In a city known for repurposing abandoned buildings and transforming them from crumbling caterpillars into bright shining butterflies of contemporary style, it is unsurprising that what is now regarded as the chicest hotel in Belgrade was—until recently—a dilapidated office block. Serbia’s capital is currently in the midst of a fervent cultural revival and Square Nine hotel can easily be seen as the artfully renovated urban centerpiece of this revolution. Although the building’s new look was designed to ensure the hotel blends in visually with its more traditional, old-fashioned neighbors, instead the property sticks out like a hip, modern Bauhaus thumb, turning heads and inducing envy.
The timeless recreation is the brainchild of Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld, who spent five years passionately reworking and renovating the block until its completion in 2011. Intent on decking the five-star property out in only the best and most tactile materials, Weinfeld brought in stone, bronze, wood and marble from the far reaches of Africa and South America for his opus.
The result of this labor of love is highly polished finish: a hotel that shies away from sterile minimalism, but rather embraces personalized attention to detail with enthusiasm and passion. It may be chic, slick and stylish, but Square Nine never ventures too far from home, managing to balance an immaculate image, with a cozy vibe. This familiar informality has been honed in the 45 stunning guest rooms, each of which has its own distinct personality thanks to the one-of-a-kind artworks decorating the walls, and the individually selected coffee table books laid out for bedtime reading.
It is also evident in the impeccably chosen collection of vintage furniture that gives the Lobby Bar its refined air of otherworldly mystique. Worn leather sofas, antique globes and aged Persian rugs bring to mind the explorations of bygone eras. But Square Nine’s guests will be emailing home about much more than just the well-thought out aesthetic of the hotel’s bars and restaurants. Quickly becoming known as one of the best places to eat and drink in a city filled with excellent places for both activities, Square Nine is luring in the foodie crowds with its two standout restaurants.
The stylish Japanese rooftop eatery Ebisu has one of the best views of the city, and serves fresh sushi along with Japanese whiskies and sakes. The elegant and sophisticated The Square restaurant has made a name for itself for its faultless service, matched only by a carefully created 7-course tasting menu and wine list.
Addressing the shortage of luxury spa experiences in the capital, Square Nine offers a sexy underground Sisley spa. Designed using raw natural rock and marble, the spa oozes a stylish and contemporary opulence. The undisturbed glass-like surface of the gorgeous pool may dissuade some swimmers from disrupting the subterranean peace of the spa, but for those on a mission for a workout, the gym is fully outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment.
Sitting pretty on the corner of Student Square, right in the heart of central Belgrade, Leading Hotels of the World member Square Nine (where rooms start at €200 per night) is in a great position for easy access to some of the city’s prime cultural and entertainment hot spots. Spectacular views over the capital from Kalemegdan Fortress are only minutes away by foot, and the popular shopping district of Knez Mihajlova is also close by.
Images courtesy of Square Nine Hotel