THE pangs of guilt dissipated almost by the time the second cocktail had disappeared.
We had, briefly, felt a little like bad parents, taking off on holiday to Croatia for three nights without the two kids.
But once inside the beautiful Hotel Dubrovnik Palace, and having instantly settled in by its elegant pool that looks out on to the calm of the Adriatic Sea, that initial shame was replaced with sheer joy.
Anyway, let’s face it, this wasn’t just a holiday. It was our honeymoon. And it was a delayed honeymoon, at that.
The original had been scuppered when Maisie, our eldest daughter, had actually broken her leg on our wedding day, forcing us to postpone visiting Dubrovnik Palace, the opulent hotel that, as a member of the Adriatic Luxury Hotels, effortlessly earns every one of its five stars. Yes, she may only be three years old and I suppose the spiral fracture wasn’t really her fault but, still, there have to be consequences for such actions. So, with her and Henry dumped at the grandparents we ventured off for four days of bliss.
Granted, I know it sounds remarkably parsimonious, even for a frugal Yorkshireman, taking my wife on a press trip as a honeymoon. However, Mrs Craven hails from God’s Own Country too so she knew it made perfectly good sense. And, of course, it was just sheer luck that the opportunity to experience everything Hotel Dubrovnik Palace has to offer landed the very next day after those aforementioned ceremonials. Honest. Anyway, as a (belated) start to wedded life, it didn’t get much better. Our room was essentially a suite that seemed to boast a greater square metre footage than our actual house.
Beautifully appointed throughout and so carefully designed, relaxation was an inevitable by-product of simply walking through the door.
Venture outside and, awaiting us, we somehow counted three different private balconies each offering perfect vistas of the ocean below with the Elaphite Islands in the not too distant horizon.
With two outdoor pools, both offering those same stunning ocean views , it was easy to simply do nothing apart from maybe dip in and swim a few strokes to Lanterna Glorijet Bar where such exertions could be rewarded with a cocktail of the day or a cool beer. For those more daring, you can wander down a few steps to the hotel’s private man-made beach which offers opportunity to lower yourself into the ocean between the rocks and gently-lapping waves for a more robust immersion.
There are three restaurants within the hotel, the pick for me being the beachfront Maslina Tavern which was well worth a visit on our opening night, providing a plethora of delectable fish dishes in a relaxed but classy setting. With its own diving centre, tennis court, walking paths up into the woods that climb high behind, as well as the luxury spa, it would be all to simple to never leave the hotel’s confines. Indeed, it’s clever tagline is ‘A P(a) lace to experience, a P (a) lace to explore’..
However, as tempting as it was to remain in situ, we dragged ourselves from the sunloungers to go experience and explore Dubrovnik itself.
The hotel made it easy for us; the public bus service actually turns around right outside, before heading back to the city on a 10 minute journey. Idiot-proof.
Dubrovnik is perhaps Croatia’s most up-market destination and provides a rich seam of interest and culture but, clearly, is most famous for its walled Old Town. If you do just one thing when in Dubrovnik, pay a tenner to walk around the walls and witness its medieval splendour from within and on high.
Severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667 – and, far more recently, the war in the 1990s – the Old Town is still beautifully preserved with its countless narrow alleys channeling into its main thoroughfares, proving visually spectacular and leaving you easily understanding why it is a UNESCO- protected World Heritage site.
With its Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, fortresses and harbour incorporated – and cars banned – it is a wonderful way to pass a few hours, while it is heart-warming to see none of the usual souvenir shop paraphernalia spoiling the experience. Similarly, it is well worth taking a cable car up the Srd Hill to capture panoramic views of the Old Town.
Jet2.com offer direct flights from Leeds/Bradford, Newcastle, Manchester and East Midlands.
• Stay at Hotel Dubrovnik Palace from £194 per room per night including breakfast and VAT. This price excludes 1 euro city tax. www.adriaticluxuryhotels.com/en/hotel-dubrovnik-palace/
Jet2.com offers low fares, great flight times, and a 22kg baggage allowance to Dubrovnik from Newcastle. Flights start from £48 one way including taxes. www.jet2.com or call 0800 408 5599. For details on car parking contact Sky Park Secure. Visit firstname.lastname@example.org.