Lake Bled's varied hotels possess an inner charm

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LAKE BLED, Slovenia -- Lake Bled is not a bastion of luxury, but comfortable and even stylish lodgings cater to foreign visitors.

Developed as a major tourist center during the socialist 1970s and '80s, Lake Bled's hotels still include some concrete monoliths that stand in contrast to their beautiful surroundings.

One such monolith is the 400-room Hotel Park, frequently used by international tour groups because of its central location near the lake.

On the outside and in the public rooms, the hotel retains a 1970s fortress ambience, but the large guest rooms have been redone to feature four-star amenities and contemporary furnishings.

The hotel and its nearby sister property, Hotel Golf, have undergone a $3 million sprucing up over the past four years.

Service at the Hotel Park is excellent, and the English-speaking staff goes out of its way to make guests feel welcome, from the reception desk to the hotel restaurant.

Rooms overlook a swimming pool and the Julian Alps.

Rates start at $75 per person, double, in summer.

To book, call (011) 386-4 57-930, fax (011) 386-4 574-1505; e-mail [email protected] or log on to www.gp-hoteli-bled.si.

In the U.S., contact Slovenian Travel at (212) 358 9024; fax (212) 358 9025; send e-mail to [email protected] or visit www.sloveniatravel.com on the Web.

A favorite with British guests is the 120-room Hotel Toplice, a lakefront property located across the street from the Hotel Park.

The hotel is especially suitable for independent travelers who prefer an intimate setting.

Here you will find a British Empire-inspired decor with chintz, 19th century antiques, clubby lounges, colored glass chandeliers and mahogany staircases.

Guest rooms have similar period flourishes but are small and less inspiring than the public rooms; some offer great lake views.

There is an indoor pool with naturally warm water from thermal springs. Two noteworthy facilities in Bled are the hotel's spa and beauty center.

Summer prices range from $96, double, for a standard room to $143, double, for a suite. Rates include breakfast.

For information, call (011) 386-64 7910, fax (011) 386-64 741-841, e-mail [email protected] or log on to www.hotel-toplice.si. In the CRS, access SRS Hotels.

Some would argue that the most atmospheric property in Bled is the former retreat of Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslavia's longtime ruler.

Vila Bled is one of only two Relais & Chateaux properties in the former Eastern Bloc.

The 31-room villa is situated in a lovely park on the lake and offers its own private beach.

The decor is not for everyone: It's hard to tell where 1940s chic begins and 1960s kitsch ends.

The villa was renovated in 1984 and could benefit from a further refurbishment.

Rooms run from $135 per night, double, for a standard room to $350, double, for the presidential suite.

For information, call (011) 386-64 7915; fax (011) 386-4 741-320 or e-mail [email protected].

For reservations, access Relais & Chateaux in the CRS or call (800) 735-2478.

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