When we book hotel accommodation, top of the list of our priorities is always to find somewhere on the quirky, more unusual and individual side, rather than a chain. Sometimes, circumstances mean the chain option is the most convenient – late night check in, for instance, or somewhere close to an airport for a very early flight. But generally, chain hotels are not on our radar.
But a couple of years ago, we started to see a very unusual building going up, right on the sea front, between Rijeka and Opatija, in the north of Croatia, on Kvarner Bay. Turns out it was a brand new Hilton Hotel – the Hilton Rijeka Costabella Beach Resort and Spa. The building itself was enough to pique our interest and get us thinking we’d like to try this hotel. When you drive past it, along the coast road, you see the corridors on each floor, through floor to ceiling glass walls, making it clear that ALL of the rooms and suites have views on the other side – as in, out to sea. The design of the hotel is super sleek – glass, sexy curves, white panels, lush landscaping. We loved its design and OK, it’s part of a chain, but we think that the Hilton chain probably gets it right.
We recently found ourselves coming back through Rijeka, from Zagreb, having taken friends back to the airport. Summer was coming to an end, so we decided to check out the prices for the Hilton and maybe grab a last bit of warm weather and relaxation. Via booking.com, we booked a King Room with a balcony and sea view, for €219 – quite pricey for a Sunday evening, but wow. When we arrived and checked in – and experienced what the hotel had to offer – we realised that actually this was a very good price indeed.
The hotel entrance is large, light and opulent. A huge chandelier of glass baubles hangs down from an atrium, complemented by the many hanging glass baubles in tones of gold and copper and honey. Floor to ceiling windows and glass doors curve around the space, which also includes a bar area and the main reception, and there is access to a wrap around sun terrace, where meals, including breakfast, are served. Check-in was a very slick and professional – staff training here is obviously very high up on the agenda. Informative and polite and efficient, without being over the top.
As we already knew, our room had a balcony and a sea view – because, by design, they all have – but we were pretty blown away by just how amazing the view was. Having had rooms previously, with a “sea view”, but in reality nothing more than a sliver in the distance, this was stunning. A completely uninterrupted panoramic sea view – the sea being less than a 100 metres away.
Our King Room was one of the least expensive categories in the hotel – rooms range from King through to suites and duplex seafront villas – but we felt in no way short-changed, or that we had been allocated an inferior accommodation. The room itself was huge, with a very large bed, a mini kitchen with a fridge and tea/coffee making facilities and a cupboard – often overlooked in hotel rooms, but always welcome, as everyone always has a packet of crisps or two, they want to stash away. Don’t they? A desk and chairs, and a small chaise lounge at the foot of the bed, provided for ample seating and a large area, just inside the door was equipped with shelving, a luggage store and a large wardrobe. Hues of blue, mirroring the sea view outside, added beautiful accents to the room – especially the glass lamp shades at each side of the bed.
The bathroom was large – a sumptuous walk-in shower, large sink and vanity unit, excellent lighting (again, sometimes an after thought in hotel bathrooms) and delectable Crabtree & Evelyn products. The room was also off-the-scale gleaming, so again, another massive plus point as the house-keeping team are clearly a very tight ship who maintain extremely high standards. And, we saw this throughout the hotel, not just in our room.
However, without a doubt, the star of the show with this hotel, is the view that is afforded. Some rooms have better views than others, simply because top floor suites, for instance, have wrap around windows and balconies and the bungalows and villas are right on the seafront. Ours, though, wasn’t that bad a view either…
Breakfast at this hotel is definitely a grand affair. Again, on our visit, the attention to detail in terms of hygiene, is really notable. Crockery and cutlery are cleared away swiftly and tables and chairs cleaned down. The areas where food is served are meticulous and constantly cleaned down. The range of breakfast products is astonishing and I think that one sitting is definitely not sufficient to experience everything on offer. As well as food stations stacked (and regularly replenished) with fresh breads, croissants, eggs, salads, salmon, pastries, cakes, fruits, yogurts, hams and cheeses – plus, a huge prosciutto leg for guests to carve – there are various hot food counters, with chefs baking, making and grilling in front of you. Omelettes, fried eggs, pancakes, sausages, potato products, mushrooms, bacon. You order, they make. Drinks are plentiful – juices (freshly pressed as well as in regularly refilled carafes), tea, coffee and wines, if you fancy a morning tipple. Everything is well spaced out, so there’s no sense of queuing or waiting for people to fill their plates and move on. Tables, too, are well spaced out, giving the feeling of privacy. Indoor tables are beautifully laid and set out, and had we had to eat indoors, this would have been fine, but we secured a table out on the terrace, overlooking the bay. Monday morning bliss! Plus, breakfast is served until the civilised hour of 11am and so everything was very relaxed. Just perfect.
The external areas of the hotel are just exquisite. Billowing white cabana beds on a platform, sitting out in the bay. An infinity pool, clearly the place to be for posed photographs. We spent a good hour on our balcony, with a bottle of vino, watching a couple in the pool. He must have taken hundreds of photos of her, in various poses, in the pool, accompanied by much hair swishing and extension of arms and arching of back – before the ritual checking of the photos and the retaking if deemed probably unfit for Instagram. And, these weren’t the only couple! Very tasteful villa/bungalows, underneath the hotel room balconies – and all with green roofs, so when these have taken hold (the hotel is less than a couple of years old), the view down will be beautiful.
As well as the infinity pool, there is an indoor pool and a gym, and areas specifically for children. There are also lots of sun beds and hanging egg chairs, in various locations, around the site, close to the sea, and towels can be hired from the hotel. Check out is up until midday, which was really appreciated as we didn’t need to rush off, but after check out you can store your luggage and still use the communal hotel facilities all day. Parking is on-site – although not free, it is reasonable and there is an underground car park, as well as parking bays directly outside the reception area.
There are a number of number of restaurants on site, including the Michelin starred Nebo. We booked an 8pm table at the Jedro Restaurant, located on the beach, but this was the only tiny blip in our stay. There was no record of our reservation and even though it was still early – although probably right at the end of the season – the restaurant did have a feeling of being on the cusp of closing for the evening. However, we were warmly accommodated and offered the full menu, including the selection of fresh fish which was still available and brought to our table for inspection. Despite being the only couple dining – another couple had finished and left soon after we arrived – it wasn’t an issue, as none of the staff made us feel us rushed or hurried, and we did have an amazing table, right on the beach as the lapped just below us. I’d definitely recommend this restaurant and I guess in the summer, booking is essential as its fantastic.
From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, we were super impressed. It is a hotel chain, and you can’t away from that, but it’s a class act. And definitely somewhere worth investigating if you want a short stay – I don’t think we could do more than a couple of nights as we’d start to feel cooped up – which is really easy, really comfortable and with stand out facilities.
PS This is not a sponsored post in any way. We found our room on booking.com, paid the advertised price and paid the full price for our evening meal.