Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel, Zadar, Croatia

Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel, Zadar, Croatia

Perfectly placed in the heart of Zadar’s old town, just a short stroll from the water’s edge, a former hospital has been transformed into an idyllic, design-driven boutique stay.

Everyone has different criteria when it comes to hunting down a
beautiful bolthole. Some seek a luxurious space stuffed with
super-slinky amenities; others crave a stripped-back set-up with a
fierce attitude. Truth be told, if you’d asked us a few months back
to name a property that artfully fuses the two, we’d have struggled
to give a solid answer. But that was before we’d had the pleasure
of resting our heads at Zadar’s Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel –
a place where discreet luxury blends seamlessly with a deep respect
for Croatia’s rich cultural heritage.

The country’s oldest inhabited city, Zadar is home to a thriving and famously
hospitable community, with proud locals happy to share
time-honoured traditions and stories with discerning visitors. Case
in point? The Almayer’s husband-and-wife owners, Irina Bakija and
Vjekoslav Bobić.

Back in 2013, the couple found themselves drawn to a deserted
19th-century building – a former military hospital – in the old
town, just a short stroll from the sparkling Adriatic. Fast forward
to the summer of 2017, and, following a major reconstruction
project, they have made their dream a reality, throwing open the
doors to a contemporary boutique hotel whose goal is to serve savvy
travellers a slice of true Mediterranean spirit.

Almayer Exterior
Almayer Delxue Room

A deluxe mezzanine suite, left, and the hotel


In the main building there are nine rooms, comprising four
doubles and five deluxe mezzanine suites. Across the park, you’ll
find the newly constructed Almayer Dépendance Rooms, containing
seven sleek doubles. We stayed in one of the mezzanine suites in
the single-storey main building.

The reception area is incredibly intimate. After clambering a
handful of stone steps, you reach a lengthy, light-filled corridor,
where matte-black bedroom doors reveal nothing of the playful and
vibrant palette found behind them. Step inside to discover a
double-level arrangement that feels more like a house than a
temporary crash pad. On the lower level, a spacious marble bathroom
comes complete with a shower, fluffy towels and organic Bramley
toiletries, plus underfloor heating and a heated towel rail for the
ultimate level of relaxation. Also downstairs, an enormous sofa
(which opens into a bed) and a wooden desk area built beneath the
split staircase make for a cosy and practical living space.
Upstairs, a queen-sized bed sits beneath skylight windows and a
wooden beamed ceiling. While we love the sea-facing views, our
favourite thing about the guest rooms is that the walls are clad
with local artworks available to purchase – a beautiful touch that
supports the creative community.

Deluxe Bedroom
Almayer Secret Garden

The hotel courtyard, right, and the second floor of a deluxe
mezzanine suite.

What’s for breakfast?

Served in the ground-floor Corte Restaurant, a buffet-style
spread includes cold meats, cheeses, crumbly pastries and
dispensers spilling with flavours of granola we didn’t even know
existed. Still hungry? Cooked-to-order options are available on

How about lunch and dinner?

It’s not often that a restaurant setting is just as delightful
as its menu, but the all-day Corte Restaurant, housed in a
light-flooded orangery, nails both. Think floor-to-ceiling Croatian
wines, rattan chairs and flower-strewn tables. The adjacent
courtyard – somewhat reminiscent of Frances Hodgson’s The Secret
Garden – is peppered with parasols and sofas scattered with
colourful cushions. In the kitchen, head chefs Josip Vrsaljko and
Tomislav Karamarko work with seasonal and locally sourced produce
to create traditional classics with a modern twist.

Is there a bar?

While there’s no obvious bar area, there are plenty of snug
corners in which to enjoy a glass or three.


Most boutique hotels are keen to squeeze in all the extra
trimmings possible, but the beauty of Almayer is that it sways to
its own beat. Sure, there’s no first-class gym space or rooftop
pool, but you will have the attention of a brilliant team, all of
whom will go above and beyond to cater to your every need. Press
general manager Elena Rusnjak on just about anything and she’s sure
to be able to answer.

How about their green credentials?

Everything you’d expect, plus a few pretty novel initiatives.
Dedicated to reducing waste, co-owner Irina Bakija takes worn and
torn bed linens and transforms them into smart tote bags.

What about accessibility?

This property isn’t suitable for those with mobility issues.

What’s the crowd like?

You know when you spot a dashingly beautiful human on the tube
and, although you’re never going to see them again, you allow
yourself to fall in love for a few minutes? It’s a bit like that.
Plus, with the hotel being adults-only, there’s a blissfully quiet
vibe throughout.

Things I should know

We’ve heard whispers of a state-of-the-art spa being in the
works, but best keep that one a secret for now.

Within a short walk I can find…

Hop down to the harbour for 7pm to enjoy a breathtaking sunset
while listening to the symphony of the Sea Organ installation, an
experimental musical instrument that creates sound by harnessing
the power of the waves.

The Lowdown

Doubles cost from £263 a night.


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Destination Inspiration: Zadar, Croatia