For an antidote to fast-paced urban life, forest-fringed Vila Planinka in Zgornje Jezersko is the only prescription you need. Offering a revitalising dose of nature, this three-storey Alpine stay (more chalet than villa) has been built in local spruce and larch, laced with regional art and handmade furniture, and sugar-coated with a panoramic outdoor terrace and top-notch restaurant. Its superb, Slovenian cuisine is best taken on an empty stomach, washed down with fine wines from the hotel’s tour-of-the-country cellar. Doctor’s orders are to while away your days outdoors, exploring the unspoilt expanse of the Jezersko Valley.
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A dessert called Potica, made with local herbs and fruit, for each guest
11am. Earliest check-in, 2pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £216.93 (€251), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €2.00 per person per night on check-out.
Rates include buffet breakfast. Two-night minimum stay, Thursday to Sunday.
The hotel has one wheelchair-accessible room; there’s a lift at the hotel and the restaurant and lobby are at ground level.
At the hotel
Bikes to borrow (free), electric-bike hire. In rooms: free WiFi (optional), TV, backpack, minibar, free bottled water, Renčelj bath products.
Our favourite rooms
All rooms are beautifully appointed with modern Alpine interiors, local art and handmade curios – but with views this good, it’s worth investing in a room with a balcony; the dual aspect offered by corner rooms and suites is also hard to resist. The capacious corner deluxe apartment is a showstopper, with a kitchen, dining space and broad, wooden balcony. Different room types come with either a bath or shower, worth identifying before you make up your mind.
The spa is a wood-lined retreat with Finnish and infrared saunas: it’s usually booked for exclusive use (for up to four), allowing for massages beside the sauna (there’s no dedicated treatment room). This modest space looks out into the woods, so when the sauna gets too much you can step out into forest-fringed serenity to cool down. In-room massages can also be arranged.
You’ll want practical clothing that runs the gamut from hiking gear to bike-appropriate threads to ski kit if you’re planning cross-country forays.
For a small charge you can order breakfast in bed. The hotel can arrange VIP tours and trips that impress in their variety and attention to detail, from stargazing to guided hiking to cave visits and trips to Bled.
Over-12s are welcome at Vila Planinka. Extra beds (€45) can be added to some rooms.
Respecting nature and conserving local, cultural heritage are the two driving forces behind Vila Planinka’s eco-friendly practices. The hotel uses biomass fuel, eco toilet paper and ethical, refillable bath products, plus guests are encouraged to refill drinking bottles. Vila Planinka’s priority is working with local food suppliers; ingredients travel the shortest possible distance from garden to table. Food waste is composted for redistribution locally and other domestic waste is sorted for recycling. There are environmentally friendly measures in the hotel’s design, too, from its low-profile architecture and emphasis on natural materials (wood, clay, stone) to the absence of air-con and 11pm curfew for light pollution. The hotel’s thriving garden is planted with indigenous species and managed with a laissez-faire approach – never treated with chemicals or fertilisers nor watered either.
The six-seater table between the hotel’s peak-framing picture windows and the lobby’s wood-burning stove put you at the heart of the restaurant.
Mountain casual is fine, although switching base layers for a slightly dressier top or shirt is equally acceptable.
Don’t be fooled by the simple wood-and-stone décor of Vila Planinka’s dining room – this is fine mountain cuisine, Jezersko style. To say that chef Blaž Derlink is inspired by local ingredients is evident in every prettily presented plate, be it lamb with celeriac steak and confit shallots, steak tartare with buckwheat popcorn and leek mayonnaise or the made-in-house bread which uses locally milled flour. Traditional Slovenian dishes such as potika (a rolled pastry dessert) and porridge-like masovnek have been reinvented with finesse and pair pleasingly with the restaurant’s 160-bottle selection of all-Slovenian fine wines. Four, five and seven course tasting menus present tantalising tours of the country in food form.
To one side of the dining room, you’ll find a counter bar where sommelier Marko Koren holds weekly wine tastings, showcasing the highlights of the hotel’s cellar of fine wines, including a good selection of biodynamic orange wines from the country’s south-west.
The bar and restaurant are open all day until 10pm.
A selection of dishes from Blaž Derlink’s menu is available during restaurant hours.
In the Kamnik-Savinje Alps of northern Slovenia, Vila Planinka is in Zgornje (Upper) Jezersko.
Ljubljana’s Jože Pučnik airport is 40 minutes by road from the hotel. Graz and Trieste airports are each around two hours’ drive from the hotel, too, or Zagreb is two and a half hours away. The hotel can arrange private transfers from/to Ljubljana airport from around €60 each way.
An hour’s drive from the hotel, Ljubljana train station has cross-border services to Trieste, Vienna and Munich (sleeper service).
Roads are well maintained and signposted and traffic is light (away from the capital), so if you don’t mind the mountain roads, self-drive is a safe option and there’s free parking in front of the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Hiking and biking trails ribbon the Jezersko valley – a biscuit tin-worthy beauty, edged by the soaring Kamnik-Savinje Alps, which draws visitors with a love of the outdoors and a thirst for peace and fresh air. The hotel offers ‘pick-your-peak’ guided hikes, or more gentle forays to Planšarsko Jezero lake (where you can also ice skate in winter), via traditional farms and the source of local spring water. On a night trail under the stars, a mountain guide takes you stargazing on a nearby peak. Guided climbing and via ferrata can also be arranged. Try your luck with a morning spent fishing; in winter, the skiing tends to be cross-country or ski mountaineering with no lift infrastructure or downhill pistes here. For adrenaline highs, take a VIP tour of the Postojna cave system, exploring its narrower reaches, cave dunes and subterranean lakes; there may be abseiling involved… Ground-level adventure doesn’t come more cobweb-clearing than cycling through the forest on dedicated bike trails. The hotel can arrange half-day trips further afield to Bled or Ljubljana.
When it comes to local restaurants, nothing comes close to the hotel's upscale fare which is why we recommend dining a casa.
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 chalet hotel in Slovenia and unpacked their sheep’s cheese and orange wine, a full account of their mountain break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Vila Planinka in Jezersko…
The best hosts know how to tailor proceedings for maximum delight – and at Vila Planinka, top-tier hospitality is second nature. Just as Jezersko’s verdant valley edged by chiselled peaks is a place to immerse yourself in bucolic bliss, so is boutique chalet hotel Vila Planinka, crafted from local wood, stone and clay. A stay here is an invitation to switch off and slow down, embracing all things lo-fi – WiFi is provided in your room by request (not default) and the TV is concealed in a cabinet. Evening entertainment has a traditional bent, too: once you’ve soothed trail-weary muscles in the sauna or with a massage, head to the terrace for wine by the fire, accompanied by Alpine views; dinner is a culinary tour of inventive local fare, prepared with equal parts pride, finesse and flavour. Nods to the area’s cultural heritage extend beyond the restaurant, too – to the all-Slovenian wine list, and locally sourced art throughout the hotel, plus the nature-themed, individual naming (and styling) of rooms. A boutique hotel that celebrates its rural roots with such refinement is an irresistible combination. Naturally.