Category Archives: Hotels and Accommodation

Somedevi Residence – The place to stay in Siem Reap

Siem Reap is the gateway and home to the ancient Khmer kingdom of Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat has been listed as a UNESCO heritage site since 1992, and consists of 162 hectares of ancient structures and temples. The heavily touristic city of Siem Reap is the stepping stone and the home base for many tourists to this remarkable kingdom. But with so many hotels and accommodation options available, where do you stay? Let us help you out with that decision and tell you about the fabulous Somadevi Residence.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Good Hotel in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | 5 star hotels in Siem Reap
No introduction is really required. But this is Angkor Wat.

After searching through the different hotel booking sites we were stunned by the amount of accommodation options available. From hotels, hostels, guesthouses and homestays there are so many types to choose from. The fabulous 5 star and 52 roomed Somadevi Residence provides modern facilities to make your stay perfect and relaxing.

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Like many tourists we arrive into Siem Reap via the airport and take the $10 USD airport taxi to the hotel. It takes about 30 minutes depending on the traffic. Check-in is quick and efficient, although this was possibly the only time we were a little worried we were in the wrong place. This is due to the Somadevi Residence and the Somadevi  Angkor Boutique and Resort using the same reception desk. So, don’t panic, you are in the right place.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
The reception desk for the Somadevi Residence and Somadevi Angkor Boutique and Resort

Our Executive Deluxe room for our stay is on the third floor and is spacious with a King sized bed, mini bar, television, coffee-making facilities and small balcony overlooking the next property. The bed is comfortable with complimentary water and tea and coffee.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
One of the fifty executive deluxe rooms at the Somadevi Residence

Each room has a spacious private bathroom with a shower area and a bath. The bathroom is clean and the room is serviced daily, with the hotel supplying fragrant toiletries and other amenities.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
Each Somadevi Residence has a large serviced bathroom

All rooms overlook the large refreshing swimming pool, which we spent some time relaxing around. The swimming pool has comfortable day beds scattered around the edge and the Blue Bar offers food and beverages to be taken whilst relaxing.  The pool is open until 8pm and is popular for a majority of the guests.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
The swimming pool is open until 8pm.

The Somadevi Residence can assist you with just about anything during your stay with them. From organising tours and transport to Angkor Wat and other fascinating sites close by. My favourite activities were the incredible cooking class and the invigorating beauty spa. The Somadevi cooking masterclass would be in my top 10 things to do whilst travelling, with Executive Chef Mr. Siep Bunna taking you on a journey to cooking perfection. The class includes a market tour, access to producing a four course menu and of course being able to eat what you produce all for $30 USD. Incredible value and incredible fun. Look out for our upcoming post on this sensational experience.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
A top 10 activity. A masterclass with Mr. Siep Bunna

After long days of walking and exploring Angkor Wat and Siem Reap, it is always good to come back to your hotel and be pampered. I recommend going to Somadevi’s, Aloe Spa and Fitness Centre. We let their trained masseuse massage away our tired muscles. With a range of beauty treatments, hair styling and massages available it is just what the doctor ordered.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
Pamper yourself at the Aloe Spa and Fitness Centre

Alternatively, if you feel like you haven’t exercised enough you can head to their gym and run on the treadmill. The gym isn’t large and has no weights, but you can get that cardio workout going. Once you’ve exercised, spend some time in the steam room, spa or sauna.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
The small gym at the Somadevi Residence

If you are starting to get hungry, don’t worry, because the Somadevi has some beautiful food options for you. You can head to the Palm Cafe for a light lunch, snacks by the pool or a fine dining experience in the Champagne dining room. All hotel guests receive a discounted price on food and drinks. In comparison to other 5 star major hotel brands the Somadevi Residence food prices are less expensive and the food served is excellent. Especially in the Champagne Dining Room.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
Have a cocktail, health drink or snack whilst relaxing around the pool.

The Palm Cafe is situated in the front of the hotel and provides coffees, cakes, ice creams and light meals. We made sure we tried the homemade ice cream and the coffee is quite good for Cambodian standards. During our stay we also had one of their pizzas and although plain-looking the flavour was good.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
The Palm Cafe’s Banana Split
Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
Three scoops of homemade coconut ice cream

After those warm humid days walking around Siem Reap, it was always great to cool off in the hotels swimming pool. Whilst relaxing try out the cocktails, health drinks and light snacks available.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
There’s nothing like relaxing with drinks by the pool

If you are looking for something more substantial than don’t miss the Champagne Dining Room. Executive Chef Mr. Siep Bunna has created an excellent seasonal menu. Choose from the Khmer degustation menu containing three courses or order from the a la carte menu. Having already experiencing the cooking masterclass we made sure we tried Mr. Siep Bunna’s degustation menu.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
Dine in the Champagne dining room for a superb choice from the a la carte or degustation menus

The three course degustation menu consisted of a Plear Trei, a Khor Joerng Chrouk and a Sangya L-Pov. A Plear Trei is a Khmer style fish ceviche with fresh crunchy vegetables and a mild chilli dressing. The dish was beautifully constructed, and the taste and texture was exquisite.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat | Where to eat in Siem Reap
First Course is Plear Trei a Khmer style fish ceviche with fresh crunchy vegetables and a mild chilli dressing.

Our second course was probably something I wouldn’t normally try. But in the spirit of providing an honest review the Khor Joerng Chrouk is braised pork trotters with bamboo shoots and lotus nuts, served with sauteed bok choy and steamed jasmine rice. The pork trotter was a little fatty for my liking, but beautifully cooked and the sweetness from the sauce was gorgeous.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat | Where to eat in Siem Reap
Second Course. Khor Joerng Chrouk is braised pork trotters with bamboo shoots and lotus nuts, served with sauteed bok choy and steamed jasmine rice.

Finally, the Sangya L-Pov was steamed pumpkin with egg custard, served with Pandan sauce and seasonal fruit. Now, I must admit that pumpkin is my least favourite vegetable. Yet the balance of the pumpkin and the sweet egg custard made the whole dish work perfectly. And although I’m not too keen on pumpkin, I would happily eat the Sangya L-Pov again.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat | Where to eat in Siem Reap
Third Course. Sangya L-Pov is steamed pumpkin with egg custard, served with Pandan sauce and seasonal fruit.

If you like to have a nightcap after dinner then head into the White Lounge and have a cocktail, beer or glass of wine. Sit and relax or mingle with other guests. Every night from 6 p.m the White Lounge plays a feature film on their big screen. So settle in, get comfortable, and watch a new release film.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat | Where to eat in Siem Reap
The White Lounge shows a feature film every day from 6 p.m. So have a drink, sit back and relax.

Breakfast is also served daily from 6 a.m – 10 a.m in the Champagne dining room or the outside courtyard. Select your breakfast from the buffet styled options or if you like something not available, order it and the chefs will make it especially for you.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat | Where to eat in Siem Reap
Either select from the breakfast buffet or get the chefs to make something especially for you.

Somadevi Residence is an excellent hotel to stay at in Siem Reap and if you’d like a souvenir of your stay, they have a gift shop in the White Lounge to pick up that cherished memento.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat | Where to eat in Siem Reap
Pick up a souvenir from the souvenir shop in the White Lounge

Siem Reap is a must see city in Cambodia, and the Somadevi Residence is a superb place to base your stay. No matter what your schedule is, the Somadevi Residence is the place to stay. The hotel staff are incredibly helpful, and will organise transport and tours for you and your family. If you decide to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat the hotel will provide you a take away breakfast to enjoy as the sun comes up.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat | Where to eat in Siem Reap
Are you keen to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat?

The Somadevi Residence enhanced our stay in Siem Reap. The care they show for their guests, from welcome fruit baskets, printing out travel reservations to ensuring you get to the airport on time. There is nothing that I can fault during this perfect stay. So, when you are booking that holiday to Cambodia, make sure you book a stay at the Somadevi Residence and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
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Additional Information for the Somadevi Residence

Address: Oum Chhay St, Krong Siem Reap
Ph: +855 63 962 666

Book your stay at the Somadevi Residence with Ourworldinreview to help us maintain our site.

