22 April 1925
Opening of the hotel. The architect was a Croat, Dionis Sunko. The Hotel was constructed for the Orient Express passengers near the railway station. The first guest was a businessman from Osijek, Mr. Glück who was considered to have brought good luck to the Hotel. (Glück in German means luck).
1925 - 1940
The Hotel was the center of the social life of Zagreb. It offered unseen luxury to the guests. All personalities coming to Zagreb, stayed at the Esplanade - Josephine Baker, Charles Lindbergh, kings, politicians, artists… The Esplanade was famous for elegant and refined balls of the high society.
1940 - 1945
During the war the Hotel was headquarters of Gestapo and Wehrmacht. Curzio Malaparte stayed at the hotel and wrote here his famous novel. Several waiters have been involved in spying on Germans for partizans. When they have been discovered, they have been shot.
1945 - 1960
Years of recovery after the war. The hotel was turned into the public kitchen, the plates and cutlery were aluminium. Poor people have been given to eat in the hotel restaurants. However, the arrival of business and cultural personalities started to change the image of the hotel, and the service started to improve.
The hotel joined Inter-Continental Hotels Corporation, in franchise agreement, as the first one from any socialist country. It proved to be a great success and the business flourished. Movie stars, cultural, political and business personalities started to arrive. Upon Esplanade experience, other Inter-Continental hotels in socialist countries followed. The Hotel introduced hotel standards (soaps, butter, shampoo, etc.) and forced the local producers to start producing quality and size requested by hotel.
The first casino in the country is opened by Miss Italy at the Esplanade.
The first Snack bar is opened at the Esplanade.
8 March 1975
The Esplanade constructed and inaugurated another Inter-Continental hotel in Zagreb. It was one company for several years.
Elena Tessadri, Italian writer writes a book entitled “Esplanade”. The romantic love story is entirely taking place at the Esplanade.
Famous pianist Ivo Pogorelic plays piano at the Emerald Ballroom within the classical music program named “Concerts at the Esplanade”.
A TV documentary is done about the Esplanade on the occasion of its 60th anniversary. The script is written by famous Croatian writer Zvonimir Milcec.
The first Bistro, a French cosy restaurant, in the country is opened at the same place where Snack bar was. Never before any restaurant had glass roof. It was the first time to have silk uniforms for hostesses at the Bistro. Every lady guest got a red rose. For the first time champagne and wine on glasses were served, and it was the first time to serve a small chocolate with the coffee. Bistro was a great success and the concept was largely followed by other restaurants.
The Hotel joined The Leading Hotels of the World, as the first one from the socialist country and the only one in Croatia.
Valentine’s Day was introduced for the first time in the country with great success. Until then it was completely unknown holiday. With years, it started the entire industry dedicated to love. Tiramisu – an Italian dessert – was introduced for the first time at the Bistro. It became a hit, and today is regularly offered in every restaurant.
12 April 1989
The Esplanade is independent and functions as one hotel company. The Inter-Continental Zagreb is a separate company.
First independent and free elections in Yugoslavia bring to power Croatian Democratic Union, headed by President Tudjman.
Croatia proclaimed independence. The war started. The Hotel
becomes headquarters for journalists. The Hotel accommodated first group of refugees from Vukovar in December 1991, but most of 70 refugees left within several weeks to other places. One refugee, a nurse from Vukovar is still living in the Hotel. The Hotel faced difficult period of lack of guests. One of the employees was killed in Vukovar and was proclaimed a hero. The shelter for guests was organized in the basement, in the restaurant Taverna Croatica. The only hotel in the country which
presented its macrobiotic menu – it was such a rare menu that American newspapers wrote about it.
The Esplanade was the first hotel in Croatia to be privatized.