Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Belgrade Hotels - 4 Stars Hotels, Part 2

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Neutral description: Balkan is one of the Belgrade hotels with the longest tradition - the original hotel building was built in 1860, but teared down in 1935 because it was decrepit, and the present building was built. 

The hotel was completely renovated 2005 and since then rooms are furnished in modern style, while the restaurants and cafe interiors have modernized classic look. Rooms are air conditioned, and guests have everything needed to make coffee or tea, wireless internet, safe ... In the conference room, completely separate from other contents, decorated with contemporary artists' paintings, it is possible to have business meetings, seminars, banquets and other events. 

Balkan is located on the corner of the Prizrenska Street and Terazije, so it is close to the pedestrian zone near the Republic Square (with the National Museum and National Theater) in Knez Mihailova Street, which reaches up to Kalemegdan and many other Belgrade  attractions. 

The hotel has only 12 parking spaces next to the hotel, but nearby there is a public, 24 hrs guarded parking.

My opinion: Immediately after the renovation of Balkan hotel, I had an opportunity to see the presentation of several rooms, suites, and a dining room. Hotel was completely renovated 2005 when all the furniture, woodworks (windows and doors) were replaced , as well as complete installation, so practically almost  everything in hotel is new. All rooms are luxuriously furnished and very spacious, have TV with cable programs, mini bar, air conditioning, phone, electric kettle, safe, and particularly nice touch is a bathrobe with matching slippers for each guest. The apartments have large TVs with DVD player and shower with a massager, and espresso machine instead of kettle. All furniture is of modern design, rooms are tastefully decorated, and prevailing colors are in pastel shades.

The entrance to the reception is from Prizrenska Street, where is hotel's parking lot. Reception lobby is spacious and has a lot of seats, with a small separated part, which is very suitable for short business meetings. The hotel has a lift. 

Breakfast hall is light and spacious, and all rooms have a beautiful view - a view towards the park and the river Sava, and some are facing Terazije. Restaurant and coffee bar have very pleasant design, chairs are comfortable, but the most important thing is that staff is incredibly friendly and service is perfect, no matter if you came to have a dinner or just one coffee. With modern equipped conference room, this hotel really proves all four stars. 

Location of the hotel is ideal, because it is in the very city center, Terazije, a few steps from the beginning of Knez Mihailova Street, Belgrade's popular pedestrian zone, which is fifteen minutes walk away from Kalemegdan. Bohemian Skadarlija is away at only ten minutes walk, and on the other side is the National Assembly, Old and New Palace. Across the street is a stop of several public transport lines, which can take you very quickly to the Temple of Saint Sava. Hotel guests who come with their own car have the privilege of free parking in the city center, at the hotel parking lot. In the vicinity of the hotel is a shopping zone, several museums and National Theater.

Neutral description: Hotel Moskva (Moscow) is one of the oldest hotels in Belgrade, and the building of the hotel represents one of the most recognizable attractions of Belgrade, which was declared a monument of culture more than half a century ago. The hotel was built in 1906 in Russian Art Nouveau style with elements of Greek antiquity, and was designed by the architect from St Petersburg. All the decorations on the facade and the r hotel  roof were made in Zsolnaj factory in Pécs. During its long history, this hotel has hosted many world celebrities from Albert Einstein, statesmen such as Indira Gandhi and Leonid Brezhnev, to the stars as Robert De Niro and Ray Charles, and many others. 

The hotel is situated in the very center of town, on the Terazije Plateau, beside the famous fountain of Terazije. Besides restaurants, the hotel has a coffee pastry shop, with a summer garden at Terazije, as well as several bars. In addition, Moscow has a banquet hall, and parking spaces for hotel guests. All rooms are furnished with period furniture that fits the ambience of the hotel.

My opinion: Mansion of Hotel Moskva represents one of the symbols of Belgrade, which dominates Terazije by its impressive appearance - as the perfect harmony of contrast between the yellow building and highlights of the green roof and decorations on the facade, made in the famous Zsolnaj factory in Pécs, where they still keep molds for each peace. From the beginning, 1906, this hotel was famous for its coffee-pastry shop, a favorite place for Belgraders. 

