Hotel Podstine

Hvar, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia Book from

Reviewed by Jane Foster
A romantic seafront hotel and restaurant in a secluded bay, 20 minutes' walk along the coast from the gorgeous town of Hvar
Of all Croatia's stunning Dalmatian islands, few have attracted more interest than Hvar - and in particular the postcard-pretty town of the same name. Recent visitors include John Malkovich, Roman Abramovich and Eva Longoria. So what’s the pull? Elegant 16th-century Venetian stone buildings, fresh Dalmatian seafood served in ethnic-chic eateries, a quay lined with flashy yachts, a proud hilltop castle, and a scattering of uninhabited islets for bathing.

A boat or hotel minibus ride (5 minutes) along the coast from Hvar town - away from the hustle, but within reach of bars and restaurants - stands this discreet 51-room hotel (rooms are spread between the main hotel building, and a lodge 15 meters away). It overlooks a serene inlet, with a lovely garden restaurant out front. Tables are set below palms, pines and lemon trees, and a series of terraces step down to the water, with sparkling views across azure seas to the lace-edged Pakleni ('Resin') islets. At night, bathed in subtle lighting and gentle music (think Eros Ramazzotti), the scene takes on a truly dreamlike quality. Blissful.

Highs

  • Excellent restaurant with romantic waterside tables, fresh Dalmatian seafood and occasional live music
  • Balconies with stunning sea views; go for a Superior Exclusive Room (in the main hotel) to get the best one possible
  • Private bathing area with easy access from the rocks into the sea
  • Taxi-boats and chartered yachts to myriad islands - perfect for snorkelling or diving
  • Small outdoor pool and wellness centre with solarium, sauna, Jacuzzi, massage and beauty treatments

Lows

  • Hvar Town gets horribly crowded in July-August: try to come in May-June or Sept-Oct
  • We're yet to see the Economy or lodge rooms, and the pictures look a little dark. Perhaps best for those on a budget
  • Bedrooms, though comfy, are rather characterless
  • Annoyingly, the last section of the charming coastal path is gated so, if arriving on foot, you have to turn inland and reach the hotel via a back road

Best time to go

During high season, Jul-Aug, trendy Hvar is literally overrun by tourists. Try to visit either in May-Jun or Sep-Oct when the days are sunny, the sea warm enough to swim, and the island’s bars and restaurants not too overworked.

Our top tips

The hotel can arrange excursions to Vis island, known for its sunken ships and archaeological sites, and to the island of Brač, home to the stunning fine-pebble beach of Zlatni Rat near Bol

Great for...

Beach
Great Outdoors
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 51
  • Restaurant (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 7 Dec 2016 - 30 Apr 2017
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Private beach
  • Dive Centre
Room:

Rooms

The hotel is built into a hillside, so the higher the room, the better your views. Rooms are spread between the main hotel and a lodge (which we're yet to see), 15m away, regardless of their location, design and layout are the same. Superior Exclusives, most of which are on the 3rd floor in the main hotel, have huge picture windows opening onto furnished balconies with long sea views - worth nabbing if there's one free (and you can afford it). In the main hotel, Superiors have a sea view and small balcony, while Standard rooms do not have a sea view (though some have side- or rear-facing balconies). We're yet to see the Economy rooms, but these lack balconies and overlook the street; perhaps only best if you're on a budget. In the Lodge (which we're also yet to visit), both the Standard and Superior rooms have a balcony with a partial sea view; Superiors are a little larger, but all Lodge rooms have a sofabed.

After the glazed reception area, the shiny lift and the carpeted corridors, the rooms themselves come as a pleasant surprise. Granted, they are not the height of chic, but they are cool, peaceful and spacious. You get tile floors, cream-coloured walls (and exposed stonework in some), earthy beige, lavender or sea blue fabrics, and simple modern wooden furniture. Comfortable beds are twins or kingsized double (basically twins pushed together); some rooms can take an extra bed, and a few rooms communicate to make family 'suites'. Bathrooms are marble, with shower (you might have to wait for hot water as the tank is small), a vast mirror above the hand basin, and a hairdryer. All rooms have air-con, satellite TV, minibar, phone and WiFi connection (extra charge).