Prices of accommodation per night at the Somadevi Residence

Ranging from $92.50 USD (AUD$115)  – $110 USD (AUD$140)

Check in: 1400hrs Check Out: 1200hrs

Champagne Dining Room:

Main Dishes prices range from $5.00 USD (AUD$6.25) to $25.00  USD (AUD$31.00)

– The serving hours:  6:00 am till 10:00 pm.

The Palm Cafe

– The leisure coffee hours: 08:00 am to 08:00 pm.

The Blue Bar

– 08:00 am to 08:00 pm.

The White Lounge

– 11:30 am to 10:00 pm.

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*This post contains affiliate links. Please help us maintain this site by booking through the links. Thank you.

Cosy Houseboats in Kerala

If you are going to spend some time in the south of India, you may have heard that it is quite popular to spend a day or two on a houseboat. After a busy two weeks travelling around India we decided to spend three nights cruising the backwaters of Kerala from Alappuzha near Alleppey, Southern India with Cosy Houseboats.

Things to do in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
A houseboat travelling along the backwaters in Kerala

After days or research, trying to select an affordable houseboat operator was becoming a painful task. To alleviate this we logged onto to check out what houseboats were available. This made the task a lot easier and in the end we choose to book a Cosy Houseboat cruise for three nights, departing from Alappuzha.

Prior to our cruise we stayed in Alleppey for a night in a little backpackers called which turned out to be a godsend. They were so helpful that as Cosy Houseboats weren’t replying to any of our previous emails, the receptionist found the correct number (wrong on for their offices and found out our check in time and meeting point.

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Thank god, we decided to spend a night in Alleppey before boarding our cruise, otherwise we would have had enormous issues trying to contact the operators. Once everything was settled and we left the backpackers it was a quick auto rickshaw ride (INR100) to the Cosy Regency Hotel, the meeting point for the houseboat cruise.

After check in, it was explained that although we booked for a shared three night cruise we would be following the same itinerary for the three days. This meant we had to check out off the boat each day and head back to the meeting point before boarding the next boat at check in time. This important information should have been communicated to us after booking and was a little frustrating to say the least.  Whilst at the office they did try to encourage us to pay extra for a private houseboat. Once price negotiations broke down, as we weren’t going to pay their optimum price, they advised that they didn’t have a boat available and we ended up staying on the shared boat.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats in India | Cosy Houseboats
The initial mooring point for the Cosy Houseboat at Alappuzha

Our next issue was that we were unable to pay using a credit card as their EFTPOS machine was faulty. Cosy houseboat management then insisted we withdrawal the daily limit for international cards (INR10000) to make a down payment. Then they would try an EFTPOS payment the next day. The manager ended up transporting us to 6 ATM machines that all had no cash available. In the end they allowed us to board and try paying the next day.

With the wedding season fully underway in India, we spent our first shared night with three other couples. Two couples were newly weds and the third couple were on their one year anniversary. All were nice and we ended up chatting away with a couple from the North of India for most of the cruise.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats of Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
The sunset in Kerala

The four berth houseboat was a little rundown and in need of a little maintenance. The room was small but thankfully the bed was comfortable. Being a wooden vessel, it does get extremely hot in the cabins during the day. There is a ceiling fan to circulate air, but the air conditioning only comes on between 7pm and 7am. My advice is to stay out of the cabins until evening when the air conditioning kicks in.

Things to do in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
Although the cabin a a little rundown, the bed was comfortable.

The bathroom was……”fit for use”, nothing special, a bit dirty with a shower that sprayed everywhere but on you and no hot water. If you are looking for hotel quality, than this is not the place for you.

Things to do in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
The cabins private bathroom, is nothing to call home about.

The rest of the boat is “well used”. Our boat has a dining table, eight single seated lounge chairs and a small television mounted to the wall.

Things to do in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
The main dining and lounge area on the four berth houseboat

The boat has three crew members aboard, the helmsman, a cook and a waiter, who keep to themselves so you can enjoy the slow cruise through the river system. All meals, water, and tea and coffee are included in the price and are quite good. The cruise itself is casual, calm and relaxing as we traverse along the waterways.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
The tranquil waterways of Kerala

We stop for lunch, moored to a riverbank and are encouraged to leave the boat to visit some shops or massage parlours. Then it’s back onboard for a final cruise around before we moor up for the night alongside the Cosy Lake Villa. Although the advertising states free wi-fi for your time on the houseboat, you actually only get limited poor wi-fi access when you berth in the evening.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
The houseboat moors up for the evening at the Cosy Lake Villa

It is here we have a candlelit evening meal, before heading to our cabins for an early night. The operators do allow you to have a shower in one of the villas hotels rooms, which is a little more pleasant. Unfortunately, yet again it is without hot water.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
Cosy Lake Villa is our mooring point for the night

The boat starts up again at 8:00am and heads back into Alleppey for a 9:00am check out. Once berthed you are picked up by car or auto rickshaw and taken back to the Cosy Regency Hotel. We then have until 12:00pm before we are required to board our next vessel. Since, the Cosy Regency Hotel has average wi-fi coverage we decide to stay to book ongoing travel arrangements. Then I do the whole payment thing again, this time the Internet connection is working and I’m able to pay the total amount.

Our second boat, ends up being the boat we remain on for the next two days. It’s a smaller two cabin boat, whom we share with two more newly weds on the different days. This boat has an upstairs viewing deck but again is in serious need of maintenance. Once again the cabin is small but the bed is comfortable. It has its ceiling fan and air conditioner, which again only comes on at 7:00pm.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
Cabin on the two berth houseboat is a lot like the four berth cabin.

The bathroom is awful, and in serious need of renovating. Plus we are lucky enough to have two large cockroaches, who I meet in the middle of the night and a small lizard living in the air conditioner. Additionally, the power point in the room doesn’t work so we end up charging phones etc. on the upstairs deck.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
The two berth bathroom was awful.

Although, initially we were told we would follow the same route on each day, we ended up being around the same area but each day we went down different canals. Once again the actual cruising was relaxing, the company was nice and the food was very good.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats in Kerala | Cosy Houseoats
Some of the food available onboard the houseboat

Overall, Cosy Houseboats offers a cheaper affordable cruise to experience the houseboats of Kerala. Is there better boats? Yes! Are they more expensive? Yes. So depending on your budget and if you don’t mind roughing it a little, than this could be the houseboat company for you.

Cosy Houseboats has a lot of work to do to improve their product. The boats are in need of a good overhaul. The bathrooms are awful, but the silver lining is they allow you to use the Cosy Lakeview Hotel if you’d like a better shower. Communication is a huge issue. We sent two or three emails to them and received no reply and if it wasn’t for the help of hostel, we would have struggled to find out any information. The staff at the hotels and on board the boats are friendly but they do try to push you to write a good review on TripAdvisor. And although it is stated you have access to wi-fi, it is very limited and rarely works.

The cruise itself is peaceful, relaxing and nice. Travelling up and down the canals is pleasant with beautiful scenery for good photos. The waterways are at times full of houseboats, so you can see how popular these cruises are.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
The beautiful Indian countryside as seen from Cosy Houseboats

Look, I must admit, although the houseboat was a little rundown, I really enjoyed cruising along the Kerala waterways. And although Cosy Houseboats was a little disorganised, they ended up providing what we paid for, a fully catered, three-day cruise around Kerala. So, if you don’t mind roughing it, and can put up with a few minor disappointments and a couple of creepy crawlies, than Cosy Houseboats may have the cruise for you. If not, then book somewhere else, although I can’t guarantee it will be any better.

Things to do in Kerala
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Additional Information for Cosy Houseboats

Cosy Regency, Finishing Point, Alappuzha, Kerala 688013, India
Ph: +91 477 225 5555

Cost of our three day cruise as booked on

Total: INR25000 (AUD$500)

Check in: 1200hrs Check Out: 0900hrs

Other Accommodation available in Alleppey

*Post Contains Affiliate links

Ecotourism in Jordan – Feynan Ecolodge

Jordan has proven to be a remarkable country. With an abundance of ancient history and natural wonder, it is a county full of surprises. There are some beautifully preserved nature reserves to be found in Jordan and during our stay we were able to visit two. After an inspiring stay at a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum, then a couple of days relaxing in Aqaba, we make the journey to the Dana Nature Reserve for a chance to sample some of Jordan’s Ecotourism at the Feynan Ecolodge.

Where to stay in Dana Nature Reserve
The magnificence of Wadi Rum.

