One&Only Portonovi hotel review, Montenegro

The exciting new opening on Boka Bay’s rippling coastline

This is a knockout European debut on the Adriatic Riviera for glamorous hotel brand One&Only, with an all-star cast of chef and spa collaborators.

Hotel address: One&Only Portonovi hotel, Portonovi, Herceg Novi 85340, Montenegro
Website: Booking.com
Phone number: +382 67 994 994
Price from: From £722 a night

Set the scene

Just over an hour’s drive south from Dubrovnik, Boka Bay (also known as the Bay of Kotor) is a breathtaking natural beauty where thickly pine-covered mountains run down to clear waters, and the shore is dotted with pretty medieval towns. Set on 1.8km of the bay’s rippling coastline, One&Only Portonovi – which opened in May 2021 – draws on the local Italianate architecture of those towns, with arched windows, stone colonnades and terracotta roofs standing proud over palm-filled gardens that run down a sandy (manmade) beach.

The backstory

Teeny tiny Montenegro has been scooping up Adriatic fans from neighbouring Croatia ever since Aman planted its hotel on the islet of Sveti Stefan near Budva more than a decade ago. Since then, it’s grown a reputation as a superyacht stop-off thanks to a number of glitzy marina developments (Porto Montenegro, Lustica Bay) of which Portonovi is the latest. But you only have to look at One&Only Le Saint Geran on its private peninsula in Mauritius, One&Only Mandarina tucked in the unspoilt rainforest on the Mexican Pacific Coast or One&Only Reethi Rah just a speedboat whizz from the airport in the Maldives’ North Malé atoll, to know that One&Only is pretty picky about where it places its hotels. The fact that this spot was chosen for the much anticipated first European hotel speaks volumes about Montenegro’s ascending star on the Mediterranean scene.

The rooms

Architect Jean Michel Gathy designed the rooms and suites around a central fireplace, linking the bedroom, bathroom and veranda, and inspired by the layout in traditional Montenegrin homes. Those bathroom-dressing rooms are as large as the bedroom, with a deep bath by the huge window that transforms into a daybed when not in use. Bedrooms – decorated in a muted palette of taupe and beige and grey – are stocked with interesting reads (Wine Folly, photographer Gray Malin’s Escape and Montenegro: its People and its History in ours) as well as homemade cookies and a cocktail station. The statement Suite One even has its own 268 bottle wine cellar. And One&Only villas, both in the resort ground and next door as part of the Portonovi development (those with their own private jetty), cater to multi-generational groups, or just those that travel with staff.

Food and drink

The two headline restaurants are beachside Sabia, from Michelin-starred Italian hero Giorgio Locatelli, and Tapasake Club, more quietly from ex-Nobu chef Yannick Bayjoo, around the adults-only pool. At Sabia, Locatelli combines local ingredients with southern Italian flavours – homemade gnocchi with rabbit ragu, buckwheat ravioli filled with potatoes in a butter sauce with caviar – as well as giving a starring role to the sea’s bounty with a dedicated raw bar menu, and a more-ish calamarata with monkfish and sea fennel. Don’t miss head sommelier’s Rafaela Pons brilliant local wine recommendations, especially the buttery Serbian Omnibus Luctor Chardonnay from the Erdevik winery. The sushi shines at Tapasake Club, but there’s also tapas-style croquettes and crisp tacos, washed down with a Nihon Negroni or one of the Japanese gin and cherry blossom tonics. There’s more local-leaning fare at La Veranda – where lunch and dinner for those on the Chenot Diet is also served – and barrel-aged spirits and snacks (try the lobster brioche) in cosy Caminetti off the lobby.

