The Grand Hotel Toplice is the sole five-star hotel in Bled, with a long history dating back to the mid nineteenth century. On the site of thermal springs, the hotel started out as a guesthouse named Luisenbad in 1854 before being bought, developed and renamed the Grand Hotel Toplice in the 1930s; Toplice meaning 'warm bath.' Along with the Vila Bled, it is one of the most prestigious addresses in Bled and is hands down the hotel with the best lake views, in fact, diplomats, VIPs and royalty have all stayed here over the years. Last renovated in 2002 the hotel is probably due for another one, but although her star has faded somewhat, one can still feel the soul of the place. The shine may have dulled but it wouldn't take much to make the Grand Toplice great again...
In the heart of Bled and right on the shore of the lake, the Grand Hotel Toplice boasts a very convenient location. Ljubljana Airport is approximately 30 minutes away by car.
The hotel closes in November until the beginning of December, and in the second half of February until Easter.
Check the price difference between street view and lake view rooms; it might be as low as £30 so the upgrade is definitely worth it!
The hotel consists of a single building right at the water's edge. Facilities and restaurants are found on the ground and lower ground floors and the accommodation on the upper floors. The lobby itself is small and somewhat dark however, step into the adjoining curved salon and you'll be met with extraordinary lake views. Bright and spacious, this seating area contains a grand piano (entertainment every evening) and boasts huge panoramic windows to make the most out of the views. The salon leads to a bar and yet more salons which are awash in pastel damask wallpaper and antiques. It's by making your way through this network of rooms that you can soak up the lake views from almost anywhere. It's also worth it to check out the permanent exhibition of the hotel's history.
Downstairs guests will find the Luisa Studio Wellness Centre; at the heart of it an indoor pool with water from the thermal springs below. The water is 22°C so it's probably best to use one of the three saunas available first: Finnish, Turkish and infrared before cooling off in the pool. The use of the pool and saunas is included in the room rate. There are even lake views from the pool thanks to a panoramic window which also overlooks the outdoor terrace. During summer in the daytime there is a small café and in the evenings live music three times a week. Back in Luisa Studio, guests can book a massage (in one of two massage rooms), get a treatment at the beauty parlour, use the Jacuzzi, or work out on one of three machines in the fitness corner (literally a corner, rather than a real gym).
The rooms are divided into street view and lake view rooms; we have to admit it's worth the extra money to book a lake view room. There are standard double rooms as well as a variety of suites available, of various sizes. While the standard rooms aren't particularly spacious, the suites boast lots of room to move around in, with a separate sitting area. All rooms have a decent sized furnished balcony however not all rooms have air con (and it can get hot in summer). Rooms feature hardwood floors from the 1960s and very classic décor (some suites feature original antique pieces from the 1930s). While all rooms are clean and comfortable, they do not represent opulent luxury - with a little nip and tuck these rooms could be something very special indeed. We were somewhat surprised that old style television sets and old style safes (key, not digital, and tiny on top of that) could be found in a five-star hotel. Overall, these pleasant rooms need a modern touch to be brought back to life.
There are various food and drink options at the Grand Toplice. A popular place for an early evening drink is in the Aperitif Bar, (just off the lobby), where you can listen as someone tinkles the ivories and take in those sublime lake views (again). The Jezero Bar is open during the summer and is located on the lakeside terrace beneath the chestnut trees. The Grand Restaurant doubles as the breakfast room. Spacious and boasting an elegant old world style, we especially loved the snowflake-like crystal light fittings. The wow-factor is provided by the gorgeous lake views, especially from the adjoining covered terrace. The breakfast buffet is somewhat varied however the service was sometimes barely there. Meanwhile, the Julijana à la carte restaurant is a beautiful and intimate dining space which opens on to its own terrace. It's not hard to see why this is popular with small wedding parties. The hotel's head chef is a member of the national culinary team.
The hotel is one of only two in Bled to boast a private bathing area. On the shores of Lake Bled and only steps from the hotel, the private beach has the most amazing views of the island and the castle. A double tiered wooden deck features sun loungers with blue and white striped mattresses and parasols while the neighbouring boathouse lends out rowing boats (1 hour per day free for guests) - great for a spin around the lake!