The hotel name, Bellevue, means Beautiful View in French, but this is Croatia. And not just any old city in Croatia, but probably THE most famous (and yes old) city in Croatia—Dubrovnik!
Located on a spectacular clifftop and cascading 30 meters down to a crystalline bay, the Hotel Bellevue reminds me of that shy girl in the corner at the school dance. You might not notice her at first, standing there with hair covering her eyes in a dress below the knees, but theres a certain something that lures you closer, suggesting that beneath the modest exterior is some serious pizzaz.
The entrance and unassuming facade of the hotel are plopped on a busy street leading out of Dubrovnik’s Old City. Even my cab driver missed the turn in. But step inside and you’ll soon see how the Hotel Bellevue merited its name. The lobby, restaurants, terraces, and each of 91 rooms and suites have direct and unblocked views of the rugged coastline and Adriatic Sea, and all rooms have a private, albeit small, balcony. The decor is simple, clean,modern, and there might even a slight maritime theme going but I’m no interior designer. I stayed in a standard room, which had two twin beds, but the larger suites have separate living areas making them great for families. While it’s considered one of Dubrovnik’s luxury hotels, the Hotel Bellevue never felt prim and proper or overly puffed up, which charmed me from the first “Dober Dan (hello).”
The staff were well-tutored in making each guest (at least this guest) feel like a cherished family friend. During breakfast (a fabulous buffet of hot and cold items), the hotel’s manager, Luce, walked table to table and introduced herself to diners. A first for me. This eagerness to get to know guests and put them at ease was pervasive at the Hotel Bellevue. From the young doormen who practically tripped over themselves to help with the bags or open the taxi door, to the spa staff who massaged in last minute appointments for me, to the front desk clerks who eagerly recommended their favorite local restaurants outside the hotel, the staff were omnipresent but not oppressive. My favorite tasty tip—the bakery directly across the street where fresh Burek (a phyllo dough pastry stuffed with cheese) is pulled hot from the oven every morning.
The day after I arrived in Dubrovnik, it rained so hard the water pummeling the pebbles of the Hotel Bellevue’s private beach below my room sounded like a tidal wave. In the make-lemonade-from-lemons attitude I pack with me when I travel, I did what any innovative and party minded voyager would do…I booked a spa appointment and gathered with other like-minded guests by the indoor pool. If there had been a bar and a Karaoke machine, the Hotel Bellevue Spa would have been the hottest spot in town. But even without the downpour, or the booze, the Spa, a.k.a. “The Comfort Zone Space”, is worth donning a terrycloth robe and slipperes for. The large heated pool and jacuzzi overlook the Adriatic and guests are invited to linger any time, free of charge. Or choose from a menu of treatments that rival any at top wellness centers around the world. I tried a hot stone massage for the first time, given to me on a waterbed massage table. Another first.
During summer, sun-worshippers gather at the bar and restaurant on the beach, and lounge chairs and umbrellas available to hotel guests. There is also an outdoor swimming pool.
The Old City of Dubrovnik is walking distance (less than 10 minutes). If you think you want to be ‘closer’, I’d say, “think again.” The walk takes you through a residential neighborhood and is pleasant and flat, and the hotel is just removed enough from the huffing tour buses and bulging cruise ships that dump thousands of visitors on Dubrovnik every day, making it a nice respite from the crowds.
While the Old City is the main reason people come to Dubrovnik, the Hotel Bellevue makes it easy to linger on the terrace a little longer and flirt with that beautiful girl in the corner. I understand. The views really are amazing, but it was her amiable personality that really bewitched me in the end.
When I left, an eager young doorman settled me into the cab and said, “I hope you were charmed by Dubrovnik and will come back to us soon.”
I was charmed by all of it—the city, the views, but mostly by the people. I’ll definitely be back.
Click here to visit the hotel’s website.
-Summer rates start at €288 per room per night, but online discounts and packages are available. Off season rates are lower. Wifi and breakfast is included.
Check prices online at Expedia or Priceline.
-Walk the city walls. They run 1.24 miles around and above the baroque churches and tiled streets of the Old City. Be warned. There is some serious stair climbing involved but once you are up there the history of a place, along with 360 degree vibrant views of the red tile roofs and cobalt blue sea makes the thigh burning climb worth it.
Good To Know:
-If planning is not your thing, the hotel has a long list of recommended excursions—-from city tours to a soaring cable car ride above the Old City, to island hopping, wine tasting and scuba diving, the hotel can arrange it all, and will happily do it.
-The hotel’s beach is pebbly so bring some good flip flops.
All other photos by author Kimberley Lovato www.kimberleylovato.com