Hotel Of The Week: Grand Hotel Union Executive, Slovenia

Don't be fooled by the boring name. The Grand Hotel Union Executive is a romantic Art Nouveau concoction. In fact, there's no better place to rest your head in Slovenia's capital

Often billed as the "new Prague", Slovenia's capital is a wonderful city in which to kick back and relax for a weekend. Devoid of Prague's chav- tastic stag and hen parties, Ljubljana is one of the prettiest capital's in Europe, with a historic centre, a towering castle and a vast array of bars and restaurants in which to just hang out. And once you've settled on a weekend here, there's only one hotel to book into. The Grand Hotel Union Executive may possess a somewhat boring, functional name but don't be fooled. It's a romantic luxury hotel, head and shoulders above the rest of the city's offerings.

The location

Right in the the city centre, the Grand Hotel is just a few yards from Presernov Trg, the central square that's the starting point for exploration of the old town. The hotel, built in 1905, is a startlingly attractive Art Nouveau concoction - from the outside at least. Be wary of booking into its sister hotel - the even more snappily titled - Grand Hotel Union Business next door. It's a modern annexe definitely not for romantics.

The comfort factor

The bedrooms are huge with enormous beds to match. A television sits at the end of the bed, beaming in cable channels from around Europe. Rooms are quiet and well insulated, having undergone a recent modernisation. Some of the character has sadly been lost in the refurbishment. A swimming pool and sauna on the eighth floor of the adjoining business hotel offers spectacular views over the city.

The bathroom

Again on the large side, there's a proper bath - which are not always available in Slovenia - and big fluffy towels, bathrobes and an array of soaps, shampoos and body washes.

The food and drink

The hotel has two restaurants. For a really posh night out go for the Smrekarjev Hram, one of the best restaurants in the city. Even then it won't cost the earth. Slovenia remains ridiculously cheap and the food - a mix of Italian, Austrian and Hungarian influences - is superb. For a less flashy night out, head for the Unionska Klet, a pure Slovenian eating experience - that is, lots of meat - in the hotel's cellar. In summer the Klet moves to the Unionski Vrt (or Union Garden). Breakfast is a vast hot and cold buffet. Fruit may be preferred after all the meat of the night before.

The people

A mix of romantic couples, stern businessmen and (inevitably) lots of Germans. The world's leaders, from Bill Clinton to the Dalai Lama, have all passed through the hotel's doors. Where else are they going to stay in Ljubljana?

The area

The heart of the old town is about a hundred yards away. Everywhere of interest can be reached on foot and takes no more than a day to see - longer if you stop at the numerous bars and cafes along the way. The castle, perched on a hill above the city, is a strenuous but relatively short 15-minute hike. The river meanders through the city with a series of bridges linking the two halves of the city.

The access

Lifts service every floor - the hotel says that it's one of the first in Ljubljana to have such an innovation. Slovenia is extremely child-friendly. The hotel also has apartments with kitchens - good for famlies.

The damage

One night in a double costs from €148 (£99), room only.

The address

Grand Hotel Union, d.d. Miklosiceva 1, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia (00 386 1 308 12 70; gh-union.si).

For more information about Slovenia contact the UK Slovenia Tourist Office (0870 2255 305; slovenia-tourism@virgin.net)

LIKED THAT? TRY THESE

* Built in 1899, Warsaw's Le Royal Meridien Bristol (00 48 225 511 000; starwoodhotels.com) is one the city's finest examples of Art Nouveau.

* Estonia's coastal resort of Parnu is home to the impressive Ammende Villa (00 372 447 3888; ammende.ee), an Art Nouveau house set in rolling parkland.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Bid Writer

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Day In a Page

    Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

    ‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

    Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
    Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

    Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

    But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
    Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

    Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

    Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

    ... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
    Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

    Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

    Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
    12 best olive oils

    Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

    Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
    Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

    Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

    There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
    England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

    England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

    In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)