After about a 20-minute transfer from the Intl airport, we arrived at this hotel for a long weekend, and first impressions were that the hotel looked very nice and was greeted by a warm lady on reception (Victoria). Check in took about 2 minutes and took the lift the 6th floor to our room (604).
The room was well decorated and had more lights on that Gatwick Airport but at least it was nice and bright. The room had tea, coffee, a kettle, and powdered milk sachets. The room has a safe and also a mini-bar too, we didn’t use the mini-bar and therefore don’t know how expensive items are.
The bed looked like 2 beds pressed together but was still very comfortable but maybe a little low for some people. The room had a TV that only seemed to have the news in English but we didn't spend much time in the room anyway.
The bathroom was well decorated and had a semi-circle walk in shower. I had to duck to get into the shower (as I'm about 6-6.1 but the shower head was at about the 7 foot mark; so I didn't have to worry about banging my head but just had to watch it as I walked into the shower. The bathroom also had a bidet for those of you who wish to use it.
Overall the room looks comfortable and is light but the only downside of the room was that it was far too hot for my partner and I. We made the mistake of turning on the climate control to its coldest setting and went out for a bite to eat but come back into a room that was unbearably hot. Therefore it seems that the temperature is controlled centrally and that it can't be altered on a room-by-room basis. I appreciate that we are all different and run at different temperatures etc but my partner and I didn't manage to sleep that well on the 1st night because the room was too hot. If you feel the cold, this room is ideal for you, if you run a little hot; this room maybe a little hot for you. We asked reception for a fan to cool our room down on the 2nd night and they were brilliant and gave us 2 fans, which thankfully helped but only really pushed the hot air around. We were able to open the window about 2-3 inches but that was it. Please please take my advice and if you suffer from the heat, please think carefully before selecting this hotel in warmer temperatures but will be fine if you are ok with heating. The reception area is light and airy, and also has seating and a bar. We purchased drinks from the bar and whilst they’re still cheap by UK standards, they’re slightly more expensive than the bars in the town.
I don’t like to leave negative comments if I can and will therefore get 3 things down now for what didn’t work for us during our visit, firstly as you’ve just read; the room was too hot for us and we were unable to cool it down – secondly we had so many issues with our room key cards failing to let us into our room. We stayed for 3 nights (Fri-Mon) and had issues from Saturday until the time we left where the key cards wouldn’t open the door. Every time we would try the cards in the door, they didn’t work; we would go down to reception; they would re-programme the card; we went back upstairs and they still didn’t work; we went back down to reception for them to send up a staff member with a special ‘master card’ reader which would finally let us in after about 10-20 attempts. It became a bit of laugh or a joke really. The doors themselves have batteries in them that read and recognise cards, as opposed to a computer in reception. The hotel should have really replaced the door battery on the Saturday when we first reported it but it still wasn’t fixed by the time that we left the hotel Monday morning. I’ve previously read comments about breakfast and have to say that the food out on the hot plates was actually cold. There seemed to be quite a lot of choice and staff in the restaurant were very polite and helpful but the heat of the cooked food was very poor and wasn’t even warm at best. Sorry and it gives me no pleasure leaving such a comment but it was that way for all of our cooked breakfasts and reluctantly leave a third negative point.
Now that the negatives are out of the way let me state what really works for this hotel. The location is quite literally 1-2 minutes walk from the main area in Sofia. Staff were very polite and a major gold star goes to Victoria the receptionist, she is one of the best staff members we have ever come across in any hotel anywhere. The metro stations are a further 5 or so minutes walk once you are in the main area. If I came here again I would catch the Metro and walk the 500-600 metres to the hotel (I’m sure that the metro is called NDK or something with 3 letters that wouldn’t naturally go together in English).
There are plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops within a few minutes walk of the hotel. We usually get some form of transport pass but didn’t feel the need in Sofia because whatever sites we wished to visit are all within 2Kms from the hotel; we mainly visited roman ruins or churches but also went to the Russian war memorial.
Food and drink is very reasonably priced in most places that we visited and maybe the odd few wines ended up being slightly expensive but nothing to break the bank. We managed to find a real-ale (they call it live ale) bar in one of the back roads and the place allows you to pour your own drinks (it’s metered and don’t get too excited!), have bottles of real ale, or other drinks and has a great variety of food. The place is worth a visit and is called the ‘Ale Bar’.
Word of caution here from our experience, when paying the bill and you expect change; DO NOT SAY THANK YOU until you receive your change back! It took us 2 days of realising why they kept our change. Recommendation is to resist saying thank you as you hand over the money in the first instance and pay whatever tip you wish to pay afterwards and say thank you……We went for a meal at the place immediately beside the hotel and it was the worst and overpriced meal of our weekend and would thoroughly recommend avoiding the place and walking the 200 metres to the main shopping area to get better quality food, service, and value for money. If I come back here, I would avoid this place at all costs!
Another word of caution is if you wish to take photos inside of some buildings that you’re required to pay a charge of about £4-5. Not sure if they issue a ticket or a badge or something but I didn’t’ realise and some man muttered something to me about buying a ticket but I declined to do so and didn’t take any further photos. You will notice small kiosks with a camera symbol on the glass as you walk into.
As previously stated we always use transport whenever we visit somewhere abroad but there really is no need in Sofia if you plan on just staying in Sofia as it’s all walk-able if you’re able to walk (or is accessible to those in wheelchairs too). less