Hidden House

Stari Grad, Hvar, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia Book from Book from £70 per night

Boho-chic B&B in historic Stari Grad; also available as a self-catering house rental for 10
On the blissfully quiet side of Hvar, the ancient town of Stari Grad centres on a pretty fishing harbour, filled with painted wooden boats. And just one block back from the water's edge, in a traditionally cobbled alley, you'll find this stylish and intimate B&B. Its English hosts, cocktail guru Chris and interior designer Amanda, have a well-established background in hospitality, with former ventures including Blanch House in Brighton and Hidden Bar on Ibiza.

When they purchased this 300-year-old narrow Dalmatian townhouse in 2004, it was semi-derelict. Over a decade of hard work and loving restoration later, it finally grew ready for them to welcome guests. You enter into an open-plan living space, with a slick black kitchen, long wooden dining table, and smart black Chesterfield sofas. Shelves are stacked with books, there's an excellent sound system and 3 splendid cats laze about, adding to the truly homely atmosphere. Upstairs, the 4 guest bedrooms are small but charming, with quirky decor and snazzy bathrooms. Rent the whole house (sleeping 10 in total), and you'll also have the top-floor master bedroom plus a small roof terrace with sensational views.

Highs

  • Just 4 cosy bedrooms with eclectic decor, combining antiques and retro design pieces
  • Stari Grad itself - unspoilt and peaceful, with excellent restaurants
  • Chris and Amanda create an unconventional atmosphere that's informal but intimate, refined but fun
  • Fantastic value, and rates include a generous breakfast: fruit smoothies, croissants and more
  • Tons to do on Hvar - hiking, cycling, sea swimming and wine tasting

Lows

  • Full pre-payment prior to stay, by Bank Transfer; no credit cards accepted
  • Ensuite bathrooms have super showers, but no tubs
  • Not for those who want anonymity
  • No outdoor space (unless you rent the whole house)
  • If you want glitzy nightlife, you'll have to drive over to Hvar Town (20 mins)

Best time to go

If you want an active holiday, hiking and cycling, come in spring or autumn, when the weather should be pleasantly warm and sunny, and all the main attractions open, but without the crowds. The sea is ideal for swimming from June through September. The best months for open-air cultural events are July and August, but this is peak season in Dalmatia, so it does get hot and crowded too.

Our top tips

Stari Grad (meaning Old Town) was first settled by the Ancient Greeks in 384BC. They started cultivating the fertile Stari Grad Plain, dividing it into rectangular plots bordered by dry stone walls. These 'land parcels' remain beautifully preserved and are still used for growing olives and grapes, and Stari Grad Plain is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, it's not easy to decipher - ask about guided tours at the Tourist Office.

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
  • Boutique B&B
  • 4
  • Breakfast only (restaurants nearby)
  • Welcome but not ideal
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Open-plan living space (kitchen, dining area, lounge)
Room:

Rooms

The 4 rooms - Adria, Marie, Lina and Silvija - are individually styled, but all have wooden floors, exposed stonewalls, and old-fashioned windows with wooden shutters. You'll find lots of mirrors and an eclectic mix of contemporary art and exotic memorabilia - model elephants, Oriental slippers, that sort of thing. Refreshingly, there are no TVs or DVD players. Extravagantly tiled bathrooms have walk-in rain showers, Duravit fittings, fluffy towels and L’Occitane toiletries.

We slept soundly in Lina in a super-comfy kingsize bed, with a goosedown duvet, plump feather pillows, and vintage Deco lighting. We also peeped into Silvija; gorgeous, combining silver wallpaper ('Woods' by Michael Clark, 1959) with floral bed covers.

If you rent the whole house, you get use of Chris and Amanda's top-floor bedroom, with its Oriental rugs, white leather sofa and a big-screen projector for film nights. There's an Italian slipper tub in the ensuite bathroom. Steep wooden steps lead up to a small roof terrace with a barbecue and potted herbs, plus dreamy views over the terracotta rooftops.

Features include:

  • Cots Available
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The ground-floor living area has a slick kitchen (with tea and coffee to help yourself to) and a long dining table for communal breakfasts. If you stay on a B&B basis, you'll be treated to a generous spread of smoothies, seasonal fruit, cereals, oven-warm croissants, fresh bread and a selection of jams. There's also an espresso machine for proper coffee. If you rent the whole house, the kitchen is yours to self-cater; there are grocery shops nearby.

