Hotel Hippocampus

Kotor, Montenegro Book from

Chic and romantic hotel in Kotor's Old Town, complete with delectable restaurant and enchanting roof terrace
Kotor’s UNESCO-listed Old Town resembles a stolen corner of Venice, hidden in Montenegro's most sheltered bay. Inside the near Millennia-old fortified walls, narrow walkways meander between pretty piazzas, historic churches and thriving cafés. So far, so Venice - and the similarities are understandable. The floating city ruled over Kotor Bay for centuries; glance skywards and you’ll still see the Lion of St Mark presiding over many doorways. But while Venice has become one of the world’s favourite tourist destinations, Kotor offers a much more manageable and authentic experience, particularly outside the summer season.

A visit to this understated gem requires an abode to match, and Hotel Hippocampus is just that. On the narrowest street in town, 9 Balkan-chic rooms and a sophisticated restaurant are concealed behind its unassuming 17th-century facade. Inside, sumptuous plum sofas, gilded doors and original abstract artworks are balanced by rustic bare walls and polished stone floors. Days are a blissful mix of lazy courtyard breakfasts, sunny strolls by the water and dusky evenings sipping sundowners on the romantic terrace. We can’t wait to return.


  • Opened in 2012, it's Kotor’s standard bearer for artful Balkan renovation and even won the Montenegrin Wild Beauty Award for best new coastal hotel
  • The elegant roof terrace and restaurant courtyard provide plenty of space to soak up the glorious Montenegrin sunshine
  • A great Italian-influenced menu in the restaurant; the hotel also owns a less formal pizzeria just around the corner
  • There’s more to Kotor than the Old Town: climb the 1,350 steps of St John’s Fort, book a boat trip around the bay, or lounge on one of the nearby beaches
  • A stay in Montenegro is easily combined with a few nights in Dubrovnik (Croatia), which is just up the coast and served by plenty of international flights


  • The town-centre location means rooms lack dramatic views and tend to look over the narrow, time-worn streets
  • Some guest feedback suggests rooms on the lower floors get more noise, and there may be glare from the street lights
  • We encountered minor translation issues with some reception staff, but most guests are greeted by reservations manager Zana, who is an excellent host
  • Restaurant service, while always friendly and efficient, may lack precision
  • A strict cancellation policy

Best time to go

Montenegro is busiest during the long, hot summer. We prefer visiting in spring or early autumn, when the temperatures are still high enough for swimming but it's easier to explore the country's stunning landscape. As autumn progresses into winter, rainstorms become more prevalent and many coastal businesses close. From January, visitors tend to head to northern Montenegro for the ski season.

Our top tips

Climbing the 1,350 steps to St John's Fort is a must-do, but if you're visiting in summer we'd recommend a dawn climb to avoid the intense midday heat. It will also be much quieter at this time of day, so you can experience the views in relative tranquillity. Regardless of when you take it on, be sure to take plenty of water.

Great for...

City Style
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 9
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • 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
  • Concierge Service


The Bay of Kotor has a long history of opulence, which dates back to its time on Venice’s core trade route. While this prompted some stunning baroque architecture, it can translate into cartoon-like contemporary décor. Not so at Hotel Hippocampus: we believe it to be the coolest hotel in Kotor, and one of the most stylish hotels we saw in Montenegro.

This consideration of style is never more evident than in the 9 rooms and suites that make up this converted 17th-century house. Expect a chic combination of locally sourced antiques, abstract art and bespoke velvet sofas, all set against a muted backdrop of polished stone floors and soft grey walls. Queensize doubles await regardless of room size (no twin beds), but other than that there’s plenty of individuality. Double Rooms have sleek part-glass ensuites with cylindrical basins and discreetly placed toilets and showers. Lux Suites have large, elegant living areas and more private ensuite shower rooms; one even has a Juliet balcony looking over the meandering streets below. Largest of all are the Deluxe Suites, where the sleeping and living rooms are entirely separate. For those who like a little cardio with their R&R, opt for the Deluxe Suite with its own in-room exercise bike!

