Hotel Esplanade celebrates its 90th birthday today. Originally built to provide accommodation for passengers of the famous Orient Express train, which traveled between Paris and Istanbul and stopped in Zagreb, Hotel Esplanade has hosted a plethora of famous faces over the last 9 decades.
A number of the world’s top architects in 1917 bid for the international tender to design the hotel. The winner was Germany’s, Otto Rehnig, whose original plans were modified by the Zagreb architect Dionis Sunko. The hotel was given the name “Esplanade,” which in its original form has the meaning “field”, likely because it was built on a vast plain to the west of the station.
The hotel was the center of Zagreb social life throughout the 20th century. It was also the place to stay for the rich and famous whilst visiting the Croatian capital. The list of personalities who have stayed at Hotel Esplanade over the last 90 years includes; Josephine Baker, Charles Lindbergh, Orson Welles, Vivien Leigh, Alfred Hitchcock, Leonid Brezhnev, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Louis Armstrong, Francis Ford Coppola, Queen Elizabeth II, Ella Fitzgerald, Richard Nixon, Ray Charles, Pele, Catherine Deneuve, Tina Turner, Samantha Fox, Nelson Piquet, Cliff Richard, Woody Allen, Pierce Brosnan, Bob Geldof, Lenny Kravitz, David Beckham, Depeche Mode, Simple Minds, Franz Ferdinand, U2, R.E.M., Backstreet Boys, Pet Shop Boys, and Guns ’n’ Roses.
The hotel, which was a filming site for The Winds of War and The Great Escape II: The Untold Story, has won an array of awards, including most recently Best Luxury City Hotel and Best Luxury City Hotel at the World Luxury Hotel Awards.