In the 1920s, when the Orient Express stopped in Zagreb en route from Istanbul to Paris, its guests disembarked to spend the night in the splendid Art Deco Esplanade Zagreb hotel.
Built to accommodate members of high society, it quickly became the heart of Zagreb’s social scene. In the century since its opening, this luxury hotel has hosted everyone from Lawrence Olivier to Queen Elizabeth II. This Croatian icon has a superb location in the city center and remains one of the greatest places to stay in Europe.
Hotel Esplanade Zagreb is for guests who want to stay in the heart of the city in one of Zagreb’s most iconic buildings. If you love glamorous environments and want to dress up, party with celebrities, and generally live the high life, this is the hotel for you. However, what’s unusual here is that a staycation won’t break the bank: even if you’re traveling on a modest budget, you can still check in and treat yourself to an experience that would be unaffordable elsewhere.
When the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel was renovated, the designers kept in mind the property’s great history and a big touch of Hollywood glamour. The 208 rooms fall into three categories, Superior, Deluxe, and Suites, all of which are spacious, imaginatively decorated, and finished with life’s little luxuries. The pillows and duvets of the beds are filled with goose down. Hypoallergenic alternatives are available.
Have a blast in a Deluxe Room and you’ll enjoy separate living and sleeping areas, plus an oversized marble bathroom with tub and walk-in shower. Toiletries are by L’Occitane, and bathrobes and towels are so plush you’ll feel like you’ve wrapped yourself in a cloud. If you want to treat yourself or a loved one, browse the bath brochure and ask Guest Services to arrange an unforgettable L’Occitane bath ritual.
Food and drink
The Esplanade Zagreb Hotel’s signature restaurant is Zinfandel’s, widely regarded as the best restaurant in town. Executive chef Ana Grgic honed her skills in starred kitchens in Brussels and Berlin before joining L’Esplanade in 2012.
Croatian TV fans know her as a judge on Celebrity MasterChef. Zinfandel’s menu features the finest Croatian ingredients, including fresh Adriatic seafood, truffles harvested from the forests, butter and cheeses made on local farms. For maximum effect, dishes should be accompanied by Croatian wines and you can choose from an extensive wine list.
If you fancy a combination of Croatian and French cuisine, try the Esplanade’s second restaurant, Le Bistro. The Art Deco setting is lovely, though in the summer diners often prefer to lean back on the outdoor terrace and enjoy something from the grill. This is also where most hotel guests choose to have their breakfast, washed down with the best coffee in town.
For an aperitif or a nightcap, what you need is a stool at the Esplanade 1925 bar, the hotel lounge and a cocktail bar. Led by top Croatian mixologists, the cocktail menu blends old favorites with imaginative new concoctions inspired by the cities visited by the Orient Express. Our advice is to start with the Zagreb, a delicious cocktail made with brandy, honey liqueur and orange.
Since its construction, the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel has been the central location for public events, from costume balls to exclusive cocktail parties and banquets.
The Emerald Ballroom is dazzling and will accommodate 365 people for a party under its domed roof. You can host small events on the Oleander Terrace overlooking the city, and there are plenty of conference and meeting rooms.
If you are here simply to relax, you will be more interested in the health and relaxation facilities. There’s a health club, spa and gym, and Zagreb’s first fitness park is across the street.
Superior King rooms at the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel start from €112 per night when purchased in advance online.
By staying at the Esplanade Zagreb hotel, you are right in the center of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia and a city with 900 years of history. Zagreb was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which strongly influenced local architecture and culture. Allow yourself plenty of time to stroll through the picturesque Old Town, looking for landmarks such as St. Mark’s Church, the Croatian Parliament, and the Old Town Hall.
Zagreb has a fantastic range of museums, whatever interests you. Top picks include the National Museum of Modern Art, the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum, the Zagreb Chocolate Museum, and the quirky Museum of Broken Relationships. Pre-purchase a Zagreb Card and you’ll get free or discounted entry to many sights, as well as free use of public transport.
As lunchtime approaches, be sure to grab a picnic at Zagreb’s Dolac Market, the city’s largest and oldest farmers’ market. You can then head to the Maksimir Park, laid out in the 18th century, to sit in the sun and enjoy it, or, if you prefer to do something a little more energetic, go hiking in the Medvenica Nature Park or swim in Jarun lake. .
Also read: Top 10 things to do and see in Zagreb
There are few places in the world where you can stay in a world-class hotel for less than £100 a night, so take the opportunity to check into the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel while you can. The hotel is the crown jewel of a beautiful but surprisingly little-visited city, and the staff will make you feel like a queen or a movie star.