The 50’s; Slovenian Style

by Cynthia English, AustinWoman Magazine

A former summer residence of President Tito.  Isn’t that enough to set our imaginations wild! I wasn’t sure if I should be intrigued or afraid, but I can assure you, that the elderly rogue driving the old convertible Cadillac, steer rack perched on the hood, who has been summering away from the Arizona heat at the Hotel Vila Bled for the past ten years was undaunted from the beginning and happened upon one of the most beautiful and private places on earth to call his second home. And he is not the only interesting character discovering this paradise of sport and natural beauty.  Hotel Vila Bled is hosting some of the most famous statesman and celebrities in the world. Quietly and honorably.


This is not a country often mentioned in the heat of discussion in our country, however, Slovenia is not a place to be overlooked.  This exquisite part of the world bordered by Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, just 183 km northeast of Venice and only two hours from Salzburg, boasts some of the most stunning vistas in all of Europe and is renown for hiking, skiing, climbing, horseback riding and for it’s 7,000 caves. A spelunker’s dream!


Here, nestled in the foothills of the Alps, on the shores of pristine cerulean blue waters with a view of ‘Maria of the Lake’ sits this fabulous bastion of 1950’s style… Hotel Vila Bled. Gone is the Baroque gilding of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the 50’s Yugoslav style here is sleek, spacious and spare.  If  you have not yet been privy to 50’s design from an Independent Communist-run Socialist country, then this is a captivating entrée with the high marble walls, exquisitely unique light fixtures, typical furnishings and rather austere environment. All the more intriguing when you meet the local people who are as warm and charming as you will find anywhere in Southern Europe. 


Sandy paths leading from the breakfast terrace take you down through flowers and trees to the private lakeside lido and cache of boats.  The lido is the perfect place to relax on an elegant wooden chaise and soak up some warmth of the sun, whether that is after a game of tennis or golf, an appointment in the Maria Wellness Studio, or just a late sleep. But boating, swimming and discovering are a must in Lake Bled!  Paddle a hotel boat, kickboard or swim out in the thermal waters (no motors of any kind are allowed to trespass the crystal clear waters) to the tiny island once dedicated to Ziva, the Slavic goddess of love, called “Maria of the Lake”.  Step onto the island and look up.  It is an old tradition that the groom must carry his bride up (up!) all 99 steps and ring the wishing bell, dated 1534, to be blessed with enduring love and fertility. Not a groom? Then hike up those stairs to the Baroque Church and pull on the rope of the wishing bell. Local lore also says those chimes will bring you great luck if you can make it ring three times! So…  


If you don’t care to physically transport yourself, go to town to hire that gorgeous, muscular oarsman to take you on a  leisurely ride in his ‘pletna’, those special wooden boats designed in 1590 that still sprinkle the lake. On the way, ask him to take you to the 12th century castle clinging to the top of the cliffs adjacent from town...why not be pampered while you discover?


Pampering was started in Bled by Arnold Rikli, a Swiss hydrotherapist, who established a spa here in the mid 19th century based upon the effects of light, air and water on the human body.  Wealthy European clients flocked here following his recommendations of light-airy clothing, straw hats, fresh air, bare feet, demanded positive energy and program of hiking, baths, massage and other progressive treatments


The Hotel Vila Bled, in Bled, Slovenia; a place to be renewed, relax and discover. 



1)  The Bled Casino is a hot-bed of fun for your gambling spirit.

2) One of the finest golf courses in Europe with magnificent scenery; hills and dales, lakeside holes, and soaring Julian Alps.

3) Trying a famous piece of Kremsnite (cream cake) by Ivan Lukacevic is a must!

4) The lake pathway; 7 km romantic and beautiful by horse drawn carriage or walking, day or night! 6) Check out the Rowing regatta, Bled on rollerblades, International Music Festival,  Rikli’s Day Festival… Hotel Vila Bled  Cesta svobode 26, SI-4260 Bled, Slovenia

t: +386.4579.1500  f: +386.4574.1320