Novigrad was once a quaint fishing town that slowly acquired allure as a tourist destination. Still today, the portside of Novigrad is home to a bountiful fleet of fishing boats. Although Novigrad attracts countless tourists worldwide, it has retained the charm of a typical laid-back Mediterranean town. On the edge of town, next to the marina, a villa boasting Secession architecture slowly decayed in recent decades. Villa Rainis was named after the Rainis family, who moved from Venice to Novigrad in the 19th century. The villa’s original owner, Giovanni Rainis, owned a pharmacy between 1857 and 1930 in Novigrad. The enticing building caught the attention of Roberto Fattori, the owner of Vision company, who transformed it into a prestigious boutique Adriatic hotel. Following its opening, the media and guests’ evaluations have been excellent. The success is reflected in the smiles of satisfied guests who leave the hotel with fond memories of mesmerising sunsets over the nearby marina.
Most guests arrive at the hotel by car. During our visit, most guests unsurprisingly came from Central Europe, as the destination is easy to reach. Still, numerous guests opt for the nearby airports in Pula, Trieste or Venice. The closest airport in Pula offers good connections in the summer season but lacks connections in the wintertime. Regardless, the hotel ensures guests arrive at the hotel effortlessly. A spacious parking lot dotted with electric charging stations greets guests upon arrival.
As Novigrad is intertwined with an array of biking and hiking trails, guests can easily explore the town and its surroundings. On the way, they can admire the tranquillity of the olive groves or enjoy majestic sunsets. Novigrad is a year-round destination worth visiting. If you are a fan of sports, exploration, keen on seeing cultural sights or tasting excellent gastronomy, you will easily find something suited to your taste any time of the year.
COLD STARTER - Architecture and aesthetics
The hotel is an authentic reconstruction of Villa Rainis, constructed in 1857. The architects took a thought-out approach and considered every last detail. Ljerka Kabelka, Project Director at Attelior architectural bureau, was entrusted to rekindle the spirit of the building and bestow upon the hotel its already-iconic style. The design interprets the authentic traditional and classic rooms in a modern way. Eye-catching designer furniture pieces designed by Nika Zupanc exude authenticity. Meticulous observers will find the designers used only the best materials. Lighting is an integral part of the extraordinary holistic experience. The elements reviving Secession details are hidden in the furniture and corners of the rooms and are equally important to the overall experience. Select pieces from the old pharmacy elevate the entire story. Kudos to the architects and Attelior architectural bureau for the enchanting and unforgettable experience within the hotel. The quality of design is evident at every step.
WARM ENTRÉE - The staff and the culinary experience
We visited the hotel following their short winter break. Nonetheless, the staff were not one bit out of practice. They were utterly professional and kind, albeit slightly out of tune during breakfast. With self-service and an à la carte menu, the hotel breakfast features Istrian delicacies and unique desserts. The flavours, labelling of dishes and handpicked selection satisfy even the most demanding guests. The hotel must further educate its staff and invent a signature dish representing the flavours of the destination to evolve its gastronomy. Even though we did not taste the cuisine at the restaurant, we have no doubts Tom Gretić did not stake his reputation for no reason. We must praise the hotel’s excellent coffee and the welcome reception, which included a glass of superb champagne. The main reason behind the hotel’s excellence is possibly the staff at the reception. They pamper guests and ensure great impressions from start to finish.
MAIN COURSE – The meetings offering at the hotel
We stayed in the superior room in the hotel annexe, where we caught sight of a quality wooden floor. We were in awe of the spaciousness of the room. The room exudes luxury paired with superb design furniture. When guests explore their own oasis, they will find a balcony that is more of a terrace and a phenomenal bathroom where everything functions flawlessly, including the modern shower. The room’s trump card is the feeling of spaciousness. Brilliantly illuminated, the entire room stands out from its competition due to the Calligaris furniture pieces and an extremely comfortable bed. We did wish the pillows were slightly better, as suitable for a hotel in this category. A demanding guest will not settle for only one type of pillow in such a hotel.
The hotel does not feature classic conference halls. Nonetheless, we consider it a meeting hotel because the restaurant can transform into an event venue. The hotel terrace can host prestigious welcome receptions or car launches. Although the hotel has no conference hall, the possibility of privatisation makes it an incredibly sought-after venue.
DESSERT – The extras
The lavish decor and select furniture are a feast for the eyes and will thrill lovers of high-end design.
FLOP – NEGATIVE SURPRISES
It is difficult to find any drawbacks in such an excellent hotel. Perhaps the only remark is the relatively small, perhaps too-small spa. Also, the hotel can improve the selection of pillows.
TOP – POSITIVE SURPRISES
The hotel terrace with a pool grabs the attention of curious onlookers throughout the year. We can easily imagine the terrace as a place for car launches, gala dinners or spectacular weddings. Extraordinary.
A pivotal part of the hotel’s sustainable offer is the local Istrian cuisine, seamlessly incorporated by Tom Gretić into the story. The hotel also features accessories boasting certificates. Still, the hotel is yet to write a sustainable story.
FINAL IMPRESSION AND CREDIBILITY
Wow, what a boutique hotel. In contrast with general trends of minimalism, the hotel remains loyal to the iconic and timeless classic style. Palazzo Rainis Hotel & Spa is charmingly opulent and can easily compete against other luxury hotels. One of its advantages is the possibility of privatisation. Event organisers cherish such hotels. In light of the hotel’s advantages, there is one drawback, however – the price of staying at Palazzo Rainis Hotel & Spa is high. Hence, every detail or slip in service is easily spotted. I do not doubt the team will have improved by our next visit. For hotels in the top tier, service is similar to professional sport – you have to perform at your best at all times.
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