The purpose of these comments is to highlight for others both the positive and negative aspects of our recent three-night stay. At the outset, it's only fair to note that we would certainly consider this property if returning to Ljubljana; however, it was definitely not quite the four-star experience for us that the hotel advertises.
Let's start with some obvious positives. What a great location this property affords! We walked from the train station here in an easy 7-8 minutes, pulling our roll-aboards behind us. The bus station is adjacent to the train station (and slightly closer to the hotel), so it was an easy walk there on the day we visited the Postojna Cave.
The hotel sits a short block away from plaza that opens on to the Triple Bridge and the Old Town in the opposite direction from the train and bus stations. The fact we were in Europe during an historically terrible stretch of weather made us appreciate the convenience of this location even more.
The employees were uniformly friendly and helpful from check-in onward, and always greeted us on our return to the hotel. One of them also printed out a Postojna bus schedule for us when we asked at the front desk for information. The restaurant personnel were friendly and helpful as well.
The property itself is clean and well maintained. What, then, could possibly detract from our experience?
Well, there's no question we got an excellent rate on the hotel's website for our three-night stay, and perhaps as a consequence we were assigned to one of the smallest rooms in the newer wing.
The room, praise be, had a window that one could open and even a teeny-tiny balcony (albeit not deep enough to actually stand on), a blessing for those among us who tend to find European hotel rooms in particular overly warm. It includes two bathrobes among the amenities, although they were stuffed into a low cupboard in the wardrobe and we didn't discover them until the second day of our stay. There is also a quite-formidable list of rules on the wall more appropriate for a youth hostel.
What's odd to us were the amenities the room did NOT include: a clock radio or any other clock, an ironing board (although it had one of those elaborate stand-alone pants-pressers in one corner that functioned half-decently), or any coffee/tea-making facilities or even a kettle. We were carrying bags of green tea but had neither a kettle nor cups in which to brew it, an omission we particularly regretted since my wife was suffering from an annoying cold and cough during this "100-year winter" in Europe.
Finally, our bathroom held a quite-decent shower but, alas, no tub. As a previous reviewer amusingly noted, the metal caps on the shampoo and other toiletry bottles should be gripped firmly and opened in advance before trying it with slippery hands in the shower. The soap provided is a tiny and dark little disc not much larger than prescription pills I've been required to swallow. The second day they provided a fresh disc but it was hard to get a grip on it, let alone soap one's self in the shower.
Finally, we didn't notice until we were in bed the first night that our duvet even when lying flat on the bed didn't completely stretch from one side to the other. Once we lay under it, we had to huddle together near the center to make sure we were both covered. This might sound very romantic but it was not optimal for a good night's sleep.
The next morning we explained the problem and the second duvet we requested was in place on the bed when we returned. Two single duvets on a bed are a common arrangement in European hotels, the employee did not seem at all surprised when we requested it, and I can't help but wonder if they are hoping to save on laundry or wear-and-tear by not handing out a second one unless asked. That was downright odd and did detract from our first night's sleep.
Somehow, when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II stayed here, as the in-house literature touts, I'm confident her room must have included two duvets on the bed, a teakettle so she could brew a cuppa, and an ironing board so she could press the Prince's shirts before dinner.
Speaking of dinner, our feelings are mixed about the admittedly generous breakfast buffet. The "breakfast room" wasn't crowded during our three visits, and the employees were quite attentive in bringing us what tasted suspiciously like instant coffee. After the first morning, we got our own double espressos at the Nescafé machine at one end of the room, still not ideal for two coffee lovers such as we are, but a step up from the standard brew.
The orange juice on tap regrettably tasted like Tang or some similar concoction, but maybe the instant coffee threw us off.
The rather copious spread includes yogurts, a variety of pastries and breads, cold meats (excellent smoked ham) and cheeses, and a number of hot dishes. As we found elsewhere in this part of Europe, grilled and cold vegetables are featured, although I noticed with a pang of childish regret the lack of any kind of potato.
A large sliced self-serve "omelet" was actually more of a frittata. One of three mornings an employee was on duty in the actual omelet station, but although I looked hopefully at her she didn't respond so I moved on.
In fairness, there is also a small menu on each table from which one can order custom-cooked eggs and a number of of other items which we don't exactly recall but we didn't avail ourselves of this. There were bottles of sparkling wine and champagne flutes available near the juices but we didn't try that either.
Our favorite breakfast item is described on the English sign as "pancakes" but were alternatively listed more accurately as the more elegant Palatschinken, the Austrian name of the thin crêpe popular in Central and Eastern Europe (and known as palačinka in Slovenian). When filled with some of the local cottage-like cheese and your choice of the marvelous jams available at the buffet (including one or two house-made varieties), that was a real find for us and the highlight of our breakfasts.
All in all, the experience for us amounted to a pleasant three-star stay. We basically got what we paid for so have no real complaints, other than to note that it wasn't the four-star experience advertised.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The first class hotel in Ljubljana, boasting a premier location in the city centre, offering most spacious & comfortable rooms, excellent complimentary buffet breakfast, free internet, secured parking garage, business centre...Located on the door step of the Old Town and less than 30 minutes from the international airport, Grand hotel Union Executive has got city's top location for business & leisure travellers. It is also the address of royal visits, presidential delegations, and major Ljubljana's events and has more than 100 years long tradition of friendly and professional service.All rooms (25-35m2) and suites (45-140m2) are air-conditioned and have bathroom with bathtub or shower, large LCD screen, phone, mini bar, safe, trouser press, hairdryer and free of charge internet access. The hotel provides 20 multi-functional conference rooms with capacity up to 800 participants, a top-floor indoor swimming pool, a sauna and fitness area. Culinary delights are served in the renovated restaurant and bar Atelje or in the quiet shady garden in the summer. The hotel also has a cosy lobby bar and a popular coffee place - Grand Cafe, exchange office, a newspaper and souvenir shop, a fashion boutique, a jeweller and a hairdresser. Enjoy the stay in one of the most beautiful and elegant hotels in the region. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Hotel Ljubljana