Floyd Room: a place to warm your bones beside the fire...
Written by Ed Lopez-Reyes   
Sunday, 30 December 2018

For Pink Floyd fans, a small accommodation in Croatia may quite easily be the most enjoyable, immersive, and memorable place to hang your coat while taking in one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Floyd Room has been open in its original form since 2007 though it took shape as a Pink Floyd themed stay last summer. We spoke with owners Boris and Iva Pleša about their business and the band that inspired it.

Brain Damage: How did you come up with the idea for Floyd Room?

Floydroom Zagreb Floydroom Zagreb Boris Pleša: It was something we dreamt about for a long time. We love music and we love to travel. We met so many wonderful people on our travels and we realized that music transcends national barriers very easily and helps people understand each other – even if they don’t speak the same language.

We’ve been huge Pink Floyd fans for most of our lives and we always wanted to share that energy with the world. Pink Floyd touched our lives deeply and in so many ways. When we started to renovate the apartments last year we realized there was a chance to finally do something about this dream.

There are two studio apartments at our place and they share a lounge where people have always visited to relax and meet other people so we thought it was a good idea to make this room a special place, a room filled with Pink Floyd-inspired wonders and a place where people can get to know each other. It was a perfect fit.

Basically, studio apartments stayed the same - except they’re completely renovated and modernized: their interior is minimalist, private, and with very few Floyd references. But this front room became a Floyd Room, hence the name.

BD: When did you open Floyd Room?

BP: We started renting the rooms as short term rentals in 2007. Last summer we decided it was time to renovate it completely and at that point we started to think about this Pink Floyd-inspired idea we had in mind for years.

BD: Have any members - either the core members (Mason, Gilmour, Waters, and Wright) or any of the band's studio musicians or touring members (Carin, Wallis, Page, Pratt, etc.) - stayed at the Floyd Room or in its previous incarnation before it took the Pink Floyd theme on?

Floydroom ZagrebBP: If any of them came knocking at our door tomorrow, I’d probably need medical treatment! But you never know. I think Scott Page would be a good contender - he already follows us on Instagram (laughs). It would be amazing to see Guy Pratt here, especially with his comedy show! He’s someone who would definitely bring happiness, joy, and laughter. I always felt there’s something very Croatian about him: I’m not sure if it’s his sense of humor, wittiness, positive energy, or maybe all those things together. You have to admire his musical mastery but at the same time I find it incredible that a man who worked with some of the biggest names on the planet remained such an ordinary person and with both feet on the ground. Amazing man. Guy, if you’re reading this: we love you!

floydroomzagreb_01.jpgBD: Croatia is, according to a reference on Wikipedia, one of the top 20 most popular tourism destinations in the world: do you find yourself hosting tourists that are not familiar with Pink Floyd?

BP: Yes, definitely! Everybody is welcome. And it’s something that’s written on our leaflets: Floyd Room is a place designed for Pink Floyd fans… and those who are about to become fans! This basically means that everybody will become a Pink Floyd fan at some point in life. And we’re here to hasten the process!

That was also the main task (and a tough one, I have to admit) – to make Floyd Room a place that real fans can enjoy in full sense but also to make it comfortable for people who are not familiar with the band at all. And we’re very happy because so far the reactions are great both ways!

BD: What is Pink Floyd’s history in Croatia?

BP: Pink Floyd never played in Croatia or ex-Yugoslavia. I’m not sure why because they’ve had - and still have - a great fan-base here. But quite recently we’ve had a couple of great solo shows in Croatia. Roger Waters played Zagreb in 2011 and Split in 2013, during The Wall Live tour. David Gilmour started the Rattle that Lock tour in Pula in 2015 and Roger Waters was here in Zagreb just a few months ago, again, with Us+Them tour. We’re still shaking!

BD: How close are you to some of the music venues in Croatia - like Pula Arena, Vintage Industrial Bar, etc.?

BP: Luckily, Zagreb is a rather small town for a capital, and since Floyd Room is located in the wider centre, we are very well connected to all the venues, from big sport arenas and stadiums to small clubs and bars.

Floydroom ZagrebFloydroom ZagrebBD: Do you visit with guests when they stay at your hotel - especially those that are definitely Pink Floyd fans?

