Tucked in Slovenia’s heart-breakingly picturesque Doleniska region is Otočec, an area famous for its rivers, forests, vineyards, and Slovenia’s only island castle: Grad Otočec.
The castle’s surroundings—waters, forests, villages—is enough to make wannabe princesses squeal, and the fact that the 700-year-old castle houses a five-star hotel means not-quite-royalty can, in fact, live here for awhile.
Grad Otočec was originally built in the 1200s, back when it sat on the bank of the Krka River. Eventually the threat of invading hoards lead the castle’s inhabitants to dig a canal, which transformed the land around the Grad Otočec into an island. What started out as a security measure has made the luxury hotel, part of the Relais & Chateaux collection, an idyllic respite from the world, perfect for a peaceful vacation or a memorable destination wedding.
While the drive from Zagreb, Croatia or Ljubjana, Slovenia is only about an hour, the moment you cross the hotel’s wooden bridge and park in front of the stone gatehouse—with the entrance marked by torches, obviously—you’ll feel a world away from civilization. The stone-lined courtyard and red-roofed towers are beautifully updated, and the grounds include a golf course and extensive wine cellar. Try the orange wine. You won’t be sorry.