With the Alps to the north, Slovenia is a great alternative ski destination in winter. But its stunning lakes (Bled being the most visited) and dramatic scenery also provide a beautiful backdrop for spring, summer and autumn breaks. It’s developed a name for its wine tourism and for city breaks in the capital, Ljubljana, with its pretty river, castle, Prešern Square and Tivoli CIty Park. And the country is home to the largest show cave in Europe – Postojna Cave Park and Vivarium, with its 24 km of passages and halls and rare karst formations. If you’re planning a Slovenian break, stay in one of these fine hotels…
Kempinski Palace Portorož
In Portorož, Istria, beside the sea, is the Kempinski Palace. This building used to host royalty. These days it’s been reimagined as a deluxe five-star beachside hotel, with 181 modern bedrooms (some of which have balconies). An imposing frontage with manicured landscaped gardens gives way to equally grand public rooms. Meals are served at Sophia, Restaurant Fleur de Sel and in the Crystal Hall ballroom, with drinks at the Pool Bar, Bubbles Bar, and Palace Club. Along with direct access to the beach, there’s a chic pool terrace with plenty of cushioned white loungers and a spa with an indoor swimming pool.
Stay right in the countryside, in a three-storey Alpine chalet. Vila Planinka is found in the forests of Zgornje Jezersko and has just 23 rooms, some of which have mountain view balconies. Guests are treated to local dishes, multiple-course tasting menus, a range of 160 Slovenian wines from its cellar and spa treatments overlooking the woodland. The staff will arrange bespoke tours, or guests can do a bit of ad hoc exploring, with the Vila’s free bicycle hire. As children must be over the age of 12 to stay, this eco-friendly establishment is better suited to couples or older families.
Hotel Grad Otočec – Relais Chateaux
Offering a most extraordinary stay, this hotel is a bona fide castle in the middle of the Krka River. Accessed via two wooden bridges, the true fairytale Gothic and Renaissance turreted building just oozes romance. Hotel Grad Otočec is part of the Relais and Chateaux portfolio and specialises in healthy gourmet food and drink, with singing chef Nejc Ban at the helm. Seasonal tasting menus are served in the refined period dining room, with its silver candelabras, wood-panelled ceilings, beams and exposed stone walls, or outside on the terrace. In the evening, guests can recline with a tipple, in front of a roaring fire.
This mountain property is in Ribčev Laz, with lake views and modern interior design inspired by the surroundings. Rooms are decidedly Scandi, with lots of light, bare wood making up the floors, walls and ceilings, sheepskin throws, white linen, artworks depicting local nature and minimalist furnishings. An exterior massage pool overlooks Triglav National Park – the hotel offers a floating breakfast experience in the water, with sparkling wine and healthy morning treats. In the spa is an ice fountain, saunas, a hammam and a salt room. There’s also a restaurant, a garden with a fireplace, a rural room and a club.
Vander Urbani Resort
Close to the riverside, this boutique design resort was formed within several Baroque townhouses. At the very top, guests can step into a petite rooftop infinity pool with super city views. Drinks can be ordered poolside on the terrace and yoga classes are also held here. With just 20 rooms, the emphasis is on quality over quantity and exquisite, soothing, minimal decor. The urban chic (with a hint of Scandi) restaurant boasts an expansive wine cellar, or you can venture to Bubbles Bar for a tipple – it specialises in wines from within Slovenia. While the design of the hotel is cool, the service is warm, attentive and welcoming.
This is the tallest hotel in the city and a member of the global IHG brand. Climb to the 18th floor for a little pampering at Serenity Wellness where you can swim while viewing the city’s rooftops through floor to ceiling windows. The InterContinental was also Ljubljana’s first five-star residence and has 165 rooms. Book the Presidential Suite – on the floor above the spa – to enjoy your own steam room, living area and fireplace. And you can dine a floor above that, at the B-Restaurant, which is managed by the Michelin-starred chef, Alfredo Russo. The B-Bar is found beside it, with the Bloom Lounge serving lighter meals at ground level.
Previously a swish apartment block occupying a corner plot, this 1930s building now holds 26 plush rooms for paying guests. Some suites have circular beds and bathrooms have glass walls and White Company toiletries. Cubo’s owners are restauranteurs, so you can expect some excellent cuisine crafted using seasonal ingredients with a low carbon footprint. The lobby bar doubles as a pavement cafe during the summer – the perfect spot to people-watch over a mouthwatering pastry. Guests can take advantage of free bicycle hire too, with the river and park close by for leisurely cycles.