BP: Oh yes, that’s the best part of it! Floyd Room is basically a private accommodation but since we designed the front room as a lounge filled with Pink Floyd-related items it became a shared space where people (not necessarily guests) can meet, listen to the LPs together, have a free drink and chat, play guitar, read books and magazines, or simply hang out.

On Record Store Day we invited people to come over for a free drink and to enjoy beautiful spring Saturday together. A few weeks later there was a cinema screening of The Wall so we bought a few tickets and then gave them away through our social media. Last week a few people dropped by and we spontaneously ended up with our guests in the garden discussing music and watching football. And something we are so looking forward to is a Pink Floyd Quiz that we are preparing here for when people get back from holidays!

BD: There is a lot of artwork in your hotel that makes reference to Pink Floyd: who made a lot of this artwork?

Floydroom ZagrebBP: We made it ourselves, for the most part. There’s so much memorabilia that you can get via the internet in no time these days… but we wanted to avoid clichés as much as we could. We didn’t want to make it easy for ourselves (laughs).

We really put a lot of thought into it. Most of the things are either pieces we made ourselves or rearranged in different ways to fit the concept. But, also, for the sake of the guests who are not into it, we tried to keep everything as subtle as we could. For instance; there’s no single picture of the band or live shows anywhere. On the other hand, true Pink Floyd fans are delighted when they find many Pink Floyd references, one after another, and we’re very happy about that!

The one that we are most proud of is the Mr. Screen replica. It was quite a journey to put all the pieces together and to make it work – but we made it, with a little help from our dear friends! We made A Nice Pair LP stickers for two round black bar stools to make them look like LPs. We have four wall clocks showing the local times in Montreal, Cambridge, Pompeii, and Baikonur. Most fans will know why!

On the shelves there are two wooden mannequins shaking hands and one of them was burned on our gas cooker! Next to them is a cigar, a little gong, a mini axe, a few prisms, a sand clock, Pink Floyd playing cards, two metal spheres (one standing on top of the other), a little cow, and a flying pig figurine. There’s even a fish bowl with two cactuses called David and Roger in it (and they get along just fine!). And last but not the least, there’s a little metal bike with all the things to make it look good.

Floydroom ZagrebBelow the circular screen is a turntable with LPs and more than fifty books on Pink Floyd. There is also a black acoustic guitar with colored strings and a guitar pick-shaped coffee table. Opposite to the screen is a projector from the sixties which is very similar to the one band was using in the early days.

I’ve always liked the subtle humor around Pink Floyd but at the same time I’ve noticed that most people simply don’t see it and look at it all as a very serious matter. The Collection of Great Dance Songs is a great example. The idea is hilarious and the cover is even better, one of my favorites.

That’s why we made few items in a funny way: beside the fish bowl and burned mannequin, we painted half of the black toilet brushes in red so they look like marching hammers.

We also designed a kid corner so they can enjoy Pink Floyd in a way too. We’ve made Atom Heart Mother puzzles and a coloring book with ten familiar motifs. We used original audio cassette boxes to make pen containers and kids really love them! And if they want to play with Legos they can choose any colour they like, as long it’s – white!

Floydroom ZagrebFloydroom ZagrebWe also have a big collection of Pink Floyd prints, posters, and postcards that we collected over the years. We were buying them mostly on our travels (some of them at Victoria and Albert last year, during the Pink Floyd exhibition) and we are very fond of them. Since we wanted to make it as subtle as we could, very few of those ended up on the walls and we chose only the ones based on Hipgnosis iconography. Their fantastic, surreal imagery is something I’ve looked at for years and never get bored. These images really stand equal to any great contemporary art as far as I’m concerned.

BD: Do you play any music yourself?

BP: I play guitar and I used to play in bands. At the moment I don’t play but hope to get in that track again. Playing in a band was one of the most joyful experiences I've had but funnily enough it’s the one that can drive you nuts as well (laughs).

Floydroom ZagrebIva doesn’t play any instruments but while she was singing in a choir as a kid they recorded an album that was published for a major label on LP! And when your wife has her name written on an LP that's something you don’t ess with (laughs).

BD: Have you met members of Pink Floyd?

