The World’s Best Airbnb host.
I’ll usually do a post on a city and at the bottom mention where we stayed. This time I’ll do it the other way around. Because how we felt about Rovinj was totally eclipsed by the incredible, fantastic, amazing and extraordinary Croatian family that hosted us. I’ve never done a post uniquely addressing a place of accommodation so this is a first.
We stayed a total of 5 weeks in Marina’s apartment. On the first day we were treated to a full meal (made by Marina) served to us on our balcony. She’s a professional chef by the way. As we would find out, nothing you eat in Rovinj will compare to her cooking. Throughout our stay there were surprises: strawberries or salad left at our door, home-made crepes with (of course) home-made jam, home-made cakes, a large fish platter, seafood soup, a spinach dish, risotto…I could go on and on with all the food she plied us with over 5 weeks.
Like many Croatian families our hosts had several jobs. Marina runs the apartment and works 4 days a week as a chef. Her husband Patryk has a full-time job in a factory and also runs his own vegetable farm. He also produces and sells his own wine which, as we would find out, is twice as good and half the price of anything sold in stores (we would leave Rovinj with 3 cases of his wine). Patryk’s mom, who lives downstairs, works with him on the farm and sells the produce in Rovinj’s vegetable market.
Below: some of the treats that Marina surprised us with over the course of 5 weeks…
But it was about more than giving us food. Patryk picked us up in Trieste (90 min away) to bring us to Rovinj. He offered to take us on a boat ride around the harbor during a day off. On another day we rode bicycles down to the center and he gave us a tour of the town, visiting the Batana museum and going for ice cream. Marina’s 17 year old son Kristian would regularly come by to check that we were happy but that was usually a pretense for long talks about cars, school, travelling, and girls. On our last day he invited us out for coffee in a neighboring café. A couple of times a week we would go to the vegetable market in Rovinj’s old town and visit “Mama”, buying our salad, potatoes and strawberries. She would always throw in a few freebies.
Summing it up, they were the most genuinely generous people we have ever met and this was much more than an Airbnb experience* – we actually felt that for 5 weeks we were taken in as part of the family. When we left there were tears all around. We’ve promised to be back.
* We booked Marina’s apartment through Airbnb but she also does bookings directly which saves you money (that’s what we’ll do next time). You can write her at: [email protected] See more of the apartment on her Airbnb page.
If you still haven’t signed up with Airbnb, sign up using our link – you’ll save the equivalent of $35 US on your first stay.
In 2 years of full-time travel we have never had a host that can compare to Marina. Even comparing to other Airbnb stays is not fair because it sets an impossible standard. What other hosts are chefs? Or make their own wine? Or can supply guests with vegetables from their own garden? It’s an experience that we know will never be replicated.
Other great things about her place: Marina provides a service superior to a 5 star hotel. It is immaculately clean, with all kinds of linens, blankets and towels. She will always give you refresher towels, bed sheets and even carpets. Everything smells great. The bed is incredibly comfortable, the balcony is a nice place to sit with an afternoon drink. Everything you could ever need for the kitchen. She also provides guests with bicycles and I loved riding around town and to the neighboring park and beaches. Just a fantastic stay.
A final word on Croatian hospitality. Is it a coincidence that our best 2 Airbnb experiences over the past 2 years have been in Croatia? (the other was our Split apartment which you can read about here). I don’t think so. Croatians are incredibly hospitable and generous people. We always try to give back as much as we receive but with Croatians it is sometimes hard to keep up .
A few photos of Rovinj
The above is just a teaser, have a look at this post on beautiful Rovinj.
Related: Exploring the highlights of Croatian Istria
Related: Our 11 Favorite Places in Croatia (that you should visit)
Related: Bad Airbnb experiences
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Oh dear you have done it now! We have been to Rovinj twice both times staying in hotels!
The first one was superb right on the front, but has now been upgraded and partly rebuilt to a five star. The second time was somewhat 20 minutes walk to centre and was not quite so good but Rovinj for me is superb, I loved every minute and am just sorry that we won’t be able to go back again due to ageing and loss of mobility. Thank you for the lovely memories and pictures I am glad you enjoyed it too as you say the people are lovely and food superb.
Thank you for the comment Valerie. It’s been a few years for us as well and we also look back at it with fond memories 🙂
Private Rentals Umina
honestly, looking at this pictures!! make me feel hungry!!
I totally agree that Croatians are incredibly hospitable and generous.
When I first started travelling my mentality was a room is just somewhere to sleep and I didn’t really care so much about the location. Anything as long as it was cheap and enabled me to get some online work done. Because of this I’ve stay in a few dodgy places over the past few years – but have now started to change my way of thinking.
The environment around you does change the way you act and even your mood. Having a good host can turn a trip into an experience. Thanks for sharing!
