The “Hotel Majestic”:http://majestic.rs/en_GB/ has a great city centre location in Belgrade. However, the surrounding area is pedestrianised, so there is a 10-minute easy walk, with luggage.
The reverse of the city-centre map provided by the hotel, told of the hotel’s fascinating history (it was built in 1938) and famous visitors which have included Elizabeth Taylor and the Harlem Globetrotters. Most poignantly, Manchester United Football Club stayed here in 1958 before drawing against Red Star Belgrade. After the game, they flew to Munich and the rest is history. For years after, football fans flocked to the hotel which became known as ‘the place from where Manchester United flew to heaven’. More controversially, a young black lift boy was recruited before World War 2 as a ‘special attraction’.
We received a warm greeting from reception and found there were no forms to complete or credit card imprints to be taken. We simply handed over our passports and were told they’d be returned later. There is a police requirement to register on arrival in Serbia and, as hotels generally do this on your behalf, it’s a procedure they take seriously.
The hotel has around 80 rooms of various sizes spread over five floors. There is a lift, but if you’re not carrying bags, we found it quicker to use the impressive white marble circular staircase.
Our first-floor room (105) turned out to be a suite. The lounge had two beige chintzy covered armchairs with matching footstool, coffee table, large desk and a free-standing TV. Through an arch was the bedroom with a large, very creaky double bed and whilst it was relatively comfortable, the thin duvet wasn’t huge and there was little overhang, so we slept in the middle to ensure we kept underneath it. The bedroom also had a long sofa, well-stocked mini bar and wardrobe with slippers. Throughout, were large ornate chandeliers and bedside lights, a flowery beige wallpaper, and patterned rugs on the wooden floors. Whilst it looked like something from your Nan’s living room, there was a touch of modernity with a recycling waste bin with three sections labelled Pet, Paper, Glass – we weren’t sure what was meant to go in the first! One thing missing was a room safe, so we used the one at reception which wouldn’t have been out of place at the Hatton Garden vaults. Tea and coffee facilities were not provided, but this is common in Serbia, and there was no complimentary water as the tap water is safe to drink. The hotel had AC in the rooms, although we didn’t need it. Wi-Fi was complimentary and fast all over the hotel, and there were plenty of plug points.
In contrast to Nan’s living room, the large bathroom was modern with walk-in shower, basin, loo, bidet and heated towel rail. The water was hot but didn’t exactly gush. However, the room was light and bright and there was a wall-mounted hairdryer next to the mirror. The only thing lacking was a shelf for our toiletries which we had to balance around the basin.
The ground floor hotel restaurant and bar opened onto a terrace in the pedestrian street. Breakfast was served in an adjoining room from 6.30am to 10am. Unusually it was set up ‘wedding style’ with large round tables seating 6 or 10, so we often had to share. The self-service breakfast had a choice of juices (orange, apple and sour cherry), yoghurts, chopped fresh fruit, a range of cereals, sliced meats and cheeses, salads and dips, breads and pastries and hot dishes which included fried and scrambled eggs, bacon and frankfurter style sausages. Good coffee was available via a machine and there was a range of tea bags and hot water.
After a tiring day out, we ate in the restaurant once during our four-night stay and chose a window table looking out onto Obilicev Venac. The tables were beautifully laid with white linen cloths and napery. We chose moussaka and beef kebabs with chips – the latter arriving as 10 thumb sized kebabs. The moussaka brick was served with what was described as sour milk, and I hoped was yoghurt. With a mixed salad, two large warm bread rolls, a litre of Jelen beer and two sparkling waters, the bill came to 2,590 Dinar or £19.
Our room overlooked the pedestrianised street and at weekends, music from nearby bars and cafes played late, so if you’re a light and early sleeper, this may not be the hotel for you. However, it is a hotel full of character and history which we liked, but some may prefer a more modern chain-style hotel.