What is a “design hotel” anyway? I know that was my first question before checking into the Hotel Lone in Rovinj. Will I need a user manual to turn on the faucets? Will my eyes open each morning to garish and puzzling paintings?
The answer to both questions at this remarkable new hotel is a resounding no. As the Hotel Lone explains on their website, a design hotel “nurtures the concept of interesting and functional spatial design”. Put simply, the Hotel Lone is beautiful in every way and its beauty encompasses ease, comfort, and the simple luxury of exquisite good taste.
Located within the Zlatni Rt forested park, a few minutes from Rovinj’s town center, the Hotel Lone is surrounded by old growth pine trees with the Adriatic glimmering a few hundred meters away. Now how do you create a thoroughly modern hotel in harmony with a wooded landscape? Why, you think of a cruise ship floating on the sea of course. The curving lines and stacked white balconies recall the prow and decks of an ocean liner floating on a sea of green.
For the interior of this 248-room hotel, the designers turned back in time for inspiration. The Croatian coast is dotted with massive but somewhat bland hotels built in the 70s to cater to package tourists.
The Hotel Lone design team used the spacious lobbies from that era but replaced the boxy look with an exciting and contemporary organization of space. The public areas incorporate three restaurants, a conference center that can seat 600 people, a night club, children’s club and a wellness center all organized around an atrium that stretches up six floors. Despite the size, the clever arrangement of furniture and decoration makes the lobby a comfortable place to relax.
The white, black and lustrous oak of the lobby area is carried over into the rooms each of which has a park or sea view and a balcony. Sure there are all the bells and whistles of a five-star hotel: plush bathrobes, top-end toiletries, flat-screen TV, free WiFi, separate tub and shower. But what really stands out is the sheer beauty of the design. Floor to ceiling mirrors are placed to reflect the outdoor scenery. A fabric wall covering illuminated from behind softens the bed area. Oak shutters separate the bathroom from the room which allows natural light to penetrate the bathroom while preserving privacy. The effect was soothing and I didn’t need to stress about how to regulate the AC, make a phone call or change channels on the TV. Everything was logical, well-explained and un-fussy.
Chain hotels have their place, but when I’m away from home I want to experience the country. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the Hotel Lone is that it showcases the very best of Croatian artists, designers, architects and materials. The oak is from Slavonia; the architectural team is Zagreb-based 3LHD working in conjunction with the design team, Numen/ForUse; young Croatian artists Ivana Franke and Silvio Vujčić contributed sculpture and decorative elements. Even lamps, chairs and desks are designed and manufactured in Croatia.
I could have spent a week in the Hotel Lone. Soaking in the wellness center, swimming in the pools (outdoor and indoor) strolling the grounds, sampling the restaurants or just gazing at the view from my balcony would have been enough even without nearby Rovinj and the magnificent Zlatni Rt park. Alas, it was time to move on and all that was left was a memory. But what a memory.