Stone Cottages Hvar

Hvar, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia Book from

Reviewed by Jane Foster
A cluster of stone cottages forming a gorgeous residence with pool, on a remote hillside overlooking Hvar’s south coast (sleeps 8-10, self-catering)
The island of Hvar is best known for its lovely Venetian capital, Hvar Town, where you’ll find some of Croatia’s smartest hotels and most glamorous nightlife. But head away from the hustle and the island’s rugged interior promises lush vineyards, purple lavender fields and semi-abandoned villages of tumbledown houses. Here, high above the gloriously unspoilt south coast, Stone Cottages Hvar offers an authentic taste of Dalmatia. Submerged in nature without a neighbour for miles, this cluster of 3 traditional 19th-century dwellings has been beautifully restored to form a lovely residence of 4 ensuite bedrooms (3 doubles, 1 twin), plus a big open-plan kitchen and living space with all modern comforts (including DVDs and bathrobes).

Ideal for 2 families with older kids or a group of couples and friends, the villa is set in grounds planted with rosemary, cacti, and olive and fig trees, and there's an infinity pool and tennis court, plus a sauna to use in the winter months. Nearby are mountain paths for hiking; within a 10-minute drive are pebbled beaches for bathing, the town of Jelsa with its authentic Dalmatian eateries, and vineyards where you can do tastings and buy quality wines direct from producers.

Highs

  • Blissfully remote and private, set on a south-facing hillside with fantastic views onto the Adriatic Sea
  • Great for self-catering: there's a well-equipped kitchen, a big barbecue, a bread oven for pizzas and an organic vegetable garden for guest use - plus indoor and outdoor dining areas, and a shopping service on request
  • Set in lovely grounds with lots of room for kids to run around - and no neighbours to disturb
  • Ideal for lovers of the great outdoors and adventure sports - there's lots to do here, from boat trips to scuba diving, mountain biking to wine tasting
  • Trendy Hvar Town is a 45-minute drive away, should you feel in need of some urban glamour

Lows

  • The location is very isolated, which means you have to drive to do anything (including buying food, visiting the beach, going on hikes etc)
  • All 4 bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms, but 1 has a tub and no shower; not ideal in the hot summer months. And 1 bedroom is a twin, which is great for families, less so for a group of couples
  • You can see the sea but it will take you at least 10 minutes to get there by car (7km)
  • No WiFi and the internet connection is slow and unreliable
  • A 7-night minimum stay, unless there's last-minute availability (it's worth enquiring), and you can't check-in until 5pm

Best time to go

The villa is open all year, but for the best weather we recommend staying any time from May to October, though it's often fully booked in high season (July-Aug). From April to October the sea is warm enough for swimming, and local tourist facilities are up and running. Although you’re unlikely to be troubled by the crowds in this isolated part of the island, Hvar Town is chock-a-block with visitors during the summer.

Our top tips

  • Few basic provisions are supplied at the house, so it's worth packing things like herbs and OXO cubes, or you'll need to buy everything
  • Go wine-tasting at one of Dalmatia’s top wine producers, Tomic - their cellar in Jelsa is open daily 9am-7pm, with bottles for sale and tasting upon request
  • Hvar’s glorious south coast has remained isolated for centuries, thanks to the rugged mountains that cut it off from the rest of the island. To reach south coast villages such as Zavala and Ivan Dolac by car, you have to drive through a long narrow tunnel south of Pitve. There can be queues at either end when the roads are busy, so it's best to travel between 10.30am-12pm or 2.30-4pm.
  • Great for...

