In the early 2010s Split underwent through a Renaissance of its local tourist industry that was initially carried by small local travel agencies and the privately owned accommodation sector, dominated by single-listing owners who turned their second homes into lodgings. This explosion of travel-related activity plateaued only in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemics, and has been responsible for the massive numbers of beds available in small-scale accommodation. In the current market, it is estimated that hotels hold only about 18% of the total number of beds, though they are projected to gradually grow over the rest of the 2020s as several large-scale projects are coming to an end (Hilton Hotel, Hotel Ambasador) or are expected to begin soon (Hotel Marjan).
This means that the private accommodation takes up most of the market, which is particularly evident in and around the Old Town where only a handful of hotels exist. Long gone are the days of the so-called ‘zimmer-frei’ tourism when old wives with cardboard signs spelling zimmer frei (German for ‘free rooms’) fought for every traveler stepping on to the platform of Split’s main bus station.
Taught by Dubrovnik’s path-setting example of the late 2000s which underlined the value of privately-owned accommodation, Split’s apartment offer is dominated by small-scale business, which are mostly owned by locals.
Currently, the local short-term rent market is serviced primarily by the two international online booking platforms Airbnb and Booking.com. This is particularly true for the city of Split, and might not apply to smaller towns and villages in the vicinity or on the islands, where older practices of returning visitors and phone-in reservations still seem to somewhat thrive. This means that if you want to find an apartment, a studio or a non-hotel room in Split, you are best advised to register and browse the offers of these two websites.
In our experience, regarding Split in particular, private listings on Airbnb tend to be small-scale operations, where single-owners advertise their one or two accommodation units. On Booking.com, however, there is a greater percentage of medium-scale operations present on the platform, which include the likes of boutique hotels, heritage hotels, luxury rooms, apartment hotels, etc. which usually denote a 4 to 10 room facility which may or may not come with some of the perks of ‘regular’ hotels like breakfast, reception desk, or bar.
Most hotels in Split can be found primarily on the most popular international booking platforms or through contact forms on their official websites. Most are not platform exclusive and can be easily found on Booking.com and/or its affiliate Agoda as well as their main competitor Expedia with their subsidiary Hotels.com.
Most hotels in the Old Town of Split are on the smaller-scale of things, limited by the smaller plot sizes of the historical medieval buildings. They are often branded as luxury or boutique hotels and offer a relatively personalized experience for all guests since their capacities can be very limited.
The larger hotels are situated in the more modern parts of the city and tend to be more removed from the outside world than the medium and smaller-sized ones. Resorts are scarce in the area and even more removed from the city center, concentrated more on the experience within the resort than the experience within the city itself.