Croatian design? Thought so. This is a country of natural beauty, of warm waters and pristine forests – no one visits Croatia for the man-made delights of contemporary design.
Not so fast. They've been sharpening up the Istrian coast in recent months and Hotel Lone, set in a forest park, is the latest in a series of cutting-edge projects that offers an exciting glimpse into the next generation of Croatian architecture. For make no mistake, this austere-looking building which on first sight suggests an enormous ocean liner, has just put Croatia on the serious hotel-architecture map.
Inside, however, things get quite playful. There's a neon-lit, scented-steam and, gulp, mixed sauna, and a beautiful, futuristic staircase that sweeps through the enormous six-floor atrium at the heart of the building. There are endless mirrors and windows pulling those warm waters and pristine forest inside, and, in Lone's four top-drawer restaurants, intriguing dishes such as mozzarella ice-cream and hard cheese from Pag Island on the menu. And many guests enjoy these treats in their albino-white hotel bath robes: the atmosphere at Lone is wonderfully relaxed.
The bedrooms are an exercise in sleek minimalism and utterly stunning for it. The huge, exquisitely comfortable bed, shelves and desk appear to have been fashioned from one seamless slab of oak, and the wardrobes and minibar are artfully concealed behind flush panels. (Maybe a tad too artfully in the case of the minibar – it took me some time to find my night-time tipple). The room's theatrical black and maroon palette works brilliantly and it was nice to be in the bathroom (wall-to-wall Corian vanity unit, shiny Hansgrohe fittings and under-shelf heating for towels) and look directly at the horizon – courtesy of two glass walls and some clever wooden slats.
But the stand-out feature, which surely breaks a hotel design barrier, was the private Jacuzzi-cum-pool at the foot of my room which cantilevers, with imperceptible deflection, after a couple of no-go watery metres off the edge of the building. Here's hoping no inebriated Brit ever falls off it too.
RATE: 102 euro (approx £89) per person per night, including breakfast.
Tel: 00 385 52 632 000