Hailed by many locals as the top hotel in Ljubljana, the Grand Union Executive is a beautiful hotel built in 1905 and a lovely example of Art Nouveau architecture. Renovated in 2009, the grande dame appears relatively fresh faced given her age. However, there is a big difference between the older and newer parts of the hotel - our advice is to request a room on the 'old side.' Over the years, everyone from Queen Elizabeth II, to Bill Clinton, Roger Moore and the Dalai Lama have bedded down here. If you're after a central location, you can't do much better than this place.
In the very heart of Ljubljana, the Grand Hotel Union Executive is at the doorstep of all there is to see in the city. Ljubljana Airport is about a 30 minute drive away.
The Executive belongs to the Union group of hotels which also includes the Central and the Business (the latter next door and part of the same building).
WIFI connection is available free of charge in the executive category rooms, while standard rooms have free cable internet connection.
With its elegant Art Nouveau exterior, the Grand Hotel Union Executive is probably one of the prettiest hotels in the city. In the small but high-ceilinged lobby, admire the pastel frescoes above the reception counter, or the original stained glass features from 1905. The five-storey hotel can be divided into two parts: the 'old' and the 'new,' either side of the lobby, each with their own elevator access. The bars and restaurants are mostly found on the Executive side of the building, while leisure facilities such as the indoor pool, fitness centre, sauna and massage can be found in the Grand Hotel Union Business. There is indoor access between the two hotels so that guests aren't forced to step outside. Along this passage guests will come across other facilities such as a gift shop, hairdresser and boutique.
There are 194 rooms at the Grand Hotel Union Executive, which are divided into two distinct areas; rooms that were part of the original hotel, and those that were added in the 1970s. The original 'executive' hotel rooms come in single, double and suite categories while those rooms added in the '70s are all standard single/double rooms or apartments. And there's no mistaking they were designed and built in the 1970s for the flashy lime green decor seems tired and dated (the faded bed linen doesn't help). While these rooms are clean and spacious they are in need of a makeover.
Meanwhile, on the 'old' or rather, original side of the hotel, the spacious corridors are decorated in pleasant light colours, while the rooms are awash in cream, chocolate and champagne shades. The classic decor is inoffensive if not uninspiring however these rooms are clean, bright (thanks to large windows) and spacious. Unlike most of the standard rooms, the executive rooms do not have balconies.
Breakfast is served in a huge room with high ceilings which is shared with the neighbouring (sister) hotel, the Grand Hotel Union Business. The neutral shades and lack of decoration render it slightly cold, while the chair covers give it a wedding reception room feel. Several buffet stations are huddled to one side and offer a large hot/cold variety for guests' first meal of the day.
Both hotels also share the remaining bars and restaurants, all of which can be found on the Executive side of the building; in summer the Union Garden Restaurant is popular with local workers, while in winter the Union Cellar Restaurant is a cosy place offering traditional Slovenian cuisine. Meanwhile the street-facing Aperitif Bar (awash in Slovenian crystal chandeliers) and Grand Union café are both found just off the lobby.
We had the pleasure of dining at the Union Garden Restaurant; although there is a small indoor dining area the highlight is the sprawling outdoor terrace dotted with shady trees. As well as several tables there a few lounge areas where people can kick back with a coffee (or something stronger). Parents will appreciate the small kids' play area in the corner.
Open for all-day dining, the Union Garden Restaurant's local chef is aiming for a Michelin star which means the food is not only tasty, but creative and well-presented. The menu changes on a regular basis so the variety is better than your average restaurant, with different menus available at lunch and dinner. We sampled the smoked prosciutto, (good but a little large for a starter), cream of porcini mushroom soup (delicious and served foamy like a cappuccino), followed by herb-crusted lamb fillet (wonderfully tender) served on a bed of vegetables and bulgur. We topped it all off with a local strudel-like dessert. Each course was paired with a different wine, Slovenian of course!
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