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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 Room
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!
Daraius has a lot of Starwood points, and using them for 1 evening at this hotel made sense. He shared them with me on this occasion so that I could enjoy a nice stay at this beautiful hotel.
Since then, I’ve applied for 1 personal Starwood card and will apply for 1 small business Starwood card soon to build up my own stash of points. 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.
The hotel was located in the heart of the city, and was within walking distance to many historical sites.
The standard room was a perfect size for 2 people. There was a very comfortable king size bed, with a small sofa at the foot of the bed.
The room has very tall ceilings, so it felt much larger than it actually was.
Outside of the window, was a picture perfect view of the Venetian canals.
I loved watching the gondolas and water taxis pass by.
The room was well prepared for my visit.
I was so excited for my 1-night stay here, especially after traveling for so long!
There was a beautiful chandelier made of Murano glass.
The hotel left a complimentary bottle of wine with 2 glasses.
I also got 2 large bottles of water, though I drank the tap water and it was fine.
A large closet held my luggage and a robe and slippers.
The bathroom was gorgeous – quite possibly 1 of my favorite hotel bathrooms ever. It might be my 2nd favorite after the Park Hyatt in Milan.
It was covered in marble and mirrors. There was a separate bath tub and shower.
The sink was fully stocked with amenities.
The amenities were Acqua Di Parma.
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.
Though it was a much smaller room, I preferred the Gritti Palace Hotel because of the location and lavishness.
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 first 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 the first 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 later this year.
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.
Staying 1 night at the Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel was a real treat. It was a smaller hotel, perfectly located in the heart of the city, yet away from too much hustle and bustle.
The rooms were exquisite and I felt like royalty in the plush decor and Italian marble bathroom!