Hotels come and go, but these have stood the test of time. When you enter them, you get the feeling of tradition, a different era of grandeur the likes of Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, a time of gentlemen, duchesses and courtly manners. These are the three oldest hotels in Zagreb.
3. Hotel Esplanade
Built in 1925. near the main train station for the ever increasing number of travelers on Orient Express, the hotel has always been the pride of the city. It was the center of Zagreb’s social life from the start, where upper classes would meet and discuss important issues and where kings, presidents, diplomats, artists and bon vivas from all over the world stayed. Discretion was guaranteed, but sometimes not even the staff could protect their guests’ shenanigans; adulterers fighting, Italian dignitaries setting up illegal casinos, loose parties of the high class (a scandal erupted when the press found out that the first organized striptease ever held in Zagreb had occurred there).
Misguided, the Nazis also relied on the hotel staff’s discretion while occupying it during World War II. Important secrets heard there were regularly sent to the resistance.
After the war it regained it’s status and upheld the highest standards. Esplanade was the first hotel in a socialist country to enter the Intercontinental group of hotels. The hotel had some financial issues by the end of the century and was sold to the Regent group that held it until 2012.
Today, Esplanade is a privately owned hotel, financially independent and once again a center for high social gatherings. It is run by Ivica Max Krimanic that started working there more than twenty years ago, as a bellboy.
2. Palace Hotel
Palace Hotel can be seen as the older, more stoic brother of Esplanade. Situated across the Strossmayer Square and in the vicinity of the main square, many dignitaries chose to stay there in its long history, but no great scandals happened in it, no socialites hurled in its bar to see and be seen. It is, and always has been a hotel trying to hold up to the highest standards of the trade. By re-purposing the Schlessinger secession palace built in 1891, Palace Hotel was the first of its kind in Zagreb, envisioned and contracted to be just that- a hotel. It opened its doors in 1907 and had stayed opened ever since, modernizing itself from time to time.
Retaining the retro feel of the period it was built in, the hotel takes pride in its interior decor with implemented new technologies and a long tradition of concierges upheld to this very day.
1. Hotel Jagerhorn
The oldest hotel in Zagreb is easy to miss. Situated in a passage Lovacki rog (Jagerhorn, or ‘hunter’s horn’) that connects the upper and lower parts of the city that only locals know about and rarely use these days, the hotel provides its guests with a quiet, intimate stay just a few steps away from Ilica, the busiest street in Zagreb.
In one form or another, travelers could rent a room there since 1827. In its long history it was a place of respite for many prominent national figures,: viceroys, politicians, actors, writers and poets who were inspired by it and often mentioned in their plays, novellas and poems about Zagreb.
In years, it lost its charm and was all but forgotten, but in 2015 the owner hired young local designers to renovate and reinvent it. Using the services of local craftsmen to create unique period furniture and interior elements, they’ve restored the hotel’s turn of the 19th-century look in a modern way.