History & Design
The elements of mystery of the indisputable success of this building are intriguing. It was designed in 1961 as a residential building for members of the political elites in the paradise location of Dubrovnik’s Sveti Jakov area by architect Mladen Frka. Its function was changed during construction and in 1963, it was completed as an annex to Hotel Argentina. Therefore, this building became a first herald of the reserved, rational architectural expression, rather different from the pre-war masterful realizations of other Dubrovnik’s hotels.
After additions were made in the 1970s, Villa Dubrovnik turned from an annex into a small hotel with around thirty rooms. Although it was given only three stars due to its spatial limitations, it was beyond all categories in many ways. Supreme food, hospitality, discretion towards and kind treatment of guests, unpretentiousness, its unique position on the rock with a view of the town, Lokrum, and the deep blue sea, a hidden beach, the paradisal appeal of the fragrances and colors of the old Mediterranean garden, the patina of the retaining walls and paths, contemplative silence and tranquility made this irresistibly charming hotel into a privileged place for the ultimate escape.
In 2003, the new owner decided to redesign the buidling and to transform it into a luxury design hotel with around sixty rooms, an indoor swimming pool, and a wellness center. The architects – Boris Fiolić and Mira Tadej – were not only asked to place the complex amenities on a steep cliff, in a protected landscape environment, but above all to preserve the hotel’s most valuable feature – the memory, image, and brand of Villa Dubrovnik.
On the upper side of the hotel, symbolical aspects of the new entrance and hypertrophied Otranto retaining walls have been skilfully used to create an atrium of dramatic, almost de Chirico-like atmosphere, which reflects the powerful introvert calmness of a meditative enclosure. On the side facing the sea, the inherited character of the Mediterranean garden terrace has been preserved. Carefully designed roofs hide the roof bar, the highest point from which you can enjoy a unique view. The interior expression is elegant, simple, clear, close to a contemporary interpretation of the early reduced interiors of the first design hotels by Ricardo Legorreta, Anouska Hempel or Antonio Citterio. In spite of all the obstacles, architects Boris Fiolić and Mira Tadej have created a mature, clear, and restrained work within which the former spirit, atmosphere, and memory of Villa Dubrovnik continue to live a new life.
The entire ambience of the Sveti Jakov area’s unquestionable beauty was protected according to conservationists’ propositions, as well as Villa Dubrovnik itself – a modest work of early 1960s modern architecture whose essential, formative aspect was actually not material, but made of thousands of fragments of atmosphere, memory, and spirit of the place.