Rovinj is an incredibly worthwhile destination. After traveling for two weeks through Croatia and making our way north to the amazing Istrian corner of the country, seeing Rovinj's spire appear at the terminus of the endless stretch of highway was like seeing a Balkan El Dorado.
No less impressive was the incredibly romantic and atmospheric (two words that Rovinj continually evokes from even the lesser poets amongst us) boat ride from the mainland to Katarina's Island, where the Hotel Katarina is, logically, located. It was dark, the only lights coming from Rovinj and guide lights from the island. We alight, walk up a hill to the hotel. Visually this was a tourist's dream come true. It was only after getting to our room that this castle in the air began to crash to earth.
The hotel is a grand structure set on amazing grounds, with a view of Rovinj across the the harbor to match. The rooms, though, are a world weary throw back to a simpler and more disadvantaged time. The first thing which strikes you is the synthetic vanilla and floral smell of a funeral parlor moonlighting as industrial chemical factory. Not someone's idea of a pleasant spray-can smell with which they got carried away, but a full tilt assault on your nasal membrane and tear duct integrity. Even after a day with the windows open, the smell brought tears to our eyes.
The carpet and bedding were shabby and worn, but clean. However the bathroom had a penitentiary quality with garish fluorescent lights, stained flooring and mold and cobwebs at the ceiling
There was no wifi available in the building, which in most modern traveler's life is a necessity.
And last on list of dislikes about this hotel was the breakfast, which leads among the worst I've experienced in my travels. Only the eternally optimistic expect much from a breakfast which is included at any hotel. But this one was literally inedible. Whole groups of guests would pile our plates from the truly vast assortment of options at this buffet only to pick amongst them for something we could swallow. Finally giving up, table after table would leave uneaten plates upon the table. And the coffee, ah the machine-tortured coffee: a dilute battery acid would yield a better morning experience.
The double tragedy in this is that, for two weeks, Croatia granted us a great series of breakfast options: pastries, meats, cheeses and even some fairly good coffee. This place was truly the outlier in that regard.
So I write this review, not just for the catharsis of venting my spleen, but hopefully to help the Hotel Katarina right it's course. The physical location is brilliant and with modest investment they could make this place truly special.
Here are my recommendations:
• Install wifi. Make it free. This is all but standard in Europe (and Croatia) these days.
• Update the bathrooms immediately followed, over the course of several years, the
carpeting and bedspreads in the rooms.
• Improve the breakfast. This could easily and cheaply be done by shrinking the number
of options but by improving the quality of what was presented. The coffee machine
should be replaced with the means of making a decent morning cup.
• Get rid of the fragrance tsunami that is wielded around the property. A clean room is
it's own olfactory reward, especially with a nice sea breeze from those lovely open doors to the balcony.
Good luck Hotel Katarina!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Situated on a beautiful island, a stone throw from the Rovinj City centre, Hotel Katarina is a romantic getaway surrounded by a lush 19th century garden that offers perfect vistas of the Old Town and Punta Corrente Park forest. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Katarina Hotel Rovinj