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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Zagreb's Iconic 5+ Star 'Hotel Esplanade' Celebrates 90th Birthday

To view a cool virtual tour of the whole Hotel Esplanade as if in person click onto

I couldn't resist posting about this as soon as I saw it, I was tempted to comment on all the Bruce Jenner cutting his dick off talk that is all over the news lately, (and the related in-depth penis stew or soup commentary afterwards. Even human penis soup is popular in some places I noticed, so it wouldn't surprise me, perhaps a future post and the connection to diamond earrings when more information becomes available from the news, first the Wheaties but now there may even be a Bruce Jenner soup down the road),..but I find this a little more interesting and in my ball park. Now, I'm not particularly a hotel aficionado or particularly have a thing about hotels, but I do find these kinds of older classic hotels to be more than just hotels or just places to sleep while traveling. I really like a lot of that Art Deco and Art Nouveau architecture and art from that era, before the popularity of graffiti, crack houses, stabbings and drive-by shootings became vogue. (I did a post before about art deco/art nouveau and the modernist Croatian painters from that era and also mentioned the Esplanade Hotel, more on that HERE)

They don't make them like that anymore that's for sure. I don't have any plans anytime soon of staying at the Hotel Esplanade, but these buildings are like architectural jewels and should be preserved and made to exist a long, long time. The hotel just barely missed being hit during the Serb rocket attacks on Zagreb in 1995. There are actually a number of similar classic 5 star hotels in Croatia like this, (Hotel Park in the coastal city of Split is finishing up a 10 million Euro facelift and upgrade even as I'm writing this and will re-open it's doors again as a 5 star hotel this summer), however not many can fall into the same category as the Esplanade Hotel, one of the great hotels not only in Croatia, but in Europe as well.

The famous Orient Express train, which traveled between Paris and Istanbul, Turkey, used to make Zagreb an important stop, and it hosted numerous famous faces over the last 9 decades.

Since the late 19th and early 20th century while the Croatian lands were still a part of Austria-Hungary, it was decided that Zagreb was deserving of and required a fully modern and world class hotel in the city, on a par with other European capitals. Eventually a number of the world’s top architects in 1917 bid for the international tender to design the hotel. Germany’s Otto Rehnig won the tender and his original plans were then modified by the Zagreb architect Dionis Sunko who used Belle Époque stylization which was popular at the turn of the century, and he made the Hotel Esplanade the luxurious Secession-style hotel which we see today.

The hotel was given the name “Esplanade,” which in its original form has the meaning “field”, likely because it was built on a vast plain to the west of the central train station. The Croatian National Theatre building already erected in 1895 was also close by, so a name was required which would connect to the Croatian lands and specifically the city of Zagreb, to it's centuries of common cultural and civilizational history within central and to western Europe. Being that there were already a few hotels named Esplanade found in Europe at that time, (and even others that came after) it seemed a fitting name for Zagreb's first modern luxury hotel.

The hotel was the center of Zagreb social life throughout the 20th century. It was the place to stay for the rich and famous while visiting the Croatian capital. The list of personalities who have stayed at Hotel Esplanade over the last 90 years includes; Charles Lindbergh, Orson Welles, Vivien Leigh, Alfred Hitchcock, Leonid Brezhnev, Lawrence Olivier,  Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Anthony Quinn, Sophia Loren, Francis Ford Coppola, Queen Elizabeth II, Laurence Olivier, Gary Kasparov, Arthur Rubinstein, Richard Nixon, Catherine Deneuve (ooh, she was good in that movie The Hunger), Samantha Fox, Nelson Piquet, Cliff Richard, Woody Allen, Pierce Brosnan, Bob Geldof, David Beckham, U2, R.E.M,  Pet Shop Boys, Guns ’n’ Roses, Depeche Mode, Simple Minds and Franz Ferdinand just to name a few, it's a long list.

For some reason when I see images of those old classic large hotels like this, that Stanley Kubrick movie The Shining always comes to mind. (Remember that movie boys and girls? ooouuu, that was a scary movie, trust me, you sure don't want to watch it home alone at night around Hallowe'en time that's for sure) It's almost like when you're in there you expect Clark Gable to walk in any second asking for the directions to the bar. (.."Hey bub, say that's a swell lid you got there, btw, where can a fella get a dry martini around here and a good steak? say, that's a swell looking mermaid at the elevator.") I also think the hotel would be a great location as a backdrop for some kind of thriller/action/spy/drama/suspense movie, sort of like where the guy would be staying after flying in for a hit or important rendezvous, sort of like described at the beginning of this post.

There's no shortage of hotels in Zagreb or in Croatia, but these classic beauties are something else, they're just a little bit different. Even if you never stay in one, they're actually interesting works of art that just look cool even if just walking by. Anyway, below is just some extra information I came across while doing this, about the new edition of Esplanade VIEW magazine. If you want to take a peek and see some good views of the interior, hit the link

New issue of  Esplanade VIEW magazine celebrates hotels 90th anniversary


Hotel Esplanade celebrated accolades and introduced a new issue of the Esplanade VIEW magazine

Zagrebs most prestigious hotel, Esplanade, had a grand reception at The Club, with many guests, diplomats and media representatives, celebrating the numerous accolades it has received in the last few months and presented a new issue of the Esplanade View magazine.

The Laurusdan agency is responsible for the marketing, selling advertising space, promotion and event management following the Esplanade View magazine published by the “Business woman” publishing house.

The redesigned magazine contains many interesting topics, interviews, hotel novelties and a special fashion editorial.

The Esplanade View magazine established cooperation with several famous fashion houses that magnified the event with their spring collections. Porsche Design-a special partnering this magazine issue decided to use this opportunity and for the first time present the women’s Porsche Design Twinbag.

Different bag models from Max Mara, Lancel and Samsonite were also presented.

Esplanade VIEW is a bilingual magazine of Zagreb’s most luxurious hotel. It promotes the beauties of Croatia and its capital and gives the guests of the hotel interesting information on current events, cultural offers, shopping destinations, gastronomy, etc. It also includes fashion editorials and reports from different parts of Croatia and the world. The magazine is adapted to the guests of Hotel Esplanade in order for them to gather as much information in the shortest period possible about the town and hotel they are staying at.

Hotel Esplanade Zagreb was opened in 1925 in order to provide accommodation for the passengers of the famous Orient Express. Over the years, the Hotel has hosted numerous world-famous artists, entertainers, politicians and public figures, confirming itself as the most prestigious hotel in Zagreb. In 2011 Esplanade Zagreb won the World Luxury Hotel Award.

To view a cool virtual tour of the whole Hotel Esplanade as if in person click onto

From a previous post HERE about art, art nouveau and art deco, a couple personal pics of the Hotel Esplanade during my time in Zagreb in 2011. It was my last full day so I didn't have time to go inside and look around and do some interior shots. (The Zagreb Central Train Station is just to my left) 

Like I said, there's just too many famous people that have stayed there over the years to mention. Below is a rare photo of Woody Allen during his stay at the Hotel Esplanade. (I don't have any inside juicy stories from the time he stayed there, but I'm sure he was nothing but trouble

Another rare photo from New Years Eve at the Zagreb Hotel Esplanade in 1926.

These last few pics from the hotel's website, and are some good interior views.

This room looks particularly good to drink various martinis in I think. 

Interesting background information about the history of the Zagreb's Hotel Esplanade. More good interior views videos HERE.

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