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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
people
News
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
people
News
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

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - York

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - Y...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us