BP: We were next to them in public on a couple of occasions (Nick Mason at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Roger Waters on the street in Verona), but there was one short warm moment, some might say, that was rather special: in 2015 David Gilmour and his band played in Pula, a beautiful town on the Croatian coast and that was the very first concert on the Rattle That Lock tour. The day before the show I was already there with my wife and kids. In the afternoon I took a walk on my own to this magnificent Roman amphitheatre and noticed some activity in there. When I looked over the fence, I saw Mr. Screen in full swing and Phil Taylor, onstage, setting up the gear. I trembled because I knew that everybody else was there for sure.

A few minutes later I saw an elderly couple walking inside the ruins and realized the amphitheatre was open to the public like on any other day. I rushed to the entrance, bought myself a visitor’s ticket and went inside. Amazingly, half an hour later I had the privilege to watch the whole sound check, which lasted for an hour or so, standing in front of the stage.

Floydroom ZagrebAt some point David left the stage and suddenly appeared, alongside Polly, in front of me on his way to the mixing desk. And there you are, in the middle of a glorious Roman Amphitheatre on the beautiful late summer evening, standing in front of your hero. We simply said hello and smiled to each other and they continued walking slowly to the mixing desk. It was a very Gilmouresque laid back encounter. No autographs, no selfies, just a simple smile and hello. Very special moment for me and I’m very thankful for that.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet Guy Pratt, Jon Carin, Snowy White, Dave Kilminster, Harry Waters, P.P. Arnold, Graham Broad, Bryan Chambers, Lucita Jules and Phil Taylor.

Being a graphic designer, it was amazing to meet Aubrey Powell and Gerald Scarfe as well. They are, alongside the irreplaceable Storm Thorgerson, my true heroes. These people immensely influenced my work [Boris works as a graphic designer, in addition to owning the Floyd Room accommodation] and the way I try to look at things, which is very important in what I do. I’m very grateful for that.

BD: What was your first Pink Floyd concert?

BP: 19 August 1994 in Wiener Neustadt. Division Bell tour. I was nineteen. Blew my mind!

BD: How did you discover Pink Floyd?

Floydroom ZagrebBP: First there were the visuals. In the late eighties, there was a street market in the very center of Zagreb where some older guys were selling second hand LP’s. Every day after school I’d walk through the market but didn’t have the nerve to approach them and start a conversation because I was still a kid. But I remember watching all of these amazing album covers and one day I finally gathered courage and bought myself this beautiful, cosmic black LP with a prism and colors going through the gatefold, inside out! And hearing the music when I got home was something that I still remember so clearly, like it happened this morning. I’m sure that a lot of people experienced the same feeling - it felt like I was really at home.

BD: There are some countries where Pink Floyd seems to have an even more fierce fan base than other places - France comes to mind: what are Pink Floyd fans in Croatia like?

BP: There is a very strong rock fan-base in this region and Pink Floyd is definitely one of the bands a lot of people are familiar with. There was a cultural movement during the eighties in ex-Yugoslavia called Novi Val (New Wave) and some great creative energy spontaneously happened here at that time. It was not only music, but a mini-counterculture revolution in general: theatre, design, literature… all at the same time. From then on, a lot of people started exploring the wider picture, and, in that sense, they still do. As a result, many people here definitely feel that music is an important part of their identity.

BD: Do you know of any other hotels/accommodations in the world that are based on Pink Floyd or any other bands?

Floydroom ZagrebBP: We did a lot of research and we found out that there’s a Pink Floyd hostel in Rome, Pink Floyd apartments in Barcelona, and a Pink Floyd Hotel in Pushkar, India! We haven’t been to any of those but we’ve been to a Pink Floyd Café in Prague and a Pink Floyd coffee shop in Amsterdam. Those two were great fun!

Our concept is a bit different since we didn’t want to use the name and we spent a lot of time with our lawyers talking about copyrights and intellectual property. We were very careful because we didn’t want to get in trouble even with the best intentions in mind. We clearly communicate through all our platforms that Floyd Room is designed by/for the fans and we are more like a fan club in that sense. That’s very important and we try to point that out very directly, in respect to the band.

BD: What is the music scene there like? Who are some of the local bands to check out?

