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;

For more information about Slovenia contact the UK Slovenia Tourist Office (0870 2255 305;


* Built in 1899, Warsaw's Le Royal Meridien Bristol (00 48 225 511 000; 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;, an Art Nouveau house set in rolling parkland.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
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

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam