We recently stayed in the Hotel Anel in our continued effort to find a decent hotel in the city and it was actually far better than most.
It wasn't a promising start - the hotel isn't particularly attractive from the outside and on a busy and rather run down looking road. However it is quite centrally located only about 5 minutes walk from Blvd Vitosha and the hotel is quite pleasant. The lobby and lobby bar are attractive and filled with some interesting sculpture.
The rooms are large and well appointed. We booked one of the fifth floor suites which was very spacious and had two very nice bathrooms, one with a spa bath. We booked this because it had a terrace but the terrace didn't come with any furniture, it was just a concrete terrace which was a bit surprising. A table, parasol and chairs and a couple of loungers wouldn't go amiss. Our air conditioner didn't work so it was too hot and we had to be moved to a normal room. These are actually pretty large and as the terrace isn't particularly useful I wouldn't bother reserving a suite in future, just book a double room.
Another attraction of the hotel was its indoor pool which is actually very pleasant. It's quite narrow but a reasonable length so you can swim decent lengths. And the poolside area is quite attractive and relaxing.
However what lets this hotel down is the service which is still rather eastern block. We were given a ticket for the swimming pool when we checked in but when we went to use it the receptionist at the pool said we had to have two tickets. We explained that we were only given one so she said we had to go downstairs to reception and get another one. We had to explain that as it was a hotel mistake she should 'phone down and rectify it (why we needed tickets was a bit mysterious as she could have taken our room number from our room key - and what if we'd wanted to swim twice?). She then said we had to wear swimming or shower caps. Again there was only one in our room (which we had to go back up and fetch) and it took a bit of arguing to persuade her she could fetch us another. My husband wasn't that pleased at having to wear a cap anyway. The rules by the pool were hilarious. It actually stated that you must have a shower (with shower gel) before you could use the pool. It felt a bit more like a boot camp than a relaxing spa, made us wonder what sort of guests the hotel attracts that need to be told that and puzzled why they don't just fit a better pool filter.
We had similar service later when we'd gone to bed in our suite then discovered we couldn't sleep because of the heat and broken air conditioning. Someone did come up, agree the air con was broken but when we asked to be transferred to another room, again they wanted us to come down to reception to get new room keys. We had to explain we had been in bed, weren't dressed and as it was a hotel problem they should send someone up with a key to take us to the new room.
It's a shame as it is one of the pleasanter Sofia hotels. The guy serving in the hotel lobby bar was very good - perhaps he could train the other staff about service? All together pretty good facilities, more character than most but poor attention to detail or service. A good 3 star, not the 5 star advertised (but if you've stayed in any Bulgarian hotels you'll know that).