The Evolution of Hospitality in Dubrovnik

A Journey Through Time from Local Inns to Luxury Hotels in Dubrovnik

3/24/20232 min read

Republic of Ragusa or Dubrovnik, as it is now known, had been a bustling city of commerce, diplomacy, and a destination for pilgrims for centuries due to its position, incredible wealth, political connections, as well as an impressive collection of Christian relics. In those days, guests would find lodging in local inns and taverns, while wealthier merchants and Dubrovnik's aristocracy would have private accommodation for their own guests and business partners in their homes and villas in the countryside.

The first hotels in Dubrovnik were established in the late 19th century, after the fall of Dubrovnik Republic and during the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. One of the earliest was the Grand Hotel Imperial, which opened in 1897 and quickly became a popular destination for wealthy travelers seeking luxury accommodations. The hotel was located on the seafront and featured a magnificent ballroom, a restaurant, and a bar. Notable guests who stayed at the Grand Hotel Imperial include King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom and his wife Wallis Simpson, as well as the famous author Agatha Christie, who nicknamed Dubrovnik the "Pearl of the Adriatic."

During the interwar period, several more hotels were built to accommodate the growing number of tourists. One historic hotel from that period which still operates today is the Hotel Excelsior, which was opened in 1913. The hotel's stunning location on a cliff overlooking the Adriatic Sea has made it a popular destination for tourists and celebrities alike. Unfortunately, the tourism industry in Dubrovnik suffered greatly during World War II, with many hotels being destroyed or severely damaged.

It wasn't until the 1950s and 60s that the industry began to recover, with the Yugoslav government investing heavily in the city's infrastructure and promoting it as a top tourist destination. In addition to its historic and luxurious hotels, Dubrovnik has a thriving hospitality industry that includes numerous guest houses, apartments, and private villas. These smaller establishments offer visitors a more intimate and authentic experience of the city, and many are located within the city walls themselves.

Today, Dubrovnik continues to be a popular destination for tourists from around the world. The Hotel Excelsior, which has been completely renovated since its early days, remains one of the city's top hotels, as does the Hotel Argentina. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and beautiful coastline, Dubrovnik is bound to remain a top destination for years to come.