Against a backdrop of sapphire seas, Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik teeters at the top of a rugged cliff just outside the Adriatic’s crowning walled town. Its pearly interiors are a soothing accompaniment to sun-soaked days, punctuated by sweeping views of Croatia’s coastline from almost every floor-to-ceiling window. Thirty metres below, a restaurant in a shaded cave overlooking Miramare Bay and Bellevue Beach, spills out onto a stone terrace, where you can feast on fresh seafood while aquamarine waters lap lazily at the shore.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £432.85 (€477), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €1.40 per person per night on check-out.
Rates include a buffet breakfast served in Vapor Restaurant, where you can pile your plate with fresh fruit, yoghurt, pastries and cold cuts or take your time over made-to-order à la carte dishes while taking in the view from the terrace.
There are no other hotels along this stretch of coast so although the beach below the hotel isn’t private, Bellevue mostly has the charismatic cove all to itself.
The hotel closes between mid-November and 1 March.
At the hotel
Laundry service; WiFi throughout. In rooms: minibar and fridge; free bottled water; tea and coffee; black-out curtains; air-conditioning; L'Occitane toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
The Deluxe Suites have the best views. Built in the corner of the property, the large windows flood the bedrooms with dreamlike, panoramic vistas and the cosy living rooms open out onto balconies just big enough for two.
For milder days when you can’t quite bring yourself to plunge into the Adriatic, the hotel’s spa has a small, freshwater pool that’s heated and lined by floor-to-ceiling windows so you can float in front of sea views.
Shake off jet-lag fatigue with an espresso facial or revive aching limbs after a day of sightseeing with an anti-stress back and leg therapy at the aptly named Energy Clinic. Bigger than most in Dubrovnik, the 500sq m spa combines Eastern and Western philosophies with aromatherapy, ayurvedic treatments and high-tech Sisley products. Couples can unwind together with a Holiday Spa Moment 4 Two including a heavenly hot-stone massage and a 25-minute face massage with aromatic oils.
Leave your self-consciousness behind: pair your most stylish swimwear with a pair of practical reef shoes for clambering over rocks to the secret swimming spots that dot Dubrovnik’s coast.
The hotel has rooms adapted for wheelchair users that can be accessed via lift and the majority of the hotel’s common spaces are wheelchair accessible, with the exception of the pool and the beach.
All ages are welcome, but it’s more of a grown-up stay. Cots can be added to rooms at no additional cost; families can request connecting rooms. Babysitting’s available for €20 an hour.
The eco-conscious hotel restaurants use locally sourced, seasonal produce.
You’ll want to bag a table on Vapor Restaurant’s terrace at sunset. Jutting out from the cliff’s edge it will make you feel suspended above the sea, perfectly positioned for watching the sun sink into the Adriatic.
Vapor Restaurant is fancier than Nevera, but you should still eschew elaborate evening wear in favour of tailored, lightweight linens or pieces picked up in the old town finished with intricate embroidery.
Vapor Restaurant gives Mediterranean fare a Croatian twist and the result is dishes that sound strange but taste sublime (try the scallops with cabbage sauce). For something extra special, their eight-course degustation menu includes dishes like roast duck breast served with pear poached in red wine and strawberry-and-balsamic cream. Informal beachside dining can be found at Nevera, where fresh Croatian catches are served either out on the terrace or in the man-made cave that has been carved into the cliffside (it’s reached, if you like, via an atmospheric glass lift ride).
Spice Lounge, the hotel’s partially open-air lounge bar, keeps things fairly informal with soft sofas to sink into and breezy sea views. Try one of the robust Croatian grappas or sip on a signature cocktail like the Touch Down, made with vodka, peach liqueur, grenadine, lime and pineapple juice.
Vapor Restaurant is open between 6.30am and 10am for breakfast, and then between noon and 11pm for lunch and dinner. The Wine Bar is open from noon until 11pm. Nevera is open from 10am to 5pm and Spice Lounge is open from 8am to midnight.
Available around the clock, the room-service menu is a classic selection of expertly made pastas, risottos, salads and sandwiches, plus hearty mains like lamb chops and grilled seafood.
Perched at the top of a cliff overlooking the Adriatic, Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik is perfectly poised for Old Town explorations without the tourist throngs.
Dubrovnik International Airport is a 30-minute drive away and is served by non-stop flights from cities including London, Manchester and Edinburgh with EasyJet and Jet2. The hotel can arrange private transfers for €50 per car (one-way, seating up to four).
A car might come in useful when hunting down swimming spots along the surrounding coast or venturing into the interior. If you're planning on visiting the Old Town, however, it's often best to take a taxi, which will have road privileges and be able make use of faster lanes. The hotel has 20 free parking spots and a valet parking service.
Jadrolinija ferries connect Dubrovnik with domestic destinations including Split, Hvar, Bol and Korčula, and runs the town’s only international ferry connection between Dubrovnik and Bari in Italy.
Worth getting out of bed for
No one will judge you for staying put: you could easily while away an entire stay just luxuriating in the spa and admiring the Adriatic views. But when you’re ready to get out and explore, you won’t be alone: the belle of on-screen battles for the better part of a decade, Dubrovnik’s tourism has exploded since King’s Landing became a household name – it can feel impossible to escape the crowds. But the city remains one of Croatia’s most captivating and stroll through Old Dubrovnik is still worth making a morning of (arrive early to beat the tour buses). Sun-mellowed Mediterranean afternoons are well spent dipping in and out of the cobalt waters that ripple below Bellevue, before retreating to the The Wine Bar to sample some of the country’s best drinkables.
