The “Hotel SOA”:https://www.hotelsoa.com/en/ Hotel SOA, in the small Montenegrin town of Žabljak, is located on the edge of Durmitor National Park which offers hiking in summer and ski-ing in winter.
We received a very warm welcome from the manager and two receptionists who presented us with home-made lemonade and a shot of schnapps. Just the job after a long journey by road from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There are around 20 rooms/suites, and we were allocated a superior room, 107, on the first floor. It was long and thin in shape, with a living area containing a well-stocked mini-bar, large sofa, TV and lots of useful shelving. The compact bedroom had two single beds pushed together and wardrobe. Off the bedroom was a lovely wooden balcony with room for two chairs and a table.
The bathroom was a reasonable size with shower, basin, loo and plenty of space to lay out our toiletries. The water was hot and powerful, and the plugged-in hairdryer was next to the mirror/shaving mirror. A heated rail was ideal for drying our hand washing.
A steam room could be booked for private use free of charge. After a long day’s walk, we spent our hour alternating between the dry sauna heat and not being able to see each other in the steam room. Towels and hot and cold drinks were provided, and massages were available at an additional cost.
The small town, with a number of restaurants, was a 10-minute walk away and although there was a good path, we ate dinner in the hotel on both nights.
The comfortable, but casual bar/restaurant had views of the Durmitor Mountains. The menu contained a good range of starters, salads, pasta, risotto, pizza, national dishes and grills. This was our first night in Montenegro and having eaten a lot of meat in Bosnia in the previous week, we decided to go vegetarian with a shared starter of bruschetta, mushroom risotto and penne arrabbiata. All were excellent. A bottle of white wine was placed in an ice bucket at arms-length which we generally dislike, however, it was well husbanded by the waiter with small frequently poured servings. With a bottle of sparkling water, two coffees, a cherry liqueur and pear schnapps, the bill came to €47.
On our second night, we shared ‘spring rolls’ filled with chicken chunks in a cheese sauce and, having been vegetarian the previous night, opted for meat – the national pork dish with homemade cream cheese and button mushroom sauce and a pork chop cooked in Durmitor honey and hot spices with “stuffed” potato.
In a downstairs restaurant, a buffet breakfast was laid out, with an egg chef on hand for omelettes or fried eggs. There was a good range of cereals, natural yoghurt, orange juice, and fabulously arranged, charcuterie, cheeses, breads and cakes. We helped ourselves to filter coffee and tea, but speciality coffees e.g. latte were extra.
On our second day, we returned late afternoon to find that, despite being out with the ‘please make up our room’ sign on the door since 9am, it hadn’t been serviced. We’d literally been in the room for 10 minutes when there was the inevitable knock. When the manager did his rounds at dinner that evening, he asked if we were enjoying our stay and I mentioned the room service issue. He apologised and took the wine off our bill.
This was a lovely stay and only slightly marred by the hotel “musak” which played constantly in the bar and restaurants. Two renditions of my favourite all-time song, Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I will survive’, were murdered and Bonnie Tyler’s Total eclipse of the heart was played repetitively. One morning we were the first for breakfast and had to ask for the music to be turned down.