Sofia Hotel Balkan, a Luxury Collection Hotel (was Sheraton) Bulgaria [Master Thread]
I have done a search but can't find any recent experiences at this hotel. We will be there in August (on points) and wanted to see if other can comment on this hotel? Is there a lounge and do PLTs get access?
Yes Golds often get upgrades too, quite nice suites they have. Some work on their 1st floor terrace now, so avoid room on the back of the hotel.
I either pick Radisson or Sheraton (actually it is a Luxury Collection now) when in Sofia, both are good but Radisson staff seems bit more genuinely focused on the customer and Sheraton staff can sometimes be bit arrogant (reception) or indifferent (housekeeping). Sheraton has more luxury feel to it though.
My friend and I were booked into the Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan for two nights, but we left after the first night. The service at this hotel was cold and impersonal. The beds were nice, and the tile and marble in the bathrooms were good, but other than that, this is really an average Sheraton hotel, and is certainly not up to Luxury Collection standards. Requests were answered with a curt response (and sometimes the operator would hang up on the caller after answering a query). Apparently there was butler service, but I don't know where or what the butler does. The Executive Lounge is tiny and on the second floor (while Executive Rooms are on 5). The breakfast was very bland. Overall, This is a mediocre hotel and I will not return.
Programs: BA Gold, AA LifeTime Plat, MR Plat, Amex Plat
I stayed here nearly 2 years ago, I always write reviews on Yahoo Travel after hotel stays and this is what I wrote then:
Maybe in museum terms itís considered a castle, but to my eyes itís an old ugly building. The lobby looks like a train station after a busy weekend and the rooms are nice only in an artificial way. In other words I think their next meeting should be subjected "renovation".
But credit where itís due, the service is second to none, they treat you like royalty. The rooms are spacious and very cosy packed with all the usual amenities plus loads more. The beds are big and comfortable and the views are breathtaking, restaurants and food is also nothing to turn your nose up at.
In short, an excellent hotel but bring in the bulldozers.....
And on the 6th day God created mankind & with them miles...
We stayed here for 2 nights on points - had two rooms for 4 of us. Had called and requrested adjoining rooms. Got to the hotel and found out that since I am a plat - they upgraded only one room to the 5th floor and the 2nd room was on the 3rd. Asked but the front desk wouldn't upgrade the 2nd room. Also, only the key to the 5th floor room could access the lounge.
Overall, the front desk staff seems fairly cold. For the plat amenity, I chose the 500 points which still haven't posted.
The rooms were both nice overlooking the church in front. The location is great and it is a quick walk to find lots of restaurants and shops.
As posted previously, the lounge is fairly small and not staffed at all. Besides coffee, juice and drinks, there was just a few items at breakfast time. One evening there were some appetizers, the second none. They do provide a white and red wine and also some beers in the evening.
One other point, the hotel seems to provide a free shuttle to the airport which operates 3 or 4 times a day. The timings were posted but I didn't note it as we were moving on to Plovdiv by bus.
Edited to add that the room on the 5th floor did come with an iron and ironing board.
Last edited by acnev; Sep 2, 07 at 7:56 am.
Reason: added info
Programs: Star Alliance Gold, Skyteam Elite +, One World Emerald, SPG Platinum, Hilton Gold
Yeah, I do agree. This feels like your average Sheraton, not Luxury Collection. Still Sheraton is my preferred hotel in Sofia. It have the best location for sightseeing, eating, drinking and shopping. I find both Hilton and Radisson to be little off the main path. I also agree that the Sheraton gives you that old-world feeling, but having said that - the lobby and hallways are horrible, gives you that cold communist feeling. I find the bar and the restaurant depressing too, so I don't use them anymore. I always venture out to fullfill my needs. There is also a casino there, which makes the Sheraton kinda tacky, but this is Bulgaria, and casinos are everywhere - even in Radisson and Hilton.
The service is highly inconsistent, sometimes your room won't be serviced for turndown, sometimes you won't receive your wake-up call and I do find the reception staff pretty cold.
The rooms are VERY nice, recently renovated. The bathrooms are very small, but adequate and nice. Huge LCD-television in every room. Free wifi in every room (the Hilton charges € 20 for 24hrs of wifi). Free airport transfers, at scheduled times to and from the airport (ask reception). Extremely comfy beds.
I really hope they will do something with their lobby and bar/restaurant-area! This would easily make Sheraton the only 5-star hotel in Sofia. There are also some high-end shops on the first floor. As Radisson and Hilton gives you that boring business hotel feeling, the Sheraton would be the closest to pure luxury in Sofia - it can be had easily at € 90 per night.
Programs: Starwood Hotels, Alaska Air, Delta/Northwest Air
I'm hoping someone might know what the odds are on a Gold getting an upgrade to a larger room or suite? My wife and I are adopting a little boy from Bulgaria and will be making 2 separate trips to Sofia for 5-7 nights per trip. We'll be using points to cover the stays. A larger room would be nice, but not a requirement. We will tentatively be traveling in 2010, but could be much sooner since we indicated we were open to certain special needs.
Also, does anyone have any suggestions for things to see & do while in Sofia? If our first adoption from Vietnam is any indication, I'd expect a lot of free time between appointments. I think our son will be staying at the orphanage for our first trip, so we'd be looking for things my wife & I could do while we're not visiting or taking care of paperwork. On the second trip, we'd be looking more for family things (our son will be 3 years old or younger).
Anything else we should be aware of when traveling to BG? Any tips or tricks?
Yes I think you have a good chance to get some upgrade, but in general rooms (at least the ones I always had) are quite spacious anyhow. You will be right in the midst of the centre in a positive way and can easily walk everywhere and get to know the city and its people. Depending on time of year this will be quite different as spring/summer brings everyone out, lot's of terraces and restaurants to enjoy. In terms of what to do it really depends what your interests are, but I guess good to read up a bit on Bulgaria, history, and am sure you will figure out what you would like to see, there are several interesting places not to far, you got the mountains nearby etc. Good to find ways to get to know the country and its people a bit while there gven you will adopt a child. If you have a full day or more available you could venture a bit further, or even make day trip to Varna, on the Black Sea coast. Flights are $50-100 return and less than an hour. Again, for your second trip there will be lots to do, but nicer weather will probably make it easier as you can simply enjoy outside life. In any case enjoy and all the best for you and your family!
Programs: Starwood Hotels, Alaska Air, Delta/Northwest Air
Thanks for your reply, jplondon. I did consider a trip to the Black Sea. We'll look into that further. I rented the Rick Steves Eastern Europe DVD from the library last weekend and it looked like a beautiful country (I've done a lot of web surfing, but it's much different to see video). I think we'll try to make a trip to the monastery (can't remember the name right now) that is not too far from Sofia. I'm not sure how much free time we'll have. We'll want to spend as much time with our son as possible, but I'd imagine the orphanage/adoption agency will have some limits to how long we can stay there each day.
I'm glad the rooms at the Sheraton are large. We previously adopted from Vietnam, and mistakenly expected the standard room to be comparable to a standard room in the U.S. Needless to say, our 9 nights at the Rex Hotel would have been more enjoyable if we'd paid a little more for a suite. We're just happy that we have the chance to pick our own hotel this time, as opposed to being at the mercy of the adoption agency. It will save us quite a bit of money since we'll be able to use points.