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  • Christina Pickard

THE BELLA BELLEVUE: A night of luxury in Dubrovnik’s top hotel

Dubrovnik’s Old Town

There are five star hotels, and then there are five star hotels–or luxury hotels as they prefer to be called. And luxury is certainly the buzz word when it comes to the Bellevue Hotel in Croatia’s beautiful and historic city of Dubrovnik. I know I’m not the only one who, after a stressful week, dreams about sipping wine on a balcony with stunning views in an oversized fluffy robe, or lounging on a private beach with my every need being looked after by an army of smiling staff.

Couresty of Adriatic Luxury Hotels

At the Bellevue this dream becomes a reality. Sure, you pay big bucks for the privilege, and unless you own a successful multinational company, a bank, or a country, you can’t afford to stay in a place like this with any regularity. But for many of us there are special occasions that call for special treats. Thanks to not owning any of the formerly mentioned things, I am not an expert on luxury hotels. But I have been lucky enough to stay in a few, and let me tell you, the Bellevue takes the cake.

View from our balcony at the Bellevue

From the private beach, looking up at the Bellevue

Breakfast on the restaurant’s balcony

Aimed at a ‘younger, funkier, more design-savvy clientele’, The Bellevue’s blue tinted glass exterior conceals its impressive tres chic interior. Perched precariously on the edge of a cliff on the Adriatic coast, a 15 minute stroll from Dubrovnik’s beautifully preserved (though packed with tourists thanks to being a major stop on the cruise ship route) Old Town, the Bellevue offers some of the most spectacular ocean views I’ve ever seen from a hotel. Complete with a lift down to a private beach and restaurant, a glass elevator over the water, and an indoor pool and spa which make you feel like you’re suspended over the bay, you’ll find, from the views alone, that at the end of your trip you’ll need to be dragged kicking and screaming back to reality.

courtesy of Adriatic Luxury Hotels

Our suite. (Courtesy of Adriatic Luxury Hotels)

The Bellevue’s restaurant, Vapor, which doubles as the breakfast room, also has dramatic sweeping ocean views from its balcony. With a giant living palm tree separating the bar from the restaurant, soft white lighting, and smooth wood flooring, Vapor is sheik and modern while still being welcoming. The evening I was there, Vapor’s efficient staff was friendly, knowledgeable, and spoke excellent English (as did most all of the hotel’s staff).

The Spice bar, next to Vapor (courtesy of Adriatic Luxury Hotels)

The hubby and I were treated to a local seafood feast. The dishes were inventive and bold (scallops in a cabbage and ginger sauce and monkfish in a vanilla sauce with broccoli puree to name a few) if perhaps trying too hard. I think that when cooking with such wonderful raw ingredients like fresh fish, simple is best. While the flavours were interesting, the seafood got a bit drowned in their respective sauces. A few drops of sauce on each would have been plenty. My favourite course was actually the amuse bouche, a sliver of smoked salmon over a crunchy apple, walnut, honey, and mustard salsa–it served its purpose as a palate cleanser and was delicate and delicious.

But the best part of the meal for me, not surprisingly, were the wines (at last I come to the wines!), skillfully matched by Vapor’s food and beverage manager, Ivica.

We started off not with wine at all, but with a local cocktail called the ‘Ernest Hemingway Special’ consisting of a generous swig of white rum, maraschino liquor, lime and grapefruit–very refreshing for a hot Croatian summer’s day!

Next up was a great surprise. A Champagne method bubbly from Istria made from a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and the very Croatian Malvazija and bursting with ripe apples and honey. The best part is it’s just been picked up by the lovely distributors Pacta Connect, so it’s now available to buy in the UK!

The second course was matched with Krauthaker Sauvignon Blanc. I’d previously tried Krauthaker’s dessert wines and been very impressed. Their dry Sauvignon was oaked–unusual as Sauvignon normally doesn’t touch oak because it masks its naturally fresh, zippy character. I still think sans oak is the best expression of the grape, and found the woody notes in the wine a bit overpowering when drunk by itself, but the ginger and hazelnut characters were a great match with the scallops and ginger sauce.

The highlight of the night though was a wine from one of Croatia’s most populated islands, Korčula. Korta Katarina is made from the grape Pošip, native to Korčula and grown by many winemakers on the island. Korta Katarina’s was a lovely golden colour, fresh, well balanced, and bursting with vanilla custard, pears, and walnuts. It was a perfect match with the monkfish with vanilla sauce.

We finished off the evening with a delicious red dessert wine made from Southern Croatia’s main grape, Plavic Mali. It was a good match with our chocolate soufflé dessert. I told Ivica that in the past I’d not been convinced by Plavic Mali as a dry red wine. He proceeded to try and prove me wrong with a wine called Plavic Mili (a play on words with the producer’s surname, Mili). It was a big smokey, bitter cherry beast that would’ve paired well with a juicy steak, but I still think, at least from what I’ve tried, that many reds this far south are too ripe and laden with oak. I shall try and keep an open mind though!

Overall though, it was the service and atmosphere that most made my meal at Vapor a memorable one.

So the next opportunity you have to treat yourself to a weekend away in a beautiful city such as Dubrovnik, dining on local seafood and being pampered on a private beach, buy a cheap flight and then splurge on the hotel. The Bellevue will not disappoint.

#dubrovnik #bellevuehotel #vaporrestaurant #posip #kortula

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