We’ve been back from Istria for a week, and it seems like a distant dream rather than a ‘work trip’ – 4 days amongst the vines and olive groves, hearing nothing apart from birdsong (Istria is world-famous for its birds and butterflies) and air so fresh you could taste it.
It really felt like a perfect bubble – clear blue early-spring skies and cherry blossom, sunsets that hands down beat Mykonos or Ibiza, and the most sublime food, wine, and the deepest sleep. Immersed in nature and nurture, leaving real life behind and generally being looked after by the most wonderful people – leaving was HARD!
Istria in general, and Meneghetti especially, seem to have an almost other-worldly magic where time slows down. We’re not sure how they do it, but they do it incredibly well. We also have no idea how this hotel has remained a secret for so long – it’s the kind of place you want to tell your friends about, but you also want to keep it to yourself. It really is very special – more of an ‘experience’ than a hotel.
A blink-and-you-miss-it track leads you in the middle of a beautiful vineyard, where the hotel appears, like a small secret village. The original buildings date back to 1813 when it was a small farm, and over the last 10 years, the owners have created a beautiful and compact ‘estate’ that superbly combines the old and the new – you can barely see the join.
Designed to look like traditional buildings from the outside, using local materials and building techniques, the interiors throughout the entire hotel are seriously stylish – chic, fresh and contemporary – and SO spacious and comfortable. We especially loved the design in the reception, bar, and restaurants – the attention to detail, love and creativity in every tiny detail is superb. (Di, a closet twitcher, and art-lover, especially loved the origami bird mobile that covers one entire ceiling in the restaurant – so cool! Art plays a big part in the ethos of Meneghetti – second only to food, wine, and service – more on that later!).
The accommodation is super flexible – a total of 50 rooms throughout the inventory of hotel rooms and suites and the separate residences and villas - there’s something for everyone in terms of price-point, space, independence, and private outdoor spaces/ pools. This is what makes it such a wonderful option for families and couples alike – everyone has space, privacy, and peace.
We really wanted to get under the skin of ‘what does a holiday at Meneghetti look like?’. We concluded that it works just as well as a stand-alone short break (we think 5 nights here would be an incredible escape and would be a perfect alternative to the likes of the Balearics, for example – spent pottering around the estate and floating from meal to meal, from a spa treatment to your book by the pool), with a half day trip into Pula & Rovinj as it does as part of a winder Croatia itinerary.
The hotel really packs a punch in terms of the variety and quality of facilities and activities for a property of this size, and is thoughtfully laid out so that nothing is ever too far away, yet there’s always a private space to find to read a book, watch the sunset with a glass of wine, or generally stop and take it all in. Everything is designed to make the most of Meneghetti’s incredible location.
We especially loved the spa (AMAZING massage) and both the indoor and various outdoor pool areas, as well as the way that local artists are showcased throughout the property.
However, what really elevates Meneghetti from a stunning hotel to a really exceptional product are 2 things – the staff and the F&B. (OK, that’s actually 3 things, as wine deserves its own mention!).
Our stay took place when the hotel had been open for the 2022 season for just 3 days. Yet it felt like a year-round hotel that was working like a well-oiled machine, and a very happy one at that. A vast number of staff have been at the hotel for many years, and it shows – from the front of house team, the entire F&B department, faultless housekeeping - there was a shared can-do attitude, seamless attention to detail and genuine warmth, professionalism, and quiet humour. We felt genuinely welcome, looked-after and essentially staying in a property at the peak of its game.
Meneghetti was the first Relais & Chateau property in Croatia in 2013 and is still a proud member today. We see breakfast as being a real indicator of quality, creativity, and the importance of quality ingredients – and we were wowed. The breakfast menu was varied, interesting and 100% delicious, with stunning presentation. Crucially, all of the bread and pastries served at every meal are freshly baked in-house and were truly exceptional…(perfect for pairing with Meneghetti’s award-winning olive oil!). Lunch and dinner were equally superb – fresh, local ingredients delivered with understated style, creativity, flavour, and flair.
Surrounded by views of vines and trees, Meneghetti is the perfect rural retreat – ideal for slowing down and switching off, but rarely found quite so close to the sea. The fact that Meneghetti has its own ‘private’ beach, less than a mile down a hidden track (perfect for strolling or biking, but with plentiful free shuttles for when you’re just too relaxed!), really does make this the ultimate ‘best of both’ properties. Meneghetti even has its own ‘Boho Beach Club’ – the beach is pristine, quiet, private, and set in a beautiful bay, with water literally as clear as glass.
Special mention should also be given to Meneghetti’s own wine, and we were given a sneak peak of the brand-new winery – a mere 3-minute walk from the hotel. Showcasing Meneghetti’s own wine in the kind of stylish, slick way you’d expect of a London or NYC wine bar, but with none of the pretention, it’s somewhere you want to grab a bottle and a couple of glasses and settle in for a (long) while! With gorgeous outdoor seating areas and private tasting rooms as well as the very cool indoor bar area (with a brilliant and fun art collection), we can see that this will become a real focal point, and we loved it. We should also mention that (purely in the name of research) we tried most of Meneghetti’s range – it is truly excellent, award-winning, world-class fine wine. (Sal might have developed rather a fondness for Meneghetti Black Label…a cold glass of that sitting in the sunshine was worth the trip alone!).
We flew into Zagreb (possibly one of the most efficient airports we’ve ever experienced) and took the 2 hr 45min transfer in the hotel car, which took in amazing views on a fast, excellent motorway. However, EasyJet operate a seasonal route into Pula, a mere 25 minutes from the hotel. (Venice, Trieste and Ljubljana are also all options).
We explored Rovinj, Pula and Bale – Istria is not only known for its natural beauty, awesome coastline, pristine countryside and as being a true foodie destination, but also its fascinating history. We LOVED strolling around the port in Rovinj and Pula’s Roman amphitheatre is incredible – there’s so much in this area to explore if you do need the occasional break from lazing around the pool.
Rovinj is just 20 mins from the hotel, so Meneghetti is ideal to combine with sailing around Croatia for clients wishing to spend some nights on land in a great hotel, pre- or post-charter.
Sample Itinerary Ideas:
Arrival in Venice, and transfer to Meneghetti
3 nights at Meneghetti
Day one – sightseeing tours of nearby cities of Pula and Rovinj
Day two – truffle hunting in Motovun area
Day three – departure
2 nights in Split
2 nights island of Hvar or Korcula
3 nights in Dubrovnik
Arrival in Zagreb
2 nights Zagreb
3 nights Meneghetti
Day one – exploring the nearby Austro-Hungarian fortresses by bike
Day two – wine tasting & SPA treatments
Departure towards Dalmatia or Slovenia or Italy
Arrival from Split (Dalmatia)
4 nights at Meneghetti
Day one – truffle hunting in Motovun area
Day two – private speedboat excursion to Brijuni island NP and Rovinj archipelago
Day three – SPA treatments
Departure towards Zagreb, Slovenia or Italy
Arrival (from various airports)
5 nights at Meneghetti
Day one – relaxation at the Meneghetti beach
Day two – wine and olive oil tasting at the North Istria
Day three – SPA treatments and wine tasting at Meneghetti
Day four – bike/hike activities in our area or kayaking around Rovinj archipelago
Departure to home
Approx. duration of the transfers:
Zagreb 3 hours
Trieste (Italy) 1h 30min
Venice 3 hours
Split 5 hours
Ljubljana (capital of Slovenia) 2h
Plitvice Lakes NP 3h 30min
If you would like to receive further detailed information, please contact me directly, Darren
article kindly allowed for use by Sally Merchant & Saranta Associates