Fascinating hotel history
At the beginning of the 20th century, the two best-known inns of the time became too small for the increasing number of travelers arriving in Zagreb on the famous Orient Express train. As the recently opened hotel, on Zrinjevac Square, could not satisfy the needs of a growing town, the building of a new luxurious hotel became a necessity. The hotel was to be built on a large field, near the railway station – at that time the only link with Europe and the rest of the world.
In 1917 the international tender was opened, with participation of many outstanding architects of that time, including the famous Swiss Alfred Loos, who however did not win the contest. The winner was a German Otto Rehnig, whose original plans have been alternated by Croatian well known architect Dionis Sunko, who today is considered as architect of this masterpiece of Belle Époque building.
The name “Esplanade”, meaning “field” has been given to the Hotel.
A touch of class
Among the “distinguished guests were the district prefect, the Mayor of Zagreb Mr. Heinzel, consuls, bankers, journalists and many others in that beautiful hotel with a touch of class”. Newspapers wrote: “The hotel is worldly appointed, luxurious, sophisticated, extremely comfortable and equipped with the latest achievements in modern techniques. It reminds one of the famous international hotels. Private lounges for smoking, conversation, music and business meetings are there to meet all the needs of business travelers. The intimate ambience of some of these rooms is ideal for a dinner for two. The big ballroom, decorated with ionic columns and sculptures is the most impressive. The restaurant and the coffee shop are also beautifully appointed”.
The importance of the Esplanade hotel for the development of tourism in Zagreb has been pointed out, as well as the importance of its location near the Zagreb railway station. A few days after this, the hotel opened its doors to receive its first guests – amongst them was a certain Mr. Glück, and as “glück” in German means “luck”, and the opening had been such a huge success, it was hoped that a bright future was in store.
Indeed, those first visitors had nothing to complain about. Two hundred rooms with hot and cold running water, one hundred bathrooms, a telephone in each room, numerous suites and lounges, a dining room offering delicious Viennese and Hungarian cuisine, were at their disposal. The Esplanade hotel also acquired some literary notoriety by becoming an ideal setting for love affairs in the work of contemporary writers…