Where to Stay in Croatia for a Local Experience

Many hotels in Croatia, such as Little Green Bay, offer their guests an authentic local experience
Many hotels in Croatia, such as Little Green Bay, offer their guests an authentic local experience | © Little Green Bay
Photo of Culture Trip Travel Team
17 February 2021

A slender stretch of rocky coast lapped by the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is made for long waterfront lunches, sun-drenched island-hopping and sultry afternoons wandering historic cities. Whether you’re tasting the local wines and truffles in the northern province of Istria or exploring the harbours and beaches of a quaint island, this low-key country is all about life’s little pleasures. Here are the best local hotels and secret hideaways in Croatia.

Villa Tuttorotto, Rovinj

Boutique Hotel
4.6/5 (79 Reviews)
Villa Tuttorotto, Rovinj
Courtesy of Villa Tuttorotto / Expedia
From $139 Per night per room

The pretty little city of Rovinj looks like a mini Venice, jutting out into the Adriatic. Right in the city’s upward-spiralling old town, check into this old-fashioned guesthouse for wrought-iron four-poster beds, plush embroidered rugs and a generous homemade breakfast. Just metres from your door are historic churches and picturesque alleys leading straight to the sea, as well as the city’s campanile (ancient bell tower) to climb, and rocks to leap off into crystalline waters. The single room is a great value for solo travellers, too.

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Design Hotel Navis, Preluk Bay

4.6/5 (136 Reviews)
Design Hotel Navis
Courtesy of Design Hotel Navis / Booking.com
From $178 Per night per room

In the pretty, historic town of Opatija, this sharply designed boutique hotel has a wrap-around terrace with a dazzling snapshot of the bay, a spectacular pool and a sea-view spa. Locally, it’s known for its restaurant, where you can devour Croatian fish stew, freshly foraged oysters and grilled octopus and try Istria’s zingy white wines. Rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, letting that shimmering sea view in, and balconies overlooking the tiny wooded islands just offshore.

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Hotel President Pantovcak, Zagreb

4.3/5 (66 Reviews)
Hotel President Pantovcak, Zagreb
Courtesy of Hotel President Pantovcak / Expedia

Affordable, quaint and full of leafy parks, Croatia’s capital is a truly underrated city break. This glassy, modern hotel is close to Zagreb’s historic quarter, the Kaptol hilltop, with medieval churches and toy town turrets. It sits within lovely gardens where you can have a drink after sightseeing and beats the competition with its spacious, wood-floored suites and champagne breakfast overlooking the treetops.

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Hotel Lemongarden, Brač

5/5 (57 Reviews)
Hotel Lemongarden
Courtesy of Hotel Lemongarden / Expedia
From $336 Per night per room

Brač is one of Croatia’s quietest and most idyllic islands, a short boat ride from the sophisticated city of Split, and this palm-fringed oasis with its sparkling swimming pool ups the paradise factor even more. Here, you can lounge and swim among fluttering bougainvillaea, relax in a cheery lavender- or buttercup-coloured room, and get outside to explore the island. You’re close to the pretty port of Sutivan, with its renaissance palaces and sun-bleached pebble beaches, such as the much-snapped Zlatni Rat; alternatively, boat-hop to nearby islands, such as smart Hvar.

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Palmižana, Sveti Klement

Map View
Palmizana Hotel, Sveti Klement
© Palmižana

A collection of bungalows and villas scattered throughout a thick pine forest, trimmed with a golden beach and turquoise bay, Palmižana is perfect for couples and families who want independence and privacy. There’s a restaurant on the waterfront, or you can self-cater in the well-equipped kitchens in the villas. Its location, Sveti Klement, is ripe for exploring. This slender squiggle of an island, just off popular Hvar, is home to tranquil pebble beaches and unspoilt hiking trails.

Roxanich Wine and Heritage Hotel, Istria

Boutique Hotel
4.8/5 (12 Reviews)
Roxanich Wine & Heritage Hotel
Courtesy of Roxanich Wine and Heritage Hotel / Booking.com
From $156 Per night per room

In the picturesque Istrian hill town of Motovun, deep in the region’s grape- and truffle-laced heartland, Roxanich is a grand old wine estate with an idyllic swimming pool jutting out over vines. It’s been beautifully modernised and refurbished to include quirky, individually designed bedrooms, including one with graphic floral wallpaper and a padded leather four-poster bed. It also offers wine tastings or wine-paired feasts and a sharp, modern spa overlooking the rural scenery.

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St Joseph’s, Dubrovnik

Boutique Hotel
4.9/5 (76 Reviews)
St. Joseph's, Dubrovnik
Courtesy of St Joseph’s / Expedia
From $335 Per night per room

Renowned for its 16th-century city walls and honeycomb-hued buildings used in the filming of Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik is stacked with gorgeous, historic hotels, and St Joseph’s is no exception. With just six rooms, this ancient mansion has an intimate atmosphere and decadent interiors, with exposed stone walls, period details and soothing shades of dove grey, oyster and cream. Despite feeling secluded, it’s also within walking distance of Stradun, the main street of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, where swifts swoop in the summertime.

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  • Vestibul Palace, Split

    Luxury, Boutique Hotel
    4.7/5 (201 Reviews)
    Vestibul Palace, Split
    Courtesy of Vestibul Palace / Expedia
    From $121 Per night per room

    In quaint, story-filled Split, this boutique hotel sits within the ancient stone walls of the fourth-century Diocletian’s Palace. It has a glamorous Mediterranean restaurant, Magnus, making the most of the region’s produce (such as fish, charcuterie, mussels and truffles) and simple rooms, with polished woods and white linens setting off the thick palace walls. It’s within proximity of the city’s top attractions, too.

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    Little Green Bay, Hvar

    Boutique Hotel, Hotel
    Map View
    Little Green Bay
    © Little Green Bay

    Set on a densely wooded cove in an unspoilt stretch of Hvar, with greenery as far as the eye can see, Little Green Bay doesn’t think of itself as a hotel. A Parisian interior designer and her brother have created a true retreat, where rooms have private terraces overlooking the luminous sea, framed by pine trees. A guests-only bistro serves wholesome fare on chic glazed ceramics, and the impossibly seductive Little Spa offers al fresco massages with local herbs and a jacuzzi among the pines.

    Hotel Jägerhorn, Zagreb

    Boutique Hotel
    4.5/5 (531 Reviews)
    Hotel Jägerhorn
    Courtesy of Hotel Jägerhorn / Expedia

    Set in Zagreb’s historic Kaptol quarter, the russet-tiled Hotel Jägerhorn is the oldest hotel in the Croatian capital. As well as a landmark cafe-inn, it has a pretty courtyard to dine and drink in, and comfortable, classic rooms decorated in blue and gold. Its single rooms are a steal for solo travellers, and you’re under a 10-minute walk from the city’s Tkalčićeva Street, lined with canopied bars and cafes, where locals flock for an after-work drink.

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    Almayer Art and Heritage Hotel, Zadar

    Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel
    Courtesy of Almayer Art and Heritage Hotel / Expedia

    One of Zadar’s most affordable boutique hotels, Almayer has a beautiful high-walled courtyard with an ornately tiled glasshouse that is a treat for long summer lunches. The hotel itself is filled with striking art, much of it local and available to buy. Smart rooms and mezzanine-split suites will delight design and architecture fans, and it’s a handy stop for onward island-hopping trips since the port is a five-minute walk away.

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    These recommendations were updated on February 17, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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