At the foot of enchanting Motovun hill, a renowned Istrian winemaker Mladen Rožanić fell in love with the architecture of a former cooperative wine cellar from 1902. Who thought that an old wine cellar would become the heart and foundation for one of the best boutique hotels in Istria. The building offers magnificent views of the green Mirna River Valley on one side and medieval Motovun on the other. The epicentre of truffling and birthplace of Motovun Film Festival is full of narrow cobbled streets and old houses that instil nostalgia into one’s soul. Even though the hotel provides the town with some modern contrast, the Wine & Heritage Hotel Roxanich stays true to Istrian roots and encapsulates all of the region’s attributes – from excellent wine and cuisine to architecture and a laid-back lifestyle. This is what keeps the hotel fully booked even in coronavirus times. Combined, these things make up an excellent story that we simply named: the Roxanich Experience.
The village of Motovun is located in the heart of Istria County, roughly 30 kilometres from the nearest shoreline in Novigrad. As most guests arrive by car, parking is well taken care of with a large parking garage and even a car elevator. The nearest airport is in Pula (75km away) and Trieste (80km away). Air accessibility kept improving year after year until everything shut down this year. If you are coming to Motovun by car, accessibility won’t be a problem, but some more planning will be required if you plan on visiting by plane.
COLD STARTER - Architecture and aesthetics
The foundation for the hotel was a cooperative wine cellar, built by Charles I of Austria in 1902. Taking credit for the hotel’s architecture is renowned Croatian architect Idis Turato. The building fits in perfectly with the landscape and keeps a low profile, but things change once you step inside. The boutique hotel has five stories and unsurprisingly, an exquisite wine cellar. Different architectural layers are uncovered when going through the floors. The building functions as a hotel, congress centre, wine shop and a restaurant at the same time. Each part could stand on its own, but combined, they create an exceptional hotel experience.
WARM ENTRÉE - The staff and the culinary experience
The culinary story is heavily influenced by Istrian heritage and based on local ingredients with a modern twist. The result is a seasonal menu, where less is more. Everything revolves around Roxanich wines and it’s one of the few places, where food does not dictate the choice of wine. Rather, the food accompanies the excellent wine. “Comfort food” is what they call their cuisine at Roxanich. The best way to understand the philosophy is by tasting a 3 to 4 course menu with the sommelier explaining the optimal combination of wine and food. Following the re-opening after the corona crisis, the staff is still not completely in tune, but nevertheless, extremely professional. It seems that breakfast is the only thing that they could not settle on. It does not disappoint, but we did expect more courage and creativity with the a la carte breakfast menu. More could be happening in front of the guests (live cooking for example) looking at all the possibilities the restaurant has to offer.
MAIN COURSE – The meetings offering at the hotel
Long hallways in soothing red colours reminiscent of Istrian terra rossa, lead to the hotel rooms. Every room is a small world of its own with majestic views of the Mirna River Valley. The extra cushioned bed with a tall bed frame was probably the most comfortable bed that we’ve experienced in all Hidden Guest evaluations. The furniture is made from natural materials, the floor wooden in a herringbone pattern and the walls covered in floral prints. The eclectic blend of styles somehow works together and brings up nostalgic feelings. The hotel rooms will make you wonder; what kind of design hides behind the door of a different room? We wanted to arrange a miniature wine degustation in the hotel room but failed to find a bottle opener… Nevertheless, such details did not spoil the extraordinary journey through the world of Idis Turat.
The hotel offers a relatively large congress hall that can accommodate up to 150 participants. It is equipped with the latest technical equipment and the industrial design will suit modern event organisers. A coffee break on the spacious terrace overlooking the vineyards is a unique experience in itself. Hotel Roxanich was made to host smaller business events and incentives.
DESSERT – The extras
A visit to the Roxanich wine cellar with a sommelier and a guided tour of the five-floor cellar is the ultimate way to get familiar with the Roxanich wine story. The wine is made according to biodynamic principles and is one of Croatia’s very best. The wine amphoras, set in a luscious garden with calming music in the background paint a clear picture of the passion of the owner. Another highlight of the hotel is the wellness with saunas and an outdoor pool.
FLOP – NEGATIVE SURPRISES
Not the best selection of lighting in the rooms, which requires some time to get used to.
TOP – POSITIVE SURPRISES
The hotel is an art gallery. The wine store is not just a store, but rather an art gallery.
FINAL IMPRESSION AND CREDIBILITY
Staying in the hotel is a “road movie” through the culture and history of this part of Istria. I must admit, the hotel as a whole is incredible and will amaze even the most demanding business guests. A hotel with such a powerful story is made for incentives and as soon as the corona crisis is over, buyers will be standing in line. The wine is the icing on the cake – an experience that you will remember forever due to their special and unique taste, mostly intended for keen wine enthusiasts. The Roxanich Experience can also be your next incentive experience. It is suitable for smaller groups, who will be intrigued by the stories Istria has to offer.
FINAL GRADE: 4.91 GOLD Boutique Meeting Hotel
GOLD final score from 4.81 to 5.00
SILVER final score from 4.61 to 4.80
BRONZE final score from 4.41 to 4.60