In a peaceful bay on the islet of Šipan, near Dubrovnik, this welcoming old-fashioned hotel has 75 rooms, a waterside terrace restaurant, plus bikes and sea kayaks to hire. Come here to escape the crowds and realign with simple pleasures – eating, sleeping and swimming in the deep blue Adriatic.
- Jane Foster, Destination expert
The island (population 500) has just two settlements, both sleepy fishing villages, Suđurađ on the west coast and Šipanska Luka on the more remote east coast, which are connected by a three-mile (5 km) rough road passing through a fertile valley planted with olive groves. The hotel lies in Šipanska Luka, at the end of a long deep sheltered bay. Expect tumbledown old stone cottages, semi-derelict Renaissance villas and churches, palm trees, wooden fishing boats, a handful of informal eateries and magnificent sunsets. Direct from Šipanska Luka, you have a once-daily catamaran to Dubrovnik (45 minutes). From Šuđurađ (served by bus, one of Šipan's rare vehicles), a ferry runs to Dubrovnik (four daily in summer; journey time one hour and 15 minutes, stopping at the neighbouring islets of Lopud and Koločep en route). The nearest airport is Dubrovnik (28 miles/45 km).
Style & character
Originally an olive oil processing plant, this building was converted into a hotel in 1979, and renovated in 2007. The island is blissfully peaceful and relaxing – the hotel is basic and unpretentious, letting Šipan's magic cast a spell over you without distractions, which actually makes it all the more loveable.
Service & facilities
Staff are lovely – very friendly, helpful and professional – they're full of local advice and can help organise trips and private speedboat transfers to Dubrovnik. Facilities are limited – there's a small library-cum-lounge next to reception, and out front on the seafront promenade you have several wooden sunbeds, plus bicycles and sea kayaks to hire (cycling or paddling are the best ways to explore Šipan's interior and meandering coast). A 10-minute walk from the hotel is a small pebble beach with a makeshift bar called Priježba.
- Room service
There are 75 rooms and suites. Décor is basic (carpets and simple modern wooden furniture) but everything is spotless. Standard rooms are small but comfortable, with a fridge, satellite television and a bathroom with a (rather tiny) shower, hairdryer and Terra toiletries. Classic and Superior rooms are more spacious, and some have sea views. Best of all are the Suites, which each have a furnished balcony overlooking the bay, and a small lounge with a sofa bed, making them ideal for families.
Food & drink
The ground-floor Verbena restaurant has a wide sea-view terrace, lined by palms and potted olive trees. It's a priceless spot to start the day with a leisurely breakfast – the choice is a bit limited (cereals, yogurts, hard-boiled eggs, and platters of sliced cheese and ham) but the made-to-order espresso coffees are excellent. Guests on half-board get a three-course dinner featuring Mediterranean fare based on local produce, with a choice of three dishes for each course.
Verbena's adjoining Kapar bar serves all-day drinks and coffee, also on the terrace, with superb sunset views. For dining out, the village has half a dozen konobe (taverns), including the gourmet-choice Konoba Kod Marka, much loved by wealthy yachters – there's no menu, the choice changing daily depending on what seafood local fishermen have brought in.
Value for money
Double rooms from €53 (£48) in low season; and from €101 (£92) in high. Breakfast not included. Free Wi-Fi.
Access for guests with disabilities?
Not suitable, though there is a ramp up to the entrance but then a step up into the lobby. Rooms are accessible by lift.
Suites (sleeping two adults, plus two kids on the sofa-bed) are ideal for families. Šipanska Luka is virtually traffic-free, with an easy-going atmosphere and a small public playground.