Now getting there was interesting activity. After searching online for information, we knew we had to get on bus at Aqaba Bus Station going to the Feynan Reception centre. The Ecolodge was helpful, giving us some information on how to get there from Aqaba. We knew the bus would be at the station at 9:00 a.m, so we made sure we were there on time. What we didn’t know was that finding the right bus could be an ordeal. Luckily, a helpful passenger who understood English on the first bus we were told to get on told us we were on the wrong bus.

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After a little bit of a debate with the driver and the helpful passenger, the bus driver called over a non uniformed attendant from the bus station and he directed us to the right bus. The second bus driver advised that he would drop us off at the reception but we would need to pay for 3 seats. This was because our luggage would take up a seat, stopping another passenger from being able to board. In the end, we found this to be only fair and at 5 JOD per seat it was definitely not a bank breaker.

The bus itself is only a 20 seat mini bus and the driver waits at the station until he has a full bus. So, make sure you’re not in a rush as you can wait a few hours before the bus leaves. We found it a good time to catch up on a good book. Our bus finally left a 1:00 p.m and we headed off to Feynan.

Where to stay at the Dana Nature Reserve
The bus from Aqaba leaves once it is full. Make sure you find the attendant who speaks English to locate your bus.

The full journey took about 2.5 to 3 hours, and was quite enjoyable. The bus was full of local townsfolk. They constantly offered us drinks and food along the journey. There were also a few children onboard testing out their English skills, so we helped them with a few Aussie phrases, to their delight.

Where to stay at Dana Nature Reserve
These two local boys were testing out their English skills on us.

Although arriving a little later than expected to the Feynan reception office a staff member was available to transport us to the Ecolodge by 4WD about thirty minutes away. Driving into the nature reserve we pass Bedouin tents and families herding sheep and goats until we reach the hotel.

Where to stay at Dana Nature Reserve
Some sheep trying to stay out of the sun.

The sandstone coloured hotel is located between two hills alongside an empty river bed. We are guided by our driver into the main hotel reception area where we are kindly greeted and given refreshing towels and a drink so ease our travels.

Where to stay at near Feynan
Feynan Ecolodge is located between two mountains alongside a river bed

The Ecolodge has all the comforts of a 4 star hotel except it relies on solar power to generate its electricity. The rest of the hotel is lit at night by romantic candlelight. During our check in we are advised that the only power available in the room is the bathroom. They ask us to ensure that the bathroom light is switched off when not required as the Ecolodge has limited battery life. The only other available power is in the reception which they allow guests to recharge their phones, cameras and laptops. Recharging points are limited, so you will need to be patient to obtain a free space.

Where to stay near Feynan
Feynan Ecolodge use candles for lighting

We are escorted into our room and it has two comfortable beds a desk, a cold filtered water jug with safe drinking water and a separate bathroom. Unfortunately, this room had an issue with its  hot water supply so we were moved so they worked out the problem.

Where to stay at in Dana Nature Reserve
Our first room at the Feynan Ecolodge.

Our second room was a lot like the first except it was little larger with and extra vanity setting. The rooms have candles strategically placed around the room to give ambient lighting at night.

Where to stay in Dana Nature Reserve
Our second room at the Feynan Ecolodge was a little bit larger than our first.

Feynan Ecolodge offers is guests a variety of hikes and cultural experiences throughout the day. Their program list is set, so depending on the day you arrive dictates what events are available. Subsequently, if you decided that you’d rather hike on your own, Feynan’s staff will point you in the right direction and give you advice on where to go. Make sure you fill up your water bottles from the water tanks available in the hotel or from your filtered jug in your room.

Where to stay at the Dana Nature Reserve
The Dana Nature Reserve has some picturesque hiking trails

As we arrived pretty late on the first day, we missed the first evenings sunset hike. We then made sure we scheduled it in for the next day because it is one not to miss.

The stay package includes all meals and drinks at set times during the day. The selection of food was excellent, and they ensured that any guests with food allergies are catered for. All meals are vegetarian as they don’t have sufficient cold rooms to keep any meat products.

Where to stay in the Dana Nature Reserve
Some of the amazing food selection at the ecolodge

After the main dinner break the staff provides a brief presentation about the Ecolodge. The presentation highlights what the lodge are trying to do and what activities are available the next day. Once the presentation is complete we are taken onto the roof leisure area and are shown the stars through an impressive telescope.

If you’d prefer to stay in, Feynan has a lounge area with board games and a range of books in various languages. I found that most people would of course congregate around the reception room as it is the only area that has access to Wi-fi and power.

Where to stay in the Dana Nature Reserve
Feynan Ecolodge ‘s lounge area has a bookshelf and board games

The next day it’s an early rise, with breakfast in the dining area then a guided sampler hike in the nature reserve. Our local guide for the day is Suleiman who ensures we experience the Bedouin lifestyle. He speaks excellent English and speaks about life in the nature reserve. As he walks, he talks about various plants and their benefits to the local Bedouin people. After a good hike we have sage tea and sit chatting about our travels.

Where to stay in the Dana Nature Reserve
Doing the Wadi Dana sampler hike

We return back to Feynan in time for lunch followed by a visit to a Bedouin tent for local coffee. Once again Suleiman is our guide for this experience. He introduces us to a local family who invite us in for some home-brewed coffee. Suleiman explains the significance of coffee, to the Bedouin culture. Coffee is only prepared when important matters need to be discussed between families or to welcome new people into the Bedouin village. It was fascinating to watch the head of the household grind the coffee beans in a metal mortar which chimed out to neighbours that coffee was being made. It isn’t long before a neighbour pops his head in to see the newcomers (us) and indulge in a cup of coffee.

Where to stay in the Dana Nature Reserve
Our friendly guide Suleiman, grinding coffee beans during our Bedouin experience

When we return to Feynan, it isn’t long before the start of the sunset hike. We all chat during our walk and when it came time to watch the sun go down, we were amazed by its pure beauty. Our guide  makes the group sage tea and we drink whilst enjoying the surrounding view.

Where to stay in the Dana Nature Reserve
Don’t miss the evening hike to capture some beautiful sunsets

Once the sun disappears its back to the Ecolodge for another incredible dinner, with visits from local goats, camels, sheep, and donkeys. It is quite fun having your meals with a local animals wandering freely around.

Where to stay in the Dana Nature Reserve
It’s amazing the animals you meet at Feynan Ecolodge

After a busy day we are exhausted and retire early. The next day we are convinced to take the longer canyon hike by ourselves. A local driver transports us to the canyon entrance and organises our pick-up time. Then we hike down the river bed taking in the freshness of the air and the constant flow of a small stream. We see frogs and lizards and a couple of Bedouin woman herding their family goats. The area is beautiful and after a few hours we head back to meet up with our driver to return to Feynan.

Where to stay in the Dana Nature Reserve
The early stages of the Wadi Ghwayr Hike

Feynan Ecolodge is a perfect place to visit when in Jordan. There is no pressure for you to do anything. If you want you could just relax the days away reading a good book. I recommend doing the activities available to you. Take some hikes, meet the local Bedouin people or learn to cook Middle Eastern cuisine. The staff are friendly and helpful, and speak many different languages, so communication shouldn’t be to much of a problem.

Therefore, visit the Dana Nature Reserve and the Feynan Ecolodge soon, Say hello to Suleiman for me and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you.

Where to stay at Dana Nature Reserve
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Additional Information for the Feynan Ecolodge

Address:  Dana Nature Reserve
Ph: +962 6 464 5580

Prices of accommodation per night at Feynan Ecolodge

Ranging from 160 JOD(AUD$300) – 195 JOD(AUD$365) 

Check in: 1400hrs Check Out: 1200hrs

*Post Contains Affiliate links

Indulging at the the Hilton Dead Sea Resort

Jordan has always held a little intrigue as a place to visit. I of course knew about the magnificence of historical Petra, seeing it a few times on travel shows and in blockbuster films. Yet, Jordan is so much more than that. There is some awesome protective reserves and it also boasts the lowest place on Earth. At 450 metres below sea level the Dead Sea is an attraction that in my mind must be visited. During our journey in Jordan, we couldn’t resist the temptation of taking a dip in the Dead Sea whilst staying at the brand-new Hilton Dead Sea Resort.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
Looking out over the Dead Sea from the Hilton Dead Sea

The brand-new Hilton Dead Sea Resort is approximately 7 months old opening in early 2017. We travelled from Jordan’s capital city Amman via driver transfer for 50JOD (AUD$90). There are probably cheaper ways to travel to the Dead Sea, but we opted for door to door service and sat back and enjoyed the one and a half hour drive. Prices do vary so make sure you are happy paying the price before jumping in the taxi or private driver.