    Beach
    Eco
    Family
    Great Outdoors
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique Villa
    • 4
    • Self-catering (restaurants nearby)
    • Best for 10+ year olds
    • Open all year
    • Outdoor Pool
    • Sauna
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Daily Maid Service
    • Towels & Bedlinen
    • Tennis Court
    • Bicycles Available
    • Volleyball pitch
    Room:

    Rooms

    The ground floor of the main building has an open-plan kitchen, dining area and lounge, all focusing on a big picture window with a magnificent view down onto the sea. The floor is stone throughout and the ceiling has exposed wooden beams. In the lounge, there’s an open fireplace with a sofa and 2 enormous square poufs, plus a plasma TV and a DVD and CD player. Stone steps lead up to the dining area, which has a big wooden table seating 8, and a terracotta-top breakfast bar.

    There are 4 bedrooms, all with tile floors, high-pitched beamed ceilings, and thick stone walls (which means that air-conditioning isn't necessary). Two of the rooms are upstairs in the main building and are approached via external stone steps, while the other 2 are in separate outbuildings, making them very private. Three rooms, painted in pale lime green, have double beds with wrought-iron bedsteads, while the other has 2 single beds plus a sofabed (sleeping 2), making it more suited to children - this room is in an outbuilding. The main-house rooms have walk-in rain showers decorated with tiny mosaic tiles, while the kids’ room has a big rain shower in a stone space lined with amphora. The other outbuilding room (our favourite), is open-plan with a free-standing bathtub on a raised level. All bathrooms are supplied with herbal-scented Aromatica toiletries.

    We slept soundly in the lilac-painted kids’ room, with the double doors onto the garden left wide open, a gentle breeze wafting the chiffon curtains, and an amazingly bright full moon reflecting on the sea below.

    Features include:

    • Barbeque
    • Bathrobes
    • Cd player
    • Central heating
    • Coffee tea making
    • Cots Available
    • Dishwasher
    • Dvd player
    • Extra beds
    • Fan
    • Fireplace
    • Food blender
    • Fridge
    • Hairdryer
    • Hob stove
    • Ipod dock
    • Oven
    • Radio
    • Satellite tv
    • Swimming pool
    • Terrace
    • Toaster
    • Toiletries
    • Washing machine
    • WiFi

    Eating

    The fully equipped kitchen has terracotta-tile worktops, an old stone sink (which was found here during renovation), an old-fashioned gas oven with 4 hotplates, 2 fridges with freezer spaces (run on gas), a toaster and a dishwasher. A full set of cream porcelain plates, glasses, cutlery, and pots and pans are provided, along with useful equipment like a blender.

    Opposite the kitchen, there’s a covered stone terrace with a big built-in barbecue, an old stone bread oven, and a big wooden table. The sea view is perfect from here, and there’s a good sound system with speakers for outdoor music. Guests are welcome to pick vegetables from the organic garden for their own use - deliciously flavoursome rocket, plus courgettes, tomatoes, aubergines and onions, depending on the season.

    When you book, you're sent a shopping list, and you can tick off items to be delivered before your arrival (free of charge; you just pay for the groceries). A few basic provisions are supplied (coffee, tea, milk), but you'll need to buy most things. We'd recommend visiting the large Konzum supermarket at the ferry port in Stari Grad when you arrive to stock up. In Jesla (9km), there are several small supermarkets including Konzum, Kerum and Mercator. You’ll also find bakeries for fresh bread, greengrocers, butchers and a modest fish market. You can buy local wine and olive oil direct from producers here.

    For eating out, the nearest place is Konoba Humac (10km), a rustic eatery serving octopus slow-cooked in a peka (casserole pot set on glowing embers) at outdoor tables - there’s no electricity, so if you go after sunset it's lit by candles and gas lamps. Bear in mind you'll need to book a table and order food days in advance in high season, and service is painfully slow. Further afield, the friendly Konoba Vrisnik in Vrisnik is notable for its genuine home cooking, great house wine and reasonable prices, while Skalinada in Zavala does excellent fresh fish on a stone terrace overlooking the sea - the speciality is oven-baked sea bass.

