Many hoteliers would understandably be upset if their guests showed up six hours later than agreed, especially in the middle of the night. But not at the Hotel Baron in Tiranë, Albania.
Perhaps that’s why I loved it so much.
Due to a horrendous border crossing from Montenegro, a GPS that ceased to function, and a city-wide blackout, our two-hour drive to Tiranë turned into a six hour nightmare. By the time we arrived at the gates of Hotel Baron we were exhausted, rattled and starving, fully convinced that since it was midnight there was no way we would get a happy greeting let alone dinner.
Much to our astonishment we found our hostess and her two sons waiting for us with smiles and welcoming hugs. There wasn’t a hint of anger in their tired faces, they were just glad we’d arrived safe and sound. They bustled about helping us with our luggage, navigated our enormous van into the complimentary secure parking area, then led us to the pristine dining room and brought out wine and plate after plate of homemade pasta.
Although we’d just spent the past week eating our way through Italy, we all agreed that our Albanian pasta was the best we’d ever had.
When we sheepishly informed our hosts that we would have to leave at 5 a.m. the next morning, they cheerfully informed us that breakfast would be ready.
We couldn’t believe it.
After dinner we were escorted to our rooms. Each room cost about $25 a night and included breakfast and free WiFi in the common areas. Outside each door were complimentary house shoes that made us smile and feel so welcome. The rooms were spotlessly clean, the beds comfortable and we fell asleep almost instantly. The next morning we discovered that each room opened out onto spacious balconies covered with rambling roses. This fairytale setting was the last thing we expected from a hotel in Albania.
Groggy but awake the next morning, we shuffled downstairs to find a wonderful breakfast of meats, cheeses, thick-cut bread, slabs of creamy butter, little bowls of preserves, boiled eggs and all the strong coffee we could handle. We filled our plates and moseyed out to the veranda where we watched the sun rise over the hills as we ate and laughed about our crazy adventures of the previous night.
As soon as we finished eating our hosts helped us load the luggage and bent over our enormous map of Albania to show us the best way out of the city. Then it was time to depart.
It had been a short visit but a memorable one. The day before I’d entered Albania with fear and trepidation, but the hospitality and kindness of our Albanian hosts wiped those fears away and I was excited to explore the rest of this amazing country.
We hugged our hosts good-bye and they stood waving and smiling until we were out of sight.
- Address: Rruga Elbasanit Nrd. 274 H.1, Sauk, Tirana PLZ 1003, Albania
- Rooms: 20
- On site: One restaurant
- Reservations: +355-4246-7649
- Price: $
All photos courtesy of RamblingTart.com.
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