Villa Astra, Kvarner
This is an impressive address - even for Croatia's "riviera". Vast rooms are decorated with paintings, sculptures and polished parquet. From the upper floors, tall windows look out on to a duck-egg-blue infinity pool and a garden of magnolias, camellias and palms. At the foot of the grounds is a private beach. Massage pavilions are planned for the waterfront. Nature trails snake along the shoreline and into the hills.
Link: Lovranske Ville
Karmen Apartments, Dubrovnik
Is this the finest spot in old Dubrovnik's Venetian port? Fishermen unload hauls of glistening bream and lobster onto the stone quay; on the next cobbled street, the morning sun touches the Renaissance colonnade of the Rector's Palace. The van Bloemens arrived from London in 1972; Marc's parents founded the Troubadour Coffee House where Jimi Hendrix once played. These four apartments are refreshingly homely with a pretty mix of old and new furniture and homespun bedspreads. Marc is dedicated to keeping Dubrovnik beautiful: he led the battle against brand-name parasols, now banned.
Link: Karmen Apartments
Hotel Valsabbion, Istria Valsabbion's deco-effect front hovers above the marina in the Pjescana uvala district of Pula. Bedrooms are comfortable with lush fabrics, leather sofas, tables topped with Zen pieces; balconies overlook the marina. At the top, a wellness centre offers hydromassage, therapies and an infinity pool. This small boutique hotel is family run: Sonja Peric takes care of the restaurant and the design while her sister Sandra runs the wellness centre and masterminds the hotel. The restaurant has won awards and the food is fabulous; for 10 years now the Valsabbion has been queen of Istrian cuisine.
Hotel Villa Annette, Istria Overlooking Rabac's bay, Villa Annette offers a super-comfortable minimalism - cream leatherette armchairs, gleaming modern stone floors - enlivened by warm colours from paintings and rugs. The bedroom suites are huge, with extra sofabeds, countryside views and the islands of Cres and Losinj in the foreground. The hotel is one of the pioneers of the Istrian Slow Food movement. You can even sign up for a Slow Food weekend .
Link: Villa Annette
KADO Resort & Spa, Krk
In one bedroom, a giant rose emerges from behind the headboard; in another, two large daisies stretch to the ceiling. The suites have murals and wrought-iron bedsteads, living rooms in rustic fabrics. Masses of outside space too: balconies with views of the island of Cres, shared decks protected by curved stone walls, seating areas and a grill bar. Wooden benches surround a hidden hot tub and in front of the main house are two gorgeous pools - one for adults, one for small children. Then there's the sauna, the restaurant, the massage spa ... and the welcome. Great for couples and young families.
Link: Resort Krk
Eia Eco Art Village, Istria After travelling in Africa and Asia, then working as a holistic therapist in London, Igor returned to Istria to resurrect his great-grandfather's wilderness retreat. It's a 60s-style vision of utopia; your bedroom a strawbale house or tent; water comes from harvested rain although there are some modest modern conveniences like rudimentary showers and a well-equipped kitchen. You may join a course in photography, permaculture, meditation and shamanic dance. Or just help out on the land.
Link: Eia Eco
Hotel & Winery Boskinac, Pag
The winery is like a Roman villa - a tall, terracotta topped country house, fronted by columns and surrounded by vineyards; which is fitting as the island is littered with Roman remains. Pag is a parched but beautiful strip of land with sandy beaches. The winery spills across a hillside above Novalja, the main resort, producing distinctive whites. Boris Suljic and Mirela Sanko have created something classic from new materials. Photos, paintings and dried flowers create the feel of an old country vineyard.
Lojzekova hiza, near Zagreb
Pilgrims have been coming to Marija Bistrica since the 13th century to see the statue of the Virgin Mary. Holiday makers come here in search of deep country. Lojzek's House was built just a decade ago, yet vintage pieces of farm machinery and quirky wooden furniture give the illusion of age. The welcome is genuine though. Pavica and Darko combine boundless energy with a naturally relaxed style, so both house and grounds are a playground for their children as well as yours - along with the animals.
Prisnjak Lighthouse, north Dalmatia The lighthouse looks like a seaside cottage - apart from the tower emerging from the sea-facing wall. Prisnjak island is as remote and wild as any on this coast, but Murter, with its pretty coastal resorts, is only 25 minutes by boat. Prisnjak's appeal is privacy - an island to yourself - and the views at sunset and sunrise from your own little beach. What's more, the waters are shallow, with steps in for children, and reach bath-like temperatures in summer.
Mrcara Island, south Dalmatia
A place for Swiss Family Robinsons, more goats than people live on this green islet, the Pavelins' wilderness home. They generate all their own electricity and wash and cook with natural rain water. Guests stay in basic bedrooms in the main house or in three wooden huts by the beach, each with a rudimentary shower. At the front is a pretty sand and pebble beach; the rest of the island has a rocky shoreline, brilliant for fishing and snorkelling. Communal meals in the evenings promise lively conversation.
Link: Mrcara Island