If One&Only Portonovi were a poker player, its indomitable strength would be raising the stakes. How to improve on the coastal beauty of Boka Bay? Throw in a private sandy beach with a bar and pools. It’ll see your chandeliered, marble interiors and raise them with a generous footprint and fabulous ensuite in even standard rooms, and villas that have a private beach and jetty. Its wealth of dining options – Montenegrin, Italian, pan-Asian – is a pot you’ll want to win. Its vast Chenot Espace spa is an impressive kicker, and the guided outings you can enjoy – by Jeep, Rolls Royce or superyacht – are its royal flush. If you’re after a luxury stay with local flavour, for One&Only Portonovi, you should go all-in.
Noon. Earliest check-in, 3pm, but both are flexible, subject to availability and a half-day charge (early check-in from 10am; late check-out up to 6pm).
Double rooms from £530.64 (€626), including tax at 7 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €1.00 per person per night on check-in.
Rates include breakfast, use of all spa and fitness facilities and children’s clubs.
One of the hotel’s more curious assets is a Silver Shadow Rolls Royce once owned by Tito, which you can experience on a half-day, chauffeur-driven road trip, taking in Tito’s villa and wine tasting at sunset.
At the hotel
Private beach, six swimming pools, Chenot Espace spa, choice of bars and restaurants; gym, yoga studio, volleyball, tennis courts, watersports, boutique, wine shop and deli. In rooms: yoga mat, free WiFi, smart TV, Illy coffee machine, kettle, minibar, free bottled water, Abahna bath products.
Our favourite rooms
There are no weak links at this spacious hotel, where even entry-level Portonovi rooms have vast ensuites and 55 square metres. Only the views differentiate them, making Panoramic Bayview rooms cream of the crop. Suite One is akin to a penthouse with its own entrance and butler service, plus the option to connect with additional rooms and take over the fifth floor. The variety of villas on offer means there’s a set-up to suit every group. When villas one and two are not booked, they’re portioned into equivalent rooms, meaning you can end up much nearer to the sea.
Villas come with private pools, and for suite and room guests there’s no shortage of places to swim. A trio of beachfront pools offer freshwater dips at different temperatures; the sea-facing pool at Tapasake is adults-only, open May to October; the spa is home to the hotel’s only indoor pool. In front of the spa, stretching towards the beach, a long pool – edged by a wooden deck of daybeds and sunloungers and staffed with a lifeguard – starts off shallow, with a children’s area, and deepens towards an infinity edge facing the sea.
One&Only Portonovi’s spa is a cosseting, comprehensive affair, covering all your needs from medical to manicures: it’s a Montenegran outpost of Swiss spa brand Chenot Espace (with detox and rejuvenation programmes, including cryotherapy) and is set over two floors spanning 4,000 square metres. Off its Instagram-worthy corridor of brass-edged arches, you’ll find a warren of treatment rooms, a hammam, steam room, sauna and hydrotherapy zone, with a lounger-lined heated pool and Jacuzzi at its heart; beauty and hair salons and a barber’s aim to leave no guest uncoiffed. The spa is also home to the hotel’s generously proportioned gym, with all the kit you could desire for weight and resistance training and cardio (cross-trainers, peloton) overlooking the outdoor pool, as well as a yoga studio; physios and personal trainers are available at extra cost.
A wardrobe of two halves is called for: part beach attire to suit lazy days; and enough smarter threads to cater to the resort’s restaurant dress codes.
Access to tennis, all pool, fitness and spa areas is free. In-room massage treatments are available at extra cost; all communal areas are wheelchair accessible, as is one Portonovi room.
Very welcome. Extra beds and cots are free; there are kids and teens clubs in summer, plus a playground; babysitting is available (from €22 an hour).
All ages: One&Only Portonovi has the kit and activities to keep everyone from tots to teens happy.
Two-bedroom family suites are vast, balconied and come with two bathrooms. Cost and extra beds can be added to any room at no extra charge.
