Losinj...a Croatian hideaway
There’s a common misbelief amongst many in the UK that the Mediterranean is full of built-up resorts and finding a quiet corner to enjoy some much deserved R&R is pretty hard to come by.
This might seem especially difficult in Croatia where the main resort regions of Dubrovnik and Split and the islands in between seem more and more crowded every year. This isn’t helped by the ever-growing cruise market and the likes of the popular TV series Game of Thrones. However, further north things could not be more different. The less-visited islands of the Kvarner Gulf – south of Istria and north of Dalmatia – may be harder to get to but you will reap the rewards as a result of the longer transfer.
Aerial view of islands approaching Losinj, Croatia
My destination for the weekend was the island of Lošinj and the historic Boutique Hotel Alhambra, a three-hour car transfer from the port of Rijeka via the islands of Krk and Cres. Outbound, I confess that I cheated and took the very reasonably priced, 20-minute Cessna flight. I don’t much like to use the word ‘breathtaking’ but flying low over the shimmering turquoise waters and forested islands with only the pilot for company was just that.
Boutique Hotel Alhambra
The Alhambra hides within a blanket of sweet-smelling pine trees that swathe the coastline of Čikat Bay. The two early 20th-century villas – one ochre-coloured and one burnt orange, connected by a modern wing – exude a perfect combination of retro warmth and cutting-edge luxury. From here, terraced gardens and seating areas lead down to a private bathing platform, allowing you to quite literally flop from sun lounger to sea within seconds. My room had a wonderful terrace overlooking this soothing scene and the beautiful bay beyond.
Bathing platform, Boutique Hotel Alhambra
The hotel’s Alfred Keller restaurant also serves up peaceful bay views not to mention a superb array of dishes. The focus is on local ingredients and seasonal produce, all flavoured with herbs picked on the island itself and complemented by a choice of over 400 local and international wines.
Minutes from the hotel lies Mali Lošinj, the largest town on the island. Pastel-shaded mansions and a wide, café-lined promenade fringe this natural harbour. Relatively busy in summer – especially popular with domestic tourists – it’s a picturesque spot that still gets nothing like the numbers seen further down the coast; it’s easy to get a table outside for dinner or to enjoy a cold beer watching the sun set over the still waters.
Harbourfront, Mali Losinj
One of the town’s highlights is the Museum of Apoxyomenos, shortlisted for European Museum of the Year in 2019. This perfectly curated, small museum tells the story of the discovery and restoration of the Croatian Apoxyomenos, an Ancient Greek statue of an athlete cast in bronze in the second century BC, found on the seabed off Lošinj in 1996. It is one of just eight in existence and is by far the best preserved. At 192cm tall, the statue is extraordinarily lifelike, helped by the way the statue is displayed all alone in a brilliant white room. This was certainly one of the most captivating little museums I have ever visited.
Museum of Apoxyomenos, Mali Losinj
Venturing beyond the main town I enjoyed an invigorating hike up St Ivan’s Peak, the island’s highest point. The path was pretty steep but from the top the views were stunning, stretching across the neighbouring islands and even as far as Italy. Interestingly I also saw a colossal cruise ship heading south, no doubt bound for Split and Dubrovnik. As I stood there all alone, I thought about all those people on board missing out on this quiet corner of the beautiful Adriatic.
View of Mali Losinj
Indulge in a 4-night stay at the luxurious Boutique Hotel Alhambra on Cox & Kings’ private itinerary Losinj: Croatia’s Hidden Paradise. Alternatively, if you are interested in tailor-made travel to Croatia, please either call one of our specialist travel consultants or complete our tailor-made request form and one of our experts will get back to you to help you plan an itinerary.