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Situated alongside the vast expanse that is the Dead Sea, the Hilton Dead Sea Resort is a well secured facility with guards only allowing listed guests through the checkpoint. Our car is checked we drive down into the hotel and are greeted by the Hilton’s helpful staff. Once you enter the lobby you are again greeted at a security checkpoint for a luggage scan (like at any airport). They take their security seriously at the Hilton!

Where to stay at the Dead Dea?
The large lobby area inside the Hilton Dead Sea Resort with its central water feature

The main lobby of the Hilton Dead Sea Resort is incredibly large, the reception desk is to the right with a cafe/bar to the left. You can’t help but stop and look at the spectacular view of the Dead Sea straight ahead of you.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
Welcome to the Hilton Dead Sea Resort

We are greeted by the smart-looking staff, checked in and escorted to our room in the Marhaba section. The hotel is divided into sections like Marhaba and Petra, so guests can find their way back to their rooms easier.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
A King Guest room has a refreshing tropical feel about it.

The King guest room allocated to us is wonderfully decorated with a stunning view over the hotel pools and Dead Sea.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea?
Look at the stunning view from our King Guest Room at the Hilton Dead Sea Resort

The room contains a safe, ironing board, television, table and chairs and King bed. After a short time, we were delivered a nice welcoming treat of fruits, nuts, macaroons, and chocolate.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
A welcome gift was delivered to our room. Yummy! Thank you.

There is a large bathroom area and separate toilet, for your added comfort. The only thing we could pick on was the only power point that the hairdryer could be plugged into near a mirror was next to the front door. Surprisingly, not in the bathroom area.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
The large bathroom is stylish, but there is no power point for a hair dryer.

The hotel oozes luxury with its pools and private white sanded beach leading to the slick salty water. Stylish restaurants, cafes and bars are positioned around the complex to eat, meet and greet other guests. So, you can easily stay within the resort for your entire stay and not be disappointed.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
Located near the pools, Bacchus is a casual Italian Trattoria

The hotel has multiple pool areas. From the adult area with poolside bar to the family area and kids club. Towels for the pool are supplied by the hotel, with pool attendants available to take your food and drink orders. The family pools have lifeguards to ensure the safety of your family.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
Lounging by the pool is a relaxing way to spend the afternoon

Most people come to the Dead Sea to float around and experience this remarkable phenomenon. The mud contains healing properties so there are mud basins and mirrors available for you to apply the thick rich mud. After fifteen minutes you then hop into the Dead Sea to wash off. Make sure you read the warning boards before you take a dip as the high salt content can be harmful if inhaled or ingested. Additionally, it can be uncomfortable if you have a cut or abrasion.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
For someone who normally can’t float. It’s a freaky feeling, like a bobbing cork.

Breakfast is served in the Spectrum Restaurant and Executive Lounge daily. They provide an extensive range for breakfast from a continental breakfast to individually ordered plates. It’s the ideal way to start a relaxing day.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
Breakfast is available from the Spectrum Restaurant daily

The Hilton Dead Sea Resort, reminds me a lot like a cruise ship, everything you want to make your stay comfortable is right there. You really don’t have to leave the resort to have an enjoyable stay. Yet, saying that if you did want to adventure away from the resort, the concierge can help you to organise a tour. Subsequently, if you’d rather go it alone, the AVIS car rental booth has vehicles available.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
Such a beautiful sunset over the Hilton Dead Sea Resort

Overall the Hilton Dead Sea Resort is a beautiful place to stay. As active travellers, it was actually nice to rest and lounge by the sea for a day. It was also special to stand outside during the evening and watch the sun setting over the Sea. I do recommend taking a dip in the Dead Sea. The water feels oily and leaves a filmy residue on your skin, but the sense of just floating around is quite appealing. With plenty of food options and a Kids Club it is an ideal place for a family to base their Jordan stay. So, why not head there today and tell them, Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
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Additional Information for the Hilton Dead Sea Resort

Address:  Dead Sea Road، Sweimeh 11953, Jordan
Ph: +962 5 349 3000

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Prices of accommodation per night at the Hilton Dead Sea Resort

Ranging from 111 JOD(AUD$205) – 449 JOD(AUD$830) 

Check in: 1400hrs Check Out: 1200hrs

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Sweet Sarajevo and the Hotel Emiran

There is so much to like about Sarajevo. It’s a city still rebuilding after a brutal forty-four month siege. A cityscape with constant reminders of the destruction and resilience of the Bosnian and Herzegovinian people can be found everywhere. Apartment buildings are riddled with bullet and mortar holes, and the poignant dedications to the victims in the form of the artistic Sarajevo Rose. Sarajevo’s appearance will open your eyes to the effects of war and the countries hopes for a peaceful future. During our stay in Sarajevo we are based at the four starred Hotel Emiran.

Where to stay in Sarajevo
One of the many mortar and bullet riddled apartment buildings in Sarajevo
Where to stay in Sarajevo?
The Sarajevo Rose is a poignant reminder of the innocence lives during the Siege of Sarajevo.

Located outside of the city centre this hotel offers affordable stylish accommodation and facilities for its guests.  Positioned within 100m from the Nedžarići tram stop, the Emiran is an excellent base to start your adventures in remarkable Sarajevo.

Where to stay in Sarajevo
One of the trams of Sarajevo

We arrived into Sarajevo by international bus and found the directions to the Hotel Emiran easy to navigate using our Maps App. Public transport tickets are easy to obtain with kiosks everywhere. Just look for the transport sticker to know if they sell tickets. Tickets are 1.60BAM from a kiosk or 1.80BAM if you decide to buy them from the driver.  We also found the people to be very helpful, so if you have any troubles someone will be glad to help.

Where to stay in Sarajevo
One of the many kiosks in Sarajevo selling public transport tickets.
Where to stay in Sarajevo
Look for this sticker when buying public transport tickets in Sarajevo

On arrival at the Hotel Emiran you enter a large lobby area divided up into sections. There is a lounge area with comfortable lounge suites, an enclosed smoking area and an open cafe area for the hotels Juicy cafe. With televisions positioned in various locations , it’s a good place to relax and watch a game. Here you will also find the hotel’s small reception desk for check-in.

Where to stay in Sarajevo
The small reception desk in the lobby of the Hotel Emiran

Bosnia and Herzegovina is mainly a muslim country, and the hotel has a conservative attitude towards a dress code. Therefore, the knees must be covered throughout the main hotel area. We quickly check-in and make our way up to our standard double room.

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The room interior is nicely decorated with a cityscape motif on one of the feature walls. Our room contains a queen sized bed, a long desk with two chairs, a television and empty bar fridge. Unfortunately, there is no in-room coffee and tea facilities, so you will have to go to their cafe to get your coffee fix.

Where to stay in Sarajevo
A standard double room is great value for your stay in Sarajevo

Each room contains a private bathroom with body wash packs supplied.  As a tip, you may need to ask the staff for some scissors as they can be difficult to open. The rooms are clean and comfortable and serviced daily. The shower has an adjustable shower head with good water pressure and plenty of instant hot water.

Where to stay in Sarajevo?
Each room has a clean private bathroom.

Being on the sixth floor, our room also had a nice view of the local area which we were able to easy see the trams running towards the city centre.

Where to stay in Sarajevo?
Nice View

For this stay breakfast was included in the accommodation price and was served from 07:00 a.m in the Emiran Restaurant. They offer a decent breakfast spread with a mixture of hot and cold options for you to choose from.

Where to stay at in Sarajevo?
Part of the breakfast buffet at the Hotel Emiran

If you are in the hotel for lunch and dinner, food is available to be ordered from the Emiran Restaurant or try one of the lovely cakes on offer at the Juicy cafe.

Where should i stay in Sarajevo?
With no in-room coffee facilities, try the hotels Juicy Cafe for a relaxing coffee and cake.