    Features include:

    • Children meals
    • Coffee tea making
    • Food blender
    • Fridge
    • Hob stove
    • Oven
    • Shopping service
    • Toaster
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Chill out by the infinity pool, with its fantastic views down onto the sea. Also in the grounds is a tennis court and volleyball pitch (there's equipment to borrow), plus a sauna for use in the winter months

    • Bathe at local beaches - the nearest is in Zavala and can be reached on foot following a stone track (a 7km hike) or by car (a 10-15-min drive). To escape the crowds, hire a boat cheaply in Jesla and find your own secret pebbled cove

    • Alternatively rent a boat in Hvar Town (45 mins) and explore the nearby Pakleni islets - for a chi-chi atmosphere try Carpe Diem Beach on Stipanska, or for back-to-basics try nudist-friendly Jerolim

    • Cycle (mountain bikes are available on request) to the nearest settlement, Humac (3km), a cluster of semi-abandoned stone cottages and home to Konoba Humac (see Eating)

    • Nearby, Grapceva Spilja is a vast underground cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites - to join a guided tour contact Jelsa tourist office

    • Visit the pretty islet of Scedro - there’s no electricity or running water, but you’ll find a couple of waterside eateries, pebbled coves for bathing, dense pinewoods and the ruins of a Dominican monastery. Boats leave every morning from Zavala, at 9am and/or 10am, depending on demand

    • Explore the underwater depths with a scuba-diving trip - Viking Diving Center in Hvar Town offers lessons and the dive sites take in a stunning variety of reefs, ancient shipwrecks and amphorae

    • Take a boat from Jelsa to Bol on Braè, to try windsurfing in the sea channel between the islands. Big Blue organises tuition and equipment rental, close to the stunning fine-pebble beach of Zlatni Rat in Bol

    • Explore Hvar Town (34km west), rich in Venetian-era monuments including the 16th-century cathedral overlooking a magnificent stone piazza, an arsenal, a 17th-century municipal theatre (the oldest public theatre in Europe), 2 monasteries and a hilltop castle

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Mountain biking
    • Museums / galleries
    • Nightlife
    • Sailing
    • Scuba diving
    • Scuba diving courses
    • Swimming
    • Tennis
    • Volleyball
    • Well being
    • Windsurfing
    • Wine tasting

    Kids

    This is an ideal retreat for 1 or 2 families with babies or older children. Surrounded by a large garden and with no neighbours to disturb, you can be as noisy as you like. The pool and sports pitches make it great for an active family. Notice that the layout is slightly odd - the children's room, sleeping 4, is out in the garden in a separate building, and that's why we recommend it for older children. You can however, add a child's bed to any bedroom.

    Best for:

    Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    The house has 2 double bedrooms in the main building with 2 outbuildings, 1 with a double bed and 1 with 2 single beds and a double sofa bed. This children's room has a walk-in shower and sleeps up to 4. You can also add a child's bed or cot to any other bedroom. The other outbuilding has a freestanding bath; all bedrooms are ensuite.

    Baby equipment:

    • 2 cots
    • High chairs

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

    Children's meals:

    It's well set up for self catering as a family. We'd recommend booking the food delivery option so you don't have to schlep to the supermarket on arrival. A chef can also be booked in advance. Stock up at the ferry port in Hvar Town as you drive through. Note that the slow service of the nearby restaurants might rule them out for family dining.

    Kids Activities on site:

    • Wonderful pool
    • Tennis courts
    • Volleyball pitch
    • 3ha of gardens to play in
    • Mountain bikes to borrow
    • DVD player

    Kids Activities nearby:

    • The closest beach, Zavala, is a 10-15 minute drive away
    • Scuba diving and snorkelling
    • Wild horses in the countryside nearby
    • Neolithic caves
    • Hire boats from Jesla or Hvar Town to visit offshore islands

    Families Should Know:

    The pool isn't fenced, lots of the grounds are rocky and uneven, and the kids' bedroom is in a separate outbuilding away from the parents' rooms.

    Distances:

    • Airport: 3 hours by boat and car (Split)
    • Doctor: 30 minutes
    • Hospital: 3 hours (Split)
    Kid Friendly:

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