REVIEW: Hotel Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik
By Helen Wright
- Location Dubrovnik Old City, five minutes from Pile Gate and the beach
- Bed comfiness 9/10
- Pool Indoor pool
- WIFI Free for guests
- Parking Valet parking only. €27 per night
- Best thing? Location
- Worst thing? Pool is indoors
- The all-important plug by the bed? Yes
We recently took a family trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia and had a brilliant time! The Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik review below details our stay at the hotel and reflects our honest and unbiased opinion. This is not a sponsored post and we were not paid by the hotel to write this review. Before this trip, I had only been to Dubrovnik once before, for work, so I wasn’t that familiar with the city. Simon and I had our 18-month son, Finn, with us, but we still wanted to go sightseeing and explore as much of Dubrovnik as possible. We wanted a hotel in a central location, preferably with a pool and the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik fitted the bill exactly.
Read our post on the SIX BEST THINGS TO DO IN DUBROVNIK
Our full Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik review:
Reading that the hotel was part of the Hilton group, initially I worried it might be a bland, box room chain hotel and ideally, we were looking for something more special. However, the Imperial Dubrovnik was quite the opposite. It was actually a very special hotel with a beautiful interior and a rich history and we absolutely loved it. The iconic hotel originally opened in 1897 but has had a major renovation and the result is quite spectacular. The hotel is beautiful inside and out and it is easy to see why it has become one of Dubrovnik’s most photographed buildings. The grand architecture with its ornate balconies sits on a hill overlooking Dubrovnik Old Town, just a five minute walk from Pile Gate.
Hotel Imperial Dubrovnik history
When it opened in 1897, the Hilton Hotel Imperial was the original modern hotel in Dubrovnik and put the Croatian city on the map as the place to go for elegant holiday-makers. Over the decades, the Hilton Imperial has welcomed some high profile guests, including King Edward VIII and his wife Wallis Simpson who apparently drank tea and danced in the hotel gardens in 1936. I also learned that when writer George Bernard Shaw wrote “Those who seek Earthly paradise should come and see Dubrovnik”, he was enjoying the whiskey and the hospitality of the hotel in 1929. And, it’s easy to see why. Front-facing rooms have perfect vista over both the medieval Old City and the alluring Adriatic Sea and you couldn’t ask for a better view.
Patented as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik renovation has preserved its 19th century features and façade on the iconic exterior while updating the interior of the hotel to reflect its heritage. It’s described as ‘bringing 19th century grandeur together with contemporary luxury and style’, and I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Beautifully renovated rooms
The rooms were beautiful. I loved the colour scheme of pale blue, bronze and white, and the way light bounced around the room from a large Juliet window. We were on the side of the hotel but if you craned your neck, you could just about see the entrance to the Old City from our room (number 150). The king size bed was large and luxurious with soft pillows and a snuggly duvet. I’m sure walking the old cobbles of Dubrovnik helped, but the mattress was comfortable and we all slept brilliantly.
We had contacted the hotel in advance to tell them Finn would be with us and a crib was waiting in the room for us when we checked in. A great thing about the baby crib here was that it was on wheels, so once we were home for the night we could wheel the cot into the corner of the room by the door, where it was darker and quieter. For us, that was a bonus as it gave us a bit of adult-time and we could put the TV on! I just really liked this room, both for the style accents and the calming colours. The furniture had an art deco feel to it and the minimalist, chrome design helped make the room feel spacious. There was plenty of room either side of the bed, a corner arm chair and a round table if you did want to stay in and order room service. As expected there was a large flatscreen TV and an iPod dock.
Slick bathrooms at Hilton Dubrovnik
The bathrooms also had an art deco feel with an ornate brass mirror, wide vanity unit with a stool and a large sink. I like the fact there were square shelves to store your personal belongings and a lot of space on top. There was also a choice of lighting, making it perfect for putting on makeup as well as creating the mood for a relaxing bath (if you are not staying with a one-year-old that is…). However, the decent sized shower bath was helpful with a child to clean.
Discover a hidden Croatia in our undiscovered Dubrovnik post.
What else to expect inside your room
Rooms at the Hilton Dubrovnik have safes, an ironing board and iron, a fridge and plenty of wardrobe space. Fluffy robes are also provided, which is always a winner with me.
Inside the Hilton Dubrovnik after its stunning renovation
The famous exterior of the hotel is very pretty. The terracotta, bronze and white finish is very effective, both during daylight and by night. They do a very good job of uplighting the building too, it looks very impressive. It isn’t just the 167 rooms that have had a stylish makeover. The halls and social areas have also been revamped and since we visited just a few months after the hotel reopened, everything was sparkling, shiny and new, which was delightful. Just walking along the carpeted halls was luxurious as the thick carpet wrapped around your feet like a hug. Finn, especially loved running up and down the halls (we apologise to the other guests) and he didn’t need to worry about falling over because they provided a very soft landing.
