Whether you’re familiar with him or not, Nikola Tesla is a name you are likely to hear as soon as you arrive in Belgrade. The capital’s international airport is named in his honor, the Nikola Tesla Museum is one of the top tourist attractions in the city, and his face is found on every 100 Serbian dinar banknote. As much as I’d love to say after all the trips I’ve made here that I actually knew a thing or two about who Tesla was and why he is so important not only to Serbians, but to the entire world, I embarrassingly had no clue except something to do with science or math. Or science and math.
While that is for sure something that a quick Google search could easily rectify, on my latest trip in the White City, I decided to take it to the next level and stay inside the world of “the man that invented the twentieth century” at Hotel Tesla Smart Stay – the first and only themed hotel in Belgrade.
Opened less than five months ago, this shiny baby of a boutique hotel dedicated to Tesla is one of the most interesting hotels I’ve seen in the Balkans and turned out to be a pretty perfect place to post up for a couple of my last nights in town. Located in Vračar, a quiet albeit sexy neighborhood with lots of trees about a 30-minute walk from Republic Square, it’s just a stone’s throw away from one of the largest Orthodox cathedrals in the world – Church of Saint Sava – and well connected by public transportation.
Converted into a hotel from an old apartment building, all of its 17 rooms are quite large – most of which are suites – so perfect for families, a group of friends, business travelers, or anyone looking for more spacious accommodation. That said, prices are also quite reasonable for Belgrade hotel standards and when factoring in the high level of quality and comfort you begin to understand why Hotel Tesla is branded as “smart stay”.
Quality and comfort aside, every design detail was incredibly well thought out with a different one of his original patents covering the walls of the rooms down to the formula of the “tesla” unit of magnetic flux density you can spot on the breakfast plates. The flat screen TVs are none other than “Tesla” brand and in my welcome basket I was gifted what is now one of my most prized possessions: a lightbulb-shaped bottle filled with homemade rakija.
Perhaps the biggest perk of staying at Hotel Tesla is you have free entry into the Tesla Museum which they also arrange to ensure your visit coincides with a tour in English so you bet I took them up on that offer to learn a bit more about the man, the myth, the legend. I had always heard great things about the exhibits there from other travelers and guests on my Balkan tours and in the end I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I was fascinated.
Born in Smiljan, Croatia (at the time it was part of the Austrian empire) to ethnic Serb parents and transplanted to New York City in 1884 to work for Edison, Tesla is credited with inventing or playing a central role in the development of more things than you could ever imagine – the most important being the alternating current (AC) electrical system which completely changed our everyday life and the world’s industrial game.
To say Tesla was under appreciated and his genius taken for granted during his lifetime is an understatement which the museum does a good job of bringing to light. Even if you failed most of your science classes in high school, it’s worthy of a visit to understand why Tesla was the greatest geek who ever lived or even just to pay your respects to his ashes because if it wasn’t for him we’d probably still be lighting candles to find our way in the dark.
Tesla was a true legend and I think it’s amazing that in addition to a museum, Belgrade now has a sexy hotel that pays tribute to him. Hotel Tesla has done an incredible job of fashioning his life and works into a stylish and extraordinarily comfortable accommodation option so if you’re looking for somewhere unique to stay the next time you’re around Belgradetown, here’s something for you to consider.