Croatia’s most remarkable new hotel is set within a medieval monastery


The long-awaited, five-star retreat is now one of the highest-end hotels in the country.

For the first time, travellers are able to sleep within a 15th-century monastery located on the car-free island of Lopud, once the home of Franciscan monks.

Accessed by ferry from Dubrovnik or speedboat from Brsecine, LOPUD 1483 has been gradually restored over the past 20 years after art collector Francesca Thyssen-Bornemsza was shown the seaside fortress back in 1992 by a local friar while on a mission to rescue artworks imperiled by the Balkans war.

Now encompassed by expansive gardens featuring more than 80 species of plants and affording incredible views over the Adriatic, the property was renovated under the direction of Zagreb-based architect Rujana Markovic and Italian designer Paula Lenti. The 12 former monk cells have been converted into five stonewalled bedrooms, each brightly furnished and adorned with art and antiques from the Thyssen-Bornemsza private family collection – which spans four generations and is considered one of the most notable in the world, second only to the Queens of Englands.

Outside of the suites, visitors can also admire these works. At the entrance of the property, one is greeted by two wood carved angels that used to grace the lobby of the Villa Favorita museum. In the refectory, an early 1600s masterpiece by Furini of St Sebastian hangs above a walnut dining table dating back to 1550, alongside a Franco Maria Pretti painting of the liberation of St Peter.

Guests of the property can spend their mornings practising yoga on the large wooden deck set into the lawns and scattered with Paola Lenti bean bag loungers, before indulging in one of the personal wellness programs, touring the surrounding Renaissance villas and chapels or unwinding on one of the island’s sandy beaches. On the rooftop, a Sunset Terrace offers direct sea access via a secret underground cave, as well as vistas of the neighbouring islands of Sipan, Mljet and, on a clear day, Korcula – the reputed birthplace of Marco Polo – making for the perfect spot to retire with a book or simply enjoy the sunshine.

The on-call chefs are available to serve up local fare – such as oysters from nearby bays, Dalmatian ham, and locally caught fish and octopus – to guests wherever and whenever they would like to dine: atop the fortress wall, among the lush gardens or in the Old Kitchen beside the open fireplace and ancient bread oven.

Rates start at €1,400 (approximately AU$2,303) per night, including breakfast, with a minimum three-night stay. Buy outs start at €10,000 (approximately AU$16,450) per night.

Read: Finding a quiet corner on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast