Kempinski Palace Portorož Review
Dating back to 1910, the Kempinski Palace Portorož reopened last fall after a five-year renovation that added a modern wing with 78 completely new rooms and a spa. The original building houses 107 rooms and suites (all fully renovated), the elegant Belle Époque ball room, which was restored in accordance with original plans using photographs from the time, meeting rooms, and a presidential suite. It was designated a Cultural Monument in 1983. Visitors will find countless cozy nooks and crannies for guests to relax, including a cigar room.
WHERE IS IT?
At the turn of the last century, Portorož in Istria, Slovenia, was one of the most important European seaside resorts (along with Gradež,Venetian Lido, and Opatija) and was frequented by royalty and the aristocracy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I arrived there after a 600 km drive from Munich that would take me south through Austria and then past Llubjana (the capital of Slovenia), then west towards Portorož and the Adriatic.
The neighboring town of Piran is perhaps the crown jewel of the Adriatic, with Tuscan-like vineyards, incredible coastal views, and a rich Italian-Adriatic cuisine – minus the throngs of tourists and high prices found nearby.
Rooms and suites are luxuriously appointed and spacious. As I approached the room from the hall, a sensor turns a light on, illuminating the entranceway, a sign of Kempinski’s green philosophy in saving electricity. My room was an elegant suite with living room and dining area suitable for hosting small parties let alone meetings.
Attention to detail was evident in both the use of color and material as well as the selection of comfortable yet elegant furnishings.
It was, however, something outside the room – namely the breathtaking view of the Adriatic – that I looked forward to at the end of each day while I got to know the region. I only turned on the large-screen LCD television once or twice; most of the time, the view was enough for me.
ROAD WARRIOR SUPPORT
While I occasionally opted to take my laptop outside to read e-mail, the desk and chair, located opposite the bed, were very comfortable. The hotel provides free high-speed wireless Internet access which worked quite well. Room lighting was more than sufficient for reading and work.
One disadvantage of being an early guest here was that the hotel’s elegant restaurant Sophia (named after hotel guest Sophia Loren) had not yet opened. Instead, I dined – quite happily – in the Fleur de Sel, an ultra trendy bar and restaurant that overlooks the bay of Piran (you cannot escape good views here). I particularly enjoyed the risotto entrée but nothing on the menu could top the Dome of Valrhona chocolate with ice cream.
The Palace was good enough for Archduke Franz Ferdinand (whose assassination was the straw that broke the camel’s back to start the First World War) and Sophia Loren and I intend to return here as soon as I can.
Kempinski Palace Portorož
6320 Portorož, Slovenia
Tel. +386 5692 7000
–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.