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Review: The Hotel Pacai, Vilnius, Lithuania

29/12/2022 by .
The Hotel Pacai entrance from street copy

Anthea Gerrie discovers cutting-edge style at the Hotel Pacai within the Old World of Vilnius’s historic town centre.

It goes without saying that Vilnius would have a chic, uber-modern hotel for fashionistas in the know; the most vibrant city in eastern Europe may be cheap as chips to fly into, but even the best-value destination demands a posh perch for high-flyers looking for extraordinary surroundings.   The Hotel Pacai, first Design Hotels property in the Baltic, will not disappoint; it’s as stylish as any hotel to be found in Milan or New York and all the more extraordinary for being hidden in plain sight bang in the middle of a chocolate-box-gorgeous Old Town.

This achingly hip hostelry is a triumph for minimalism, given that the buildings which form its skeleton started life in 1667 as one of the most ornate homes in the Lithuanian capital.   Owned by a member of the Pacai noble family who was the country’s cultural ambassador, the mansion was designed by the same architects and team of Italian artists and craftsmen who made the city’s Church of St Peter and St Paul a masterpiece of Lithuanian Baroque.

Hotel Pacai inner entrance from courtyard

The Hotel Pacai, its entrance hidden within one of the secret courtyards which make Vilnius so enchanting, may have been stripped back quite literally to the original brick in places, but as many original details, including frescoes, have been preserved as possible.  Wall paintings have been restored fragment by fragment and doors which were closed off and cemented when the palace was first taken over from the Pacai family have been reopened.

Two floors have been added to create a five-storey hotel, transforming the Baroque palace which once offered hospitality to the likes of Czar Alexander I and Napoleon into stylish lodgings fit for 21st-century tech tycoons and party people.

Hotel Pacai room shot copy

Each of the 94 rooms and 10 suites is different, but all are clad in soothing neutrals, unique features like panels of exposed brick reminding guests of the hotel’s 17th-century heritage and providing a thrilling contrast to the modernity of the furnishings.   Bathrooms are dramatic marble oases – some white, others like mine so dark and womb-like that entering felt like a trip to the spa.  Most have tubs – and some tubs are in bedrooms – but I was happy with my huge walk-in shower.

Hotel Pacai bathroom

Even the lobby, with its living wall, is enchanting, and dining options display a distinctly Nordic influence.   Claus Meyer, co-founder of Copenhagen’s famous Noma, was one of the original investors, and although the food and beverage direction has now changed, breakfast in the 14 Horses brasserie felt suitably Scandinavian – both Lithuania and Denmark are, after all, Baltic nations.  Today Icelandic chef Arnar Bjarkason presides over a New Nordic menu with Japanese touches, but local hearty comfort food is available steps away in Vilnius’s Glass Quarter, home to several traditional Lithuanian inns.

The night I stayed the restaurant was closed, but guests packed out the Sofija bar where small plates are served alongside cocktails on huge, comfortable sofas overlooking the courtyard.  In summer, both brasseries and bar extend outside, and the courtyard, one of the hotel’s most fabulous attributes, also plays host to art events and special dinners from time to time.

Hotel Pacai brasserie

There’s a full-service spa and gym, and fitness is guaranteed by the location – a 10-minute walk in one direction leads to the art colony and self-styled “republic” of Uzupis across the river and in the other to Pylimo, the street defining the boundary of the old town which is home to the MO modern art museum designed by Daniel Liebeskind.

Both routes lead through the historic streets of the Old Town, awash in reminders of the Russians, Poles and Germans who have all left their mark on Vilnius, though it is Lithuanians like architect Saulius Mikstas, who oversaw the transformation of the Hotel Pacai, who since independence have given their capital a beautiful modern face which looks forward as well as back at the past.

All images (C) The Hotel Pacai

Tell Me More About Staying At The Hotel Pacai

The Hotel Pacai, 7 Didzioj Street, 01128 Vilnius, Lithuania

Tel: +370 5 277 0000

Rooms from £148


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