All rooms have free WiFi, satellite LCD TVs, air-conditioning, central heating, safes, minibars and ensuite shower rooms (no bathtubs). It’s a comfortable set-up and a wonderfully calming place to unwind after a busy day exploring the Old Town or hiking St John’s fort.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


Hotel Hippocampus’ ground-floor restaurant is every inch as stylish as the rest of the hotel. Dark walls, angular chairs and squishy cushions create an atmospheric dining space, and there’s an outdoor courtyard for sunny lunches and balmy evenings. The comprehensive menu reflects the area’s Italian influences, with pasta and salad dishes serving as pre-cursers to meat- and fish-based mains. We dined on turkey with prune and red wine jus, and pork wrapped in prosciutto with a cheese sauce; both were delicious - some of the best food we tasted during our trip. After dinner, guests often head up to the roof terrace for a secluded nightcap above the city lights.

Breakfast is taken in the restaurant between 7-11am, although the Lux and Deluxe Suites have space for in-room dining (on request). Choose from a selection of breads, croissants and cereals, plus yoghurts with compote or fresh fruit. There are also brunch-style cheeses, cured meats and salads, as well as cooked options: eggs, pancakes, French toast and homemade pies.

For a change of scene, slip along the narrow pathway to the hotel’s sister property, Bocalibre pizzeria. It’s less formal than the hotel, with muted grey walls, vintage bistro chairs, and a traditional clay oven taking centre stage in the open kitchen. We visited during an autumn rainstorm and could have happily wiled away the afternoon in this cosy hideaway. The town also has a variety of other eateries, from waterside restaurants to chilled-out coffee shops, so there’s plenty to choose from if you're here for a week or so.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service


  • The walled Old Town of Kotor is the beating heart of this sheltered bay. Visit the historic churches and museums, browse the farmers' market or simply wander the winding lanes
  • We spent a brilliant afternoon climbing St John's Fort, directly behind Kotor. Remarkably well preserved, there are countless nooks to explore, and the views from the top are spectacular. If you’re feeling brave, find a safe spot to climb through the fort wall to the utterly silent, rural mountain on the other side. It feels like stepping back in time
  • Often referred to as the prettiest village in Montenegro, Perast has countless baroque palazzi and churches lining its single road, as well as a handful of restaurants and a tiny museum chronicling the village’s rich history as a Venetian trade stop
  • Take a boat out to Our Lady of the Rocks, directly in front of Perast. This man-made island holds a tiny 17th-century church, and offers unrivalled views of the bay and neighbouring Ostrvo Sveti Doroe island (a beautiful private monastery off limits to the general public)
  • Explore beyond the coast. Lake Skadar, the largest freshwater lake in the Balkans, is an unmissable natural wonder in central Montenegro, where lilypad-covered waters carve through the mountains and abundant birdlife awaits (1 hour 30 minutes' drive)
  • Drive south of Budva to the famous Sveti Stefan island (40-minute journey time); an ancient fishing village turned 21st-century luxury resort. The island is closed to the public, but it’s a stunning sight to behold from the surrounding beaches and woodland. Use of the beaches here is expensive, but others nearer Kotor are free of charge
  • Test your driving skills, and your nerve, on the twisting Kotor-Lovcen mountain road. There are 25 hairpin turns in total, each taking you that bit higher above the Bay of Kotor. At the top, you can explore the Lovcen National Park and Cetinje, the former capital of Montenegro

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Kayaking
    • Museums / galleries
    • Nightlife
    • Private guided tours
    • Shopping / markets
  • Kids

    Children of all ages are welcome, but this is quite a cool, calm kind of place.

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Lux and Deluxe Suites have space for an extra bed or baby cot. Children under 7 years stay free of charge. Children over 12 have to be booked into a separate room from their parents.

    Baby equipment:

    Baby cots are available on request.

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

    Kid Friendly:

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