The Lafodia is one of two seafront hotels on the small, car-free Croatian island of Lopud, a short boat trip off the coast of Dubrovnik. The other is a boutique hotel La Villa Vilina.The island also has a range of holiday apartments and rooms. The Lafodia offers a private transfer service from the airport that includes a boat crossing. Package holidays to the hotel from Jet2holidays.com and Thomson include transfers.
The Lafodia hotel is cleverly designed to maximise the sea views for guests, whilst trying to blend into the surroundings. However, it is seriously out of character with the small island’s pretty stone buildings and resembles a giant cruise ship that has veered out of control and embedded itself in the hillside. The layout is not ideal for people with limited mobility as there are two long flights of steps up to the reception area from the quayside, promenade and beach, and the alternative zig-zagging slopes used by the staff to carry suitcases from the quay to the reception via golf-buggies provide a lengthy detour. However, once inside the hotel there are lifts to the upper floors, restaurants and pool, so anyone with a walking difficulty who is happy to stay around the hotel should be able to manage.
The hotel reception area is bright and airy staffed by pleasant, helpful people who sometimes appear more stern than they are. The pink plastic palm tree stalks that act as pillars are somewhat bizarre but in keeping with the funky, brightly-coloured plastic chairs around the hotel and pool area. There is an in-house booking agency for boat trips and tours, a jewellery shop and a “bits and bods” shop selling a small range of items such as swimwear and suntan lotion. A weekly animation programme advertised in reception offers hiking, aqua gym, pilates and other short fitness classes along with an evening entertainment programme of live bands, karaoke and quizzes.
We stayed in a seventh floor room with a balcony that caught the sunshine in the late afternoon and evening and gave us wonderful sea views and sunsets. The room was fairly small but had all we needed in terms of wardrobe and cupboard space, safe, minibar and hairdryer. Towelling robes and slippers were a nice touch. Tea and coffee making facilities with a range of tea bags were an unexpected surprise. On the negative side, the minibar was tiny and would not accommodate the large bottles of water that I purchased from the delightful seafront corner shop. I found much of the food on the island over-salted and was desperately thirsty at night. It would have been good to have been able to store a generous supply of cold water in the room. The bath towels were very skimpy and thin – not the quality I would expect from a hotel of this standard, though I was assured the laundry had made an error and delivered the wrong batch that week. The air conditioning was noisy, keeping me awake and the late September nights were fresh enough without having it it blasting away all night. I could only get it to turn off by leaving the balcony door slightly open, resulting in a minor mosquito invasion.
We had booked B & B and the breakfast staff were cheery and welcoming, keeping me topped up with coffee. I only ate the muesli, fresh fruit and yogurts. The orange juice was dire – more like over-diluted orange squash, and the bacon, frankfurters and scrambled eggs did not look very appealing.
We only tried the hotel’s Scarlet restaurant once for an evening meal. Serving staff were very pleasant, steering us away from a more expensive wine we had chosen assuring us that “it was a disaster that year”. However, the food was disappointingly bland with few fresh salads or vegetables. My main course was a couple of slices of chicken served on a bed of diced carrots. Dessert was attractive-looking but synthetic-tasting sponge cakes smothered in fake cream. The hotel’s Italian restaurant was better, offering pasta dishes and a good range of toppings on thin, crispy pizza bases.
The hotel’s à la carte restaurant, the Dalamar, was classy and expensive. Its fine dining menu was prepared in the open kitchen and served by an efficient, helpful waitress. However, several of our preferred items on the menu were “off”; my portion of “wine by the glass” was the tiniest amount I have ever been served and the bread rolls were disappointingly dry and tasteless. I was surprised not to be offered some of the tasty, rustic bread cooked by the hotel’s own bakery. Most nights we strolled out to sample the local restaurants, though we were restricted to those closest to the hotel as my partner, who has poor mobility at the best of times, developed a back pain which meant he could not walk far. The island is car-free but the Jet2Holiday.com’s site had implied that the golf buggies were available as a taxi service. Sadly this was not quite accurate. There is a limited service from the centre of the island across wooded trails to the Sunj beach. Otherwise use of golf buggies is strictly controlled with none running in the evenings.
The hotel spa looked enticing, perched on the hillside above the hotel, along with the open-air fitness gym. We spent most of our day relaxing on the beach, swimming in clear, turquoise waters or reading. It was annoying to have to pay for the hotel’s two front rows of sun beds and cushions, but it was reassuring to know we could almost certainly guarantee getting one in the sunshine (many of the beds around the infinity pool or further back from the beach were in the shade of the hotel building for much of the day thanks to the autumn sun being lower on the horizon) and that they would not be taken up by the day trippers. The young man in charge of the beach and water sports was always helpful and cheerful. It was useful to be able to charge the sun beds to the room rather than carrying around cash every day. For exercise, I did lots of early morning/late afternoon hikes from the hotel along the many walking trails around the island, visiting churches and hiking up to the fortress for an amazing view across the water to Dubrovnik. There was a regular ferry between the island and Dubrovnik and the hotel’s travel agency runs trips, cruises and tours, including a “Game of Thrones” tour of the city.
All in all it was a lovely break, and we were fortunate with the weather which was sunny for all but two days. The hotel is a good base from which to explore the island, surrounding islands and Dubrovnik.