Hvar Town dominates the travel press, but its restaurants tend to be crowded and over-priced; in contrast, low-profile Stari Grad has several outstanding eateries, with less razzle-dazzle. Jurin Podrum does a creative take on traditional Dalmatian cuisine, with an emphasis on fresh seafood, plus excellent steaks and colourful salads - Edward VIII and Wallace Simpson ate here in 1936. Nearby Konoba Pharia serves traditional local specialities, such as roast lamb and grilled tuna, plus local wine by the carafe, in a centuries-old stone courtyard.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Swim and sunbathe at the town beach, a 10-minute walk from the harbour
  • Lunch at a waterfront restaurant then explore Stari Grad's car-free cobbled alleys, stopping at the 16th-century Tvrdalj (aka Hektorovic House) and Stari Grad Museum, exhibiting finds dating back to the arrival of the Greeks in 384BC
  • Hike to the top of Purkin Kuk hill (signed footpath leading out from town) for fantastic views down onto Stari Grad Plain
  • Hire bicycles and pedal over to the seaside town of Jelsa (10km), calling at Bastijana for wine tasting en route. On the way back, stop for a swim in one of several idyllic coves between Jelsa and Vrboska; Amanda can advise
  • Charter a motorboat or sailing boat (skipper required for those with no sailing experience) and spend a day exploring the Dalmatian islands, jumping on and off board to swim in the turquoise sea
  • Spend a day in Hvar Town (22km / 20-minute drive): there's a 16th-century cathedral, 17th-century municipal theatre, 2 monasteries and a hilltop castle, plus great waterside bars and restaurants

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Hidden House is peaceful, romantic and discreetly sophisticated, making it ideal for couples. Children are welcome, but there are no facilities for them. If you rented the whole house you would have use of a roof terrace.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Lina and Silvija can each fit a baby cot and Sivija has a Scandinavian daybed, which can be made up for a child. A high chair is available for breakfast.

Kid Friendly: Lina

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 4 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

What a fantastic little place down one of the beautiful cobbled back streets in the centre of Stari Grad, hosted by the wonderful Chris and Amanda. We were very kindly upgraded to a bigger room (Silvya) for most of our 9 night stay, which was a gorgeous room with plenty of space and a lovely walk in bathroom with spacious shower. The last few nights were in room Marie which was just as beautiful, just a little smaller. There is a lounge on the ground floor that guests are invited to use to listen to music or watch a DVD. Breakfast every morning was a spread of fresh bread & pastries, cereals, fruit and freshly squeezed orange juice along with use of the coffee machine and any tea you could want. Chris had an abundance of recommendations for local restaurants & bars, hire companies for boats & cycles and many more things including wine tasting in the next town of Jelsa. It feels like a home away from home having most things you might need to make your holiday just right (beach towels, cool box and ice blocks for boat trips, use of the kitchen refrigerator, sea shoes and snorkels). It really is a special little place made even more special by the warmth and kindness of Chris and Amanda. We love to travel and see new places but Hidden House is definitely somewhere we will be returning to.

10/10,

Our room was beautifully decorated and had everything we needed for a short stay. Only problems were there was no proper door to the bathroom only a curtain, and again no proper door to the shower just a shower curtain which meant the bathroom floor got very wet, but otherwise a lovely room. Fresh local pastries and fruit and lots of choice for breakfast, tea and coffee available throughout the day, really impressed. Chris and Amanda were perfect hosts, made everyone feel welcome and gave tips for local restaurants and things to do, lent out picnic/ snorkelling equipment and were always there at breakfast too.

10/10,

If it wasn't Chris and Amanda's livelihood, I'd keep Hidden House a secret and wouldn't tell anyone!

10/10,

Our stay at Hidden House was fabulous. Chris and Amanda are great hosts, and our room (Marie) was both comfortable and gorgeously furnished and decorated. We had a peek into some of the other rooms as well, and they're all as lovely as each other - Amanda's design touches really set Hidden House apart from other B&Bs. Stari Grad is a lovely little place, far less crowded than Hvar Town, and yet absolutely teeming with places to eat and drink, and things to see and do. Getting there was easy from Hvar Town - just pick up a bus from the port and then it's a 10 minute walk. At the end of the stay we took the ferry to Split, which is a little more complicated, as the ferry port is a little way outside of the town, but Chris was kind enough to give us a lift. The bus also stops there if you're more organised than we were and look up the times early enough! We had a truly magical three days at Hidden House - couldn't think of a better place to celebrate our first wedding anniversary!

10/10,

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