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“Nice hotel, poor service for a 5 star.” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Sofia Hotel Balkan

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Sofia Hotel Balkan
5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   5 Sveta Nedelya Square, Sofia 1000, Bulgaria   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #25 of 124 Hotels in Sofia
London
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Nice hotel, poor service for a 5 star.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 28, 2006

I spent 2 nights at the Sheraton Sofia, for business.
The location is great, right in the middle of the city. Other hotels like Kempinsky or Hilton requires cab trips, which is annoying with the Sofia traffic.
The building is a "grand" historical building, with a lot of marble, large corridors etc. 2 floors (4+5th) have been renovated. I was lucky enough to be in the 5th. Room is not huge but nice, with classic wood furniture, plasma screen, internet cable. Bathroom in marble, no bathrobe though. Bed is comfortable, with new mattress and pillows. Room looking towards the city (vs. courtyard), with a French balcony. Double glazed windows could not keep all the noise outside, so sensitive sleepers may prefer the courtyard with view on a sightseeing church.
The problem is the service, which can be very variable, esp. at the reception. Nobody to greet me from the taxi or grab my luggage. 2 persons at the check-in speak together during a solid 2 minutes whilst i am waiting to check-in (client centrism I guess). I asked whether they could find out my Starwood member number out of their computer and got superbly ignored. Cocktails at the lobby bar are not great, though the piano soothes this. Good restaurant tip from the French speaking lady at the reception.
Good breakfast in the room service (though my colleague got hers cold and late). Good buffet breakfast, staff a bit overwhelmed sometimes.
Free shoe shine service in the lobby is a nice touch, with the chaotic streets of Sofia taking their toll on your shoes.
Having had a coffee at the direct competition Grand Hotel nearby, it seems that staff is much friendlier there. Hopefully joining the EU will bring back the smile on people's face at the Sheraton, using the full potential of this great building?

  • Liked — Location and historical feel
  • Disliked — Service
  • Stayed September 2006, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
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De Haan, Belgium
Top Contributor
76 reviews 76 reviews
73 hotel reviews
Reviews in 69 cities Reviews in 69 cities
214 helpful votes 214 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2006

I stayed two nights at the Sheraton in a large, classical style room overlooking the innercourt of the Sheraton annex presidential palace. The room on the second floor was very quiet and I enjoyed a good night sleep.
However several details were not perfect. The TV had a limited number of channels, some channels, DW and BBC-world were not even on the air. The second morning at breakfast around 9 am, napkins were missing, I found just one another table. The lounge only offers coffee & tea, soft drinks, cocktails and fruits. One should verify whether it is worth the extra cost.
Furthermore, it is typically Sheraton. The Sheraton approach is publicity. For example, I am losing time when the receptionist is telling how much points are on my account, what I can do with it and how to spend it. I tried to interrupt but the receptionist must do his job. I also received a voucher for a 30% reduction on my first drink at the bar, I could imagine that drinks are 30% overpriced - it should be reminded that I had free access to the lounge. The pick-up from the airport is complementary, but I did not need a pick-up. When I asked a complementary drop-off at the airport in the afternoon, explaining that I had not used a pick-up, I had to pay euro 10. There are the rules but they are not logical.
As a conclusion, the Sheraton approach can be misleading. The hotel was a member of the Luxury collection. Tthe old building is magnificent indeed, but the Luxury collection does not guarantee high class service. When a guest understands this, (s)he will not be disappointed.

  • Stayed May 2006, traveled on business
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
31 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
128 helpful votes 128 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2005

I found this hotel to be excellent. The service staff were some of the most courteous I've encountered anywhere in my many travels. The business center and the gym are not open in the late evenings, but they have always happily opened it up for me, even remembering my name from when I checked in. The rooms were average-sized, the bathrooms were excellent with the beautiful tiled floor and walls, the restaurant was 1st rate, although much overpriced for Sofia's standard of living. The location is superb - a short walk from most historical sites, restaurants, and shopping. I highly recommend it. Additionally, the free city guides in the room, complete with maps and restaurant recommendations were very helpful.

  • Stayed July 2005, traveled on business
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2005

Just one night at the Sheraton in Sofia convinced me never to go again. The beds have a plastic mattress cover which creaked and squeaked with every movement, and made sleep next to impossible. When I asked reception for a bed without the plastic, I was told they 'all have them'. This completely spoiled my trip.

  • Stayed October 2004, traveled on business
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Top Contributor
88 reviews 88 reviews
85 hotel reviews
Reviews in 81 cities Reviews in 81 cities
166 helpful votes 166 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2005

I recently stayed here for one week for pleasure. The hotel not as great as it looks or sounds in the other review. I had a standard room on the 5th floor. I felt like I was staying in an old Holiday Inn. The room was dated and the bed was lumpy and very close to the floor. I asked to see several other rooms and they were all the same on the 5th floor. The bathrooms have been renovated and are very nice, but I wasn’t sleeping in the bathroom. My friends had a free room on the executive floor that was beautiful. The executive floor feels like a different hotel, but is substantially more expensive. The service in the hotel is fine, a bit blunt at times. The restaurants in the hotel are overpriced, there are better options outside of the hotel. The evening we arrived we ate in the hotel, the restaurant was empty and there was no music, only dead silence. There are probably better options for your money in the city. This did not feel like a 5 star hotel to me.

  • Stayed February 2005
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Princeton, New Jersey
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
52 hotel reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
292 helpful votes 292 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 6, 2004

I stayed here for a week last December while on business and I can only say great things about the Sheraton Balkan. First, they have a Mercedes ready for you at the airport with a no-nonsense driver who brings you straight to the door, at no charge. The hotel has retained its old world feel, with modern additions, so you feel like you're in an 18th century mansion, but standard amenities abound.
The location is in central Sofia, close to shops, embassies, metro, and restaurants. The staff is friendly, helpful and amazingly multilingual, not just passable, but fluent. One staff member easily switched between Bulgarian, French, Italian, and English. The hotel is quite safe with overt security lurking about. The rooms are tastefully decorated, quiet, and comfortable, but a bit small given the 20 foot wide hallways. The gym is minimal, but the bar is excellent. Not to make it sound like paradise, there are no irons in the rooms and you have to be careful with you bill. I was charged for a movie every night even though I didn't watch any (at 20 euro a night that adds up). No coffee maker and I had to call to remind room service to bring my order (20 minutes late). Still, this is the best place to stay while in Sofia.

Was this review helpful? Yes 12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sofia Hotel Balkan

Address: 5 Sveta Nedelya Square, Sofia 1000, Bulgaria
Location: Bulgaria > Sofia Region > Sofia
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#3 Casino Hotel in Sofia
#6 Family Hotel in Sofia
#19 Luxury Hotel in Sofia
#19 Business Hotel in Sofia
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:5 star — Sofia Hotel Balkan 5*
Number of rooms: 184
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Sophisticated Hotel in traditionally styled, 5-story building located at city center. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sheraton Sofia
Sofia Sheraton

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