Podstine Bay, Hvar, Croatia
Buzz Trips opinion:
Built as a private residence, Hotel Podstine has none of the over-styled anonymity of large hotel chains and all of the character, individuality and informality of a family owned business. From the moment you arrive in this pine, cypress and palm studded oasis, you are made to feel welcome in Paradise by Manager Sime Fio (pronounced she-may) and his staff. This is elegant simplicity and shoulder-loosening tranquillity at its best in idyllic surroundings, an easy amble from the historic centre of Hvar Town.
A botanical miracle of an island which is both eternally green and yet has the most sunshine hours of any island in the Adriatic, Hvar should be on the itinerary of every Croatia-bound traveller. Dominating the Sunday supplements, Hvar Town’s moneyed fashionistas arrive in their yachting droves during the summer months to see, be seen and paaaarty. Although fascinating to watch in a voyeuristic sense, leaving the self-obsessed behind to discover the lavender strewn, oregano and fennel scented countryside, variegated with dry stone walls and peppered with impossibly picturesque stone villages is what Hvar is really all about.
At Hotel Podstine, which hugs the shore of its idyllic namesake bay overlooking the sapphire Adriatic and the emerald Pakleni Otoci islands, you can have your Hvar cake and eat it. Just a 15 minute, coastal stroll from the centre of Havr Town, Podstine Bay, where the loudest noise is the waters gently lapping the shore, is its deliciously inviting antipathy.
Sunny, spacious rooms are decorated and furnished in the colours reflected outside the window – the azure of the Adriatic, intense sky blue and the champagne of the karst rocks that hug the coastline. Furnishings are contemporary, minimalist and stylish leaving rooms uncluttered and luxuriously comfortable. En suites are elegant and efficient with powerful shower, aromatic toiletries and a hair dryer that actually dries your hair rather than just gently moving it around.
Our room was facing the sea with a large balcony with two sunbeds. We noticed some of the rooms have balconies which are side-on to the sea. Flat screen TV, wired Internet, telephone and work desk were all compactly accommodated for when we could manage to drag ourselves away from the balcony view and the lure of the Hvar country lanes.
Breakfast, containing all the usual suspects of hot and cold choices, is buffet style in the large, open plan dining room with a terrace overlooking the bay for an al fresco start to the day. Dinner in the Amo restaurant can either be taken inside in the Mediterranean style dining room or outside on the terraces beneath the shade of 100 year old pine trees.
The dinner menu has a selection of Mediterranean dishes and classic Croatian specialities such as a delicious Dalmatian fish soup and savoury Pašticada of tender beef marinated and slow cooked with celery, apples and prošek (sweet dessert wine) served with polenta.
My fillet steak with prosciutto and truffle was quite possibly the best steak I have ever eaten and didn’t require the services of a knife to cut the succulent and tender meat. A generous portion of raspberry cheesecake to follow ensured that neither of us would be in a hurry to get down to breakfast the next morning.
The hotel has a full spa and fitness centre featuring solarium, sauna and massage treatments but we were too busy enjoying the delights of Hvar during our too-short stay to try it out.
Hotel Podstine; +385 21 740 400; Podstine bb, 21450 Hvar, Croatia; double room with breakfast from €280 for superior double with sea view.
We flew from Liverpool to Zadar with Ryanair for £45 return and rented a budget car through Rhinocarhire for our island hopping, including to Hvar. Inntravel include Hotel Podstine in their Islands and Waterfalls Croatia flydrive holidays.
Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+