Home > Croatia, Croatia FAM, FAM (Familiarization) Tour, FAM Trip, General > Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb and the Orient Express

Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb and the Orient Express

Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb and the Orient Express

A Tale of a Heritage Hotel and a Luxury Train

See also: FAM (Familiarization) tour of Croatia

Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb at night

Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb at night

The iconic Hotel Esplanade is located next to the main station (Glavni Kolodvor) in Zagreb, Croatia. Hotel Esplanade was constructed for the passengers of the Orient Express, a luxary train that once connected Paris to Istambul.

Galvni Kolodvor (Main Station), Zagreb, Croatia

Galvni Kolodvor (Main Station), Zagreb, Croatia

Started in 1883 the Orient Express initially passed through Munich, Vienna and Budapest, but the services of the Orient Express was stopped during the First World War (WWI), 1914 – 1919.

Vintage Steam Engine, Zagreb Main Station

Vintage Steam Engine, Zagreb Main Station

After the First World War (WWI) Germany was not considered safe to travel and the Orient Express took a southerly route bypassing Germany.

The new orient express travelled through the Simplon tunnel and was christened the Simplon Orient Express.

It passed through Milan, Venice, Zagreb, Belgrade and Sofia. The green line in the map (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

In 1962 the Simplon Orient Express was replaced by a slower train called the Direct Orient Express which followed the same route.

Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb from the main station (Galvni Kolodvor)

Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb from the main station (Galvni Kolodvor)

In 1977 the route of the Direct Orient Express was cut short and it ran between Paris and Venice. Finally in 2009 the Orient Express stopped its operation.

The glamorous Orient Express has made its place in the plots of several novels and movies. Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” is the best known story related to the Orient Express.

Orient Express has also featured in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and in James Bond movie “From Russia, with love.”

Orient Express also left its mark in the non – fiction category. The famous travel writer Paul Theroux devotes an entire chapter of his best selling travelogue “The Great Railway Bazar” on the Orient Express.

King Tomislav Square and Hotel Esplanade from Zagreb's Main Station (Galvni Kolodvor) Gate

King Tomislav Square and Hotel Esplanade from Zagreb’s Main Station (Galvni Kolodvor) Gate

In 1919 when the Orient Express Changed tracks and followed the more southerly route most of the cities on the line did not have the proper infrastructure to support the increasing numbers of travellers arriving on the famous Orient Express.

Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb

Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb

The former Yugoslavian city of Zagreb was no exception, the two existing inns of Zagreb were not enough to support the every increasing passengers of the Orient Express.

Zagreb needed a new hotel, so on 22 April 1925 the newly constructed Hotel Esplanade opened its gates to the passengers of the Orient Express and also to the general public.

Built in Art – Deco style the Hotel Esplanade soon became the talk of the town.

The first visitor was a German gentleman named Mr. Glück, incidentally Glück in German means luck, and indeed the first visitor was indeed lucky for Hotel Esplanade.

Sadly the good days of Hotel Esplanade  didn’t last long, with the breaking out of World War II (WWII) the hotel suffered terribly. Its luxurious ball rooms and restaurants were converted into community kitchens, with its silver cutlery replaced with aluminum.

Restaurant, Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb

Restaurant, Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb

The good old days were soon to return and continued till the late 1980, when Yugoslavia started breaking up. With the formation of the Republic of Croatia in 1991 Hotel Esplanade started a new era.

Zagreb Station Complex from Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb Station Complex from Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb, Croatia

The hotel underwent renovations in 2003 – 04 and a all new Hotel Esplanade again opened its gates to public on 11 Nov. 2004.

Today a vintage steam engine is displaced next to the Galvni Kolodvor (Main Station), Zagreb. Although the 1891 Budapest built engine was never part of the Orient Express but reminds one of the good old days of the Orient Express. A visitor coming out of the Galvni Kolodvor is greeted by the grand King Tomislav Square with the Hotel Esplanade on the left.

Hotel Esplanade has been the the centre of attraction of Zagreb’s social life, offering unseen luxuries to its guests. including kings, politicians and artists.

Hotel Esplanade Interior (L: Emerald Ball Room, R: A Suit)

Hotel Esplanade Interior (L: Emerald Ball Room, R: A Suit)

The luxurious suites of Hotel Esplanade is bound to make one’s stay memorable and the huge Emerald Ball Room will definitely takes the visitors breath away!!! The Zinfandel’s and Bristo Restaurant serves excellent food’

Food at Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb

Food at Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb

Hotel Esplanade enjoys a great locational advantage as most of the lower town Zagreb can be explored from the hotel on foot.

Note: I visited Croatia on the invitation of Zagreb Tourism Board (ZTB) and tour was organized by Celabrations!

Contact details of Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb:

  1. August 27, 2014 at 11:17 PM

    Ah… The Orient Express….. I had so much wish to board it… sadly it does not run anymore.
    Good description of Hotel Esplanade… expected some room interiors photographs too.

    • September 13, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      Thanks Amitabha, the Orient Express have long stopped running but Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb gives a nostalgia of the illustrated train.

  2. August 28, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    I don’t know what i like more.. The hotel architecture or the food. I am pinning down this page.. in case I do travel to Croatia I just HAVE to visit this place

    • September 13, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      Thanks Ritika for the comment, yes it was a difficult choice to make between the hotel architecture and the food!!!!

      If you ever visit Zagreb, do make it a point in staying in Hotel Zagreb.

  3. February 20, 2015 at 6:36 PM

    Wow! Nice page it was. I like the post because these are the lovely photos of the food and also the decoration of the hotel.

    • February 20, 2015 at 9:16 PM

      Thanks for appreciating my work. hope to take a ride in iconic Orient Express one day!!!!

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