I liked the chrome touches throughout, from side tables, to mirrors, other decor and room numbers. It felt like a lot of effort had gone into providing a high-end finish and the result was very effective.
The Hilton Dubrovnik Pool
Most of the hotels with swimming pools in Dubrovnik are toward the west of the peninsula in Lapad. We really wanted to stay in the city of Dubrovnik, near the port and the Old City. The Hilton Imperial is one of the only hotels in Dubrovnik Old Town with a swimming pool and this was one of the main reasons we wanted to stay at the hotel. The pool is indoors, which admittedly at first we were a bit disappointed about. But, as it turned out, on the one gloomy and rainy day we had, it turned out to be the perfect place to hang out and entertain Finn – who loved it, of course! The reason most of the hotels in Dubrovnik don’t have pools is due to space. But, because the Hilton Imperial has been around a long time it snapped up the best location in town and made very good use of its plot.
The unheated pool is large, not Olympic-sized but big enough for a proper swim to get some exercise. The roof above the pool is glass and so being inside wasn’t that bad. For sunbathing, there is a garden with sun loungers and chairs for relaxing.
The historic lounge bar at Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik
The bar at the Hilton Imperial was possibly my favourite part. Such old-school glamour, beautiful decor and elegant surroundings. It does make you feel like you’ve gone back in time. Even if you are not staying at the hotel, there isn’t many posh cocktail bars in Dubrovnik and this has the mixology, dapper style and the views. Cocktails from the 1890s, including a house favourite Milk Punch, are served in crystal glasses.
Outside the bar, a small balcony has a few tables with waiter service and a brilliant view of Blackwater Bay, the Old City and the blanket of terracotta rooftops. Best enjoyed with a glass of something fizzy.
Porat Restaurant at Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik
On our first evening, we ate dinner at the hotel’s Porat Restaurant. You can opt to sit inside or out, but outside was the far more romantic and magical setting. Food and service couldn’t be faulted and we were surprised the restaurant wasn’t a lot busier. Having said that, we were eating earlier than most since we had the baby with us. From local specialities to fresh lobster and steak, the menu was varied. My steak was perfectly cooked and Simon enjoyed an octopus pasta which was very good. We didn’t realise at the time, but the hotel has designed a revived menu from its heyday in 1929, serving classic favourites.
Breakfast is served in the same place and is a totally different scene with every table in use, an outdoor pancake station and staff everywhere on hand to help. We loved eating outside and the hotel had plenty of highchairs to use. Staff made a big fuss of Finn who was basking in all the attention. Simon was extra excited about the breakfast champagne, all included in our bed and breakfast room fee. I was just happy they were able to make a good English Breakfast tea tbh.
There is a bar outside with lounge seats and cute tables but, again, either it was pretty quiet during our visit or we were there a bit too early to enjoy the evening rush. If I came back to Dubrovnik, I would certainly come here for a drink. I love the vibe and the friendliness of the hotel. Staff couldn’t do enough to make you feel welcome and enjoy your visit.
Access to the Executive Lounge
One of the big perks of this Imperial Dubrovnik is access to the hotel’s Executive Lounge. I’m not sure exactly who is welcomed into the lounge but I know if you book an Executive Suite or are a Hilton card holder, you are automatically given access. There was a mix of people in the lounge; families, business travellers, couples and groups of friends, so it never felt stuffy or corporate.
The executive lounge at the Hilton Dubrovnik is essentially a large breakfast bar with stools and a comfy seating area with tables and sofas to chill out on. There was a TV that was showing the football most days, so Simon was thrilled! Along the back wall is a huge drinks cabinet with tea and coffee, wine, beer, spirits and soft drinks. At different times of the day, snacks were offered ranging from breakfast canapés, afternoon tea and savoury snacks in the early evening. A server is on hand to help with anything and keep the lounge ship shape. We absolutely loved having this benefit and popped in for a drink before leaving each evening. It was a nice chance to meet other guests and have a chat, as well as enjoy the balcony and its stunning views. Plus, despite being a lounge dedicated to their premium guests, they were very accommodating with Finn (and other children) and we were never made to feel unwelcome.
Iconic view from the Imperial Hotel Dubrovnik
The hotel’s location is its main appeal but I hope I have shown in my Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik review that the hotel offers so much more. We absolutely loved our stay here. From the room, to the hotel’s surroundings, the bar and lounge and the lovely staff, this hotel is doing everything right. Highly recommend and, since we loved Dubrovnik too, we will definitely come back.
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