The Emiran Restaurant serves a range of traditional Bosnian and Mediterranean cuisine. Although you wouldn’t call the food exceptional,  it is okay at an exceptional price. One night we were able to purchase two twelve-inch plain Margherita Pizza’s and two soft drinks for 7BAM (AUD$5.35). They also have a takeaway option in case you wish to eat in your room.

Where to stay in Sarajevo
The Emiran Hotel is open daily for food service

For local businesses, the hotel also has a couple of meeting areas to conduct company workshops or management meetings.

Where to stay in Sarajevo
A good spacious area to hold meetings or workshops

Once work is over, why not try the hotel’s Turkish Spa and Finnish Sauna to relax and steam those worries or tired muscles away. Subsequently, if you need to blow off some steam or work off some energy, head to the hotels gym for a workout. But, remember the hotel’s dress code. The Emiran has dressing rooms alongside the gym to change in and out of your gym clothes.

Where to stay in Sarajevo
Time to blow off some steam!

One of the other benefits of staying at the Hotel Emiran is the ability to access the visitors laundry area. The laundry has various washers and dryer available for use at a reasonable price. Additionally, there are irons and ironing boards available the complete your laundry task.

Where to stay in Sarajevo
Just what you need on a long holiday. Access to an excellent laundry.

The Hotel Emiran is a little out of the main tourist area, but with easy access to the public transport system, the commute into the old town (Baščaršija) is enjoyable. With clean affordable rooms, the accommodation is comfortable at a decent price. With access to a laundry, fitness centre, health and beauty spa, cafe and restaurant, you can easily spend a day in the hotel, if you decide not to venture out for a day.

Overall the Hotel Emiran is a conservative hotel with friendly staff good facilities. Therefore, when you are staying in Sarajevo next, try the Hotel Emiran and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Where to stay in Sarajevo
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Additional Information for Hotel Emiran

Address: Aleja Bosne Srebrene bb, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Ph: +387 33 255-755

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Prices of accommodation per night at Hotel Emiran

Ranging from €30(AUD$45) – €100(AUD$150) 

Check in: 1400hrs Check Out: 1200hrs

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Peaceful Shkoder and the Hotel Vataksi

Nestled between rugged mountains and the Boyana (Buna) River, you will find one of the Vataksi Groups two hotels in Shkoder, Albania. Located at one of the entrances into Shkoder city the newly developed Hotel Vataksi offers limited accommodation with five rooms available at an inexpensive price.

Where to stay in Shkoder
The view from our room at the Hotel Vataksi

Once an important trading port during the ruling times of the Ottomans and Venetians. Shkoder is a peaceful city in Northern Albania and a gateway to the Adriatic Sea. It is here that many travellers start the popular three-day hike from Valbona to Theth.  An intersection of three converging rivers Shkoder’s abundance of beautiful landscapes is excellent for the travelling photographer or fishing enthusiast.

Where to stay in Shkoder
An Albanian sunset from Rozafa Castle

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The Hotel Vataksi is a small hotel which offers its customers affordable accommodation with a set breakfast. The hotel originally started as a restaurant but as tourism increased in Shkoder the owners created five comfortable timber panelled rooms. Our room for our short stay has a scenic river view, a queen bed, television, air-conditioner, small desk and wi-fi.

Where to stay cheap in Shkoder
The double room with a river view.

Each room has a small accompanying bathroom, with a toilet, basin and over the floor shower (no separate shower cubicle). The bathroom is clean with sufficient hot water and pressure.

Where to stay in Shkoder
The small bathroom is clean with a decent amount of hot water.

Still under construction the hotel is undergoing various improvements, these works did not affect the outcome of our stay or pose any issues. Travel Vataksi is associated with the hotel with an office in the car park of the hotel. Have a look and see what tours they have on offer. Maybe a riverboat ride along the rivers or a trip to the Adriatic Sea is something you might want to do.

Where to stay in Shkoder
Vataksi Travel office is located in the car park

Every morning, the hotel provides a set breakfast plate for its guests. Make sure you advise of any allergies prior so they can cater accordingly.  The staff is friendly, with some members having limited English, but communicating wasn’t an issue as they would often summon the English-speaking staff to assist.

Where to stay in Shkoder
Breakfast in the outdoor dining area is a great way to start the day

In the evening, the hotel comes alive with many locals dining at their popular restaurant. Servings are large and of good quality. The restaurant boasts an Italian trained chef who produces some wonderful food. With modern music playing throughout the dining area, a playground for the children, and an intoxicating view of the river. It is a superb place to watch the  evening sun set.

Where to eat in Shkoder?
Salmon with vegetables
Where to eat in Shkoder?
Spaghetti with mushroom and tomatoes

Alternatively, if you’d rather not be too close to the river and prefer a mountain view the Vataksi groups second hotel called Shpija Gjyshit or “Grandfather Hotel” is located approximately 1km uphill from Hotel Vataksi. Also still under construction the rooms are larger than those found at Hotel Vataksi and the views are increasingly spectacular.

Where to stay in Shkoder
The spectacular view from the rooms at Shpija Gjyshit

In my opinion, Shpija Gjyshit is a slightly more refined product, with swimming pool, larger rooms and better bathrooms. The restaurant looks out across the valley and the whole hotel reminds me of an Austrian chalet on the side of the mountain.

Where to stay in Shkoder
The suite at Shpija Gjyshit is a more refined product, with larger more stylish rooms.
Where to stay in Shkoder
The more luxurious bathrooms at Shpija Gjyshit

Although, located on the outskirts of Shkoder the Vataksi Group have two comfortable hotels available. It is a good 30 – 45 minute walk into the city centre, but as we like walking it was a good way to start an active day. Alternatively, the hotel can organise a taxi, which are quite cheap into the city. Personally, I would recommend a taxi, or hiring a car to access Shpija Gjyshit as it would be a pretty tiring and steep walk to its position on the side of the mountain.

Where to stay in Shkoder
The Vataksi groups second hotel Shpija Gjyshit

Overall, both hotels are comfortable and affordable. Honestly, there are better rated hotels in the city centre but of course they are more expensive. Travellers on a budget that are looking for a little more style will appreciate the rooms especially at Shpija Gjyshit. The restaurants and staff are pleasant and it was kind of nice to look out the window at Hotel Vataksi and watch the wildlife along the river. So, book your stay at the Hotel Vataksi or Shpija Gjyshit today and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Where to stay in Shkoder
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Additional Information for the Hotel Vataksi

Address: SH41, Buna Bridge, Shkodër 4000, Albania
Ph: +355 69 333 4356

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Prices of accommodation per night at the Hotel Vataksi

AUD$53 per night

Check in: from 07:00 a.m Check Out: Between 09:00 a.m & 12:00 p.m

Vellezerit Vataksi:

Main Dishes prices range from 450ALL (AUD$5.00) to 3000ALL (AUD$33.50)

Opening hours: Daily 7:00 a.m – 11:00 p. m

Additional Information for Shjipa Gjyshit

Address:  Zues Shkoder Zues Shkoder, Shkodër 4001, Albania
Ph: +355 69 748 6655

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Prices of accommodation per night at the Shjipa Gjyshit

Ranging  Between AUD$45 – AUD$105 per night

Check in: from 07:00 a.m Check Out: Between 09:00 a.m & 12:00 p.m

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Hotel 7 and another side of Skopje

If you’ve had the chance to visit Skopje in the Republic of Macedonia, you would know it’s the city of statues. But if you haven’t had the chance to go, then what’s stopping you! Skopje, has statues everywhere! In the squares, in the parks, on the bridges, in the buildings and on top of the buildings. That’s right, Skopje has run out of places to put statues on the ground so they put them on top of their buildings. It is an amazing phenomenon, and one you shouldn’t miss.

Why you should go to Skopje
Skopje has so many statues, they are staring to put them on top of the buildings

For our second part of our stay in Skopje we are staying in the family run Hotel 7. Hotel 7 is a two star hotel with seven rooms available. The rooms are clean with private bathrooms and come with breakfast included. Being a small hotel, they have a coffee station in the hall, so everyone can help themselves. Comfortable and excellent value for money the hotel is only a 15 minute walk from the city or a quick bus trip. The closest bus stop is across the road next to the hospital.

