Esplanade Zagreb Hotel - History, Elegance and Luxury
Updated: Mar 28
My visit to Croatia finished with an overnight stay at a luxury hotel, Zagreb’s famous Esplanade. Since 1925, it has offered visitors superb accommodation and fine dining with unparalleled service. Opened in 1925, it originally provided accommodation for travellers on the luxurious Orient Express train. Since then, it has had many international celebrities and royalty as guests, including Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Prince Albert of Monaco. Then there’s me. Okay, not famous but I do know how to enjoy life!
If you are looking for a cocktail before dinner, the Esplanade 1925 Lounge and Cocktail Bar is just the spot. There’s a terrific list of signature "Orient Express Cocktails" on offer. The cocktails are named after the various stops along the Orient Express route; Paris, Vienna, Venice, etc. The "Paris", for example, has rum, Triple Sec, strawberry and lime. The "Istanbul" has brandy, orange, lime, maraschino and grenadine. Hard to choose, but I'm pretty sure each one is delicious! Croatia is also known for its excellent gin. SAX is a very popular brand.
Dinner at their restaurant Zinfandels was a complete delight. Their dinner menu
offers 4, 5 or 6 course meals. The wine list is extensive, so we asked for guidance. Ivan, our sommelier, recommended a Dingac Plavac Mali, which paired beautifully with the meal. My selections of Scallops in Passion Fruit Puree followed by succulent Roast Duck were superb. Hats off to their chef! Luckily for us, we were visiting during low season. So the restaurant was not busy that evening and the waiter had time to completely spoil us. For example, we were too full for dessert, but a plate of macarons and pastries arrived nevertheless. It seems that at the Esplanade, gracious service always goes beyond expectations.
The next morning, breakfast rivalled dinner for luxurious abundance of choices. And again, a bucket of Tomas sparkling wine…just in case! I loaded my plate with many homemade specialities such as smoked trout, and made sure to include a helping of Croatia’s famous baked cheese, Sturkli. An entire table was devoted to fresh croissants and donuts, baked on-site, so I had to sample a few of those, too. After all, this was our last day and it was all about savouring every minute and every bite!
If you are travelling in Croatia and visiting Zagreb, a stop at the Esplanade is a must. Whether you stay overnight or not, you can enjoy a meal or a cocktail, or simply coffee on the terrace, overlooking the gardens and fountain. Why not have a taste of luxury and make happy memories for a lifetime? Sometimes a little luxury is worth it, because you only live once!
Jane Staples - Wine, Food & Travel Writer, Accredited Sommelier
Photos, J. Staples