Split Croatia may be fairly new to western travelers, but it’s been a tourism hot spot since 305 A.D. when the Emperor Diocletian decided to build his retirement palace here and make Split his base of operations.
The palace is still here, and a lot more, including the studio of Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic, the Croatian Archaeology Museum, and a vibrant old town that dates to Roman times. The waterfront Riva promenade is lined with shops and restaurants. And in summer, there’s a lively cultural festival with concerts, plays, and theatrical performances.

Today, Split is the transportation hub of the Dalmatian coast, with ferries coming and going to Dubrovnik, the Croatian islands, and beyond. And Split hotels, many of which opened in the last few years, are some of the best in Croatia.

The People’s Square, known by locals as the piazza, is another popular gathering place in the Old Town. Hotels within walking distance of the palace and the Riva are the most desirable, and many provide a delightful blend of ancient and modern.

The Hotel Marmont is a new boutique hotel with just 22 rooms. The location in the heart of the Old Town within the palace walls is a big plus, as is the roof terrace overlooking the city. Rooms are nicely furnished and the large, modern bathrooms are especially nice. Wireless Internet access is available throughout the hotel at no additional charge. Reservations can be made at http://www.marmonthotel.com.

Opened in 2005, the Peristil has probably the best location in Split, just inside the Silver Gate to Diocletian’s Palace. In fact, several of the hotel’s 12 luxurious guest rooms share walls with the palace. The restaurant here is one of the best in town, and the open-air terrace is an absolute delight. Amenities like Internet access and mini bars ensure a comfortable stay, and for the location, rates are reasonable. Reserve well in advance at www.hotelperistil.com.

Sphinx at Diocletian’s Palace
Sphinx at Diocletian’s Palace

Also located within the palace walls, the 7-room Vestibule Palace was one of the first boutique hotels in Split when it opened in 2005. The owners took great care to preserve the adjacent architecture, which dates from the Roman, Gothic, and Renaissance periods. The contrast between old and new, so often seen in Split hotels, is especially striking here. A clerestory floods the lobby with light, and the terrace out front is always a popular spot. Rooms have wireless Internet access, LCD TVs, minibars, and ultra-modern bathrooms. The Vestibule Palace is a little more expensive that the Peristil. But both are excellent choices. For more information, visit http://www.vestibulpalace.com.

With beautiful rooms and public areas, a Comfort Zone Spa and Wellness Center, and professional staff, the Atrium Hotel is one of the most stylish hotels in Split. The pool overlooking the city and parking garage are novelties here. And the price you pay for such modernity is location — the Atrium is a good 15-minute walk from the old town. If you’re looking for a top-notch design hotel that could be just about any place, you’ll likely enjoy the Atrium. There’s a good restaurant and an attractive lounge. See more at www.hotel-atrium.hr.

The 381-room Le Meridien Lav is the only international chain hotel in Split. If you’re trying to earn Starwood points — or to redeem them — this is the spot. Opened in 2006, the hotel is actually in Podstrana, five miles south of Split. But it makes up for it by being right on the ocean. The hotel also offers shuttle service into town. There are eight restaurants and bars in the promenade along the adjoining marina, where 60 yachts are moored. The facilities here, which include a spa, tennis academy, indoor and outdoor heated pools, fitness center, and water sports center, are the best in the area. There’s even a casino. Rooms are very nicely done, and many have ocean-view balconies. Le Meridien is one of the most expensive Split hotels. Find out more at www.lemeridien.com/split.

If you’re going to travel to Croatia, our article on Hvar hotels will help you with your trip planning.

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