Stay Here: Park Plaza Arena, PulaBy Alicia Grimshaw
Pula, famed for its Roman architecture and quiet coves is one of Croatia’s best kept secrets. The city is charming and historic – the preserved amphitheatre doubles as a concert venue, while a short bus ride away through a forest of pine trees lies the protected cape of Kamenjak. Pula is not just a place to top up the tan and laze by the pool, for the adventurous there’s hiking and biking trails, local restaurants for the foodie and adventures for the intrepid. If you’re look for a beach or a city break, or both, I can’t recommend Park Plaza Arena enough – the hotel, overlooking the Adriatic Sea is a peaceful haven where time is measured in how many courses you’ve eaten for dinner. The hotel is spacious, clean and an ideal bolthole for exploring Pula and beyond. Here’s what you need to know:
Park Plaza Arena: The Lowdown
Park Plaza may not be your first choice for a holiday hotel, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. More than just a glorified Travelodge (that was my thoughts before my visit), the hotel features a hell of lot more than free shampoos and fast wifi. Park Plaza Arena is one of three Park Plaza hotels in the area, but the Arena digs are the newest – the building was only completed 12 months ago, with the hotel already becoming a popular hotel for family, young couples and those who’ve managed to escape the unpredictable London weather. And don’t worry about car rentals, Park Plaza Arena is situated four-kilometre from the hotel, and Pula International Airport (PUY) is just 10 kilometres away. There’s taxis and local buses that operate on a regular basis, and you have access to the crystal clear waters right on your (hotel) doorstep.
Park Plaza Arena: The Rooms
The hotel is home to 175 contemporary guestrooms spread across five floors. Opt for either a guest room with a balcony, or a pool view to lap up the Croatian sun as much as possible. The rooms are simply brilliant, and, as the hotel is relativity new – the decor is modern and a contemporary. The rooms have all been kitted out with all the mod-cons; LCD TV, wifi, a power shower, and tea and coffee making facilities. The king sized beds are also a real coo – the fluffiest pillows and the comfiest mattresses. And the addition of black out blinds all help with sending you off into a deep snooze.
If you want to turn it up a notch, the hotel also offers one-bedroom suites which all have their own balcony, and two provide panoramic views over the Adriatic.
Park Plaza Arena: The Amenties
Park Plaza Arena sits on the Verudela Peninsula – a hideaway from the sun creamed hands of British holidaymakers down the road who tend to hit up the larger Park Plaza properties. If you’re a water baby, the hotel has its own private access to ‘Hawaii Beach’ – you can lose yourself for hours at this spot – a frozen Magrita in one hand, and a good book in the other. You can sit here happily for days on end. If you’re more of a pool person, grab a sun lounger by the hotel’s pool – and best of all, you can order food and cocktails from the comfort of your lounger. Order the strawberry smoothie, it’s everything you want on a warm Croatian day.
If you’ve had your fill of relaxing, the hotel also run a number of creative workshops – there’s sports, dance lessons, and other activities on offer. There’s also an onsite gym if you want to work up a sweat, and a spa if you want to feel sassy. The Istrian massage is a must try – the spa uses local oils and their wizard like techniques to preform a 50 minute all over body massage that will leave you feeling revived and rejuvenated. There’s a number of other treatments available from pedicures to facials and back massages.
And after all that – if you want to sit by the pool all day with a trashy magazine and a frozen Daiquiri, that’s totally cool too.
Park Plaza Arena: Breakfast
My favourite part – a hotel breakfast. What a fine spread the hotel offers for breakfast. There’s literally everything, and I mean everything. Let’s start with savoury – there’s a live cooking station for omelettes, a salad bar (still never get my head around leaves pre-1oam), cold cuts of meat and cheese, and on top of all that there’s bacon, roasted veggies and the fluffiest scrambled eggs. The hotel has a fine bread station, and also caters for the gluten-free hunnies too. There’s plenty of diary-free alternative as well, with the addition of almond and soya milk.
Sweet fiends, you’re in for a treat. Pancakes, crepes and mini pastries all feature. Legit, so many pastries. If you like to keep things simple, but still delicious, there’s a great selection of cereals like homemade granola, muesli and porridge. And obviously, there’s so many yogurts – strawberry, plain and Greek yogurt all feature along with fresh fruits and some pudding slices thrown in for good measure. A slice of cheesecake for breakfast? Sure.
Park Plaza Arena: Verdict
Park Plaza Arena has it all – you can see the deep blue sea from your hotel window, there’s the pool for relaxing, the Istrian- inspired restaurant and bar for all your foodie requirements. There really isn’t much else that you need. Escape London for a long weekend and check yourself into Park Plaza Arena; I’ll tell you this now, you won’t regret it.
Prices from £91 (€115) per room per night based on two people sharing a standard room on a bed and breakfast rate. Price inclusive of VAT. Tourist tax not included: daily 1,00 Euro per adult and 0,50 Euro per child (12-18) . To book visit here.
A night’s stay at an airport hotel is the perfect way to get your holiday off to a hassle-free start. HolidayExtras.com offers a choice of UK airport hotels that can include your holiday parking along with lounges at all major UK airports so you can start your holiday in style. To book, visit here or call 0800 1313 777.
Norwegian Airlines fly a summer only (March-October) twice weekly service between London Gatwick and Pula Airport with fares starting from £29.90 one way.
Verudella 31, HR-52100 Pula, Croatia
Photo Credit: Matthew Shaw