Holidays in Slovenia

Eats-West: A Gastronomic Tour of Western Slovenia

During this tour you will consume some of Europe's best cuisine... while being consumed by some of Europe's most stunning scenery.

Use the buttons for a glimpse of your gastronomic journey through Western Slovenia...

Dvor Tacen

 

LjubljanaYour tour starts at a leisurely pace at the rather new and very stylish Dvor Tacen hotel, on the outskirts of Ljubljana. Actually, when we say 'outskirts', this doesn't mean that it's far from the hub, bub: Ljubljana is really is quite small and a taxi ride into town will take... ooh... six minutes. Anyway, we chose this hotel because our customers have said very nice things about it.

On you first evening, we will whisk you away to the little village of Rateče, where you will dine at Pri Danilu: an easy, laid-back introduction to the best of Slovenia's cuisine.

The next day the choice of dining will be yours (but we'll point out the best of Ljubljana's restaurant scene for you!).

Pri Danilu

 

One of our first reviews...

In our 'early years' (up to around 2005 - well, it's early for us) Gostilna pri Danilu managed to avoid the ravenous hordes of us two, as we chomped our way across the country. During that time we'd heard rumours about this mysterious and magical restaurant, in a little villagette just outside Škofja Loka, and its apparently shy patrons (unlike some restaurateurs, who shall never remain nameless). As it happened, we had a meeting there with one of Slovenia's wine heros, Gašper Čarman... who happened to be Vesna and Dušan's son.

And in many ways, that first meal (there have been many since) changed a lot for us. It proved that there wasn't necessarily such a gulf between the so-so and the yee-haw: these people did everything perfectly, but without the song and dance (which are not available in the literary sense either). Not only is Vesna a fabulous chef, but it's obvious that her sources are the very best.

It's not so mysterious anymore, as it's one of our favourite restaurants in the world. It's still magical though.

Vila Podvin

 

RadovljicaThe third and fourth days will be in the village of Rateče, staying in the brand new Vila Podvin. Opened in 2013 by Marcela Klofutar and her partner chef Uroš Štefelin, Vila Podvin is a restaurant first and hotel after.

From here you'll also be able to visit Bled and its lake/castle/island/church stuff - or even strike further and make for beautiful Lake Bohinj.

Vila Podvin cookery class

 

Not only will you eat at Vila Podvin... you'll learn to cook too, under Uroš's helpful hand and watchful eye. One of the tenets of the management when they started here was that they would put back in as much as they take out.

So not only are there cookery lessons for adults and kids (who get their learning for free - their parents paying to be fed!), but there is a market for local producers every few weeks, plus Uroš and Marcela will be holding musical evenings for local musicians.

Dobra Vila

 

BovecNext up is the very lovely Dobra Vila - probably the most beautiful hotel in the entire Soča Valley.

Dobra Vila shows just what can be done by owners who have an insight into what a good hotel should be. Before opening in 2004, the original house had been stripped and the best interior designers brought in to transform the building into a first class hotel. From the wine cellar, through the reception area, bar and restaurant and the guest's rooms, the attention to detail is truly wonderful and the decor exquisite.

And as of 2012 when the new management of brothers Matjaž and Juri took over, that attention to detail has been taken to its logical conclusion, as they epitomise Dobra Vila in human form: welcoming, colourful and possessing exquisite taste.

Dobra Vila

 

At Dobra Vila you will have two tasting menus... so probably a good idea during the day to take advantage of the fact that this is the activity centre of the universe!

Matjaž and Juri have extended their style and panache to the restaurant by drafting in some of the best chefs in the region, who cook in a manner that befits such a fabulous establishment: a mix of traditional and modern with a creative twist.

As well as the deco-styled dining room and the glass-enclosed verandah, there is a large dining terrace where you can while away sultry summer evenings with some of the best views in Slovenia.

