Nikki Beach’s brand new opening on the shores of Montenegro brings a promising new take on girl’s holidays, with the latest incarnation of beach-club-meets-luxury-hotel.
Forget everything you thought you knew about Nikki Beach (and Montenegro, for that matter) and dive in.
I’ll start with a disclaimer; I am not really fan of beach clubs. It’s not that I’m anti-clubbing, or anti-beaches; quite the opposite. But like ketchup and mayonnaise, or socks and sandals, I don’t like to mix the two. It might sound strange therefore that a friend and I booked a holiday to Montenegro precisely with the intent of not only visiting but sleeping at Nikki Beach, creators of the first and original luxury beach club concept. Stranger still, the fact that for one of the full days we were there, I quite literally did not leave the compound (the only time in my life I’ve ever done this).
So let me begin by explaining that Nikki Beach Montenegro is really quite special. On the shore of pristine Tivat Bay, it offers far more than your standard beach club, and more even than their more famous outposts in Saint Tropez and Saint Barth. Sure, there are the sparkling-leotard-clad saxophonists and pushy waiters encouraging you to order more champagne. But if entrepreneur Jack Penrod and his team (who founded the first Nikki Beach over twenty years ago) know anything, it’s how to appeal to that luxury-loving female demographic. If I were planning a high-budget hen do, this would be on the list.
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As soon as we arrive in the hotel lobby, bedraggled from airport delays and a long drive from Dubrovnik airport, I feel optimistic. Balinese straw art and comfy sofas strike a balance between a tropical nightclub and a wellness retreat. It could be Ibiza. Or Koh Samui. Or Santorini, Sardinia or Mallorca, for that matter… And that’s precisely the point. When you book a room at Nikki Beach you’re not looking for cultural immersion or unforgettable local experiences, but a switch off from your own reality. And guiltily, I was here for just that.
Waking up in the morning though, we couldn’t be anywhere but Montenegro. From our hotel terrace (room 11, by the way, boasting a terrace to rival most hotel rooms in square footage), the sea was only a few hundred metres away. The characteristic deep blue-green expanse swept out before us, with steep, forested mountains sloping straight down into the water, their colour reflected in its crystal surface. Cool, clean and incredibly deep, the sea here is the antithesis of the over-heated, over-crowded beaches the rest of the Med saw this summer.
Balance out the partying at the Nikki Spa, where it’s all about finding your inner zen. The gym is kitted out with top notch cardio and strength-training equipment from Life Fitness (the number one fitness brand in North America). Set aside a day to enjoy the panoramic, glass-walled indoor pool, unwind in the hot tub, and spoil yourself with a beauty treatment or massage. Non-guests can also book a detox spa day – high energy dishes and immune boosting drinks included.
Breakfast is an Instagrammer’s dream (avocado on toast, shakshuka, artful stacks of pancakes with fruit compôte), yet the flavours live up to the appearance. Inside, a buffet counter has kitsch mason jars filled with ginger shots and green elixirs, overnight oats, pastries, and tropical fruit galore. Mini Smeg fridges contain Montenegrin and Balkan specialities; white prljo cheese, pickles, and hedgerow marmalades. This is a breakfast that was designed to be nutritious and energising.
Below the Cali-inspired restaurant terrace was the first of four swimming pools. That’s right: there’s a quiet pool for drifting off with a good book in hand; a long, thin, family-friendly one for doing lengths or paddling in the shallow end; a deep blue-green indoor pool for cooler days in shoulder season or late evening dips. And then, the pièce de resistance, the Party Pool. From around midday, the DJs are on the decks. Yachts start turning up, their guests serenaded by a saxophonist as they stroll into the beach club. Hotel guests are given a giant VIP sunbed by the pool, where you can order cocktails and a suitably glitzy lunch including caviar-topped sushi boats, big colourful salad platters, and lobster tacos. Especially delicious when paired with a giant pina colada served in a pineapple.
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Aside from boogie-ing by – or in – the pool, there are kayaks and SUPs to hire, while adventurous swimmers can take a dip in the refreshingly cool sea, or swim all the way out to the small island of Gospa od Milosdra (although it’s recommended to go with a paddle-boarding companion for safety). If you want to visit the neighbouring Porto Montenegro, a private speed boat will take you the ten minute journey for a very reasonable €10 each way.
Come sunset, the pool-side partying dies down in time for guests to change into their evening gear and re-emerge for more sophisticated and mellow entertainment. Every evening has a different theme in the hotel’s al fresco restaurant, Soul Lounge: Thursday is Turkish Night, a chance to tuck into traditional Anatolian delicacies under the stars while overlooking the splendid views of Tivat Bay. Other special events might include a White Nights party, a Retro Pastel pool party, or other fancy dress celebrations.
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From the little touches (picturesque floral displays, excellent front of house staff, a giant pink flamingo in the pool) to the rooms (which are pleasingly minimal, with soft white linens and contemporary open spaces) this is a hotel which knows when to hold back, and when to go all out. So gather your girl gang and book a long weekend to Europe’s hottest and most luxurious new party destination.