Opatija is the queen of Adriatic resorts, its sea-facing villas and elegant hotels attracting the cream of Habsburg society back in the late 1800s. In modern times, these landmarks have been restored and reconfigured, most now accommodating top-class spa facilities.
One of the finest spa hotels in Croatia, the Ambasador belies its 1960s exterior thanks to a complete overhaul in 2013. Two of its ten floors are given over to pools and saunas, where high-end treatments and massages are offered, along with prime panoramic views over the Kvarner Bay. The Villa property next door provides more privacy, but with access to the spa, terrace restaurant and bars in the main hotel.
The first of the great ornate hotels to be built on the coast of Croatia back in 1884, the Kvarner accommodated the European elite during and immediately after the Habsburg era. Emperor Franz Josef himself stayed here, as did dancer and socialite Isadora Duncan, allowing the current ownership to name the restaurant here after her. All was completely reconfigured in 2014, including the stunning ballroom.
In a long-established tourist resort filled with quality hotels, the Admiral attracts return custom thanks to its USP of a panoramic pool and sunbathing area. Within, you find another pool, part of a spa complex with a gym, saunas and whirlpool. The seafront exterior looks as sleek as a superyacht, hence the hotel name.
Echoing the grand days of the Habsburg Empire, the Miramar started life as the Villa Neptun in 1876. This was adapted into a hotel complex of five villas, arranged around a courtyard garden, along with a heated saltwater pool, outdoor jacuzzi, sauna area and private beach. There’s also easy access to the seafront promenade, named after Franz Josef, natürlich.
Describing itself as a ‘beach and family hotel’, the ‘Four Flowers’ provides a children’s playground, beachfront, two-level spa and restaurant. Most of the 200-plus rooms have balconies and sea views. A coffeehouse and pâtisserie are other welcome features.
Reconfigured from the Hotel Palace Bellevue, the Grand Hotel Palace becomes a Remisens Premium brand in 2018 – although so much about this four-star was high-end in any case. A top-class spa centre features Turkish and Finnish saunas, a heated seawater pool and any number of cosmetic treatments and massages, pedicures and manicures. All 196 rooms enjoy outstanding views of the Adriatic, and a neo-Baroque style is continued around the elegant common areas.
The landmark Wagner café and Argonauti restaurant provide reason alone to visit the long-established Milenij, if not stay there. Factor in the glass-domed pool, heated relaxation beds and salt bath at the spa centre, and the Milenij’s five-star status seems completely justified. A prime site overlooking Opatija’s marina and famed Angiolina Park usually wows first-time visitors.
The attraction at the Savoy (apart from the fabulous sea views you may find at a dozen of its competitors) is its size: only 22 rooms. This means more room in the spa centre, personal treatment at the Lungomare Restaurant, a really private beach and, as of 2018, a outdoor pool with fewer swimmers. Look out for online deals when you book directly through the hotel website.
Don’t be put off by its prosaic website – the Mozart is a class act, with a pedigree in upscale hospitality dating back to 1894. As at the Savoy, the key here is size and style. Containing only 26 rooms, the Mozart can fill many of them with unique heritage furniture and offer a personal touch to guests, many of whom are repeat customers. It’s a five-star, with a spa centre, piano bar, restaurant and cosmetic studio, not to mention a garden terrace where you can indulge in exquisite desserts after a day on the beach.
A rare high-end Opatija hotel built in modern times, the Adriatic has been able to customise its main features for contemporary demands, such as placing its impressive Tantra Spa Centre on the very top floor for stunning views way out to sea. Outdoor pleasures include a cocktail bar on the sun deck and grill restaurant in the beach garden.