a unique perspective on this crazy world

Posts tagged ‘hotel excelsior’

welcome to the hotel california, er, excelsior…

I am pretty sure the Hotel California does not exist.  But, perhaps, the Eagles took a vacation in Dubrovnik and stayed at the Hotel Excelsior…

It’s a fantastic hotel and I am a super fan so highly encourage you to stay there.  It’s not cheap but you will get used to that in Dubrovnik.  It’s not Scandinavia – but it’s western Europe pricing in eastern Europe so you will hear people complaining.

There are lots of cheaper places you can go in the world so go there until you have the budget for Dubrovnik because staying at the Hotel Excelsior is really worth the price tag.


There is a beach along with a gorgeous indoor pool.  A spa.  Four different restaurants.  A bar with a view – and live music on certain nights. A sumptuous breakfast, including great Croatian sparkling wine.  The spectacular view while you are eating breakfast all part of your room rate.  There are world class views from every level and the walk to the old town is under 10 minutes, maybe 15 in heels 🙂

You will need to pay attention though!  Part of what makes the hotel so spectacular is that it is built into the side of a cliff.  But that is also what makes it hard to leave… the exit varies depending on where you are trying to go and the signage is a bit confusing.  Of course, if you use the elevators I am sure it is a lot more straightforward but there are old-fashioned grand staircases so I always use them to get extra exercise.

I got even more extra exercise as I kept going up and down staircases trying to figure out how to get to reception and out of the hotel!  After a few false starts, I finally had success and spilled out into the warmth of a Mediterranean evening.

As usual, I was fighting jet lag so had a short nap upon arrival so that I wouldn’t fall asleep in my dinner.  It proved to be a great plan as it meant I was still awake enough post-dinner to venture into the Old Town.

It is easy to be seduced to never leave the hotel but I did come to see Dubrovnik.  If your travel plans mirror mine, I would highly recommend my itinerary, born of pure chance.

As usual, I had been working crazy hours so that I could escape from my regular mundane life so my research was pretty sketchy.  But that can also work in one’s favour.  You just have to be lucky enough to be heading for a destination that feels cinematic.

seductive or what?

seductive or what?

I was almost falling asleep on my feet but as long as I didn’t sit down I figured it should be safe to do a little exploring.  I am so glad I did.  It was my most magical night in Dubrovnik.  I’m not sure if it was Monday night… or the end of the rain.

It’s worth it any night but that Monday was especially magical.  There are two gates to the Old Town.  From Hotel Excelsior you will walk through the Pile Gate.  The other gate might be equally spectacular.

how often can you cross a drawbridge?

how often can you cross a drawbridge?

My journey involved crossing the drawbridge and then meandering through the old city walls like a denizen from Game of Thrones, finally emerging in the town square.  You will feel like you have been transposed onto a film set.

What I hadn’t anticipated due to my lack of research is that the Old Town is lit up at night.  The streets glow, the stones beneath your feet having been polished by over 500 years of scuffed leather.

The stained glass windows of the church will captivate you.  The interplay of light and shadow on the ancient walls will toy with your senses.  It’s not often you get to feel truly medieval – even if your modern footwear gives away your true genesis.

spectacular stained glass

spectacular stained glass

I didn’t want to fall and hit my head on the polished cobblestones because I was too tired to stand up so I had to reluctantly head back to the hotel.  But I walked slowly, lapping up the atmosphere of this unique place.

I hadn’t yet learned its history but I knew it was the kind of place people would fight over.  Luckily for me, I didn’t have to worry about the strife, just imagine it as the stones told their stories and I crossed the drawbridge back to the hotel.  This time I paid close attention so that I would spend the night in my comfy bed, not curled up in a corner of the stairwell, unable to stay awake for another flight of stairs…


living the life of dreams…

Perhaps for some having an iphone tethered to them is living the life of dreams…

My phone is off.  I went back to the room to collect my fancy digital SLR camera when I discovered the incredible view from the beach level of the hotel.  When the hotel elevator has a “beach level” button you know you are not in Kansas.

hard to believe but this is real...

hard to believe but this is real…

I am at the Hotel Excelsior in Dubrovnik, Croatia, having eaten a delicious octopus amuse-bûche, waiting for the rest of my seafood, including a Dubrovnik specialty called Buzarañe.  Had Dorothy ended up here instead of Oz, no doubt she would be dancing at night in her red shoes after spending the day barefoot on the beach and carefully making sure she didn’t click her heels because this place is so much better than Kansas 🙂

Like many of my travel adventures, my arrival in Dubrovnik was inspired by random chance and I have been dreaming of this city for over a decade.

The walled city is a UNESCO world heritage site and I have known about Dubrovnik for a long time, possibly even before Maria.  But it was Maria’s enthusiasm that added it to my travel list.

This was back in 1988.  No doubt an ideal time for a visit but I didn’t have vacation time, let alone funds, back then.  Maria’s family was from Yugoslavia so she described in rapturous detail this jewel of the Adriatic.

Of course, soon after Dubrovnik became a place associated with land mines rather than tourists.  Maria’s

maria wasn't lying...

maria wasn’t lying…

inspiration held though.  It made me more aware of the war – and also the post-war renaissance.

Getting to Dubrovnik is not super slick though.  It’s not difficult – but not a quick train ride or direct flight from most of Europe.  Partly it’s the geography.  Mountains, water and forest make for spectacular scenery – but obstacles to transportation routes.

But you should persevere and get to this part of the world.  You can take a ship from Italy if you are blessed with free time but if you need to get in faster, you will arrive by air like most of the tourists who make their way to this remote corner of Europe.

There are lots of places to eat – and fresh seafood is plentiful.  I think it would be hard to beat Prora though.  You should likely bring someone along 🙂

I had fun talking to my server about Croatia (I was writing this at the table so he thought I was a writer…) and drinking in the view.  And savouring the delicious seafood.  It’s an experience so sublime it speaks to your soul and all your senses are enveloped in the atmosphere of the place because it is so unique.

There is a beach with gently lapping waves, a forest covered island just offshore, an illuminated ancient fortified town, a pirate ship shining on the deep blue water.  On top of first class service, memorable food and outstanding local wine.


It was an hour plus of pure magic rivaling the night I had a French chef personally serve me his tasting menu at an over-the-top Shanghai restaurant or the night I dined under the stars in the Serengeti listening to lions roar in the background engaged in one of the most seductive experiences of my life.

And, hey, Croatia is probably closer to you – and you don’t need a visa 😉


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