According to our Itinerary, we were staying at Vila Alba in Albania’s capital, Tirana, so were a little surprised to be dropped at the “Oxford Hotel”:https://www.hoteloxford.al/en/. At reception, we discovered it was the same place but, despite changing its name 10 years ago, it was still often referred to by its former title.
Room 207 was huge, with a large comfortable double bed, bedside cabinets, lights and plug points. As well as a turquoise velvet chaise longue with matching chair, the room was well appointed with a desk, chair, tea making facilities and fridge stocked with expensive alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The full-length mirror was positioned at a height where you could see yourself from the waist down only. The ornate occasional table was impractically positioned near one side of the bed, and each time we moved it, housekeeping put it back. The large inbuilt wardrobe had plenty of shelves, slippers, robes and room safe.
We had a balcony with two chairs, probably the only one in the hotel, which appeared to run around the corner to other rooms, although they didn’t seem to have access to it.
The bathroom was absolutely huge with a large jacuzzi bath (around 6 foot by 4 foot and around 2 foot deep). It was topped by a thick, swimming pool style cover, which could be folded in half so you could get in: total removal would have been difficult. We thought it was going to be a bit of a white elephant, but somehow it was constantly heated to an acceptable temperature and we used it on all our five nights. We even got the lights inside and out, not just to come on, but flash with various colours. There was also an open shower, but its position, near the door, resulted in a flooding that had to be mopped with towels to avoid paddling when we wanted to use the loo and basin. The lighting was movement sensitive, with a good light above the mirror for shaving. The towel rail was above the loo, so if you hung the bath towels on it, they interfered when you sat down. Another downside was the lack of privacy due to floor to ceiling glass between the bathroom and bedroom. All truly remarkable.
The hotel had reasonable facilities: a 24-hour reception with helpful, friendly staff, small bar which provided snacks/light meals, and a seating area both inside and on outside terrace. On our first morning, breakfast (7am to 10am) was served in the 6th floor restaurant, with indoor seating and an outdoor terrace with great views of the mosque which resembled Istanbul’s Blue Mosque. However, on other days depending on the number of guests, tours and conferences, breakfast was served in the downstairs area. Both spaces were relatively small and on a couple of occasions, we had to wait for a table. The buffet had a good spread of cereals, yoghurt (plain and fruit), fruit, bread, bruschetta, salad, cold meats and cheeses and pre-cooked omelette slices, fried eggs, hardboiled eggs and chopped sausages. A delightful young girl made us speciality coffee at no extra cost.
The hotel was also in a good location for sightseeing, and mid-way between the castle area and New Bazaar, both with bars and restaurants. It was also virtually opposite the modern Toptani shopping centre with its basement supermarket.