Croatia

Captivating Croatia

Once again after looking at my travel bucket list, I booked my flights to Croatia at the last minute, along with a hotel which looked to be in a good location. I find easiest to book last minute so I don’t start doubting my upcoming trip when reading some of TripAdvisor’s reviews. May is the beginning of the summer season for most European destinations, except Croatia which has been up and running since March. I chose to fly with Jet2 because of the good flight times, I was checked in at my hotel by lunchtime. Croatia is a relatively short flight from the UK of only 2 hours 45 minutes which flew by (literally). Little did I realise how close the airport is to Mlini, where I would be staying. It took only 20 minutes on the windy, cliff edge road to get to Mlini where I would be staying. The roads are no where near as scary as the ones in the Amalfi Coast, but if you have vertigo, motion or travel sickness you may benefit from travelling by car rather than coach. Some of the roads are on a cliff edge with a sheer drop into the Adriatic Sea below, I chose to enjoy the views of the islands and Dubrovnik Riviera rather than be scared by the roads.

The Hotel

The hotel I had chosen was Hotel Astarea which I had done very little research on. I had mainly chosen this hotel for the location, close to the beach, within easy walking distance to other beachfront towns and far enough away from the tourist hub of Dubrovnik.

I was rather put off by the hotel when the bus began its descent down a very steep hill because I thought it was the only way in and out of the hotel (I was very wrong!). The only thing I had to walk up the hill for, was the bus stop, but I could have walked to neighboring Sbreno and got on the bus without having to mountain climb up a hill. Hill rant aside, the hotel had another exit which lead down to the shingle beach and a pedestrianised walkway. It took less than 5 minutes to walk to the beach and the beginning of the shops and restaurants.

It is quite a large hotel which also has an annex with extra rooms. I was lucky enough to stay in the main hotel building so I could use the stairs when going to the indoor pool and restaurant to avoid the rather torrential rain which had followed me to Croatia. There are several lifts but unfortunately they don’t link up with some of the floors, the ground floor is only accessible via the stairs, so if you have walking difficulties it is actually better to request a higher floor and then you will be able to get the lift instead. I had a daily workout running up and down the stairs.

The Room

The room was quite small, but had everything I needed for a comfortable stay. The bed was comfortable and had a lovely view out of the balcony doors. It was lovely waking up to a view of the ocean.

My only moan was the lack of air con, the room became a sauna after going in the shower. However, how can you not spend ages in a newly refurbished bathroom that has a powerful rain forest like shower. The only thing which was missing was a bath for after all of the hiking I did.

The Balcony

Those who have been following my adventures for a while will have noticed a theme. My favourite part of a hotel usually turns out to be the balcony. I had a partial sea view and could also see some of the hills surrounding the hotel. The views were lovely, but I wasn’t so keen on being overlooked by some of the other rooms.

Having a balcony which was covered over was a great thing as it meant I could sit outside even while there was a rainstorm. I was also lucky enough to be able to watch the sunset over the hills each night. It wasn’t as amazing as the view from the balcony in Maiori but it allowed me to feel rested and calm, sitting on the balcony I couldn’t believe bustling Dubrovnik was 4 km around the corner.

The Pools and Beach

There was not one but 2 pools in the hotel, one indoor and one outdoor. Sadly it was too cold to go swimming outside, so instead I chose the indoor pool which was empty each time I visited. It even had it’s own private sunbathing area, which was nice to sit on and dry off in the sun with a view of the ocean.

The outdoor pool looked lovely and I would love to have tried it but sadly the weather wasn’t warm enough. From afar it looked like an infinity pool, especially when lit up on an evening.

The beach was so close to the hotel it could almost be classed as private. It’s a small stretch of shingle beach which is surrounded by a rocky cliff on one side and a natural harbour on the other. I liked sitting watching the water taxis and cruise liners floating by.

The Food

The food in the hotel buffet restaurant was good in itself, but sadly the restaurant was all I could describe as organised chaos. The food was great, filled with grilled vegetables but the lack of signs on the buffet had me reluctant to try some foods. Another thing which could have vastly improved the restaurant would be if the waiters show you to an adequately sized table for the party. At the time I visited anyone could choose wherever they wanted to sit, however this meant couples often sat on tables meant for 6. This caused a lot of problems and the humans I visited with often had to sit across two tables.

I also ate at the beach side Restaurant Oleander which had an amazing range of salads and mocktails. It was a great place to watch the world go by on an afternoon.

The perfect address

The hotel has a wonderful location in a very peaceful area of the Dubrovnik Riviera. Mlini has a bus stop at the top of the hill near the hotel, or one a short (and flat) walk away in Sbreno. Being on the coast there is also a water taxi to use ( I didn’t as the water was rather choppy). After my initial worries about the hill in front of the hotel. However, I was very surprised to find the town is flat with very few hills to climb.  Making it the perfect place to stay and use as a base to explore without having to climb huge hills (unless you want too).

4 kilometers away lies the walled city of Dubrovnik, Montenegro and Bosnia are also within easy reach from the hotel. This really is a fabulous choice of hotel and I am looking forward to seeing more of the area and drinking mocktails in the beach side restaurant.  I would recommend this hotel to any chronic illness adventuresaurus wishing to visit the area due to the accessibility of the hotel and all of its amenities.

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