Berat, one of Albania’s oldest and most picturesque cities, is often ‘done’ as a day trip from the capital, Tirana. However, we were on an extended tour and had booked two nights at the Rezidenca Desaret.
Having seen wonderful photographs of this small whitewashed boutique hotel on the internet, the first thing we noticed on our approach, was ongoing building works. Whilst checking in, we heard drilling, but were assured that now we’d arrived, it would stop.
Our large room, up a marble spiral staircase, had a scaffolding clad balcony. Whilst we could peer through the boards, our view of the town was spoilt. In addition, a pole jutted out lethally at head height, so we immediately tied loo roll round it, so we didn’t inadvertently crack our heads. On the plus side, the scaffolding provided a safety rail, as the wall around the balcony was only a foot high.
Bearing in mind this was meant to be one of Albania’s most iconic views, and featured on the front cover of Bradt, it was disappointing to say the least. Apparently, the work should have already been completed and the hotel failed to notify our travel agency. Whilst they offered a replacement room, it was much smaller, so we stuck and took up the offer of a complimentary dinner. We were told that the workmen would not start before 9am, the time we usually left for excursions. Invariably it was earlier, and one morning as I sat on the balcony writing, a man walked round on the scaffolding boards. Good job I was fully dressed.
Aside from the scaffolding, room 210 was very large and probably the best in the house although it felt a little sparsely furnished. The king size bed was low and as we discovered, not particularly comfortable. There were bedside tables and lights, but to charge phones the lights needed to be unplugged. In fact, there was only one available plug point near the desk and chair. There was a wall mounted TV, empty fridge, and large wardrobe, but no safe or tea and coffee making facilities. It would also have been good to have an additional suitcase rack. A minor irritation was poor Wi-Fi, and on several occasions, reception had to check the router.
The long bathroom had a walk-in shower at one end, loo at the other and a basin in the middle. We voted it best bathroom of the holiday for a number of reasons: the shower was simple to use with lots of powerful hot water; it didn’t flood the floor; the basin was deep and it was easy to remove the useless plug and use our universal one; and finally, the loo flushed efficiently. There were hooks for towels, plenty of room for toiletries and complimentary small bottles of soap, shower gel and shampoo plus toothbrushes. It was very light and bright with a good mirror for shaving and decent hairdryer. It really felt quite luxurious compared to our previous hotels.
Not only was the room decent, it was the best breakfast of our holiday. Chilled orange juice, a bowl of muesli, plate of fruit (bananas, nectarines and grapes) and pancakes with honey and jam were all automatically served. Tea or coffee was offered, and the latter was machine made and excellent. Eggs were cooked to order and on our first morning, we both chose what was a large portion of scrambled, which arrived with hot toast and room temperature butter on the side. All in all, truly delicious. Each day, there was a little tweak e.g. granola instead of muesli and croissants replacing the pancakes.
Berat is very hilly and as we’d driven upwards through narrow alleys to reach the hotel, I feared a long downhill walk into town. However, a path through their attractive gardens with chairs and tables, provided a short cut.
With the scaffolding removed, it would have been perfect.