Zagreb can often get short-shrift when up against its southern sisters Split and Dubrovnik, but Croatia's dynamic capital is worth a visit for its history, architecture, refined museums, vibrant street art, and genteel café culture. The hotels here tend toward the cosmopolitan and elegant, with a bit of Austro-Hungarian flare and plenty of amenities.

Hotel Esplanade Zagreb

Hotel Esplanade is situated within the city's parks (photo courtesy of Hotel Esplanade Zagreb)

An old-world property with serious historic bonafide, the palatial, restored 1920s Hotel Esplanade Zagreb sits just across from the city's main train station, a fitting location for what used to be a major stop for luxury travelers along the Orient Express. That means it's also close to the city's major sights, such as museums, concert houses, and the string of connected parks, including the nearby Botanical Gardens.

Its opulent interior makes good use of white marble, dark wood paneling, crystalline chandeliers, and art deco details, while rooms and suites include marble bathrooms with heated floors. A stay at the Esplanade might include Segway tours, limousine service, or even a special canine pampering for your four-legged family member, and it should definitely include a stop at the hotel's own Zinfandel, one of Croatia's finest restaurants.

Hotel Jägerhorn

The bright, floral Hotel Jägerhorn courtyard (photo courtesy of Hotel Jägerhorn)

A boutique hotel in a recently refurbished building dating back to 1827, the Hotel Jägerhorn may be Zagreb's oldest, with history and charm in spades. It's hosted many prestigious Croatians over the years and has been featured in both theater productions and films. But its most winning aspect may be its location: it's tucked into a passageway between the upper and lower town, making you feel as though you've encountered a waystation between past and present and are lucky enough to spend the night there.

A mere 18 rooms give the hotel a cozy and exclusive feel, and both rooms and suites are fitted out with rich textiles, with sumptuous blues and gold at the center of their design. A bright breakfast room has floor-to-ceiling windows looking out into a flower-strewn inner courtyard. The all-day café serves coffee from local specialty roaster Cogito and an array of craft beers to enjoy by the fountain.

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Le Premier

Le Premier's sleek, upscale lobby (photo courtesy of Le Premier)

True to its name, Le Premier is fast becoming the premier destination for luxury travelers looking for the best of what Zagreb's art scene has to offer. Located in an Italianate former bank dating back to 1923 and recently renovated, Le Premier is just steps from major city museums and galleries, including the Gallery of Modern Art and the HDLU Museum.

In keeping with the Italian palazzo vibe, the hotel has a grand main staircase and palatial rooms with high ceilings and large windows. The restaurant serves fine Italian-inspired cuisine cooked by a Michelin-starred chef under an expansive skylight, and the upscale bar includes a cigar lounge as if to hint at the late-night deal-making that went on years ago within the walls of this storied property. Make sure to stop in at the spa, which offers Parisian THÉMAÉ products and Finnish and Turkish saunas.

Hotel Dubrovnik

Enjoy views over Ban Jelačić Square (photo courtesy of Hotel Dubrovnik)

The Hotel Dubrovnik building has been overlooking Ban Jelačić Square since 1929 when it started out as Hotel Milinov. It's been expanding and regularly renovating ever since, with both a vintage and modern wing. Guests in search of an extra special stay can try for "Mercury's room," directly behind a statue of the Roman god Mercury sitting on the hotel exterior, for good luck. Mercury was the god of travel and merchants, and this particular incarnation was sculpted by Anton Dominik Ritter van Fenkorn, who also created the statue of Baron Josip Jelačić that you can find in the square. 

Dine at the American Grill & Steakhouse or enjoy a taste of history at the art deco Cafe Dubrovnik, which has been attracting business and cultural professionals since 1937. Enjoy a coffee and fresh pastry while overlooking the square before heading out to some of the city's main attractions only steps away.

Hotel Academia

The modern façade of the Hotel Academia (photo courtesy of Hotel Academia)

Hotel Academia is a convenient choice for families, thanks to its larger rooms, available family room options, and the location at the top of a pedestrian street—some rooms even offer in-room hot tubs. The downstairs shopping center has plenty of available amenities if you need to just briefly pop out, or you can stroll down the Ivana Tkalčića pedestrian street and peruse its many cafés and restaurants.

The main attractions of Zagreb, including the Zagreb Cathedral, Gornji Grad (Gradec) neighborhood, St. Mark's Church, Klovićevi Dvori Gallery, Zagreb City Museum, and Lotrščak Tower are within easy walking distance. Reviewers praise both the convenient location and size of the rooms.