You’re totally right.
We work our regular hours remotely so where we stay is important and really affects how we feel about a place. It’s always about the balance: the apartment itself, the location, the people.
And yet again, gorgeous weather – we gotta move south!!! Thanks for the heads up on apartment, I’ll bookmark it as I m sure we will visit Rovinj at some point in the future.
Please do. Just know that Marina will have to kick you out if we plan on going at the same time 🙂
It’s a great place, you can’t go wrong.
Paul and Carole
What a wonderful experience, sounds like heaven! We have our first visit now sorted for Croatia next month so can’t wait to experience this part of the world!
Good for you!! They’ll unfortunately be a lot of people in Croatia at that time. What’s your itinerary?
Travels and Tipples
Wow, this makes me want to go to Roving just to stay in that apartment! Glad you had such an awesome experience.
You’d love it Patricia. Lots of good, inexpensive wine 🙂
I rarely click on or read posts devoted entirely to hotel stays, Airbnb reviews, etc, and within the last few months had resolved never to write a post devoted to one myself. But just because it’s you guys (and I love your writing, your honest opinions, and the phenomenal photos!), I gave this post a click, and I’m glad I did! Croatia was narrowly beaten out by Greece for our “big” travel plans last year, but is high on the list for the next big excursion (whenever the heck that can possibly happen). I think I know where we’ll be staying for a portion of our sometime-in-the-future Croatia trip! Thanks for sharing!
Ha! That’s a great comment. I usually hate those posts too and this is my first such post. I promise NEVER to do it again 🙂 (unless it is a truly exceptional experience). Thank you Katrina.
Wow! Did you find them randomly on AirBNB or did someone refer you guys to them? They sound awesome!
Found them on Airbnb and the difference were the glowing reviews. That’s why we went with her. But we were lucky to spend 5 weeks – not the usual couple of days most people experience – so we got treated extra, extra special I think 🙂
What a nice touch to feel as you are part of the family and not seen as income. It makes the time staying there special. Thanks for the write up on Marina’s apt Frank. We all like knowing where the super hostess are and she’ll appreciate the business you send.
Thanks so much Paula. People always have the right to make income, but when it also comes with love it just makes for a great experience. Some people have a lot of love to give and are just meant to be in the hospitality business. Others not so much…
Desserts look good!
And the beaches are close by Tom 🙂
We had a great Airbnb host on Vis Island in Croatia. He made his own wine (he gave me a bottle) and olive oil and grew zucchini, tomatoes and herbs. He grilled blue fish on the BBQ for us and his lovely wife made us a zucchini and potato salad to go with it. She also made candied orange and gave us a plate. It is a speciality of Vis Island. She made us zucchini fritters too which were superb. They were so helpful, nothing was too much trouble. You were super spoilt have chef prepared meals. Five weeks would have been wonderful and I laughed to hear you left with 3 cases of wine. Good One!
That sounds fantastic Jan. Zucchini fritters yum!
About the wine – we had a 7 hour drive down to Split and since we had the car why not? Now we have at least a month’s supply of wine 🙂
Well l know where we’ll be staying when we visit Croatia! 🙂
Frank – I would agree with you about the Croatian hospitality. When my friend and I were there last year, we couldn’t get over how people went out of their way to make our stay wonderful. One of our best AirBnB stays was also in Rovinj. Must be something in the water!!
Good to hear Lynn! I think there is lots of competition – lots of apartments which sit empty most of the year and which depend on tourist season. Our last week there (we left may 30) tourists suddenly started showing up and it went from quiet little town to full blown tourism. I hear July and August really busy. Anyway, my point is that there is competition and repeat business is based on the quality of hosts and apartments.
But in this case it went far beyond that. We would never go back to anywhere but Marina’s 🙂
I appreciate just how good it must have been simply because you’ve actually written about it! I know there’s a helluva lot of dreary droning hotel reviews out there (yawn) but have to admit I’m the shallow kinda girl who does actually often plan her trips based on some superb accommodation she’s found. So based on that, I’d happily visit Rovinj just to go stay with Marina and her family. And not just for the treats. Honest!
Thanks Heather! Appreciate that. It was incredibly special which is why I decided to write about it – I just thought that a) Marina is just an incredible host and she deserves recognition, b) it is a great base, especially for someone wanting to stay a week or two in Rovinj to immerse themselves a bit. We found it incredibly relaxing and we have’t slept as well in years.
Sarah (JetSetting Fools)
I agree! Croatian hospitality is unlike anywhere else in the world! Just another reason why Croatia ranks pretty high on our list! 🙂 Can’t wait to see more of your pictures from Rovinj.
Thanks Sarah, I know you guys big fans of Rovinj!