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

Meals are served in the garden (although there are indoor tables if the weather turns), on a series of terraces looking over the sea. The setting is stunning and especially romantic at night, with tables discreetly placed amid lush plants and subtle lighting. You would never guess there are over 100 settings.

Spring 2011 saw the arrival of a new chef and new menu. For dinner you can expect a fine choice of Italian-style pasta dishes - we particularly enjoyed the green tagliatelle with scampi in a creamy sauce - along with Dalmatian seafood specialities such as škampi na buzaru (shrimps cooked in garlic, white wine and parsley) and crni rižot (risotto made with cuttlefish ink). There are a few Slavonian meat dishes, too (the owner is from this inland region) such as kulen (spicy salami with paprika).

The restaurant (Amo) hosts several special nights: pick from Star Night, when guests are treated to live piano music under the stars, Dalmatian Night, with a menu highlighting the region’s seafood specialities, plus a group singing klapa (Dalmatian plain song), and Wine Tasting night where you can enjoy local grapes with some heady jazz. The Podstine ‘Special Package’ includes a romantic dinner for 2 with a table down by the water’s edge, then transport to town for a night out.

At the bottom of the garden, overlooking the sea, there are 2 small wooden beach bars serving drinks the day through. However, they close quite early (11pm, even in high season) so as to keep the hotel peaceful for guests. In compensation, Podstine offers a minibus shuttle to Hvar Town for late-night drinking and dancing. And of course there are dozens of restaurants in Hvar, including the highly-regarded Macondo for fresh fish and Dalmatian seafood plus delicious homemade deserts, and the imaginative Luna for more unusual dishes such as fillet steak with truffle and mushroom cream sauce.

The breakfast buffet - fresh fruit juice, yoghurt, cereals, platters of cold ham and cheese, sausage and scrambled egg, oven-warm croissants, tea and coffee (instant) - is arranged indoors in the rather characterless dining room, though guests are welcome to take their plates onto the patio. Lunch is also served, though it tends to be quiet, as most guests are on the beach.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The hotel bathing area (more of a seaside terrace, with a ladder into the sea) is fine for a few hours of sunshine and a quick swim. But be sure to check out the beaches on the nearby Pakleni islets, served by regular taxi boats departing from Hvar Town. To get that all-over tan, visit either Jerolim or Stipanska, both devoted to nudism
  • Dalmatia is a sailor’s paradise. Charter a sailing boat or a motorboat for a day and explore the coast and islands; skippers are available for those with no sailing experience
  • The water here is ideal for scuba diving - excellent visibility, a stunning variety of fish, coral reefs, ancient shipwrecks and amphorae. Trips can be arranged through the on-site Viking Diving Centre
  • Hvar Town (5 mins by hotel minibus) is rich in monuments including the 16th-century cathedral overlooking a magnificent piazza (the largest in Dalmatia), an arsenal, a 17th-century municipal theatre (the oldest public theatre in Europe), 2 monasteries and a hilltop castle. If you visit in summer, attend a Hvar Summer Festival open-air performance - we recommend the classical music concerts in the cloisters of the Franciscan Monastery. For nightlife, try the exquisite Veneranda, set in pinewoods in the grounds of a former monastery above the sea, for drinking and dancing by a pool
  • The island of Hvar is renowned for its excellent wines. One of the top wine producers, Tomic in Jelsa on the north coast, has a cellar open for wine tasting upon request

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Children are welcome; they will love all the water activities. Cots and extra beds are available on request.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

We'd recommend the Superior Exclusive room in the main hotel as it is able to fit an additional bed and a baby cot.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

7/
Rooms
6/
Food
9/
Service
7/
Value
7/
Overall

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