a photograph of a hotel in the mountains

At Milka Boutique Hotel and Restaurant, Nature Won’t Be Ignored

Near Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, a new lakefront hotel uses traditional materials and design techniques that help guests refocus on the region’s natural beauty.

In the heart of Slovenia’s Julian Alps, the elegantly straightforward Milka Boutique Hotel and Restaurant reflects the region’s remarkable natural beauty. Once an outdated guest house on the outskirts of the town of Kranjska Gora, the space was completely reimagined in 2022 by Ljubljana-based Gartner Lifecycle Architecture to offer a genuine alpine experience, combining elements of traditional Slovenian culture and nature with simple, modern luxury.

Milka is a snug and sophisticated auberge, with four floors, six guest rooms, and roughly 8,500-square-feet that exude a serene sense of focus. Both the exterior and interior share a cohesive, organic simplicity through the extensive use of local wood and stone, intended to highlight the majestic mountain backdrop and views of the adjacent Jasna Lake. Inside, natural textures are accented with shades of crystal blue, deep forest greens, shimmering steel, and gray concrete, while the building’s dark facade is embellished with burnt, hand-brushed larch panels typical of the Gorenjska region—a traditional technique that emphasizes the wood’s texture while protecting it from environmental impacts.

a photograph of an interior with wood floors and a chair
a photograph of a guest room with a large bathtub

On the ground floor, Milka’s fine-dining restaurant serves fare that reflects the notoriously short but intense Alpine seasons, in bespoke ceramic dishes crafted by local artists. The same burnt larch panels adorning the exterior form the dining room’s windowpanes and ceiling panels—a cozy throughline connecting inner and outer worlds. The restaurant opens onto a similarly cozy outdoor terrace overlooking the lake and surrounding mountains.

The hotel’s reception area, along with a single basement-level guest suite and private sauna, sit partially buried in the sloped hillside, enhanced by a large limestone monolith serving as a reception desk. The unburied facade is formed from Slovenian limestone finished with two different techniques: in some areas, the stone is polished to blend into the environment, while other areas feature textural, horizontal lines to suggest the flow of movement toward the terrace.

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a photograph of a dining room seen through a window

Five guest suites occupy the remaining floors, where limestone is also incorporated into the floor tiles, bathtub pedestals, walls, and accent furniture. In the aptly named Rock Suite, limestone bedrock juts out to create an amorphous, textural foil for the linear wood panels and monochrome linens. One of the primary goals in designing the guest suites was to ensure that each room provided a clear view of the dreamy alpine backdrop. While small, the rooms feel spacious due to the color scheme, open floor plans, and ample daylight. A seasonal understanding dictates the suites’ color palettes, which range from saturated cerulean and muted, mossy greens inspired by the lake water to warm golden and mustard tones inspired by the falling autumn leaves. Velvet upholstery, oak wood panel floors, and tree stumps placed throughout rooms and common areas weave warmth and texture throughout the interiors.

Some people travel to distract themselves from the outside world, but here, that’s just not possible. Milka offers guests the exact opposite of distraction: Each design element draws deliberate attention to the nuances of the natural world surrounding it.

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