Sarajevo has witnessed much in recent years – not least a bloody four-year-long siege in the early 1990s. Now, however, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a fascinating city to visit, home to a slew of museums, historical architecture and a peaceful blending of the Christian, Islamic and Jewish faiths. It’s also served by a venerable collection of hotels that cater to every type of traveller.
In the pine-forested Trebević hills a few kilometres southeast of the city, the striking A-frame windows of the Pino and a quirky neo-chalet feel have outdoorsy types in mind. Stripped floors, artsy wooden furniture and a firepit chimney lend the spacious sofa-lined lounge a cosy ski-chic feel, while rooms feature images of trees and sun-dappled forests along with pelt throws and rugs. There’s an indoor pool for guests’ enjoyment, and the property is also halal certified.
Overlooking the river near Latin Bridge, the President has an almost showy modern facade, ideal for sophisticated travellers. Straightforward yet elegant rooms feature large windows, some with balconies, and their room-width pen-and-ink drawings of local landmarks neatly balance the overt modernism of the hotel with the heavy hand of history that pervades the town.
Well to the west of the city centre, the New Hotel is a place you’re more likely to be staying for convenient access to the nearby airport than to downtown Sarajevo. The small six-storey block is inoffensively functional rather than handsome. Accommodation is unfussy and practical, with a combination of browns and beige in the carpets, furniture and curtains, plus tufted upholstery and headboards.
This spacey facade – with skewed cladding and windows resting atop vast glass walls – on the edge of town beside the International University will appeal to visiting architects and designers. Swanky interiors embrace Maghrebi design with decorative ceilings, lattice screens and colourful lanterns, though accommodation is rather more subdued. There’s a large indoor pool to enjoy, plus a Turkish-style hammam and sauna, along with a range of facial and body treatments. Halal credentials mean it’s an alcohol-free zone.
Embrace your inner historian in the heart of Sarajevo old town, where this renovated townhouse blends Scandi-like minimalism with quirky lighting – slit lights recessed into headboards. The colour-coordinated orchids (blue, to match bedcovers and cushions) are an indulgent touch. While rooms are rather small, there’s a charming terrace to while away the hours and a massage room that claims to enhance your psychic strength.
Five fully equipped meeting rooms with space for more than 200 make this the corporate delegates’ choice. But the “wow” moment – at breakfast and dinner – is gazing across the river and downtown skyline from the plush conservatory-like terrace of the S One Sky Lounge. Panoramic elevator aside, it’s a gimmick-free property with a modest fitness centre, while the conventional modern rooms are brightened with pops of turquoise on curtains and cushions.
Barely 985ft (300m) from the tip of Sarajevo airport’s runway seems an eccentric location for an all-encompassing resort, but for families in particular, the sheer range of sports (think any-ball and then some) and spa facilities, from Roman baths to Finnish saunas, is unmatched. The Hills is part of the adjoining Thermal Riviera, a complex of curvy indoor and outdoor pools with waterslides and fake palms. The surprisingly snazzy rooms mainly feature a cool grey and yellow décor and face either mountains or city.
Built in the early 1900s, this elegant four-storey villa on the western edge of town near the International University appeals to those seeking a semi-urban retreat. Renovated in 2019, the hotel offers comfortable rooms featuring a blend of sober striped wallpaper and timber detailing, with almost-lurid furnishings partnering purple and lime-green. The in-house restaurant embraces Bosnian grills, pizza and sushi, while the outside terrace overlooks tranquil parkland beside the Velika Aleja, an arrow-straight 3km-long (2mi) avenue leading to the source of the River Bosna.
You have to hope that the curiously named Radon, almost midway between the airport and central Sarajevo, is more or less radon-free. While the fused quartet of cylindrical mirrored-glass towers is striking, almost futuristic, the interiors are a mix of stylish modernism and the 1970s. Two pools and a games room, plus a range of spa facilities and a hammam, tick those leisure boxes, while the 15th-floor revolving restaurant lends novelty value.
One for romantics, Aziza celebrates the life and love of its founder-couple, who still run a long-established family bakery near the heart of the old quarter. Spacious rooms and studio apartments meld Scandi style to a homely chalet-like feel, with notably decorative glass panes screening bathroom showers from bedrooms. Generous breakfasts include a scrumptious array of bread and pastries from the bakery.