Found just outside the city’s Old Town, Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik, built in the late 1890s as the Imperial, attracted personalities like Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, who danced on the hotel’s lawns. Meant “to serve the great and the good on their Riviera tours, with guests often arriving from the Adriatic by steamship, this essential glamour was the starting point for our design concept,” says Martin Goddard, director and cofounder of Goddard Littlefair, the London firm tasked with the overhaul of the 158-room property that was shelled during the Yugoslav Wars and later housed refugees. “We wanted to re-energize the hotel and make it a real destination once again.” Almost every detail nods to either the building, its early glory days, or the notion of travel, including headboards that call to mind yachting.
Location was a direct influence on the redesign, leading to ceramic flooring that mimics the color of native chalky limestone and the use of locally sourced oak. A triptych by Croatian artist Antonia Čačić in the lobby lounge is awash in the blue hues of the Dalmatian Coast. Bespoke chandeliers “punctuate the space and add drama and grandeur,” Goddard points out, including the one in the lobby with 11 antiqued brass globe pendants hanging on matching rods and an additional one that reinterprets 1950s floral bathing caps in the form of small cascading white petals.
To bathe guestrooms in natural light, “beautiful, thin sheers are arranged so that they are on the face of the window with blackout curtains behind and can billow in the sea breeze when it comes and catches the light,” says Goddard.