like Williston, North Dakota!). Elaine had read up on traveling in Croatia, and watched Rick Steve’s videos, so she was aware of sobas, which translates to “rooms”.
We stayed in these delightful little places after we used up our free hotel nights, which will be Part Two.
The first two nights in Zagreb, we stayed at the beautiful Art Deco Hotel Esplanade. Built in the 1920s, the interior is richly decorated and the rooms luxurious. The markets, upper and lower towns, and parks were a few blocks away, making this a perfect place for a base. Traveling on a budget, we tended to eat lighter meals in town rather than the slightly more expensive hotel meals, but enjoyed breakfast in the sun. At night, you could sip wine while watching the sunset and listening to live music.
The third night of our trip, we stayed in Pula, on the Istrian Coast. Pula is an old Roman town, complete with amphitheater. Here, we used up the third free night at the Park Plaza Histria. The hotel was the opposite of the Zagreb hotel: light, bright, modern, clean lines. The basic rooms were around $200 per night, and the guests were a mixture of well-dressed vacationers and young adults in business attire, phones glued to their ears.
There are a great many amenities at this hotel. We observed signs posted for tennis, spas, massage, numerous night clubs and restaurants. Alas, much of this was wasted on us, as we had a long adventurous day driving through Slovenia, as well as a long hunt for a remote restaurant famous for truffles, so we arrived late, and weary. Drinks in the bar, some time spent on the balcony overlooking the night-lit ocean, and we hit the sack. Also, we didn’t come to Pula for things we could get back in the States!
The next morning, after ogling over the morning view of the sail boats and morning light reflecting off the blue-blue water, we enjoyed our breakfast and Croatian coffee (included). Currently. the hotel prices run from $160 to $220, with breakfast (and sometimes dinner), and free parking. Elaine and I had to hike quite a bit, up several staircases with our luggage, to take advantage of the free parking. This is a large hotel, so the parking is spread out, and it’s built on a cliff. Valet parking was available for those who pack heavy or weren’t comfortable with a lot of stairs.
Of the two hotels, I preferred the one in Zagreb because of the decor and the proximity to the things we wanted to see. The Pula hotel is a destination itself, a resort where people might go and intend to spend time partaking of the activities or relaxing around the numerous pools. It was not within walking distance of the old town of Pula.