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I’ve wanted to go to Croatia for the last several years. I heard wonderful things about the country and how beautiful (and relatively affordable) it was compared to the rest of Europe. It’s located in Eastern Europe and is just a few hours from Italy.
Last year, my friends and I organized a group trip to visit Rovinj, a small coastal town on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. It’s a gorgeous town full of romance. Everything is stunning there, from the streets to the houses. The food is also excellent.
We went for a kizomba dance festival. Later in the trip report series, I will introduce you to kizomba and describe what an incredible dance it is! The dance festival was amazing and Croatia is definitely a place I want to return and spend more time exploring! The trip’s retail cost was ~$17,000 but I paid ~$900.
Captivating Croatia Trip Report Index:
- Part 1 – Introduction and Planning
- Part 2 – Admirals Club Lounge, New York (JFK)
- Part 3 – Air Berlin Flight to Croatia
- Part 4 – Getting to Venice
- Part 5 – A Night in Venice – Gritti Palace Hotel Overview
- Part 6 – A Night in Venice – Gritti Palace Hotel Room
- Part 7 – Apartment in Rovinj Croatia
- Part 8 – Activities in Rovinj Croatia – Discovering the Old Town
- Part 9 – Activities in Rovinj, Croatia – Exploring the Old Church
- Part 10 – Activities in Rovinj, Croatia – Day Trip to Plitvice Lakes
- Part 11 – Activities in Rovinj, Croatia – Dance Festival Review
- Part 12 – Eating in Rovinj, Croatia
- Part 13 – Shopping in Rovinj, Croatia
- Part 14 – Return Flight on Lufthansa
- Part 15 – Conclusion & Reader Giveaway
Gritti Palace Hotel
We had a 1 night stopover in Venice before we continued our journey to Rovinj, Croatia. I stayed at the Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel using 30,000 Starwood points.
It was a beautiful hotel in an excellent location! The hotel was originally commissioned as a palace in 1475, and has gone through many incarnations. It was most recently renovated in 2013.
Daraius and I have a lot of Starwood points from the AMEX Starwood Preferred Guest personal and small business cards, and using them for 1 evening at this hotel made sense.
The hotel was located in the heart of the city, and was within walking distance to many historical sites.
The lobby was small, yet sumptuously decorated.
There was a beautiful bar with lots of room to sit and enjoy a drink.
The bar had Murano glass and many 17th century paintings. It was like stepping into a museum.
There was more seating outside. It was the perfect place to relax and take in the beautiful and lively canal.
There was so much to look at inside the hotel. I liked that there were so many places to sit and relax.
Directly outside of the hotel, there is a traghetto (gondola ferry) stop that will take you across the canal.
Riding the traghetto costs 2 euros (~$2) per ride across. I loved exploring the other side of the town.
It was much quieter than the touristy side near St. Mark’s Square, but there was still so much to see and explore.
You can use hotel points to stay in Venice for a fraction of the cost! On a previous trip, Daraius and I stayed at the Hilton Molino Stucky Hotel. This trip, I stayed at a Starwood hotel that was in the heart of the city.
1. Hilton Points
It costs 50,000 to 70,000 Hilton points for a standard room (depending on the season) at the Hilton Molino Stucky in Venice. The regular price for a room varies from ~$300 to ~$500, so this is a great use of Hilton points!
You can earn Hilton points directly from 4 credit cards:
Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express
The Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express currently earns you 80,000 Hilton points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account. And it has no annual fee! Check out my review.
Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express
You can earn 100,000 Hilton points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months with the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express. This is the highest bonus I’ve seen for the card. Here’s a full review.
Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card
Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card
For a limited time, the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature has a sign-up bonus of 75,000 Hilton points after spending $2,000 within the 1st 3 months of opening your account. That’s a terrific deal for a card with no annual fee.
Remember, you can also transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, Hawaiian Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic to Hilton.
Check out my post on all the ways to earn Hilton points!
2. Starwood Points
It costs 30,000 Starwood points for 1 night at the Gritti Palace Hotel. That may seem like a lot of points, but regular rooms go for ~$1,000 per night!!
Though I had a much smaller room, I preferred the Gritti Palace Hotel because of the location and lavish decor.
Now is a great time to earn lots of Starwood points. That’s because the sign-up bonuses on the AMEX Starwood Preferred Guest personal and small business cards have been increased to 35,000 Starwood points after meeting minimum spending requirements until March 30, 2016.
These are the highest bonuses ever offered for these cards! And they won’t likely return, because Starwood is being bought.
Of course, there are lots of other options for free or cheap stays in Venice. To find hotels that can be booked with points, I like using Hotel Hustle (which even shows you if rooms are actually available!) or AwardMapper.
Or consider Airbnb to save money, especially for longer stays or for folks who prefer a more local feel. Here are some tips on how to negotiate a better Airbnb price. And how to find a safe and comfortable Airbnb.
In the next post, I’ll review my room at the Gritti Palace Hotel.
The location and elegant rooms of the Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel made it a great 1-night award stay. I would happily visit this hotel if I’m ever in Venice again!