If a hotel is settled in such an exclusive location in the beautiful building, and also has four stars, one can expect a fairly high price of accommodation, which is the case, but in return, one would expect adequately high level of service. However, despite more than a century of tradition, the perfect location, and numerous famous guests who stayed at this hotel (only mention Albert Einstein, A. Hitchcock, Robert De Niro and Ray Charles), Moskva hotel no longer offers the service that would be expected from such a hotel. I had the opportunity to view "the inside" when one of my acquaintances recently stayed at this hotel.

Failures are numerous, and list them one by one, starting from the reception, which is the first thing hotel guests encounter with. Reception is cramped, with outdated and worn furniture, with only 2 sets of furniture, of which one is at the reception area, and the other is in the small hallway next to the elevator and stairs. Receptionists are very unkind, and the first day one of them allowed himself to make unpleasant comment: "Is she sure that she was in this hotel?" because my guest said wrong  room number when she asked for the key, and on top of that they did not listen to her when she told them her name, so they  could not find her in the guest list. In the end, when they've finally found her name on the guest list (and that process lasted for 10 minutes), one of three receptionist, made scolding remark: "She should have told us her name in the first place!", although it was just the first thing she said. Their great kindness was proven once again when they did not bother to assist her in any way, by providing electric kettle, but instead told her to call room service when she needs hot water for tea. I think that such things must not happen in four stars hotel  and that service has to be much better. 

As for the hotel room, which I saw thanks to my guest, I can say that the situation is not much better. I do not know if one part of hotel has been renovated, but the floor where my guest had a room, certainly was not restored for 20, maybe more, years. Hallways and rooms (although elevator and reception area are no better) smell of moist that simply pinches the nose and made me feel discomfort. I must admit that I was ashamed, though I have not recommended the hotel, that this one of the things that will build someone's picture of Belgrade. The room is medium size, have furniture and a small TV, but I was terrified by beds . Two beds (style furniture) with upholstered head and covers made of the same dark-green velvet, would not look scary if there weren't obvious dirt and stains, which could have been seen even on that very dark-green color! I wonder for how long it hasn't not cleaned, when all that can seen in such a dark color? Bathroom was clean but old and if you wash your hands with warm water, the whole bathroom fills with water vapor, that doesn't go anywhere, except in the room (maybe that's where that ugly moisture smell comes from?). I will not even mention how awkward is the water tap on the sink - I was all wet when I tried to wash my hands! Rooms have air-conditioning, radiators concealed by decorative "cage" for which I wondered if it was there since the construction of the hotel, as it had scratched boards, and behind (the original) bars there were tons of dust collected for who knows how long. This room had the wonderful arched windows, for which I have always imagined, while watching the hotel exterior, that they belong to luxurious apartments. Not only that they don't belong to luxurious apartments, but my friend also showed me how it is impossible to draw curtains over them completely, because of these arches. She told me that she could not sleep the whole night because of uncovered parts of windows on both sides, exactly opposite to those numerous neon signs.  

