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Hotel San Rocco - Family Run, Sophisticated
Boutique Hotel in Croatia

by Barry Napier

April 20, 2009 - Possibly as a reaction against its former political situation, hotels in Croatia are taking their own form, and so we are seeing a wide variety of styles and types emerging. Large hotels owned by big corporations tend to be international in design, reflecting the ideas of architects who do not live in the country. Smaller, private hotels, however, usually have the hand of the owner on the design, and the architect is a fellow national. In this way private hotels can reflect the country’s traditions, even when the style is modern.

The San Rocco Hotel is such an hotel, voted by istrians to be the best small hotel in northern Istria, Croatia. Designed to appeal to foreign visitors, it is very sophisticated, charming, and yet uses traditional features. The hotel is named after the local saint, in the small town of Brtonigla (‘City of Wine’. In Croatia, what Croatians call towns and cities, British and Americans might call ‘villages’). The town is itself interesting, which is a bonus for the Hotel, and nearby Buje has a great old quarter. The owners also have a separate restaurant in the town, plus a shop selling, amongst other things, its own extra-virgin olive oil, produced from a fairly large olive grove on the hotel grounds.

The Hotel was developed at a cost of Euro two million, and the cost is certainly reflected in the flawless décor, surroundings, bedrooms, exterior façade and environment. It is owned and run by the Fernetich family: husband Tullio, wife Rita, son Teo (a second son is only ten years old), and daughter Luana, who runs the shop in the village. In family photos they look more like top class wine growers than hoteliers!

Fernetich Family

Teo, dressed in a very smart sommelier outfit with San Rocco motif, cut a handsome figure, and greeted us (including my wife and my Croatian driver, Edi) with a classy, smooth elegance, immediately offering us a glass of fine wine. His mother soon joined us and immediately made us feel at home, setting the atmosphere perfectly. Very important in a small hotel. I found that the four star rating was well-supported by the friendliness of the family.

The pricing in this hotel is very reasonable – from Euro 119 for two people per night including breakfast. Per person that is a great way to live! (In Croatia there is also a ‘resident tax’ to pay, given to the local government, on top of the room price. As it is only about 6 Kuna per day per person it is hardly worth mentioning… about $1). Unusually, there is a big discount if a single person occupies a double bedroom. Children up to age three go free.

All rooms have satellite TV, telephones, internet connection and usual things such as hair dryers and safe. Some rooms have an hydromassager. Use of swimming pool and sauna are included in the price. Other services offered by the Wellness Centre in the grounds near the pool. 

There is also a heated pool under cover. The Centre is well-proportioned in a small space, and small meetings or conferences can use a room in a separate building, under which is the wine cellar and amazingly rich-tasting proscuitto hanging from the ceiling, with another in the process of being cut in the centre of the room. To my shame, I never finished the two platters of this delicious meat, which is far superior to anything you can buy in supermarkets!

The separate restaurant, Vinoteca San Rocco, is nearby, offering traditional Croatian fare, much of it cooked in the Istrian-style wood fired oven, and local wines and olive oils. In many Mediterranean countries local wines are often heavy, but not so in Istria. Because the town is in the midst of a huge wine growing area, it is easy to discover local wineries for yourself.

Hotel San Rocco
52474 Brtonigla - Verteneglio Srednja ulica 2
Istria - Croatia
Overall, the bedrooms as well as all the other areas of this hotel are chic, sophisticated and reasonably-priced.  The town is lovely. And the family who own San Rocco are as nice as their hotel.

© Barry Napier


Barry Napier

Also See: Austrian Guido Schwengersbauer Finds Success with the 16 room Casa Romantica La Parenzana, a Most Unusual Hotel in Istria, Croatia / April 2009

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