Sport, creativity, tech and education fuel the programme of activities on offer from morning until evening at the hotel’s kids club for four to eleven year olds; accompanied under fours are also welcome. One Tribe offers teen-tailored entertainment for 12 to 17 year olds.
Art and craft, outdoor games, beach time, gaming, cooking, watersports, stargazing.
There are lifeguards at the beach and the main family pool, which has a dedicated shallow area for the littlest of Smiths. Pools at the spa and Tapasake are adults only.
Highchairs can be provided and there are children’s menus at La Veranda and Sabia.
You’ll need to book well ahead for babysitting from €22 an hour; nannies for daytime childcare can also be arranged via the hotel.
If you’re planning a villa stay with little Smiths not able to swim, be aware that all come with varying access to private pools and, in some cases, private beaches.
The hotel has taken measures both in its design and day-to-day running to reduce its impact on the environment. Smart room technology, motion sensors in communal areas, air-con that switches off when you open an external door, LED light bulbs and water-saving taps, back of house… with a raft of small adjustments the hotel has managed to cut its energy and water consumption. Efforts to reduce laundry, front and back of house, plus efficient laundry products have introduced further energy-saving benefits. Housekeeping products, bath products and water bottles are all refillable in a bid to bring down consumption of single-use plastic. Waste is segregated and recycled where possible.
All the best spots to dine are outdoors: a table on the terrace at Sabia, a sea-facing spot alfresco at La Veranda and a poolside perch at Tapasake share the podium.
For dinner at La Veranda and Sabia, think smart-casual, opting for tailored threads or floaty dresses – shirt and trousers for Mr Smith. Tapasake’s casual dress code excludes swimwear and sleeveless attire.
La Veranda is One&Only Portonovi’s all-day restaurant, serving mostly Montenegrin cuisine, although Turkish and Balkan influences are also at play, prepared in an open kitchen: dine on dishes such as roasted pullet with confit egg and sea bream with artichoke at linened tables in the elegant, navy dining room or on the covered veranda, with arch-framed bay views. La Veranda also hosts chef’s tables and private dining. A fabulous terrace and fine Italian fare come together at Sabia, where you can choose from an Italian menu of salads, pasta and mains, all of which prize vegetables and seafood over meat, paired with a suitable selection of Italian wines, too – certo; a dedicated dessert menu, featuring tiramisu and Amalfi lemon meringue – can only bode well. Weekends-only Tapasake Pool Club is a glamorous, low-lit restaurant and sake bar dressed in earthy hues – open for lunch and dinner – where you can enjoy pan-Asian plates, tapas style, such as crispy chicken wings with tonkatsu sauce, and tofu bread with miso avocado. Inventive cocktails with an Asian twist include negronis with Japanese gin; tea- and cinnamon-laced whiskey, and a Blushing Geisha cocktail made with kombucha, gin and hibiscus.
Carminetti, just off the hotel lobby, is named for the small-scale fireplaces that dot its glamorous mink and poppy red lounge, where sumptuous upholstery, floor-to-ceiling windows and refreshment from cocktails to caviar via afternoon tea provide plenty of reasons to linger. Other bar options trot the globe via Italian wines at Sabia, Japanese cocktails and sake at Tapasake, and Balkan bottles at La Veranda. At the entrance to the latter, you’ll find Il Provadore, a wine shop and deli that’s also the setting for wine tastings guided by the hotel’s sommelier.
La Veranda is open for breakfast, 7am–11am; lunch is from noon until 3pm; for dinner, it’s 6pm–10pm. Lunch and dinner hours at Sabia and Tapasake follow suit.
Whether it’s breakfast in bed or dinner a casa you crave, the private dining team is happy to tailor dishes; you can also opt for private ‘feet-in-sand’ dining where the food comes laced with romance and soundtracked by the sea.
One&Only Portonovi lies east along the coast from Herceg Novi on the Adriatic-lapped north shore of the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro.
Tivat international airport has seasonal, direct flights from European hubs and is just under an hour away by road (and a short ferry hop): the hotel can arrange private transfers (from €83 one way). Just a 45-minute drive from the hotel, Dubrovnik in Croatia is the closest international airport.
Sadly there are no stations near enough to make train travel appealing: for the dedicated, travelling by rail involves connections to Podgorica via Belgrade and onward bus transfers to Kotor.
There’s a private car park at the hotel and valet parking is free.
Private boat transfers from Tivat airport to the hotel jetty can be arranged (at extra cost).
Worth getting out of bed for
Rock it like a communist revolutionary turned former Yugoslav president by visiting Tito’s actual villa, arriving there in his actual Rolls Royce, no less. Less ironic pursuits involve the beautiful Boka Bay, which is on your doorstep and provides a private beach for the hotel. Here you can dip into watersports such as windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and dinghy sailing. You could even undergo a private water polo lesson (the sport is huge in Montenegro) with a professional coach. Go large and charter a speedboat or superyacht to tour the bay. Adrenaline thrills off resort include coasteering, canyoning, rafting, water skiing, wake-boarding and banana rides. Scuba diving in the Kumbor Strait can be arranged. Land-based adventures on offer include a Jeep safari, guided hiking around Mount Orjen or a themed tour of Montenegran flora and fauna in spectacular mountain scenery. If you prefer your days out to be culinary themed, try an olive grove tour and tasting, a visit to a local winery or sign up for a cookery or mixology class.
Mediterranean dishes with a focus on seafood are served alongside a Montenegrin wine list at family-run tavern Konoba Feral in Herceg Novi. This dining room and terrace of polished pine tables and benches is a good spot for crab, catch of the day and clams, delivered with suitably salty views over Herceg Novi harbour. Between Kotor and Herceg Novi, Ćatovića Mlini is a family-run flour mill in a bucolic spot with its own restaurant. Plates here are typically Montenegrin, largely fish and seafood, such as salt-baked fish, octopus salad and monkfish and shrimp kebabs. It’s advisable to leave room for Boka’s cake (a cherry liqueur-laced almond tart). Take a boat across the bay to Luštica Peninsula for lunch at Ribarsko Selo, where fishermen bring the morning’s catch at around 11am and it’s on your plate with produce from the restaurant garden in hours.
Overlooking Portonovi marina, Oscar’s serves burgers, pizza, light bites and grazing platters, plus eye-catching cocktails at tables spilling onto the pedestrianised harbourside.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this coastal hotel in Montenegro and unpacked their rakija and olives, a full account of their beach break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside One&Only Portonovi in Herceg Novi…
Arriving at One&Only Portonovi, your first impression is one of gloss: a double-height, marble-lined lobby strewn with chandeliers, floor-to-ceiling windows and a terrace (the spot for check-in with a welcome drink) that overlooks pristine grounds, where manicured lawns and deftly dotted cypress and palm trees are edged by a private, butter-soft beach with pools. So far, so luxury… And yet there are plenty of thoughtful details that bring personality to its polish: working fireplaces in every room (typically Montenegrin); an (unusually) equal division of space between bedroom and bathroom; a bath by the window that converts into a daybed. Signature restaurant La Veranda serves finessed Montenegrin fare, and its wine shop hosts regional tastings, showcasing bottles from Balkan vineyards. Extras abound, too, with tennis, watersports, use of the spa and gym (as well as kids clubs) all thrown in, and butler service for suite and villa guests. The straight-out-of-Switzerland spa is vast, elegant and all-encompassing. And the cherry on top is the glut of tours you can choose from, be it a boat trip island-hopping, a history tour of the town or a wander through olive groves, topped by a tour of Montenegro in lunch form. In marrying luxury with one-off details and local flavour, One&Only Portonovi is a masterclass.