Zagreb is often overlooked as a destination by travelers bound for the inviting beaches south of the Croatia capital. But the city warrants a longer stay.
With its lively cafe scene, beautiful parks and spectacular blend of east-west architecture, all backed by phenomenal mountain scenery, Zagreb is deserving of a few days’ stay before heading on to the Croatian coast.
The signs of the city’s vivid history – both ancient and recent – are vivid everywhere. The fascinating labyrinth of the Old Town around Gradec dates from the times of the Mongol raids in the 13th century and is surrounded by defensive towers like Lotrscak Tower, indicative of the fear of attack which once resonated around the city.
There are signs of the boom times too, in lush leafy parks like Maksimir Park: a gorgeous English garden dating from the 1700’s, and Southeastern Europe’s first specially designed public promenade.
Recent history has also radically altered the face of Zagreb: the Kosovo War took its toll on many of the older buildings and a walk of the city streets today reveals a mix of tatty 18th century facades, haughty Art Nouveau architecture and flashy new boutiques and designer hotels sprung up over the rubble left by the conflict.
There are reasons a-plenty to linger in Zagreb but when it comes to finding a place to stay, the city-central options, and the online resources for finding them, are very limited.
Of course Zagreb does boast top end, pleasant-but-samey chain hotels—Hotel Sheraton Zagreb and the lovely Hotel Regent Esplanade but for the traveller’s seeking luxury, convenience or both, along with that personal, individual touch, the following hotels are among Zagreb’s very best.
Palace Hotel—Zagreb Hotel in a Palace
Yes, this hotel really was a former palace, built in early 20th century modernist style, but with a lavishly done décor to evoke the old glory days of European travel. It’s been going as a hotel over a century. The 118 rooms are large, with period furniture.
The Palace Hotel restaurant is so well renowned it even has its own style of pastry! The hotel arrange city tours and beauty therapy packages. Expect good old-fashioned elegance and occasionally haughty staff.
Hotel President—Best Zagreb Hotel
New on the scene in 2008, the Hotel President has quickly established its reputation as one of the city’s classiest hotels. Located in the leafy upper reaches of Zagreb towards Medvedgrad, it relies on personal, friendly service, elegant rooms and cracking views to attract customers.
Floor to ceiling windows let in lots of light to the simply yet tastefully finished modern rooms. Take tram 6 from the main bus station to get there: then it’s a 15 minute uphill walk.
Hotel Lisinski, Zagreb—Cheap Zagreb Hotel With Style
It’s not too much to look at from outside but inside the Lisinski is incredibly attractive. It’s a new (only two years old) smart hotel with cosy, intimate rooms, at prices considerably cheaper than the main Zagreb hotels. The restaurant is also beautiful.
- Location: Trnjanska Cesta, Zagreb 10000
Hotel Dubrovnik—Most Central Hotel to Zagreb Square
The Hotel Dubrovnik in Zagreb has been around since 1929, enjoyed its heyday during the socialist era and it’s an old fashioned place with old-fashioned service. The location is the reason to stay here: it’s right on the edge of Zagreb’s main city square, Trg Jelacic.
The colour scheme is slightly 1970’s and parking can be an issue, hotel parking some distance from the hotel, but the spacious, ideally situated rooms make this a great accommodation option. Breakfasts here are also delicious, and generous.
- Location: Ljudevita Gaja 1, PP 246, 10000 Zagreb
Hotel Jaegerhorn—Hidden Gem of the Zagreb Hotels
Just off the city’s main street, Ilica, the Jäegerhorn has actually been around since 1827 but has a clean, fresh, modern feel inside, despite its external appearance as a traditional pension.
There aren’t many rooms but these still come with all the trappings of a larger hotel: minibar, free WiFi and air conditioning. There is a large lounge and outside terrace. Renovation was going on as of May 2010 but when complete, this looks set to become one of the buzz words on the Zagreb hotel scene.
- Location: Illica 14
Hotel Central—Best For Zagreb Station
This hotel, right outside Zagreb Rail Station, is ideal for those who don’t want to spend ages traipsing around Zagreb searching for a place to stay. Rooms are sizeable and adequate, if occasionally noisy, but for a station hotel it is really quite pleasant.
Zagreb station has direct trains to Ljubljana and Munich, and other Eastern European cities like Budapest.
All the above hotels rival the more expensive chain options for either luxury or convenience. Whilst good hotels do lie out towards Zagreb airport, the atmosphere of staying in the historic heart of the city should not be missed.