Korčula works its charm from the moment your boat (or ferry) approaches the gables and terracotta roofs of this adorable village on the hill. My heart leapt when I saw the old town built on a tiny, roughly oval peninsula jutting out of the island; the hilly village rises from a small but solid castle wall. It is such a gem!
For a much smaller, out of the way place, the Lesic Dimitri is an unusual, pretty amazing luxury boutique hotel. This incredibly restored urban palace is just a few meters from the old town’s leafy, seaside boulevard and around the corner from the tiny port.
In hilly Korčula things change every few metres. We walked past the lower level hotel restaurant and bar, further up the hill to a little hole in the wall lobby door. I loved how informal and relaxed the area was - not like a stiff and formal reception but more like a little lounge area. From the outside the hotel really blends seamlessly with the town, as if it were still a private residence.
We were welcomed by a lovely warm man called Tony. Tony leads a double life as both opera singer and hotel manager! Tony grabbed the keys and led us up a lane, past a few stairs and landings, and through a very purist looking internal courtyard where we then climbed two flights of stairs to the top floor. The architectural complex is a composite of 15th and 16th century buildings and a row of cottages that was merged by the powerful, aristocratic Lešić family in the late 1600s when they needed a prestigious address.
(It’s a maze, with the same layout that the Lešić’s lived in; they would have paced these same corridors in their heavy robes, plotting and scheming. The name died out through marriage when the palace passed to the female line and the heiress became a Dimitri, so the hotel combined the names).
The existing structure has really been respected, with five new “residences” (over 100m2) having been created, with a smaller 6th residence on street level. They feel more like hipster apartments than hotel rooms, which we like. We loved the chic atmosphere, which had beautiful old detailing like stone flooring, old ceiling beams, corniced doorways and balconies with balustrades. Sheira and I couldn’t believe how chic and modern it was and yet in keeping with the great bones of the building.
The Palace’s six residences each have their own aesthetic, in homage to different regions of Marco Polo’s ‘Silk Road’ voyages (the famous explorer was born here). Normally I am not a themed-room kind of guy on principle: I like to stick to my host country. But there was an interesting cultural tie-in here, and the looks were such a fresh, minimalist interpretation that it really worked.
We walked through the hotel to choose our preference. We picked the CHINA SUITE (2 bedrooms) because of the balcony and terrace with views of the Peljesac channel waters for that hit of classic, Croatian blue. Because our room had 3 sides we could also look down from our bedrooms into narrow roads and little lane ways. The suite is comfortable, fun and not at all offensively kitschy in the theme. Beautiful wooden screens and room dividers with Chinese-style graphics and bamboo style detailing in the huge bathroom give the suite a subtle, exotic flavour. There are cool furnishings, like a huge dining bench under a long diffused light. The overall feeling is subtly contemporary. We were also given the choice of INDIA (with gorgeous raw stone walls and Indian style lattice work washed out in cream) and VENICE (an incredible 3-bdr suite with red beams, subtly etched glass and a stunning antechamber covered in wooden screens).
We chose China as it had the best views, and beautiful balcony to chill later in the day, and boy did we deserve to chill after the trials of getting here!
Peak: July 1st - September 6th
CHINA SUITE PRICE 695 Euros in high summer season
INDIA SUITE PRICE 595 Euros in high summer season
VENICE SUITE PRICE 895 Euros in high summer season