Vlora, in the Bay of Vlora, is where the Adriatic and Ionian seas divide. Its southerly location makes it a popular Albanian holiday resort. It also has a long history as the country’s Independence was proclaimed in Vlora in 1912. We were staying for three nights at the “Hotel Partner”:https://hotelpartner.al/, ideally located for both sightseeing and the coast.
Arriving at 3pm, the key card for room 603 on the 6th floor was handed over without any formalities. On opening the door, we were hit by a wave of heat, despite the curtains being drawn to block out the sun. We tried to lower the temperature with the air conditioning but to no avail. Reception suggested changing to room 505.
The room was quite large and practical, although it was a strange shape with a huge internal diagonal structural pillar near the window. However, there was space to have two suitcases open and plenty of shelving. There was also a small narrow area with desk, chair, mini bar with chargeable bottled water, wardrobe and more shelving. Although there was a safe, it was at the back of a relatively low shelf and had been left open but with the locks out. Rather than traipse to reception yet again, we resorted to doing what we do when there is no safe, locking valuables in our suitcase. The pale grey laminate flooring matched the grey striped walls, but not the rather garish modern picture. The double bed was relatively comfortable and, as is often the case in Albania, just had a sheet folded on it: however, there was a blanket in the cupboard. Pillows were plentiful and the two bedside tables had plug points and lamps. Complimentary Wi-Fi was quick and consistent, and there was a wall mounted TV which remained switched off.
The bathroom was relatively small in comparison to the bedroom and could have been better designed by removing the bath and the lidded bidet, something I’d never seen before. The bath was high and, even though I’m pretty mobile, I needed a hand getting into it, particularly as there was a glass concertina door to contend with and a slippery bath. However, there was space for toiletries, the shower was hot and relatively powerful and there was a hairdryer. On arrival, towels were left folded on the counter as there wasn’t a single hook or rail to hang them from. When wet, we draped them over the shower door. The tiles in the bathroom were rather odd – brown roses, which made it a little dark and shaving was not ideal.
As we were on the corner, we had two rather filthy long windows overlooking the sea in one direction and a football stadium in the other. One night we watched a match between the local team, Flamurtari, and Tirana. It was certainly no Arsenal v Chelsea as, even though there was just a small stand with seating area, only the back row looked full.
The colour scheme in the external areas was black and red and not particularly restful: maybe it reflected the colours of the Albanian flag – or possibly because I’d read it was Chinese owned.
There were extensive indoor and outdoor bars, but bizarrely not a drinks menu in either, and having ordered two macchiato, we were unable to sign them to the room.
Breakfast was available from 7am to 10am in a narrow, soulless, windowless second floor room. However, there were cereals (including muesli), natural yoghurt, three juices, cold meats and cheeses, hard boiled eggs, and an uninteresting selection of sausage chunks and fried eggs. However, the bread and cakes were good, but the coffee was warm and wet. On our first two days, the hotel had a small group of Italians (Vlora is only 75km away by sea), who we could see visibly despair over the coffee. On our third morning we didn’t see anyone else at breakfast, not even a member of staff. Although the lights were on over the food, the seating area was a little dark, and music was playing rather loudly. We noticed that it was a much simpler setting with no hot dishes and smaller volumes of food and only two cereal bowls. We suspect we may have been the only two guests as later, on the way down in the lift, we stopped at the breakfast floor, to find at 9am it had been cleared away. Evening meals were said to be on offer, but the restaurant always appeared closed. Thankfully, we were only a short walk from a buzzing promenade with bars and restaurants.
The hotel has 60 rooms situated over six floors. There were two lifts, but only one worked, although this was never a problem. It is clearly a hotel that caters for groups and the blurb about the hotel on the map they provided suggested a laundry service was available although there was no reference to it in the room.
Maybe because it was early October and the end of the season, it was very quiet and unless a coach pulled in, it was pretty soulless for such a large place.