The spa

Now this is serious. After its first Chenot Spa at One&Only Desaru Coast in Malaysia, the hotel group has continued its partnership with Swiss wellness pioneers Henri Chenot with a more heavyweight, diagnostic 4,000 sq metre Chenot Espace at Portonovi. Here, guests can embark on three-to-six day programmes (compared to the more restrictive fixed seven-day stays at Chenot’s original Italian bases) filled with high-tech assessments from on-site doctors, checking everything from cardiorespiratory fitness to arterial stiffness, and science-led treatments administered alongside the Chenot diet. Classics include the Chenot Energetic Massage which uses suction cups to help improve energetic circulations and the lymphatic system. If you are in any kind of back or joint pain be sure to book the Neuromuscular Activation Treatment, where a physiotherapist moves you – suspended in a series of red slings – through special-tailored exercises. The results after just one session are astounding.

The area

 

The hotel is the star attraction in the Portonovi development, which also houses second-home villas and apartments, yacht-friendly dining (caviar and Champagne, cognac and cigars), an art gallery and fashion boutiques, alongside its 238 berth marina, which takes boats up to 120 metres. Jump in one of the hotel’s own glossy Nesey launches to explore UNESCO World Heritage Site Boka Bay, stopping off at the perfectly-preserved honey-stoned towns of Presat and Kotor. There’s also vineyards, National Parks and even Marshal Tito’s villa all within a short jaunt’s distance.

The service

Unfailingly helpful – from the concierge dolling out forgotten iPhone chargers to breakfast servers remembering your favourite pistachio smoothie bowl. It’s slick, but not waiting-on-your-every-move intrusive. And if you are an oligarch who wants another plate of Locatelli’s divine truffle pasta whipped up at 10.30pm in your villa, well, that’s possible too.

For families

One&Only’s kids’ clubs are as well-thought-out and spoiling as its hotels, and – bonus – free to all little guests. Here is no different with dedicated areas for 4–11-year-olds (KidsOnly – inspired by Jules Verne’s ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’, a picture of a giant Kraken above the tiny toilet) and teens (One Tribe – with table football, pool table and games consoles). The inspired timetable ranges from slime time to movie nights, photo scavenger hunts to fort building, recycled fashion shows to playing Boka Bay detectives.

At breakfast, children make a beeline for the doughnut of the day on the buffet at La Veranda, a treat that jostles for plate-space with pretty pink-striped strawberry croissants, freshly-made crêpes and oodles of fruit. At lunch and dinner there’s also a dedicated kids’ menu at Sabia (spaghetti al pomodoro and gnocchi al ragù di manzo are sure-fire hits), and if you are lucky pizza making in the kitchen, and little ones are plenty welcome at Tapasake Club too (nothing-too-much-trouble staff whipping out wooden high chairs and chic pastel kids’ plates), where our five-year-old assistant reviewer tucked into grilled salmon with rice.

With just one child in tow, Portonovi or Bay View Rooms can be set up with two queen beds – a Boka Bay colouring book and cuddly Donkeylo toy (a Montenegrin family favourite) waiting. While two-bedroom family rooms and suites cater to a larger brood, with two- or three-bedroom villas for those after more space, privacy and their own pool.

Eco effort

 

Shipping all the beach’s sand in from Egypt (twice, the first round washed away) might not be the more sustainability-minded. But the hotel tries harder in other areas, with wooden toothbrushes and biodegradable-wrapped bathroom amenities alongside full-sized Abahna toiletries.

Accessibility for those with mobility impairments

There’s one adapted guestroom.

Anything left to mention?

Check out the artists in residence set up on the lawn near La Veranda restaurant – when we visited, it was Sonja and Roman Duranović creating brightly coloured works. There’s an ongoing programme of local artists, whose artworks are displayed around the hotel (all for sale – proceeds donated to a local charity). Rooted-in-place creative collaborations also extend to the hotel’s Neo boutique, where there are exclusive lines from Serbian designer Marija Tarlać and silk scarfs from Montenegrin Milena Durdic.

Hotel address: One&Only Portonovi hotel, Portonovi, Herceg Novi 85340, Montenegro
Website: Booking.com
Phone number: +382 67 994 994
Price from: From £722 a night

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>