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Four of the best boutique hotels in Trieste, Italy

The Italian city is mixing up its boutique hotel scene with a dash of contemporary design.

Published 12 May 2021, 15:00 BST
Rooms at The Modernist Hotel are characterised with comfortable and sophisticated design flourishes.

Rooms at The Modernist Hotel are characterised with comfortable and sophisticated design flourishes.

Photograph by Roberto Pastrovicchio Photography.

1. The Modernist Hotel
Italy’s liminal city, tucked up in the northeast corner on the Adriatic Sea, has long seemed wedded to a bygone era. Until 1918, this was the main port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; today, it’s an alluring combination of Italy and Vienna, with frothy Habsburg buildings swaggering onto the ever-blue Gulf of Trieste, and Viennese-style coffeehouses.

So this hotel, which opened in August 2019, is something of a departure for the city. Bright colours, contrasting shades and ceilings emblazoned with literary quotes — none of these fit with local tradition. But Trieste is also known for its small jewel-box hotels, and this 56-room venture — the latest property for the people behind the more traditional Hotel Continentale — is a daring evolution. 

As the name suggests, what’s on offer are retro-chic rooms. Headboards might be leather-bound or door-like blocks of canary yellow wood; walls are subtly striped with the individual colour palettes; bathrooms decked out with brick-like white tiles. Downstairs, meanwhile, the restaurant serves classy business lunches on mid-century-style armchairs and mustard-yellow banquettes.

The hotel is a brave reimagining of a 130-year-old palazzo in Borgo Teresiano, the Austrian-planned neighbourhood, and there are hints of its decadent past everywhere. Still, instead of pausing the past, this new property takes it forward. From £114.

Even the stairwell at The Modernist Hotel is a work of art.

Photograph by Roberto Pastrovicchio Photography.

2. Residenza le 6 A
This lovely hotel has just six rooms, each named after a female character in the works of local novelist Italo Svevo. The annexe, La Settima A, has another five rooms with kitchenettes, named after James Joyce characters. Guests also get a free coffee at the historic coffeehouse Caffè San Marco. From £74.

3. L’Albero Nascosto
Tucked behind the Piazza Unità d’Italia is the unassuming little ‘Hidden Tree’, whose simple rooms give a hint of the countryside in an 18th-century city house. Want more privacy? The hotel has four apartments nearby, including one overlooking the Gulf of Trieste. From £115.

4. Palace Suite
This art nouveau palazzo in the fancy part of town off the main drag of Corso Italia is home to 16 swish, modern suites, from the mini, sofa-studded studios with kitchenettes to a bilevel, balcony-fringed family one. It’s actually the annexe of the Hotel Continentale across the street, where breakfast is served. From £91.

Published in the May 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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