Hotel Insider: Allure Caramel Hotel by Karisma, Belgrade
The man at the gatehouse nods me through as I approach the gates, behind which stands the hotel housed in an elegant 1927 villa set back from the busy street. A red-carpeted staircase leads to heavy wrought-iron-covered glass doors under the graceful columned entrance. All very regal so far. The reception area faces a stylish lounge done up in art-deco style. The whole effect is one of light and air – the hotel’s 17 rooms are all on mezzanines overlooking the ground floor. The manager and another female employee greet me warmly, before I’m led up to my room.
The hotel, originally a private home built by the Serbian industrialist Vlada Ilic, is in Dorcol, one of Belgrade’s oldest, most desirable areas. It’s a 10-minute walk from the 19th-century bohemian quarter of Skadarlija, and 15 minutes from Strahinjica Bana, home to some of the city’s buzziest bars. If you can’t make it that far, just across the street is Djura Café Bar, with a funky industrial-chic interior and live music on weekends.
In a daring move against the minimalism trend that has gripped many of Belgrade’s new hotels, the decor here is wholeheartedly baroque. Antiques and reproductions hark back to the 18th and 19th centuries, with parquet floors, high ceilings and comparatively big rooms. But the amenities are pure 21st century: a very comfortable bed and a modern yet cocooning bathroom featuring a walk-in shower with a rainforest head and a separate hand-held shower. Everything works perfectly, down to the proper hairdryer. I’m in the Royal Suite, which has a separate living room that leads to a huge terrace overlooking the main street. It’s the sort of refined space that makes me wish I could rustle up some diplomats for a cocktail party.
Unfailingly friendly and efficient service from the young, multilingual staff. The hotel also offers the services of a personal assistant for business clients.
The hotel has been open for about a year; other guests appear to be Russian, and I’m told that Chinese and people from around the Balkans make up most of the rest of the clientele.
The breakfast buffet has a good selection of cured meats, cheese, fresh fruit and excellent breads and savoury pastries. Eggs and sausages are on offer, too. There are plans to open a steakhouse and a cafe on the ground floor, where at the moment there’s a beautiful conservatory used for weddings and other functions.
The warmth of the design is wonderfully old-fashioned and cosseting. Sometimes you need a bit of cosiness rather than cool.
The name. It’s part of the expanding Allure chain of upmarket city hotels owned by Karisma Hotels – all named after sweet things – but as a concept, it’s a bit cloying.
A classy alternative to the rash of design hotels embraced by Belgrade’s hoteliers.
The bottom line
Double rooms at Allure Caramel Hotel by Karisma (www.allurecaramelhotel.com) cost from €205 (Dh850), including breakfast, taxes, Wi-Fi and daily fresh fruit and mineral water.
This review was done at the invitation of the hotel.
Published: September 29, 2016 04:00 AM