BP: Local music scene is really great and a lot of things are happening right now. There are always plenty of new young bands to check out and many people from all over the world are coming here to play clubs and festivals. In that sense, Croatia is a very exciting place at the moment. There is so many great bands here and it’s a bit unfair to choose only a few amongst them but if I really had to pick few of them I’d say Let3, Bambi Molesters, and Chui. They sound nothing like Pink Floyd (laughs) - but check them out, they’re really amazing!

BD: Shark Island is a band with an epic Sunset Strip history in Los Angeles that will be releasing an album next year titled Bloodline ... they influenced bands like Guns n' Roses and were really precursors to much of the hard rock that came from that area in the 1980s and 1990s... the current line-up has a Croatian tie and has actually played there in recent years... Are you familiar with Damir Simic Shime and the hard rock band Shark Island?

BP: Yes, I know the band and their music but I didn’t know that Shime plays with them now. Wow! Shime played in one of the very well known bands here but after they split I hadn’t’ heard about him for a long time. I’m gonna definitely check this new line-up out! Thanks!

BD: How many people work at your accommodation or do you run it by yourself?

BP: It’s only two of us. It’s a small business and not the main one. We both have our regular jobs. Iva works at the university and as a tourist guide. I’m a graphic designer working from home which is great because I can be there for guests at any time. The only staff we have in mind at this point are our little girls! They’re 4 and 6 now but the learning process had already started for them, believe me (laughs).

BD: Iva, what are some important landmarks and things you would advise your guests to see when they stay with you in Zagreb? 

Floydroom ZagrebIva Pleša: Working as a tourist guide in Zagreb since 2004 I've seen so many changes in the city – in a good way – that I could hardly recognize the city from that time.

Zagreb is a mid-sized central European city, situated in the continental part of Croatia, but, we like to add, with a Mediterranean flair. We like to spend time outside, in parks, on cafe terraces and in the streets. In recent years tourism has changed the city into a vibrant, surprising place with numerous little bars, galleries, and museums just waiting to be discovered.

It's also a city of culture: there are an increasing number of festivals based on film, music, food, craft beer and events based on street art, contemporary dance, and other performing arts.

While you are in Zagreb you shouldn't miss a stroll through upper town, a historical part of Zagreb with lots of stories to tell. It's a popular pedestrian zone with many cafes, bars and shops. There's also a long tradition of arts and crafts there and that's something worth checking out too.

During the summer it's all about the street life and parks. Locals and tourists can be seen relaxing barefoot in the parks and enjoying local food, kids playing and listening to stories, usually with live, laid back music or DJs.

There's a mountain above the city called Medvednica and it's the place locals like visiting all year long. It's a perfect getaway from the heat during the summer but it's also a place you can go skiing in the winter.

Zagreb was voted the best Christmas market in Europe by European Best Destinations’ online poll in 2015, 2016, and 2017 (real votes from real people) so at that time of the year Zagreb is definitely a place to be.

Our town is also well-known for its openness and tolerance and that's something we're very proud of too. So welcome!

BD: Iva, how many days does someone need to stay in Zagreb to really absorb the city?

IP: I would say more and more. From one to two days as a destination, or better yet, stop over on your way to the coastline:  Zagreb has become a place to be. It’s offering numerous programs all year long and it’s a great city-break destination. Croatia has great new highways and Zagreb is very well connected to other parts of the country so this is a perfect place to settle and make one-day excursions.

Zagreb is big enough to get lost in (in a good way), and small enough to run into somebody to chat with. With public transport that works 24 hours a day, with a configuration that works well for biking all over the city, with a vibrant cultural, music, and sports scene it is really hard to decide which time of year to come to Zagreb. So anytime is a great time!

BD: Your accommodation is highly (very well) rated: what do you think has been the key to your success?

Floydroom ZagrebBP: We’ve just started this so I wouldn’t call it a success yet but we’re really happy with the reception! We are giving our best to give our guests as much as we can to make them feel comfortable and relaxed at our place. The Floyd-themed interior is just an icing on the cake, I would say. For those who like those kind of sweets!

BD: Boris, it is rumored you are a Pink Floyd expert ... that you know some very obscure trivia... do you have any Pink Floyd trivia that is specific to Croatia? What do you find to be the most interesting piece of trivia about Pink Floyd?

