Hotel Balatura

Tribalj, Kvarner Gulf, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia Book from Eur80

Reviewed by Jane Foster
A small, friendly, family-run hotel with bohemian décor, in a peaceful village between the sea and mountains
In the sleepy Kvarner village of Tribalj, backed by the karst hills of the Vinodol valley, and 6km inland from the seaside resort of Crikvenica, lies Balatura. The 300-year-old traditional stone farmhouse has belonged to the Godec family for several generations, but it was only in 2008 that it opened as a hotel, after 2 years of careful renovations with the help of conservation specialists.

Today, the interior exudes a cosy, arty-intellectual ambiance, with 10 rooms decorated in natural muted colours and furnished with antiques. A leafy courtyard patio opens onto a small raised garden planted with rosemary and lavender, and backed by woodland. Informal, serene and wonderfully off the beaten track, the hotel is small enough for the owners to be able to give their guests personalised service and advice about this underrated corner of Croatia.

Highs

  • Lying between the coast and the mountains, it makes an ideal base for hiking, paragliding, mountain biking, sailing and scuba diving
  • Tasteful, rustic-chic interiors create a laidback, arty atmosphere, with occasional yoga, sculpture and writing courses
  • Charming and helpful Croatian-German owners, Gordan and Anne-Kathrin, who give their guests individual attention
  • Superb breakfasts in the leafy courtyard, and delicious vegetarian dinners too

Lows

  • The nearest beaches are in Crikvenica (6km away), and there are no good restaurants within walking distance, meaning you really need to hire a car
  • No pool, but there are plans to build one in the future
  • No twin bedded rooms, so not great for friends sharing
  • Carnivores may be disappointed, the hotel's menus are entirely vegetarian

Best time to go

For many people, the best periods to come are during shoulder season (May-June or September-October) when the coastal resorts are not too crowded, the sea warm enough to swim, and the weather ideal for hiking. During high-season (July-August), Crikvenica is very hot and overrun with tourists, while in low season (November-April) most local tourist facilities are closed, though skiing is possible in the mountains of Gorski Kotar.

Our top tips

Stay at least 4 full days, to have time to explore both the coast and the mountains. Pack your bathing suit, hiking boots, sun cream, books, and casual clothes.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
Great Outdoors
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10
  • Restaurant + bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 1 Oct 2015 - 31 Mar 2016
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

The 10 double rooms - 6 in the main building and 4 in the stone cottage - are named after local herbs and flowers and decorated in muted tones of the plant’s colour. The look is rustic-chic, with wooden floors and exposed stonework alongside some lovely decorative touches. Expect a double bed with a wrought iron bedstead, antique wooden bedside tables and wardrobes, big comfy armchairs and a small desk. Fine attention is paid to detail: the wall-mounted plasma TV, for example, is cleverly hidden by a big bold oil painting, which can be lifted off if you want to see the screen. Most rooms open directly onto a bathroom, with a mosaic-tile bath and an old stone sink.

The biggest and most expensive rooms are Lavender and Violet (both in the main building). Lovely Lavender extends over two levels with a living room downstairs, an open-plan bedroom-cum-bathroom in the attic space (a clawfoot tub sits below white painted beams), and a pretty roof terrace. Violet has a lofty, wooden beamed ceiling, a white-iron four-poster, a big open fireplace with two vivid purple armchairs and a covered balcony.

We stayed in pastel Rosemary, a standard double, and it was lovely to wake up and wander straight out onto the 'balatura' (original balcony, running along the front of the building). Of the other standard rooms, we liked the pretty hues and covered balcony of Olive, and the fresh yellows and clawfoot tub of Lemon. Two of the smallest rooms, Sage and Laurel, are situated at the back and very peaceful - a great hideaway for artists on a longer stay.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Eating at Balatura is a joy, especially for vegetarians (the menu is entirely meat-free). Guests can choose between sitting at a long communal table in the open-plan kitchen with a big old fireplace, or at separate small tables outside in the leafy back courtyard, looking onto the garden.

Dinner is usually a fixed menu of 3 or 4 vegetarian courses which changes daily, depending on what the chef finds at the local market and what's in season in the garden. Springtime might prompt a starter of eggs and asparagus cream with caramelized wild asparagus. A main of homemade pasta with red cabbage and barbecued celery, followed by a pudding of strawberry strudel with a touch of lavender. All washed down with delicious Vrbnicka Zlahtina (a highly-esteemed white wine from the nearby island of Krk).

Breakfast is a leisurely affair, with a colourful and beautifully arranged buffet spread - lots of fresh fruit, muesli, nuts, local yoghurt, cheeses and freshly baked bread. Tea or coffee is served at your table, and eggs are cooked to order (scrambled, fried or boiled).

The kitchen remains open all day for drinks and snacks, which most people enjoy outdoors in the courtyard garden. Think homemade seasonal fruit juices such as elderberry or nettle, local herbal teas (rosehip is a favourite), a fine selection of Croatian wines, plus platters of cheese, olives and anchovies, and salads.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity: Cres

Activities

  • Relax on local beaches - try Crikvenica ‘town beach’, a long stretch of sand-and-gravel complete with umbrellas and sun beds, or follow the seaside path northwest to Kacjak peninsular or southeast to Selce, for a meandering shoreline with secluded pebble coves, some nudist-friendly
  • Hike the mountains of Gorski Kotar behind Tribalj, where clearly marked paths connect a series of 6 belvederes, affording superb views out to sea and down onto the islands of Krk and Cres. In the winter, you can ski
  • Take an organised day trip by boat, departing from Crikvenica harbour, to the island of Krk, noted for its long sand beach in Baška and highly regarded wine cellars in Vrbnik
  • Experience scuba diving with Oxygene Croatia based in Crikvenica, a full PADI and BSAC centre offering instruction and diving trips for all levels, with nearby sites including wrecks, caverns and abundant underwater life
  • Paraglide from the mountainous ridge (770m) behind Tribalj - Gordan is an enthusiastic member of the local paragliding club and can help arrange the flight although you'll need to bring your own paraglider
  • Hire a sailing boat and skipper for a day and explore the area’s beaches in the best way possible, from the sea
  • The area is vibrant and exciting, with many more things to see and do - check out a few of our favourites on the destination guide

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Creative writing
  • Hiking
  • Mountain biking
  • Paragliding
  • Private guided tours
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Swimming
  • Yoga

Kids

Gordan and Anne-Kathrin welcome children of all ages - they have 5 of their own! - and baby cots and extra beds can be provided, plus there is 1 highchair.

Family friendly accommodation:

Thyme and Rosemary are the ones best suited to an extra bed, though Violet can fit one, too. Lavender is split over 2 floors and has 2 steep stone staircases, so isn't suitable for a young child. Most other rooms can fit a baby cot.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots and high chairs are available.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly: Baska © Zavijavah

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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