Hotel 7 in Skopje
The two starred Hotel 7 is excellent value in Skopje. Private room with bathroom and breakfast for under 50 euro per night.

Breakfast is available from a little bakery next door to the hotel. They have a range of delicious Byreks and other baked goods on offer. I enjoyed the meat Byrek, which tastes a lot like an Aussie pasty.

Hotel 7 breakfast option
Hotel 7’s breakfast is available from the bakery next door

The staff is happy to advise about what there is to do in Skopje and where to go. In total, we spent 7 nights in Skopje and was able to fill in our time well. So, here’s a few things we did.

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Join a walking tour

Skopje Walks offers a free walking tour in the city centre of Skopje daily from 10 a.m. This is a terrific way to get your bearings in this quirky city and learn about the trials and triumphs the Macedonian people have faced. The meeting point is the Memorial House of Mother Teresa.

Why should I visit Skopje?
The Memorial House of Mother Teresa is the meeting point for the free walking tour.

Head up to the Millennium Cross

Skopje is home to the largest cross in the world, standing at 66 metres and looking out across the city, it’s either a day hike or a ride on the local bus. Once there, capture some stunning photos of the city and landscape. To get there, catch the number 25 bus from the bus station to the cable cars. Alternatively, you can grab a map and hike up to the top.

What is there to do in Skopje?
The 66m Millennium Cross is the largest cross in the world.

Visit Matka Canyon and Cave

Not too far out of the city is picturesque Matka Canyon. Catch the number 60 bus to the last stop and walk to the Matka Canyon Hotel. Here you can either hike the walking path, catch a boat or kayak down the river. Visit the limestone cave and take in the tranquility.

What's to do in Skopje?
Jump on the public transport bus to Matka Canyon. Then take a boat or kayak down river.

Hop on the Skopje City Tour Bus

If you’d rather ride the Skopje City Tour Bus, and see Skopje in comfort. The bus runs from 11 a.m – 5 p.m daily. Visit there Facebook page for more information.

What's to do in Skopje?
Hop onto the Skopje City Tour Bus and visit Skopje’s sights.

Explore the Old Bazaar

Whilst in the city centre, it is a must to explore Skopje’s old bazaar. Walk through the cobbled stoned streets and browse the selection of goods on sale. The bazaar contains museums, bars and restaurants serving traditional Macedonian food.

What's to do in Skopje?
Visit the old bazaar, try some local food and browse the goods on sale.

Watch a game at Philip II Arena

If you are an avid fan of sport, then check out if the main stadium is hosting any games. The home of teams FK Vardar and FK Rabotnički, visit their websites to see if a game is being played. Otherwise visit the popular park alongside the oval and have a drink or ice cream.

What's to do in Skopje?
Watch a game at Philip II stadium.

Play Spot the Statue

With so many statues scattered around the city, play a game of I-spy with friends spotting the quirky and intriguing statues. Can you find the begging statue, or the girl playing the harp?

What's to do in Skopje?
Can you find the girl with the harp statue?

Skopje is one of those fun cities that puts either a confused look or a smile on your face. With not many major hotels present in the city, you might find it easier to obtain accommodation at the family run hotels like Hotel 7. Although rated as a two star this little hotel is excellent value for money. With a private bathroom, coffee facilities and breakfast included, you can’t go wrong. Close to public transport, with friendly helpful staff. Book your stay today, and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you.

Looking for value for money accommodation in Skopje/ Why should you go to Skopje/ Copy&Paste Syndrome
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Additional Information for Hotel 7

Address: blvd. Vodnjanska 28, Skopje 1000, Macedonia (FYROM)
Ph: +389 2 317 6905

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Urban Adventures offers fun tours in Skopje. Book Here!

Prices of accommodation per night at Hotel 7

Ranging from €25(AUD$37) – €75 (AUD$110) 

Check in: 1400hrs Check Out: 1200hrs

*Post Contains Affiliate links

Relaxing in Luxury at the Sheraton Tirana Hotel

Albania is making inroads into becoming the Balkan Peninsula’s next big tourist destination. A country which was isolated from the rest of the world by its brutal dictator, is now modernising and accepting foreign investment to improve its attractiveness as a tourist destination. Our first stop in this developing country is where most travellers will start their journey in Albania. The thriving capital city of Tirana. Whilst here for five relaxing days, we stayed at the luxurious Sheraton Tirana Hotel.

Staying at the Sheraton Tirana Hotel
The Sheraton Tirana Hotel taken from the Sky Tower.

To be honest with you when we initially talked about Tirana, we had no idea about the history or culture of Albania. Of course, we knew it was in Europe. Somewhere! But pictured a more rural and rustic type of lifestyle. You know, horse and carts, with farmers and their families working the land and living in little mud-brick cottages. What we didn’t expect was for the city to be a modern metropolis, with many other new buildings under construction. I know that sounds a little sheltered, but we didn’t know that much about Albania.

What does Tirana look like?
Tirana’s city centre, with classic Italian architecture, an ancient mosque and new construction.

To set the record straight. Tirana is a modern city, with a vibrant cafe, bar and restaurant culture. Experience this by heading into the old communist quarter. You will find the youth of the city, sipping coffee and chatting about life in modern coffee shops and bars.

Why should I visit Tirana?
Tirana has a vibrant cafe, bar and restaurant culture.

Our accommodation, the Sheraton Tirana Hotel is the only major branded hotel in Albania. Its facilities and staff are exactly what you’d expect from a Marriott/SPG grouped hotel. Quality. The hotel has hosted many famous dignitaries like Hilary Clinton and the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Therefore, you never know who you might bump into during your stay.

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The hotel is located an easy ten minute walk from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Yet, somehow the hotel feels secluded from the rest of the city. This might be because it backs onto Tirana’s popular Grand Park, with Mother Teresa square and the University of Arts and Polytechnic buildings next door.

The Grand Park of Tirana next to the Sheraton Tirana Hotel
Families playing at one of the many equipment stations in Tirana’s Grand Park

On arrival to the hotel we are welcomed by the hotel’s concierge and directed to the reception desk. From first impressions, you immediately feel relief as a wave of comfort washes over you. The lobby area is large and well decorated which leads to the hotel’s superb Infinity Bar and business corner.

Sheraton Tirana Hotel
The business corner at the Sheraton Tirana Hotel

The Infinity Bar is a great place to relax and have a beer, a cocktail, coffee or glass of wine. For those food and wine connoisseurs, I suggest trying their small tasting plates with matching wines.

Sheraton Tirana Hotel's Infinity Bar.
The comfortable Infinity Bar. Try their small tasting plates and matching wine combination.

We are quickly checked in, and make our way to our Deluxe King-sized room on the fifth floor. The room is large with an extremely comfortable King-sized bed. In fact, it was so comfortable, one day we wanted to stay in bed all day. Alas, that didn’t happen, because we had so much to do, but we wanted too!

What are the rooms like at the Sheraton Tirana Hotel?
The spacious and extremely comfortable Deluxe King Sized Room

The luxurious room also has a single lounge seat, glass table, a decent sized desk and chair, telephone, a fully stocked mini bar and television offering various channels. In-room security is also available with each room having a small safe. WiFi is also available in all rooms with excellent connectivity.

What are the rooms like at the Sheraton Tirana Hotel
Other features found in the Deluxe King Room of the Sheraton Tirana Hotel

The separate bathroom contains a shower, toilet, basin and a decent sized bath. Rooms are serviced daily and although there are clean, the multi shaded tile colour inside the shower makes the shower area look less than flattering. Sheraton Hotel supplies its own brand of toiletries to use which are restocked daily or on request. An environmental conscious hotel, the Sheraton gives guests the option of foregoing servicing of their rooms in return for 450ALL (Albanian Lek), 500 SPG points, or a donation to a charity per day.

What are the bathrooms like at the Sheraton Tirana Hotel?
The bathroom of the Sheraton Tirana Hotel.

The Sheraton Tirana Hotel has approximately 150 available rooms, from standard rooms to luxury suites. All are homogeneously decorated and look as comfortable as our deluxe room. The two roomed suites are perfect for families as extra beds or cots can be added to keep everyone together.

Places to stay in Tirana/Tirana accommodation/Tirana hotels/Sheraton Tirana Hotel
A standard twin room at the Sheraton Tirana Hotel. How comfortable do those beds look!

