One year ago, I was in Croatia for the first time and ended up staying in the Hotel Astoria when I was in Zagreb. I stayed there for a couple of reasons. The first being that it was one of the few reasonably affordable hotels in Zagreb at the time; a real “bargain” at $95 a night. Another reason is that I really didn’t know my way around Zagreb (it does have 1,000,000 people in it after all.) And lastly, it was pretty darn close to the train station.
Naturally, once we got there, we were gravely disappointed. The hotel claimed ot be a three star, but in reality it was a two. The room we were in was pretty dingy, yet functional. The shower was really hot, which was a nice change after the pension we were in in Opatija. It was definitely close to the train station and we were apparently lucky to get a room at all, seeing as how it was the day before Easter Sunday when we rolled in to town. But still, it was a dump and I wasn’t pleased with it at all, especially for the price.
Fast forward to the current day and you’ll find that Hotel Astoria was bought out by the Best Western Hotel chain. This brought with it many changes, including a complete and utter remodel a few months after I was there the first time. You wouldn’t recognize the hotel anymore from the old one. The floorplan is still the same, since I think it was built out of massive conrete Socialist slabs, but everything has been replaced. What was once an aging down in the dumps place to crash for a night or two has become a very luxurious three or three and a half star hotel. It’s all very fancy with card readers for the doors, motion detectors for the lights, a new elevator, and countless other improvements.
As for ammenities, the Chinese restaurant that was in the Lobby floor is gone. They took over that space and put out a hell of a spread for breakfast (which is included in the room fee.) There is also internet available. It seems expensive at first, but if you work it out, it will cost you maybe two or three more dollars an hour than one of the cafes, but it’s worth it since you can always use it and it’s right there in hotel with you.
Overall, it was a massively welcome change. Naturally, the prices went up a little, but only $20 a night compared to what we spent before (Zagreb is not a cheap place to stay in general.) I expect the prices to go up a bit more in the future because this is a really nice place now and it’s in a very strategic area. While not right in the center of town, it’s only a ten minute walk from everything.
I might want to mention that with the changes came some side effects. One is that the carpets haven’t finished “out-gassing” and you’ll smell that strong and horrible new carpet smell for awhile yet. I’m sure that will go away, so if you’re reading this six months from when I wrote this, please disregard. The other item is that the staff is still learning the systems to some degree. This will go away with time as well I’m sure, but it had the funny result for us of going in to what was supposed to be our room and finding it not finished being built. No one had notated this in the computer, but luckily there was a spare room that happened to be on the top floor.
There are some places that are cheaper in Zagreb, but overall this is a pretty smashing deal right now. Just watch out for the motion detectors in the bathroom. When you’re taking a shower, they get fogged over and sense there is no one in the room. You basically need to rub the little buggers with your fingers to get them to come back on.