I hate arriving at hotels at night but because of “British Airway’s”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/airline/200147-review-british-airways flight times to Albania, it was 10pm when we pulled up at the “Hotel Panorama”:http://hotelpanoramakruje.com/ Kruja, after a 40-minute transfer from Mother Teresa Airport in Tirana. We were obviously expected, as the receptionist was quickly out from behind his desk, helping with our bags and handing over the key to room 403. When I proffered passports, he said he had everything he needed. Check out was similarly efficient two days later.
The beautiful hotel was built using pale stone and had a grand clock tower and arched stairway leading down from the front to the back, which were on different levels as it was on a hillside. Our balcony had stunning views of Kruja Castle, the Ottoman bazaar and mosque hence the name Panorama.
It was much larger than the 18 rooms mentioned in our Bradt Guide with over 80 rooms and suites spread over five floors with two efficient lifts in different parts of the building.
Our extremely large corner room had both a king size and single bed. Both were ‘made’ with a folded sheet left on them (we later discovered that this isn’t unusual for Albania). No other blankets or covers were available, but it was a hot night and we needed the easy to operate air conditioning on.
The seating area had two comfortable chairs with coffee table, and there was a wardrobe with safe and stand with empty fridge. As we’d been told to expect in the country, there was no tea or coffee making facilities or complimentary water.
Plug points in useful places abounded and the lighting system of one central light and two bedside lights was simple. Complimentary Wi-Fi was available all over the hotel.
Between the bedroom and bathroom was a spacious hallway where we could open our suitcases.
The bathroom, as spacious as the bedroom, had loo, bidet, basin and shower cubicle. The latter was an oval shape and had two perches and looked incredible with lights, various shower options and jacuzzi style jets. However, operating it via a console without instructions wasn’t easy and we probably didn’t benefit from the full-on water and light show. However, the bathroom was light and bright with the dreaded wall mounted hairdryer box.
The internal corridors were wide and with cream floor tiles and white walls it had a rather stark feeling, but we were more than happy with our room.
Arriving so late, we feared that (a) there was no bar, or (b) it was closed. We were directed down to floor 0 and found a huge restaurant with many tables, including one hosting a large group, still in full swing. We were shown to a table overlooking the castle and had two double gin and tonic and took a bottle of water back to the room (1,400 Lek/£10.30).
Breakfast (available from 7am to 10am) on our first morning was a scrum down at 7.30am, with every table taken by a very large Greek group. We found a table in another area and sat in splendid isolation but surrounded by stuffed animals including a huge brown bear, with a fox (minus its ears) at the end of the table. Maybe not everyone’s ideal choice. There was a huge selection, although it wasn’t always easy to access – yoghurt, cereal, fruits, lots of filled sweet and savoury pastries, salads, breads, and some not quite as appetising hot items. However, the coffee was good, and everything was self-service. On our second morning when we had a slightly later breakfast, it was far more civilised and we even got a table with a castle view instead of sharing with an earless stuffed fox.
This is the only real choice of hotel in Kruja, but we’d certainly not hesitate in recommending it.