With summer temperatures in Tirana reaching between 36 and 40 degrees Celsius, you will come to love the Sheraton Tirana Hotels pools. We spent two afternoons cooling off and relaxing by the outdoor pool. It would be easy to waste a day or two relaxing by the pools ordering food and drink from the O2 pool bar. The crystal clear pools were so refreshing with sunbeds strategically placed for the best rays.

Does the Sheraton Tirana Hotel have a swimming pool?
One of the crystal clear pools at the Sheraton Tirana Hotel.
Pool bar at the Sheraton Tirana Hotel
The O2 pool bar has food and drinks available.

If fitness is more up your alley, the Sheraton Tirana Hotel has a manned fitness area available. Let the instructor help you with a program or work out by yourself. They have a variety of exercise equipment at your disposal. Alternatively, if you’re feeling some muscle tightness the hotel has a Thai masseuse contracted to help their guests recover.

Sheraton Tirana Hotel's fitness centre
The fitness area has a variety of equipment available on the first floor.
Sheraton Tirana Hotel
More equipment from the gym.

The hotel isn’t short of food options for its guests. Breakfast is served daily in the Metropolitan restaurant. Other food options are available to be purchased from the Infinity Bar, O2 pool bar or Il Pomodoro restaurant in the hotels mall area.

Breakfast at the Metropolitan restaurant in the Sheraton Tirana hotel
Breakfast is served daily in the Metropolitan Restaurant

In the evenings, let Head Chef, Davide Concas inspire your palates with his standard or special seasonal menu. Once again, match your choices with some of the quality wines available. I couldn’t go past his roasted leg of lamb with wine braised spring onion and mint yoghurt, matched with a beautiful Cadet D’OC Cabernet Sauvignon.

What's the food like at the Metropolitan Restaurant.
A roasted leg of lamb with wine braised spring onion and mint yoghurt sauce
Sheraton Tirana Hotel/ Metropolitan Restaurant/ Beef Fillet/ Tirana / Albania
Beef fillet with baby potatoes, glazed vegetables and red wine.

We also ordered a succulent beef fillet with baby potatoes, glazed vegetables and a red wine sauce, grilled octopus and herbed falafel. For dessert, we tried Davide’s homemade vanilla ice cream and his Winter Pudding. The meal was delightful and sated our appetites.

What's the food like at the Metropolitan Restaurant.
Grilled Octopus
What's the food like at the Metropolitan Restaurant.
Herbed Falafel
What's the food like at the Metropolitan Restaurant.
Homemade vanilla Ice cream. Yum!
What's the food like at the Metropolitan Restaurant.
Winter Pudding with panna cotta, sour cherry sauce and mixed nuts.

For SPG Platinum members the Club Lounge looks like a wonderful place to spend a few hours. With access to premium internet services, snacks and drinks throughout the day and dinner served at night. This peaceful area is a good place to catch up on some work or  with each other.

What benefits do platinum members receive at the Sheraton Tirana Hotel?
SPG Platinum members will enjoy the hotels Club Lounge

Overall, the Sheraton Tirana Hotel is a terrific place to stay whilst in Albania. The quality of the SPG/Marriott product and service levels are excellent. The concierge is always helpful with tips on places to visit and the best way to get there. They have an AVIS car rental office on site which offers day tours to other Albanian cities. Or stop at the souvenir shop to buy some presents for relatives back home. The hotel is connected to a small mall area with a few stores, a bank, coffee shop and cinema complex. Alternatively, relax by the pool, or take a walk through the Grand Park. There is always something to make you feel like you’re on holiday.

With plenty of things to do and visit in Tirana, the Sheraton Tirana Hotel will look after you and make your stay worthwhile. Although, a little more expensive than other hotels in Tirana, you can’t go past the quality and luxury of the hotel. So, make Albania one of your stops in Europe. Book your stay at the Sheraton Tirana Hotel and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Where to stay in Tirana, Albania
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Additional Information for the Sheraton Tirana Hotel

Address: Sheshi Italia, Tirana 1000, Albania
Ph: +355 4 227 4707

Become a SPG member and reap the rewards.

Book your stay at the Sheraton Tirana Hotel now with Sheraton Hotels or

Prices of accommodation per night at the Sheraton Tirana Hotel

Ranging from €103(AUD$150)  for a standard  deluxe room– €2255.00 (AUD$3350) for the Presidential suite per night.

Check in: 1200hrs Check Out: 1200hrs

Breakfast daily in the Metropolitan restaurant

  • from 6:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m daily


Main Dishes prices range from 850ALL (AUD$9.50) to 2200ALL (AUD$24.50)

Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 6:30 AM – 11:00 PM (last order 10:30 PM)

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Visiting Skopje and the Hotel Vlaho

Skopje and the Republic of Macedonia are a city and country trying to hold on to their identity. The people are friendly and the city is evolving daily to rediscover who they are. You see Macedonia, or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is in dispute with Greece over the right to be called Macedonia, due to the historical and cultural significance of the name. Yet, the people of the Republic of Macedonia are proud about their young developing country since declaring independence in 1991.

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For our first trip to the Republic of Macedonia, we find ourselves enamoured and at times confused by the styling of the city. Skopje, as one of our guides aptly suggests has copy/paste syndrome. In a city where Mother Teresa was born and lived for the first eighteen years of her life, you will find a multitude of enormous statues and monuments found in other countries. Like the bronze bull statue from Wall street, to the Macedonian “Arc de Triomphe” Porta Macedonia. Skopje seems to borrow landmarks from other countries and erects them somewhere with the city.

Where is Skopje's bronze bull?
Funnily the bronze bull sits in front of a shoe store and not the Macedonian stock exchange.
Porta Macedonia
Skopje also has its own version of the Arc de Triomphe called Porta Macedonia

Nevertheless, this quirky syndrome and love of statues adds to the intrigue and charm of Skopje. During the first part of our stay in Skopje we are at the Hotel Vlaho, which proves to be a lovely boutique hotel about 2.5 kilometres from Skopje’s City Centre and the large Alexander the Great statue.

Hotel Vlaho
The largest Alexander the Great statue in the world. Also known as “Warrior on a horse”.

With seventeen rooms and six apartments, the Hotel Vlaho offers five different types of accommodation. The hotel is located in a handy area within walking distance from the centre of the city. The surrounding suburb also has various supermarkets, bars and local restaurants around.

Hotel Vlaho
The Hotel Vlaho is a small boutique hotel that offers quality accommodation.

We found the best way to get to the hotel from the central bus station is to hop onto the number 5 bus and head to the Kapistec Bus Stop about 6 stops from the bus station. Skopje, has a card system for their public transport (much like the public transport cards in Australia). Although, the green kiosks are hard to come by, there is a large yellow container like building in the central station that you can buy or top up cards. I recommend not using the automatic machine in the bus station, as it is easily vandalised and may not distribute your card after payment. This happened to us, but after some phone calls and talking to the manager of the transport system, we finally were given a replacement card. Avoid the hassle and buy from the manned kiosks.

Skopje card kiosk
The Skopje Card Kiosk’s are hard to locate. The main one is at the central bus station and is a yellow container office.

On arrival to the Hotel Vlaho, we are greeted straight away by the staff at the reception desk located at the front doors. Behind the reception desk is a comfortable lounge area, with a drink fridge and television. We did spend some time in this area during our stay and found the area pleasant. The hotel offers each guest a coffee on arrival which can be that kick-start you need after a long tiring journey.

Hotel Vlaho reception lounge
The comfortable reception lounge area, there’s a fridge in the corner full of available beverages.

After check-in, we hop into the lift and head up to our deluxe room. The deluxe room contains a double bed, a large television, coffee and tea facilities, a desk and bar fridge. The room is quite spacious and we drop our gear and freshen up.

A deluxe room at the Hotel Vlaho

The adjoining bathroom is modern and clean, and the shower is a decent size with water pressure and quantity of hot water being excellent. Rooms are serviced daily by the hotel staff where the cleanliness is maintained.

Bathroom at Hotel Vlaho
The bathroom of a deluxe room at the Hotel Vlaho

The hotel offers breakfast with your stay, with the restaurant downstairs from the reception area. Breakfast is served daily from 07:00 a.m – 10:00 a.m with a fair option of food choice available. It’s an all you can eat buffet, so you can eat as much as you like.

