I was swithering whether to give this experience a 2 or a 3 out of 5 but I decided on 2 for the following reasons.
The hotel, is not, as the name suggests, particularly central. It's a good half hour walk / 10-15 minute tram ride to the main attractions of the city. The tram stop is right outside the hotel, which is useful. There is also a large supermarket nearby - also good. However the area is largely residential.
The welcome we received was wholly underwhelming. The receptionist substituting the usual basic courtesies ("hello", "welcome") for monosyllabic instructions ("passport", "which room"). It also took rather a long time to check in, or perhaps it just seemed that way, thanks to the crushing silence in the foyer as we waited for our room key.
However the hotel is clean and bright, the rooms are air conditioned, the bathrooms are well equipped, the showers are fine. There are no double beds, only singles pushed together, the beds (and rooms) are on the small side but basically comfortable. Breakfast is what you would expect - a selection of meats and cheeses, cereals and yogurts. Adequate rather than amazing.The coffee was good, best enjoyed on the terrace, a welcome respite from the dry heat of the day. Hotel guests can also use the fitness suite and sauna on a complimentary basis.
All in all, the hotel has a lot of potential but this is swiftly destroyed by the attitudes of the front of house staff who are surly, rude and unforgivingly indifferent to the mere presence of their guests. I welcome the fact the customer service in Eastern Europe is so different from the over-familiarity of America or the formal servitude of Britain. However Hotel Central Forum boasts an apathy towards the term 'customer service' I have never experienced, and never hope to again, in all my travels.
I will briefly go into detail here so feel free to skip ahead. We asked if it were possible for the hotel to help us with our pre-arranged airport transfer which was met with, "impossible" and we were told we would have to dial the number from our own rooms. We got the impression, thanks to the woman's hand-on-hip, gazing at own fingernails, stance, that we were a mere inconvenience to her morning. We asked about the best route into the city and the answer consisted of a raised arm and an index finger. We asked if they had any recommendations for restaurants and were informed that the hotel's restaurant was open until 10pm, that was all. The overall impression was just so unwelcoming and uncomfortable and beware future guests; the prices for the mini bar are in Euros - not Levas. I will say that the young bell-boy was their only saving grace. He was polite, efficient and - unlike the others - actually capable of a smile.
My suggestion would be to avoid this hotel, I think its main business stems from conferences and weddings rather than tourist city breaks. A better experience can be found elsewhere for the same cost or less. The people of Sofia were welcoming and kind, on the streets and in the restaurants but Hotel Central Forum is appalling in its attitude to guests, we witnessed similar scenarios with other groups at the reception desk. It just shows you what a difference a warm welcome and helpful staff can make. This hotel would scrape 3 stars if its customer service improves tenfold, after all, it's nice to be nice.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Forum Hotel Sofia is a business hotel located near the city center with convenient transport links to important administrative centers and sightseeing-1 km from the Russian monument , 2 km from the NDK, 2 km from Sveta Nedelya, 2 km from Mall of Sofia, we are close to BMA, Alexander's Hospital , Medical Academy. Hotel Forum combines all services of the business hotel and the opportunity to relax. The hotel has free wireless internet access, 4 conference halls, 3 restaurants, 2 summer gardens with a place for smokers, spa center with hot tube /jacuzzi/, massage. Hotel Forum offers 51 rooms- 33 economy rooms, 12 deluxe, 3 suites and 3 apartments with kitchen equipment. All rooms are furnished in style for a business hotel with free internet access. Free services: WI-FI, coffee and tea facilities. ... more less
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