Saturday, October 3, 2009

Zagreb, the great surprise. Part 1: Hotel Dubrovnik

Maybe because I'd read something in Lonely Planet that described Zagreb as featuring squat Soviet architecture, or maybe it was because I'd read not to expect much of the food in Zagreb, but I had very low expectations of the city. As in, I didn't think I'd like it. I thought it would be a major and unattractive hub, the place we fly in and out but not much more. The end of the trip, where we gather to leave, saturated by the sorrow of vacation's end.

Boy was I wrong. Marc had a more appropriate idea of it, so he wasn't as surprised as I was. It is such a European city - very stylishly dressed women, cafe culture deluxe, Italian shoe stores by the dozens, a variety of architectural styles, and a cosmopolitan feeling. I really liked Zagreb a lot, though they weren't wrong about the food. At all. But more on that in a sec. First: The Hotel Dubrovnik.

Hotel Dubrovnik is always rated among the top hotels in Dubrovnik, wherever you look. There aren't that many hotels in the center of town anyway, so it definitely has location going for it, but sites like TripAdvisor and that feature customer reviews all feature rave reviews. It was a splurge, but we thought it would be worth it. When we got to the hotel, it didn't look at all like it did on the hotel website. The website showed a stately older stone-faced building overlooking the square, but the hotel entrance is this hideous, tall, glassy-windowed monstrosity.
Paging the 1980s, and don't neglect to notice the filthy windows. Like you could ignore them.

We got to our room and were extremely disappointed; it was old and drab, and the view was not of the square - couldn't even see it if you leaned out the window. The only way to see out was to open the windows, because they were so filthy. I didn't even take any photos of the room or the view, it was so bitterly disappointing. We were on the 7th floor, and the entire place seemed empty. We never saw another person anywhere, no signs of housekeeping, nothing. It was like we were all alone in this old empty place. Kind of like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, but without the charm.

On our 2nd day, when we returned to the hotel after doing some sightseeing, we had no electricity. I assumed we had made some kind of mistake so I called the front desk. I kid you not, this is what happened:

Me: Hi, I'm in room 720, and we can't make our lights work.
Desk clerk: Yes, I know, we don't have any electricity. *pause pause pause pause* I see you're scheduled to stay with us again tonight.
Me: Yes. (and I'm assuming the lack of electricity is just a momentary affair at this point)
Desk clerk: Would you like a room with electricity?
Me: (sarcastic thoughts racing through my mind) Yes. We would like a room with electricity.
Desk clerk: OK, you'll have to come downstairs to the front desk and we'll, you know, etc etc etc.

That's literally what she said. And she didn't have a helpful attitude, either. So Marc went downstairs and got a key to a new room, which was "in the other building." We were told to wait 10 minutes, while they got the room ready.

So we packed everything, went downstairs, and walked through the corridor to the "other building." There was no reception area, but we found the elevator.

And voila. We were in the building we'd expected to be in - the stone-faced building facing the square. The room was an awkward space, you couldn't really walk past the bed without hitting into a chair, but it was newer and fresher, and our windows opened directly onto the square, with a 5th floor view. If we hadn't had the 'no electricity' issue, we'd never have known we were shunted into the crappy old building. We were so angry.......hell, we still are.

Here's the view we had on our last day and night:

If you happen to find this blog because you're looking for information about the Hotel Dubrovnik, here's our best advice: go elsewhere.

More about Zagreb in the next post - things improve a great deal!

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