As the boat makes its way from Rovinj and passes the headland, Red Island lies before you - the Istra not the most beautiful hotel - long and somewhat flat, but with the old church tower, the remains of the castle and the beautiful trees and gardens it was something special.
From the outside you could be forgiven for believing that ALL rooms have a sea view as the hotel borders the sea on both sides - but beware, there is one wing where the front overlooks the sea and the back overlooks a scrubby Tennis court area which also houses the hotel generator -- play it safe and pay for a Sea View when you book the holiday as an "upgrade" once you get there will cost you considerably more, (and they ask you to pay in Euros!)
Having paid for our (expensive) upgrade, the room was great - a kingsize bed (two singles pushed together in typical European style) plus a large chair - lots of storage space and the bathroom was a good size with a shower over the bath....everything was immaculately clean and the towels were replaced every day.
The balcony had a beautiful view over the 3 Pools and the open sea beyond - ideal for watching the sunrise over the adjacent Island.
People have commented on the "interesting selection of food" at the Istra - having been to Croatia three times previously, we were not surprised and always found something to our liking with plenty of selection.
The free local beer (Pivo) with the evening meal was a definite winner - and the red wine was"not bad" either.
The main Restaurant was VERY noisy and it was a battle at times to get to the food due to persons not knowing how to queue - but we soon found the smaller restaurant areas to which you could take your food and these were much quieter (and no piped music!)
(Strangely - as well as the free Beer and Wine or soft drinks, free tea is also available with the evening meal, but not coffee).
Breakfast was much the same each day and an additional choice occasionally would have been appreciated - but much praise must be given to the lady behind the counter who cooked the Omelettes to order while also cooking chips, scrambling eggs, making Drop Pancakes, frying bacon,grilling tomatoes, cooking fresh Croissants and .....!!!
The only down side to breakfast was the poor coffee which was somewhat stewed - my tip is to take your own Gold Blend or tea bags!
We chose to swim in the sea rather than in the pools and found the water to be beautifully clear and quite warm - the strip of beach (fine pebbles) was comfortable to lay on with beach mats that we had brought with us - as the beach is outside the Hotel perimeter the sunbeds are not free.
Drinks from the Beach Cafe were reasonably priced - but due to being towards the end of season some of the facilities had closed for the winter and in the evening there was no alternative other than to use the Hotel Bar or to catch the ferry to the mainland.
We can not say enough to thank our Thomson "rep" - Ornela was so helpful and friendly and gave us much information about the areas to visit in and around Rovinj - as another reviewer has commented "nothing was too much trouble for her".
The staff were generally friendly, and if you make an effort to learn a bit of their language, were happy to chat to you - even when on the ferry after their day had finished.
The Ferry was very efficient and always on time - although at times we had to rush our evening meal if we wanted to go to the mainland for a walk round the old town.
Rovinj is an absolute delight - so many lovely places to eat and drink - it reminded us so much of the narrow streets in Italy, we just hope that in the years to come it remains so unspoiled and that the Euro does not make it too commercial.
You MUST take the view from the Church Tower - the steps are not for the faint hearted, but once at the top, the view is fantastic!
We well recommend a coach trip to the hill top villages of Motovun and Groznjan - the buildings are amazing!
We will definitely return to Rovinj........
Pay for an upgrade when booking if you want a sea view
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.