My boyfriend and I booked a last minute Snowboarding holiday over the Christmas period in Bulgaria. It was a Neilson holiday booked through a company we found online called Cheapskiholidays.com.
Our choices were very much guided by the operator as neither of us had ever been on a winter sports holiday and the Hotel Banderitsa was personally recommended by the operator who had stayed with them on a number of occasions.
The Hotel is a three hour transfer from Sofia International Airport – but don’t let this put you off. We arrived at the hotel at approximately 10pm local time and so it was dark and we did not get to see the surrounding area until the morning. The staff were very friendly and welcoming and the directions to our room were very clear. The first thing that hit us was the warmth. It was always warm in every part of the hotel. The corridors were clean, fresh and nicely decorated. The décor was very much in keeping with a ski chalet/log cabin theme which was a nice change to the usual white, clinical, characterless, minimalistic look many hotels seem to have adopted.
On arrival to our room, there was a sandwich; an apple and a bottle of water each waiting for us as we had missed the evening meal. This was a lovely touch. The room was lovely. There was a big wardrobe, dressing table, sofa, coffee table, bedside tables and storage for coats and shoes by the door. The bed was huge! It was great. It was like sleeping separate beds but not. Perfect! The bathroom was clean, light and very spacious. We had lovely fresh clean towels every day. The bed was pristine upon every return and not one of our belongings had been touched. I felt very safe leaving personal possessions in the room. There was free wifi, you just needed to ask for the code at reception.
The hotel provided an excellent shuttle bus service (with a very friendly driver) every half an hour to and from the ski resort. It was 5 mins in the bus and even if you missed the bus, the hotel was only a 15 min walk from the resort along the river. I won’t say impossible to get lost but it was very straightforward.
We stayed half board. We were given a card that you had to present at the restaurant each day to prove we were guests. The breakfast and evening meals were buffet style. Again, the staff were very helpful and friendly and the English was fantastic. Typical Brits eh? At each meal, we got a full explanation of what was on offer both Bulgarian options and the other cuisines. My boyfriend has a food allergy and the staff we very helpful in checking with all the staff involved in the cooking, that the food was safe for him to eat. I believe the breakfast sitting was from 7:30. The breakfasts were not the usual ‘continental’ breakfasts that you expect from a buffet style. There were usually three breakfast cereals on offer, white bread which you could toast with the toasters provided, yogurt and a selection of fruits, and then a hot buffet which comprised of scrambled egg, boiled eggs, a Bulgarian flakey cheesy pastry thing (I forget the names of them) frankfurter style sausages… I can’t remember anymore as I stuck to cereal, eggs and toast. I would have liked to have seen bacon etc on offer too but you don’t go abroad and expect everything to be the same, so we tried to embrace the local delicacies on offer.
Evening meals were very interesting and varied. It was clear that the staff had tried to accommodate for many nationalities which was lovely, however it may be of no surprise that the Bulgarian options were much nicer and enjoyable than the carbonara and cottage pie etc. Don’t get me wrong, the food was more than edible, just don’t expect it to taste or look like the cottage pie and carbonara you know. We did not go hungry in the slightest. You could have a little of everything on offer and go back for more of what you discovered you did like. Like breakfast, it was self-service.
The only criticism was the lack of drinks. You could purchase drinks from the hotel to accompany your meals but it was not clear if you had to go to the bar upstairs to do that. You were not allowed to bring drinks with you but it would have been nice to just have some table water on offer to accompany the meals.
We were away on Christmas day and the Hotel put on Christmas dinner for everyone including music and traditional Bulgarian dancing. It was lovely. A really nice touch when you realise you’re missing family and friends back at home. The Christmas dinner was no less than SEVEN courses, again not what you would expect a Christmas dinner to be but if you do visit on Christmas day, no need to eat at all until the evening or possibly until the following evening! So much food! The only unfortunate thing was that the Christmas dinner wasn’t very well advertised to guests. I’m not sure if it was put on for guests of Neilson Holidays or whether it was for everyone staying at the hotel but we only found out about it by chance.
All in all, we both thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Banderitsa. So much so, that we have already enquired about prices for next Christmas. Next time I think we will book directly and just stay B&B as there are plenty of restaurants up in the old town that are only 10 mins walk away where we can experience different foods and more of the Bulgarian experience. We found that as great as the Snowboarding was, it was exhausting and knowing we had half board made us lazy and not venture out very often. By going B&B we will have to go out and Bulgaria is so cheap that it won’t cost a great deal to eat out every night. It is a holiday after all!
Highly recommended and we can’t wait to go back! Thank you to all the staff that made our stay so relaxed, pleasant and enjoyable.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Art hotel “Banderitsa” is located next to Glazne River, just a few hundred meters away from the gondola station or downtown. The Hotel and its staff will make sure that you experience a most enjoyable stay, benefiting from all kinds of holiday possibilities, ranging from sports to fine arts throughout the whole year.The Complex has thirty four rooms, seventy apartments, pub, restaurant, BBQ garden and a lobby bar. The Spa center of hotel Banderitsa includes a swimming pool, authentic Turkish bath – Hammam, sauna, steam bath and Jacuzzi. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Banderitsa Hotel Bansko