Damaged during the war in the 1990’s, Dubrovnik is now a UNESCO heritage site and undergoing a major restoration programme. The ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ is about a 2.5 hour flight from London and a 20 minute drive to the old town from the airport in Dubrovnik. We stayed at the Hotel Excelsior which was a perfect location and good hotel.
The Hotel Excelsior is a combination of a modern glass structure and old, stone architecture. The rooms on the sea in the modern building are the best. We had a junior suite with separate seating area, bedroom, lots of cupboard space and huge marble bathroom. The beds are wonderfully comfortable and we slept with the windows open to the sea each night. There is also air-conditioning for when the weather hots up.
The spa facilities are good and the treatments inexpensive and exceptional. Massages are wonderful and they do great facials. The indoor pool is very nice with relaxation areas and great for exercising but the stone, sun deck next to the sea is heaven and the sea crystal clear, blue and deliciously refreshing. The swimming area is roped off for protection from boats. There is a also a stone, salt water, sea pool by the beach restaurant for those not keen on the open sea. It is a basic structure and bit sea weedy underfoot but enclosed. We had very variable weather during our stay and the sea was so rough we were unable to sit outside one day so we went to the beach club next door (East West) which was over crowded with tourists and a bit overwhelming but we were able to reserve beds in the VIP area and the food was surprisingly good.
The place to have pre and post dinner drinks at the hotel is the Palm Terrace, a pianist tinkles away unobtrusively in the background. The main restaurant Salin is stark with little atmosphere in the evening mainly because of the poor lighting.It is fine for breakfast if you sit outside(they have a huge buffet which is very good) and you can have dinner and lunch out on terrace as well. Despite this the food is good. The chef Peter cooked us Scorpion Fish one night which was delicious.
Have lunch or dinner is at the Prora Beach restaurant which is near the outdoor, sea water pool. Tables are laid either under the cool stone archways or out on the terrace itself on the water’s edge. Prora is run by Mario (and helped by Ivan), both were charming and kept us entertained.
The restaurants in the town are ok and it makes a nice change to get out. We had dinner in the town at a restaurant called Proto which was a lovely, atmospheric restaurant but the food was average (prawns were frozen, spinach was frozen etc.) There is another restaurant called Moby Dick (where they ask you in advance when you make your reservation what you would like in the way of fresh fish). We did not make it there but it is supposed to be very good. There are lots of nice ice cream stalls around for kids and plenty of places to buy bottled water. If you want to wear high heels for dinner, make sure you wear wedges as the streets are cobbled and it makes life easier.
Just outside the walls of the old town, a restaurant called Pergola is apparently good and the only place you can get “Prstaci” (translated as date shells in English) and a specialty of the Adriatic Sea. A restaurant called Orsan has wonderful scenery overlooking the sea but the food is fairly average.
We had a private tour of the old town of Dubrovnik one morning organised by the hotel concierge. Our lovely guide, Maria who was brought up in Dubrovnik took us down the five minute walk from the Hotel Excelsior into the old town which is stunningly beautiful. There are many cruise ships that come through Dubrovnik, so it gets very over crowded sadly. It is best to go into the town in the early morning at about 8am (in the summer it is really too hot after 10am) and you can then avoid the crowds. One of our team walked the ramparts of the city early one evening which took about 30 minutes.
If you just want to go in for a look around, best advice is to keep an eye out for the enormous cruise ships and go in when they are not there! You cannot miss them, they park up off shore by the island. The biggest we saw was called Costa Fortuna…it was hideously huge.
The best way to see the surrounding area is to hire a private boat which the hotel can organise. They have a range of boats which come with crew and are able to take you on a trip around the islands and beautiful coastline. There are some island restaurants which are recommended by a friend who lives there. The sea was unseasonably rough during our stay so we were unable to go, however he told us you can take a water taxi to them if you do not want to rent a boat for a whole day:
Restaurant Taurus on island Sipan (the food is apparently excellent and the island is magnificent)
Stella Maris on Kobas (this is also a nice location, food can be great but sometimes varies)
Unesco Heritage Site