Where to stay in Skopje?
Hotel Vlaho has a fair range to choose from, if they have run out of something just ask and they will get it for you!
What's a good place to stay in Skopje?
The restaurant at Hotel Vlaho

The apartments are across the road from the hotel and there is an outside patio area in the driveway to relax in. For those arriving by plane, the hotel offers an airport transport service. Make sure you contact the hotel before arrival to organise your lift.

We enjoyed our stay at the Hotel Vlaho. Although a little outside of the main city centre, it was an easy 25 minute walk into the old bazaar. Alternatively, we also caught the bus into the city which takes about 10 minutes. A kiosk is located near the bus stop, which the hotel staff directed us to. The rooms are clean and comfortable, with a working air-conditioner and a stocked mini bar. Good for those midnight snacks. On a couple of occasions, we had to wait for housekeeping to finish cleaning our room, but it wasn’t an issue with the lounge area downstairs.

Overall, Hotel Vlaho is a decent place to stay, so book your holiday today and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Hotel Vlaho
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Additional Information for the Hotel Vlaho

Address: St. 9-ti Maj No.3, 1000 Skopje, Macedonia
Tel. +389 2 6092 301 / Fax. +389 2 6092 303
Mobile: +389 78 257 439

Check-in:from 12:00 p.m
Check-out:until 11:00 a.m
Breakfast served daily from 07:00 a.m – 10:00 a.m

Book your stay at Hotel Vlaho now with

Prices of accommodation:

Price range per night is approximately €40 – €80 (AUD$65 – AUD$132)

Urban Adventures tours in Skopje

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Two Nights at the Novotel Sofia

I must admit Sofia has surprised us. A city with diversity and culture, which has been conquered and ruled by various Empires over its amazing history. A city whose people have lived in harmony alongside each other for generations. A country with different religions, different ethnicity’s, and different political mindsets, Bulgaria has had to whether it all. From the Byzantines, the Ottomans, the Nazi’s trying to deport the Jewish community during WWII and Communism, the Bulgarian people have shown their tenacity and pride and Sofia reflects that to its visitors.

Urban Adventure Tours

During our stay in Sofia we’ve stayed in a variety of accommodations available for tourists. For our last days, we were lucky enough to stay in the Novotel Sofia.

Novotel Sofia
The Novotel Sofia

The Novotel Sofia has 178 rooms available and is located approximately 7 kilometres from the city and 5 kilometres from Sofia International Airport. With us already being in Sofia, we decided to see if it was possible to travel to the Novotel Sofia via the Metro. This proved to be a bit of a task. The Metro in Sofia has only two interconnecting lines. Therefore, the closest Metro station to the Novotel Sofia was Druzhba Station which proved to be a difficult 2 kilometres walk to the hotel.

I would recommend not pursuing this option to get to the hotel, unless the city creates a closer Metro line. Alternatively, the hotel runs a shuttle bus to and from the International Airport. So, the best option would be to take the Metro to the airport and organise the hotel to pick you up from there. This option would be ideal, especially if you arrive into Sofia via the central bus or train station. Alternatively, a taxi would also be an option.

What's the best way to get to the Novotel Sofia from the Airport?
The best way to and from the hotel is by catching the courtesy bus from the Airport terminals .

After seeing the profile hotel during our walk we immediately knew we would appreciate our stay at the Novotel. On entering the hotel, you have the reception and Europcar desks to the right and the Novo 2 bar and restaurant to the left with the hotels elevators facing the entry turnstile. On first impressions, the hotel looks modern with comfortable seating in the lobby and a nice lounge bar area to relax in.

Novo 2 at the Novotel Sofia
The Novo 2 bar and lounge areas are the perfect place to relax and have a drink or two.

The friendly staff quickly checked us in and we make our way to the 15th floor, and our room for the next two nights. I must say the view from the 15th floor isn’t too bad!

What's the view like from the Novotel Sofia
Not a bad view from the 15th Floor of the Novotel Sofia
Novotel Sofia
Watching a rain cloud rolling in over Sofia in the afternoon.

The Novotel Sofia boasts three types of room available to its guests, the Executive room, the Superior room and a Suite. For our stay, we have been allocated a Superior room, which is a decent size. It contains a Queen sized bed, television, coffee facilities, fridge, a long desk and comfy day-bed. The room continues the modern theme of the hotel, with the guest information and in-house dining menu via the smart television and “My Menu” app.

What does the Novotel Sofia Superior room look like?
The nicely decorated and modern superior room of the Novotel Sofia

Our bathroom is clean and uncluttered, with a large shower and semi enclosed toilet. The wash basin area has some hotel toiletries and enough space for your personal items. A surprise novelty, is that the bathroom and sleeping area are separated by frosted glass, which can be defrosted by a push of a button in the shower. So, be careful, or not, each to their own :-).

What do the bathrooms at the Novotel Sofia look like?
The bathroom is large and clean with a frosted glass separator. Be careful of the defrost button.
What toiletries do they use at Novotel Sofia
Novotel Sofia’s Fair Trade bathroom toiletries

A family friendly hotel the Novotel Sofia caters well for those travelling with children. There is an excellent range of children’s television channels in the room and located on the first floor is a kid’s zone with an electronic dart board and a X-box station with a variety of cool games.

What can kids do at the Novotel Sofia?
Children will have hours of fun, playing X-Box at the Novotel Sofia

For the parents, the Novo 2 bar on the ground floor is a comfortable place to have a drink and watch some sport on the television. For wine, try the Minkov Brothers or Four Friends, and the Zagorka for beer. All are good Bulgarian wine and beer brands.

Relaxing in the lounge bar of the Novotel Sofia
It’s time for a refreshing Zagorka and a Four Friends Rosé

If you’d rather book a relaxing massage, have a sauna or a workout, go to the In-Balance Fitness room. Turn on some music and exercise to your heart’s content. They have a limited selection of equipment but I didn’t have any trouble accessing the machines and weights.

What the gym like at the Novotel Sofia
Looking for a workout. Try the In-Balance Fitness centre at the Novotel Sofia

For those on business or looking for a place to meet, the hotel has some meeting rooms and a small business corner on the first floor, to do some work.

Breakfast at the Novotel Sofia
Breakfast is served daily from 7 a.m

Meals can be taken at Novo 2, with an excellent range for breakfast items commencing at 7 a.m. Whilst lunch and dinner can be served at the bar or formal dining area. Head Chef, Penko Neshev has created a wholesome menu with classic hotel food and traditional Bulgarian dishes. We had a decent meal selecting a range of foods to try.

Novotel Sofia food
A traditional Balkan Platter
Novotel Sofia food
A standard Novo2 beef burger with a side of wedges
Risotto at the Novotel Sofia
Novotel’s Risotto with mushrooms, parmesan cheese and a melted cheese biscuit

If you opt to go out for something to eat, the Shopping Centre called “The Mall” is about 50 metres from the hotel and has a few restaurants and food outlets inside. Additionally, if you decide you want to indulge in shopping, then there are plenty of stores here that will happily accommodate.

The Mall near the Novotel Sofia
The Mall shopping centre is close by with all your shopping needs.

Overall, the Novotel Sofia is a little outside of the city centre, but still a lovely place to stay. With access to the shuttle bus and the Mall nearby, you should have no trouble in getting around the city or access to shopping. Alternatively, if you decide you’d like to explore the city and surrounding areas by yourself the Europcar desk on site can organise a car for you. A family friendly hotel, the children will love the X-Box, the dart board and the broad range of television channels if stuck indoors.

So why not book your stay in Sofia today and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Novotel Sofia
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Additional Information for the Novotel Sofia

115 N Tsarigradsko Shosse Blvd, 1784 Sofia, Bulgaria
Ph: +359 2 904 3000

Book your stay at the Novotel Sofia now with Accor Hotels or

Prices of accommodation per night at the Novotel Sofia

Ranging from €85.00(AUD$125) – €145.00 (AUD$215) per night

Check in: 1200hrs Check Out: 1200hrs

Breakfast daily in the Novo 2 restaurant

  • from 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m daily

Novo 2:

Main Dishes prices range from 9.00BGN (AUD$7.00) and 45.00BGN (AUD$34.00)

Opening hours Lunch 12:00 – 14:30pm & Dinner 19:00 – 23:00pm

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