From the terrace of my room, the sky is the same shade of blue as the waters of the Adriatic Sea. My sapphire colored canvas is interrupted by a lush green mountain with terracotta colored roofs. Often, a small boat or a large cruise ship disturbs the tranquility of this quiet corner of Montenegro, but not for long.
In the distance, the enduring series of mountain ranges and valleys between which the sun finally sets is a scene of eternal beauty, one that attracted author George Bernard Shaw and actress Sophia Loren, and made One&Only the exclusive location choosing this for his first European property.
The hotel is housed within the Portonovi development, in the coastal town of Hercog Novi, on a former military base next to a French Riviera-style marina that boasts a superb yacht, high-end villas for private purchase, apartments, art galleries, and award . – won fine restaurants.
With access by road, sea and air, getting here couldn’t be easier. We drove along a beautiful scenic road from Dubrovnik, which took an hour. Alternatively, you can take off at Tivat (50 minutes) or Podgorica Airport (two and a half hours).
There are remains of a fortress built by the Bosnian king Tvrtko I in the center of the historic town, 10 minutes away. streets. Kanli Kula, meaning bloody tower, was built under Ottoman rule, and the Church of Saint Archangel (Michael Crkva Sveti Arhangel Mihajlo) in Belavista Square dates from the Austro-Hungarian era.
The design and architectural influence of One & Only Portonovi comes from the Venetian and Byzantine roots of Montenegro. The palatial reception area is a marvel of arts and crafts, where white embroidered curtains dance with the gentlest breeze and glitter of Murano glass, with unusual pendant lamps wrapped in intricate branches, opulent marble fireplaces, and elegant chandeliers.
A similar style influences the rest of the hotel, where high ceilings, arches and earthy colors bring to life the greens of the mountains and the blues of the sea.
“We researched the historical and cultural characteristics of the destination,” says Jean-Michel Gathy, the renowned principal designer at the award-winning hospitality consulting & design firm Denniston.
“Montenegro, which was on the Silk Road, was greatly influenced by the Ottoman presence. The different buildings express each other, which will be fully animated with columns, galleries, and cornices surmounted by corbels. The garden is reminiscent of Venetian Classicism from afar. , but it is much more pleasant than it looks,” says Gathy. And they make green spaces super decorated, planted with fragrant flowers and palm trees, reaching all the paths, hiding some structures from view and bringing others to the foreground.
The year-round resort boasts 113 guestrooms, suites, and villas, and 10 private houses, with stunning views of the Bay of Kotor, a Unesco World Heritage site. Each room has a balcony overlooking the gardens or the aquamarine sea – or both. Apart from the main structure, there are several more intimate villas with between six and eight rooms, each with its own private pool, which can only be accessed by guests of the building.
The rooms have a modern design with three main tones: grey, brown and beige. A custom wall unit includes a mini bar with a selection of premium drinks, a study, and a collection of carefully selected coffee table books on cocktails and art.
While the living space may be stripped back and masculine in flavor, the bathroom is everything one could wish for. The large room is bright from the glass window overlooking the bay and has a day bed, a bath that turns into another day bed, a shower, wardrobes, a dressing table, and two vacuum units.
Food & Drink
One&Only Portonovi has three on-site restaurants, each specializing in different cuisines with matching decor. Tapasake, a Japanese beach club, combines small plate dining with refined Asian fusion flavors. From sashimi to poke bowls, seafood abounds fresh from Montenegrin waters, and other ingredients come from local farms whenever possible. The interior design is sophisticated, using reclaimed wood, dark wood, and stone with oriental hints. In keeping with the rest of the theme, all the furniture is gray with a splash of orange in the soft furnishings. Tapasake is all about a relaxed, Ibiza-style vibe, day and night.
In the center of the property, La Veranda is an all-day restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu takes inspiration from traditional and European cuisine, serving everything from veal and lamb to buzara, a garlicky mixed seafood dish cooked in red sauce. Ask the sommelier for a perfect wine pairing.
On the sand is Sabia, an Italian beach and pool restaurant with panoramic views of the Bay of Kotor. At the entrance is a welcoming display of freshly prepared penne, spaghetti, and tagliatelle, waiting to be covered in a delicious sauce. A hot plate of carbohydrates is all you need for a pleasant evening by the sea. When it’s done, head back to Caminetti’s cozy bar for a quiet drink and a cigar by the fireplace.
Is there such a thing as too many pools? With five outdoor pools and one heated indoor pool, there are plenty of places to swim. Couples can lounge in the adults-only Tapasake pool, while families can build sandcastles along the stretch of private beach next to three child-friendly ones.
If you work out on vacation, you’re in luck, because it’s rare to find a gym with sweeping views of rolling hills and an infinity pool. If you’re after more of a spa, Swiss brand Chenot Espace has a selection of treatments, from massages to massages as well as hydrotherapy, sauna and hammam. There is also a four to seven day detoxification program maintained and monitored by expert doctors and nutritionists.
You can’t leave Portonovi without visiting the medieval towns of Kotor and Perast, where winding streets lead to unexpected historic squares home to Romanesque churches. Kotor is one of the oldest fortified cities in Europe and still has that charm. Walk down its narrow cat-filled streets looking for a hole-in-the-wall cafe or local bakery.
There are several ways to get there from Portonovi: take a scenic drive along the coast, or a 45-minute boat that starts from the hotel and stops at Mary of the Rock along the way. Either way, you’re guaranteed spectacular views of mountains and coastal towns.
Neighboring Serbia may be renowned for producing fine wines, but Montenegro is not far behind. Ten minutes from One & One Portonovi, Savina Winery has revived an 18th century vineyard to produce award-winning wines. The family owned and operated business is located on a hilltop on the site of a working monastery of the same name. Surrounded by woodlands and panoramic views of the bay, guests can sample a number of whites, reds, Chardonnays, and rosés from vines grown steps away.
Rates at One&Only Portonovi start from £710 per room per night, including daily breakfast and VAT. For more information or to book, please visit onlyportonovi.com