Nebesa

 

KobaridNebesa means 'Heaven' in Slovene, and was the name of the old ruined ski lodge Bojan and Katja Roš (pron. Boyan / Katia Rosh) found one day on a walking trip. They bought it, hired the best new architect in Slovenia and turned Heaven into a paradise.

The first thing you'll notice is the almost mystical peace, which isn't surprising, given that you'll be 900m above the rest of humanity. There are just four chalets - each sleeping only two people - angled just so that you feel entirely alone. The entire front wall is glass, so that you have a completely unrestricted view across the Soča Valley.

Hiša Franko

 

When they took over Hiša Franko some years back Ana Roš (Katja and Bojan's daughter) couldn't cook and Valter liked a glass of wine. Now Ana runs one of the finest kitchens in the country and her partner Valter Kramer is one of Slovenia's best sommeliers.

We've eaten Ana's marvels many times since our first review in 2005, each time being transported into a dream-like state, marveling how she has developed her taste and technique over the years. We believe that she will eventually gain the international recognition she deserves - then you'll pay (for not getting here earlier)!

Topli Val at the Hvala Hotel

 

Who'd have thought? The very best fish restaurant in the country is in the Alps. Topli Val (Heat Wave) has been cooking the contents of the Adriatic for well over twenty years. Of course, those of you who prefer your protein to have had legs will also be delighted by the traditional local fare (and even vegetarians will find much to salivate over - although vegans should really stay on the Planet Vega)... but it's the fish that is the star of the show.

Flippy-flappy fishes, cephalopods, crustacians and molluscs are delivered fresh every day from the Adriatic (plus local trout, natch) to be perfectly baked, sauteed, steamed and carpaccio'ed into delightful dishes that will have you swooning with yumminess.

La Subida

 

CollioPresided over by the charming Joško Sirk, La Subida is like a distillation of Italian culture: the extended Sirk family runs the sprawlingly beautiful accommodation, the Michelin-starred trattoria, while Joško's main 'day job' is making some of Europe's great vinegar.

A beautiful little relais hotel in the rolling vineyards of Collio Goriziano, La Subida comprises a dozen small houses, each individually designed and decorated. There is also a peaceful garden, a swimming pool and an excellent Michelin-starred restaurant, serving local specialities (both Italian and Slovenian).

Vander Hotel

 

LjubljanaSectreted down a pretty little side street beside the Ljubanica river is the Vander Hotel. Carved within four traditional town houses (you'd never guess at the interior from the outside), this is a very modern boutique hotel offering hushed, relaxed elegant guest rooms, above which is an amazing roof terrace - plus a bijoux infinity pool - with views across the best of Ljubljana.

Plus, of course, one of the city's finer restaurants...

Dining at the Vander

 

Chef Benjamin Launay (as you can see from the picture above) is on a mission to make the Vander restaurant one of the best in the land. We can vouch for that, as we treated ourselves to dinner on a April evening... and went back for more since!

Unlike many restaurants with aspirations of 'fine dining', lunch here is a very welcoming and affordable affair. Two courses for 10 euros or three courses for 12 or 14 euros represents excellent value for some very good cuisine.

Zemono

 

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JB

 

Rated by many as the best restaurant in Slovenia, JB also happens to feature in the world's top 200 restaurants year after year... so chef Janez Bratovž must be doing something right. He certainly did the last time we were there - the only confusion for us being why doesn't Michelin send anybody to Slovenia? Of course, if they did, this place would become rather less achievable for us mere mortals.

I also just want to say that the oyster and mussel ice cream was one of the most amazing things I've ever swallowed: utterly, utterly brilliant.

What you get...

  • 14 nights in some of Slovenia's finest hotels
  • Seven tasting menus
  • Transfers for dining (where applicable)
  • One cookery lesson
  • Price per person (based on two sharing)

Euros: 1,900.00

GBP: 1,672.00

USD: 2,014.00

Prices are the best estimate, depending on availability, season, exchange rate and personal preferences.

Does not include flights or car hire.