For a blissful afternoon, hop on a boat to BOWA where sea-sprayed cabanas line the water’s edge of Šipan Island. Each one is set up with tables, towels and sunloungers where you can recline while grazing on the tasting menu (which changes daily). Expect a steady stream of dishes like Adriatic Bluefin tuna tartare and cheese boards with honeycomb and bitter-orange jam. Another short boat ride away, you can easily lose a few hours wandering among peacocks, olive groves and pine forests on the island of Lokrum, where you should also make time to explore the Botanic garden and Benedictine monastery. Head to family-run Skar Winery where the hospitable owners pour generous tasting measures and ply you with platters of cold-cuts, while regaling you with fascinating tales of the winery’s history. At Danče Beach you can plunge into glassy water from the concrete jetties built into the rocks. Popular with locals, it’s escaped overdevelopment: there is just one simple café and nuns at the nearby convent keep traditions alive by ringing bells and waving as ships pass on the water.
At Above 5 Rooftop Restaurant you can tuck into home-made brioche with smoked salmon and poached eggs or fresh prawns with butternut-squash cream, marinated red cabbage, chilli and feta while looking down over Old Dubrovnik from the roof of a 16th-century building. Round off a cosy meal of Croatian comfort food – such as the traditional smoky octopus 'under the bell' – with a couple of glasses of home-made grappa at Konoba Dubrava. At Sensus Restaurant, the contemporary floor-to-ceiling windows and minimalist light fixtures stand in contrast to the mythical walls of Old Dubrovnik, which sit resplendent across the bay. The focus is on fresh Mediterranean seafood (signature dishes include a tortelloni with lobster meat, sesame mushrooms, bisque sauce and Pernod), combined with intriguing ingredients like charcoal-flavoured oil and aniseed perfume.
Down a narrow side street in the heart of Old Dubrovnik, The Bar by Azur has live music and serves sunset-hued cocktails and smoked spirits in cut-crystal glasses.
The September sun was beating down on the runway when we arrived at Dubrovnik airport – Mr Smith and I immediately began to strip off our London layers. One swift taxi ride later and we arrived at our hotel, the Bellevue. It certainly knows how to announce itself – it’s carved right into the cliff side and you’re greeted with a looming modern facade and panoramic glass windows that frame the Adriatic below like a moving postcard.
Portuguese designer Tereza Prego recently renovated the hotel so everything feels new and fresh; the service friendly and attentive. The main areas such as the restaurant and bar are open and inviting, even the indoor pool area has those floor-to-ceiling windows. The whole thing feels like taking a big gulp of fresh air.
Our room, a junior suite with a sea view was large and airy with furniture in natural sandy shades and French windows opening up to a balcony that gave us the perfect view of Miramare Bay below. After a quick shower in the spacious white marble bathroom – with generous sampling of the L’Occataine products – I left the room alongside Mr Smith trailing a scent of citrus verbena behind me.
Although Dubrovnik’s old town was a mere 10-minute walk away, the pull of the beach was too much. One of my favourite details of the Bellevue is that you access the beach by lift, feeling slightly Bond-like as we emerged to be greeted by multiple sun-beds, all with towels ready and waiting.
The beach itself is small, intimate and covered in smooth pebbles, with water so clear I could see small fishes just in front of me. Swimming out you see the hotel in full; from its clifftop perch it looks stylish and grandiose. It’s 91 rooms in size and nearly fully booked when we visited but it never felt like we had to jostle to get a table or a sun-bed.
After a refreshing swim I picked a spot drenched in sunlight. After I had managed to ruin various pages of my book with overzealous suncream application, Mr Smith and I thought it was about time to sample the menu. The hotel’s beach restaurant, Nevera, serves until 5pm with a good variety of dishes – not overly pretentious but just the kind you find yourself craving after a sea swim. I ordered the prawn and shrimp burger in black brioche bun with a side of fries and lets just say I don’t think there was much washing up for them to do.
After the sun had gone in we thought we’d explore the spa area, home to a freshwater pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and Finnish steam room. After sampling everything on offer I laid down on one of the rattan beds, chamomile tea in hand and almost drifted off to sleep.
As usual I’d packed as if I were on a Vogue photoshoot so my attire was a little over-the-top as we walked along the coastline to Dubrovnik’s old town. But the backdrop was worth my effort. The 16th century stone walled town is truly incredible – it’s immediately obvious why it’s been used in so many iconic films. In parts it’s hard to believe it’s a real place and not a very well made set. After a wander, dinner and some wine-sampling at a charming tucked-away bar called D’vino’s we headed back to Bellevue to collapse into bed.
I can happily attest that the sea view can even be seen when lying horizontal – and there is nothing quite like waking up and the first thing you see is the sea splashing around invitingly.
We headed to breakfast, sitting outside on the Vapor restaurant balcony that has the same amazing aquamarine view as our room. A waitress promptly appeared to awaken us with coffee. Breakfast is an indecisive person’s nightmare as there is so much choice. It seemed like fellow guests weren’t having the same problem as me, though: a group behind us had run out of table real estate they had ordered so much, a round of Bellinis only just managing to squeeze onto their table.
Deciding to spend our day at the beach again where sometimes – if you’re lucky enough – you are provided with surprise entertainment; the cliff face brought to life with divers jumping off the rocks doing backwards somersaults. Mr Smith and I watched them while sipping our cocktails at the beachside restaurant as if we had just brought front row tickets to a private show.
The next morning we awoke early to get one last swim in, making the most of Bellevue’s beautiful location. We dragged out breakfast so that our leaving was as delayed as we could possibly get away with. I’m still not quite ready to say goodbye to the view. Or should I say that view.