Passing by, I saw two dining rooms, that seem somewhat neglected and dusty, with heavy curtains on the windows - an environment that kills the appetite by any means. But I'll write here about coffee-pastry shop that has a summer garden Terazije. This summer, while I was shopping with my friend, we were surprised by a strong rain, which forced us to hide in the first cafe we run into - accidentally it was Hotel Moskva. The first thing I've noticed was that the furniture was warn, and then I saw a truly horrible sight: in all that marble there was a terrible metal bar, remaining from the time of socialism. Waiters were wearing outdated ugly uniforms, quite in the style of already mentioned spirit of the socialists' seventies. Although our waiter was young, he was dragging as if he were 60 years old, so between our entry (rain was so strong, that after us and no one could enter, because it was impossible to go down the street) and his arrival to our table to take the order, about 10 minutes passed. The worst is yet to follow: even though we ordered cakes (and what else in the famous pastry shop?) that are displayed in the showcases in the next room, some thirty steps away, we were waiting for our order for more than 45 minutes. No matter how hard we tried to catch his attention, in order to find out the reason for such delay and why we haven't even got our drinks, we couldn't succeed, and at the end we were so furious that we were ready to come out to the street go to the hotel and the Balkans, although the storm was raging outside. When we finally got our cakes, we have found that our drinks were poured in dirty glasses - yes, dirty! This time I did not have the intention to spend hours waiting for him, so I went looking for our waiter and caught him in front of some door through which he tried to disappear. And I got a typical astonished reaction, with obvious disapproval, but I got a replacement relatively soon. The most unpleasant thing was that ventilation wasn't working properly, and despite the wide open sliding doors and a very high ceiling, the air was terribly stuffy, so we both ended up feeling sick, especially because cakes that we ordered were too sweet and too strong - however, they really look the same like in the picture, and I've realized why they're so small as soon as I've tasted the first bite. We should have ordered their famous Moskva šnit. Toilets are in the basement, so one has to go down the stairs, but the appearance is one special story. I cannot say that they're very dirty, but such obsolete space, which hasn't been restored for at least 30 years, is really difficult to keep clean. All this is "spiced" with typical scene from the past (when toilettes were last renovated): a woman that sits behind small table in front of the toilet, and to whom, I presume, people should be paying the use of toilette. 

Unfortunately, although hotel Moskva one of the Belgrade symbols, I would not recommend it to anyone, especially not by the current room rates. I think that this hotel has enormous potential, but it needs a large investment to take back the old glory, although it's not an impossible task. And one more thing: it is necessary to work on complete staff politeness - urgently!

Neutral description: Hotel Le Petit Piaf is located in the heart of Skadarlija, surrounded by many restaurants, but isolated from the noise, because its building is in the courtyard, above the gallery in the house Đure Jaksic. Hotel is in one story building which fit in perfectly with ambiance of Bohemian quarter. Hotel has a restaurant and two bars, and summer garden. It is possible to organize seminars and banquets. Restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine and has a nice wine list.

The hotel is especially suitable for business people, and those who travel alone, because most of the 13 rooms have single bed, with a maximum capacity for 2 people, and that also goes for 5 suites. Rooms are furnished in modern style, with TV, safe and telephone. Internet connection is available in all parts of the hotel. 

Because the hotel is located in downtown of the city, most of Belgrade's main attractions can be reached by foot, and hotel provides a transfer from/to the airport.

My opinion: Searching for a suitable accommodation for my acquaintances who have announced their arrival in Belgrade, I went to Le Petit Piaf hotel. The hotel is located in the heart Skadarlija, next to Đura Jakšić's home, surrounded by famous restaurants, but protected from the outside noise with a narrow passage, that leads to a spacious courtyard. One story building of the hotel perfectly fits the environment of Bohemian quarter.

The first impression that comes from the first glance is that the hotel is clean, new, neat. Indeed, the prevailing color is white, combined with dark wood - in all areas and rooms. The hotel has 13 rooms, most of which are single bedded, with a maximum capacity for 2 persons, and 5 apartments are also double bedded, so it is most suitable for businessmen, and those who travel alone. The rooms are quite small, but room interior accents on modern minimalism, emphasizing room functionality and equipment, which includes TV, safe and telephone, while the WiFi is available in all areas of the hotel.

The staff is very friendly, and apart from English, majority speaks French as well, which is not so common. Inside the hotel are restaurant and bar, while the second bar in a separate building next to the hotel. All of them have a summer garden, located in the aforementioned courtyard, which is paved in stone. The restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine specialties, accompanied by a very solid wine list.

Due to its location in the center, most of Belgrade's main attractions can be visited on foot, but for the same reason, the hotel has no parking. Notwithstanding the lack of parking, to all who travel alone, or in couple, I would recommend this small, charming, cozy hotel.


Kay said...

It would be so great to post a very constructive comment... but you told everything ;*)

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