Hotel Review: Ethno Houses, Plitvice Lake

| November 5, 2014
ethno houses plitvice

It’s a really cute place, but…

My family stayed at Ethno Houses just a few weeks ago and I was sorely disappointed. I’d been looking forward to using the wellness center, and especially to getting a massage. What their website, other booking websites, and *even their in-room literature* do not tell you: there are no massages outside of summer. All of the information just invites you to get one. We visited in October and the wellness center was locked up. This all was a huge blow, since I specifically chose this hotel for its wellness center. I even emailed a week out, regarding scheduling a massage upon arrival, and they never got back to me—presumably because they didn’t want to say that I couldn’t get one. This was felt doubly, given that we returned from rainy and snowy days very cold, wet, and sore.

It wasn’t all bad, but there was more bad than good for me.  Just some of the negatives:

-Huge one: I returned from hiking one afternoon and the room hadn’t been cleaned. Toooootally unacceptable! When I called, I was offered an immediate cleaning; however, as I stood there, freezing and soaked through 4 layers of clothing, all I wanted was a change of towels.

-Which brings me to the shower and towels… The shower in our room was the kind where you take the showerhead off the hook and hold it over your body. You know what I’ve never said? “I’m freezing and exhausted from hiking all day. I can’t wait to stand erect while holding water over 6” of body parts at a time—and then dry off with a scratchy air-dried towel.” There was no tub, just this shower. Since it snowed and rained throughout our stay, this was as big a deal as the hotel not being forthcoming about their wellness services.

-The “free wifi” was not reliable in our room. I can’t even tell you how often I had to use the 3G—which, out of country, I had to pay for.

-I was told upon check-in that the restaurant was almost 24 hours. It was mid-afternoon when we arrived and we were hungry, so we headed over. Yeah, just because they’re open doesn’t mean they’re serving food. That would’ve been nice to know.

Dining room was adorable

The restaurant dining room was adorable


Now, for the good stuff:

-The lodge-style rooms were sooooo perfect–I wish I’d remembered to take a photo! I slept pretty well in the beds. The room was not too cramped, which was important with a child sleeping in the room. Her bed was also adequate. The bathroom toiletries weren’t bad.

-It’s very convenient to one of the park entrances. Just a short walk down the trails, and you’re on the ferry.

-Breakfast was fantastic, and well-presented. The breakfast staff was very nice, and quick to remove used plates. They’ll cook you eggs if you’d like something other than the scrambled in the buffet. When I say well-presented, I mean that some of the vegetable items were in adorable champagne-style glasses, and everything was laid out nicely.

-The playground was great, with its large, wooden obstacle course. Granted, if you’re big on safety issues, I will say this: it wouldn’t pass in the US.  That didn’t stop us, though.  (And for the record, I beat Sequoia through it.)

plitvice ethno houses

Sequoia was very happy with these areas of the hotel; she has a much fonder memory of this hotel.

A few goats and a pony roamed the yard while some other animals were off in a “petting zoo” setting.  Sequoia was very happy with these areas of the hotel, and as such, has a much better memory of this hotel.

A few goats and a pony roamed the yard while some other animals were off in a “petting zoo” setting.

I think that this would have been a very different experience in the summer, when they offer everything that they say they offer. Unfortunately, this stay, which I had thought would be one of the best on our road trip, turned out to be—by far—the worst of six accommodations. But I guess it’s one of the most memorable stays!

Quick payment note: they accept only cash. If you’re paying in another currency (e.g. you made a reservation that charged in Euro), make sure you have enough of your currency. The in-park ATM’s dispense only Croatian currency. That said, the hotel will accept both (and I believe dollars) and just convert. We had to pay in part Euro, part Kuna. It was not an issue. You can’t pay for a restaurant meal separately–they only allow charging to the room.

plitvice ethno houses

It’s hard to find the hotel.  You can’t go by the GPS, which is trying to get you to drive into the lake.  Eventually you’ll come across signs, though.

Also, just to be bitchy: Only guests can use the restaurant, despite there being a lodging and restaurant sign out on the street.  If I were a random hiker expecting to follow the sign to a restaurant, I would be cranky to find out I couldn’t actually eat in it.

plitvice ethno houses

That fork and spoon: only for hotel guests

Now you tell people.

Now you tell people.

Ethno Houses:

Plitvica Selo 66/1Plitvice Lakes National Park 53231Croatia


P.S. Don’t let this keep you from seeing the amaaaaazing Plitvice Lakes.  There are other hotels out there!

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Category: Croatia, Europe, Family Travel, In Germany A Broad blog, Travel, Uncategorized

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

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