Sleek lounge and bar at the Hilton Imperial

The Hilton Imperial has enjoyed an illustrious history since it opened in 1897; it was the first hotel in Dubrovnik to have electricity; King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson danced in its gardens in 1936 and it became a refugee shelter during the 1991-92 war. But what does this grand old dame have to offer modern day city breakers? Tina Banerjee finds out.

First impressions

Dubrovnik barThe Hilton Imperial's colourful exterior
Hilton Hotels

The hotel’s pretty pink and yellow façade and filigreed wrought iron balconies instantly transport you back to the 19th century; even its former name, Grand Hotel Imperial, is still proudly borne on its frontage. The exterior promises olde world charm but step over the threshold and its décor is decidedly modern, with warm, terracotta and yellow walls and nautical themed artwork. The light, airy lobby gleams with newly polished shine; the hotel is fastidious about cleanliness. There are a couple of small comfy sofas, a tiny shop selling souvenirs and jewellery and steps which lead to an inviting lounge bar with an outdoor shaded terrace.

Ideal for…

Guests tend to be mainly older couples from the UK, USA, Germany and France, but there’s a smattering of families too.

The room

Each of the hotel’s 147 rooms are different. My fourth floor, executive room is a spacious, contemporary, orche-coloured affair: it features a work table, two chairs, a flat screen, satellite TV and a large bed which I subsequently discover has the softest pillows imaginable.

dubrovnik twinExecutive twin bedroom
Hilton Hotels

Other highlights are the fantastic walk-in wardrobe with copious amounts of space for clothes, shoes, suitcases, plus an iron and ironing board and a handy full-length mirror. The bathroom - one of the largest in the hotel – is generous enough to host a party, but the bath is stingily small by comparison. Nevertheless, I enjoy the pleasant-smelling Peter Thomas Roth toiletries and the enormous mirror is great. Another bonus is my long, narrow terrace offering a heavenly suntrap in the afternoons and a partial glimpse of the old fortress on Srd hill.

Other standard amenities are included: a well stocked mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities, fluffy bathrobe, slippers, a safe and a hairdryer.

Executive floor guests also have complimentary access to a comfortable lounge stocked with unlimited free hot and cold drinks, spirits, wines and champagnes, snacks, light breakfast options and an outdoor terrace with terrific views of the twinkling seas and the imposing forts of Lovrjenac and Bokar.

As for service, it is more than exemplary: from the daily knock at the door as a smiling maid delivers confectionary with the rather sweet phrase “Chocolate for goodnight”, the precise and orderly re-arrangement of my toiletries through to the full-sized, computer print outs of same day edition UK and US newspapers available each morning in the lounge.

Best room?

Room 427 has superb views to the sea and old town, thanks to its spacious terrace. However, the downside to this is you have no privacy; the executive lounge terrace is right next door.

Eating and drinking

dubrovnik tableEnjoy breakfast at the hotel's Porat Restaurant
Hilton Hotels

Breakfast is served in the excellent Porat Restaurant, which also offers al fresco dining. The selections are impressive; expansive buffet tables dedicated to meats, cheeses, breads, pastries, cereals, fruits, yoghurts, plus cooked breakfast options - all the fuel you need for a day of sightseeing.

However, the restaurant really comes into its own in the evening. Enjoy a pre-dinner drink in the outdoor lounge bar with smart, over-sized sofas and softly lit candles. Then prepare to tuck into some of the best Dalmatian cuisine in Dubrovnik. I enjoy slow cooked salmon served on a bed of subtle, mint-flavoured couscous with a zingy orange vinaigrette sauce for starters. I’m not keen on the bitter olive oil soup with artichokes but my onion and milk marinated sea bass and risotto accompanied by skewered grilled vegetables is delightful and surpasses my expectations. For desserts, I tuck into sublime but refreshingly simple pineapple parfait topped on a perfect crunchy biscuit base.


The hotel’s spa reception lacks the sophistication found elsewhere. There is a good-sized gym, plus a sauna and steam bath, but the changing rooms are basic and the small, glass-roofed indoor pool is eerily empty during the summer; it’s mainly used in the winter.

Dubrovnik poolTake a dip in the pool
Hilton Hotels

However, despite appearances, the standard of spa treatments can't be faulted. I enjoy a 25 minute Swedish massage (£22) in a petal-strewn room designed for couples as soothing music plays in the background. My masseur Matea is occasionally a little too enthusiastic in her ministrations but after a quick word, she eases the pressure and I soon sink into a relaxed semi-slumber as she expertly kneads my back, shoulders, neck and arms. I only wished I had booked a longer treatment.

Room for improvement

Wi-Fi internet access is irritatingly poor during my visit and is only accessible from the lobby bar. From October, better wireless access will be available in all rooms and public areas, but it won’t be free.

Out and about

The hotel is literally less than five minutes’ walk from the Old Town via the Pile entrance, making it a supremely good choice for culture vultures. Replete with architectural gems, the Old Town can be easily explored on foot in a day but the joy of discovering its treasures truly lies in aimlessly wandering its sun-dappled streets, before planning a circuitous stroll of its formidable walls.

For those who want to explore further afield, the hotel can arrange excursions to Korcula, Montenegro and Mostar island.


Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik
Marijana Blazica 2
20 000 Dubrovnik
Tel: (020) 320 220.
Prices start from 140 euros per night for a standard double room, and from 238 euros per night for an executive plus room, including breakfast. Prices are correct until the end of March 2013, subject to availability.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.