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Global Airbnb Design Diaries: A Quick Peek Into Croatia

Travel with us around the world as we give the do's and don'ts of designing vacation rental homes and Airbnb's in our Global Airbnb Design Dairies series.

Rovinj - Croatia

Ah, Croatia – where every corner boasts sandy shores, epic history, and a homey feeling that just won't let you leave. From the timeless allure of Rovinj to the breathtaking beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park, this destination truly has it all.

As designers who've seen a fair share of the world, we're all about testing out Airbnb's top global destinations to give you insight into how to stand out from your competition. As interior design nerds, we can't help but notice the details most folks might miss. Today, we're excited to share our insights from a recent budget-friendly Airbnb stay, focusing on the elements that captivated us and suggesting enhancements that could elevate the guest experience, viewed through the lens of a vacation home designer and frequent Airbnb user.

Croatia Airbnb Overview

Location: Rovinj, Croatia

Size: 2 bedroom, 1 bath loft apartment

Price: Approx 200 Euro/night

Our design rating: 7.5/10

Photos by White Dahlia Design

With its exposed wood, stone, metalwork, and concrete, this place totally channels that authentic Croatian feel. It feels like stepping into a history book, especially within those old-town nooks. This spot exudes Croatian charm, with exposed wooden beams, rugged stone walls, and cool rope details that evoke tradition. These rustic touches not only add character but also pay homage to Croatia's rich cultural history.

First Up: The Airbnb Hits

1 -- The design speaks to the environment:  They did a great job of following our number one rule, which is making sure that the design speaks to the vibe of the city and the neighborhood. We were captivated by the vintage feel of the place because it harmonized with the historical building it's situated in and meshed perfectly with the ambiance of the old town neighborhood. It felt like stepping back in time while still enjoying most of the modern comforts. The furniture had that cool vintage flair, and some bespoke decor pieces paid homage to the local arts and crafts scene. This property had a unique style that fit right in, mixing old-school charm with modern elegance seamlessly. We can't stress enough how important it is to match the style of your Airbnb to the surrounding neighborhood vibe. Guests often visit an area or city for its vibe, so your place must reflect the same feeling.

Google Photo

2 -- Loads of Natural Light: Even though some of those old heritage buildings have tight spaces and narrow alleys, we were impressed by how they made the most out of it. Light colors and smart window coverings made the place feel super bright and open, showing off those awesome views. The key is to always let natural light by using dual curtains, sheer for daytime, and a second layer of light-blocking curtains if it is a sleeping area.

3 -- Ample Storage Solutions: Since long-term stays are becoming more and more popular with remote workers, having well-equipped kitchens and plenty of storage space is a huge plus. Having cabinets filled with cookware and utensils, roomy pantries for storing provisions, and cleverly hidden storage nooks kept our living area neat. This setup allowed us to fully indulge in our cooking endeavors since eating out every day gets quite expensive.

Here are some kitchen tips:

  • Make sure that your layout is intuitive so guests aren't frustrated hunting for essential items.

  • Stay there for a day or two and see what you are missing when you're cooking and cleaning.

  • Things to keep the kitchen organized such as hooks for tea towels - hooks around the house are often a main feature of convenience often overlooked by hosts.

  • Don't forget small kitchen appliances like a toaster, kettle, and coffee press, and wow your guests with international items like chopsticks.

  •  Small thoughtful items like cooking oil, milk, coffee cream, sugar, and salt/pepper go a long way since they are annoying for guests to buy at each rental.

  • Make sure to -refill items and to check/replace broken items after each stay.

Another key area they did well for storage was in the bedroom. Each room had a dedicated dresser or closet space which is critical for guests' organization. If you do not have a closet in the bedroom, it is so important to make sure you supply a dresser.

Photos by White Dahlia Design

4 -- Spacious Seating: After a day of sightseeing and exploration, having a large sofa to stretch out on and relax is a must! It is so important to have enough comfortable seating for the maximum number of people listed on the property. If you have two bedrooms then comfortable seating for 4 is a must, both in the living room and the dining area. This apartment, although small did a great job at making sure there was enough seating for 4 in both areas. Occasional seating like fold-up chairs is also a big bonus for any listing.

The Airbnb Misses: Areas for Improvement

First impressions: As big believers in the importance of making a good first impression, we felt a bit let down by the lackluster entryway and vestibule. When we arrived, we were met with plain corridors, uninspiring foyers, and walls that were just plain bare. We think that paying more attention to the little things in designing entry spaces – like adding some cool artwork, a bit of greenery, and some ambient lighting – could have jazzed up the vibe and made guests feel more welcomed and remembered as soon as they walked in. Accent lighting can be a great design feature even more so when guests arrive in the evening or night.


Cozy Touches: The overall ambiance was somewhat lacking in warmth and coziness. Specifically, we noticed a shortage of soft furnishings like area rugs, comfy throw pillows, and blankets, which could have softened the aesthetic and made the spaces feel more comfortable and homely. If you're tackling a big, lofty space that feels a bit empty, think big with your decor! Go for pendants or chandeliers, and don't forget to jazz up those walls with cool art. Toss in some tall plants to be in some zen. Oh, and adding cozy textiles and tactile elements strategically can really tie the whole vibe together and make it super inviting.


Is All About the Flair: Bare walls, empty spots, and basic furniture left certain areas feeling rather bland and easily overlooked, a less-than-ideal impression for welcoming guests. One effective solution to this issue? Infuse vibrancy and personality into the space by incorporating a cohesive color scheme, instantly revitalizing the ambiance and creating a more inviting atmosphere for guests.


A functional space layout: Despite the historic property's inherent charm and architectural details, there's an evident disconnect in terms of layout and spatial organization. For instance, the oversized coffee table dominates the seating area, hindering movement and overwhelming the space. Similarly, the choice of a round dining table consumes more space than necessary, contributing to a cramped feel. To address these issues, a strategic approach to furniture placement is crucial.


If redesigning the space layout, we would have aimed to maximize the living corner by adding more seating and selecting a properly proportioned art piece and lighting to complement the area. Moreover, we intend to swap the current oversized coffee table for a smaller one to maintain balance in the room's aesthetic. Introducing a peninsula kitchen would provide extra seating, potentially eliminating the need for a dining table altogether.

Lighting mood: While we appreciate the influx of natural light during the day, the atmosphere becomes less inviting after dark. Insufficient lighting fixtures result in certain areas being too dim, while others are excessively bright. This fails to evoke the cozy and relaxed ambiance we desire. Incorporating additional lighting, such as floor lamps or table lamps, could enhance the space, creating a more inviting environment conducive to a relaxed evening gathering.

Explore a selection of decorative elements perfect for enhancing the living and dining areas:

The takeaway

Our Airbnb adventure in Croatia was a wild ride through the country's eclectic lodging scene, unveiling all sorts of design flavors, perks, and guest vibes. We stumbled upon some spots that blew us away with their rustic vibes, cool designs, and awesome extras. But, hey, some areas could use a little sprucing up to amp up the guest experience. If Croatia's Airbnb hosts step up to the plate and tweak these bits, they've got a real shot at crafting stays that travelers won't ever forget, letting them dive headfirst into the magic and charm of this incredible spot.

If you are already immersed in the STR (short-term rental) market, we recommend reading our past article on Elevating Your Airbnb To Become A Super Host or Designing an Airbnb Plus Property. For some Mediterranean design pro tips, you can also explore Interior Design Trends Around the World: A Mediterranean Paradise.

Remember that we are here to help you make your space a reality, so if you need an extra hand, schedule your free intro call with us here. We are available worldwide!


White Dahlia Design Team


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