BP: Oh, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert! Especially compared to all these amazing people like Matt Leonard or you (the Brain Damage) guys. I read a lot, that’s for sure; we have more than fifty books on Floyd here and I’ve read them all. It’s fair to say I’m a devoted fan.

Since Pink Floyd never played here there isn’t much I can share with you in that sense. But there’s a really cool story that Roger Waters shared with all of us during his show here in Zagreb two months ago. He was telling us about some old friend of his who was travelling to Zagreb from Austria and got lost along the way. It was long ago, in the early fifties, and there were no road signs or anything. When he finally managed to find somebody who spoke English it was a big bloke with a mustache who just said: “There is only one road in Yugoslavia”. And that was it! What he obviously meant was there is only one road so you can’t get lost (laughs). Roger was laughing so hard while telling that story! But he also took that reference on a more meaningful level to seriously point out that “there really IS only one road and we get to travel it once”. It’s a great point and something we can all relate to easily.

There’s another story I’ve read somewhere that Roger had a gun pointed to his head by some maniac somewhere on the road in Yugoslavia in early sixties when he was travelling to Greece with his friends but I don’t know if that’s true or whether someone made that one up.

I definitely like the first “road story” better!

BD: Do you still have Floyd Room merchandise that people can order online, like your Floyd Room-themed mugs?

Floydroom Zagreb BP: No. We don’t sell merchandise. And we definitely won’t sell any in the future since we are not a shop. The only thing we give away are guitar picks on a keychain with Floyd Room logo as a little something we’ve made for our guests as a gift when they are leaving.

BD: To each of you - Boris and Iva: what is your favorite Pink Floyd era... Barrett, Waters, or Gilmour?

BP: Oh no, I knew this would come up..!

Honestly, I’d probably give a different answer depending on the time of the year or even the mood I’m in at any given moment. It’s quite amazing that even if these eras are completely different in style, form and context, they all connect somehow. It’s a great mystery to me. And a beautiful one too!

I really like the imperial era with Waters in lead because that’s the first Floyd music I’ve listened to and the one I’m very attached to. On the other hand, Gilmour era is very special because it was happening in real time for me and it felt like I was part of it in a way. And the Barrett era is something I’m becoming fond of more and more Floydroom Zagreb with the years because I feel there are so many layers still to be discovered there. And I can’t tell you how excited I am that uncle Nick and his gang are on the road. We’re gonna see them in Vienna in two months and I can’t wait!

Floydroom ZagrebI have to add something here. After David Gilmour released Live at Pompeii and I found myself on the cover (which is absolutely insane!) I’d say my favorite is definitely the post-Gilmour-Gilmour era (laughs)!

IP: Gilmour era, definitely. I felt it was something happening in front of me in and I can clearly remember what I was doing at the time when I first heard some of the songs. But I like the seventies too!

BD: How did you both meet? Was there anything related to Pink Floyd at your wedding (music they played or anything)?

BP: Funny enough, we both grew up in Zagreb, Croatia but we met in Prague, Czech Republic at a – (you can see this coming) – Pink Floyd concert. Years later we got married and there’s nothing very special about that to be honest. We didn’t have a “proper wedding”, but it was great: a big barbecue party in the garden for our family and friends with lots of rock music, Floyd included.

Floydroom ZagrebFloydroom ZagrebFloydroom ZagrebBut there is something related to our personal lives and Pink Floyd that is quite extraordinary. Our first daughter was born on 5 September, the same day the two of us met on a bus on a trip to Prague and our second daughter was born on 19 August, the same day I first saw Pink Floyd.

BD: How many people can Floyd Room host at a time?

BP: Floyd Room can host up to six guests. It consists of two fully equipped studio apartments (4+2) and a shared lounge. There is also a free parking in front of the house and a wide garden in the back that is open to the guests. It’s a typical family run accommodation in a friendly residential neighborhood, except this little Pink Floyd twist we've just told you about.

BD: What is the best way for someone to book accommodation at Floyd Room?

BP: Through our website, floydroom.com, which leads to Booking.com

You can find more information at FloydRoom.com. All photos courtesy of Floyd Room.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 01 January 2019 )