When it comes to tourism, Dubrovnik gets all the glory – but it also gets the crowds. So, if you want a taste of Croatia without the queues, soak up the atmosphere of Korčula Island, a two-hour catamaran ride away.
Korčula’s old town is a neat fishtail of alleys lined with galleries and restaurants, which are set within an ancient wall that drops into the sea. Hotel Fabris is a minute’s walk outside of it, close to the wall’s Large Governor’s Tower.
The ground and first floors were built for the owner of a ship building yard, and feature on an 11th century map – despite it being illegal to build outside the old town at the time. The second and third storeys were added 300 years ago.
With original features such as stone floors, walnut parquet flooring and beams dating back 200 years, the building is protected – which means no lifts are allowed. Bear that in mind if you book the top floor and have a heavy suitcase.
I stayed in the double comfort street facing room, which was small, but many of the rooms have sea views and some have balconies. Breakfast is served on the ground floor – which doubles as a compact restaurant – but if you’re lucky, you can bag one of the tables on the terrace outside, which is shaded with parasols and overlooks a garden and the sea.
Hotel manager Zlatko Fabris says, “The hotel opened as an emotional investment. My grandparents emigrated from Croatia to South Africa during the 1935 famine, and while my parents were born in South Africa, it was their dream to return to Croatia one day. But a month before Hotel Fabris opened, my father died in South Africa as a result of violent crime.”
Zlatko was determined to go ahead with the opening as a tribute to his father, and Hotel Fabris opened in 2015.
The 10-bedroom hotel has been a hit ever since. Popular with British couples in their 40s, 50s and 60s, Croatian singers have also stayed here, while the mayor of Korčula and the current female President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, have popped by for a drink.
Zlatko has grand plans. “We’re building a new block 20 metres away, which will add 11 more rooms and a rooftop terrace bar with sunset views and an eight-person Jacuzzi. The extension will target package tourists, particularly Americans.”
“We also have plans for a conservatory and deck at the front of the hotel, which will become a breakfast room. The reception area will then be transformed into a lounge.”
Croatia’s already been a film location for Game of Thrones and Mamma Mia! So visit now before another director picks Korčula as their next location – and word gets out!
Hotel Fabris, Lastavica d.o.o., Pelavin mir 1, 20260 Korčula, Croatia.
Tel: +385 20 716 755
The hotel is centrally located in Korčula Old Town close to the wall’s Large Governor’s Tower, with the closest beaches being Badija and Benje beaches. The hotel is also close to both the Western Ferry Port and Eastern Ferry point and bus station.
Type of Hotel: 4-Star Boutique Hotel
Number of Rooms: 10 rooms including free Wi-Fi
Price Band: High
Insider Tip: Hire bikes from next door and cycle an hour to Lumbarda, one of Croatia’s few sandy beaches.
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10
Sarah Riches is a London-based travel journalist. She tweets @healthy_holiday
Photographs courtesy of Hotel Fabris