Having spent four full-on weeks travelling through Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia, we’d booked seven nights in Saranda, on the Albanian Riviera. We’d carefully chosen “Vila Kalcuni”:http://vila-kalcuni-sarande.sarande.hotels-al.com/en/ for its location and private beach.
Arriving before noon, we were pleasantly surprised to find our room ready. The 24-room hotel looked impressive from the outside with its white pillars and balustrade balconies. It was an impressive elegant building amongst the high-rise monstrosities. Our deluxe double had a sea view and was on the first floor, and although there was a lift, we found the stairs easy.
The room was a reasonable size with double bed and pale wood furniture. The wardrobe had an accessible and simple safe, there was plenty of shelving, drawers and hooks, a long shelf/desk, and wall mounted TV. Slippers and robes were provided, and the empty fridge was ideal as there were small supermarkets nearby. We both had bedside tables, with hanging lights and plug points. The balcony wasn’t huge but there was sufficient space for two chairs and a table. Although there was a drying rack, one of the hotel rules said there was no washing in the rooms: interestingly another was not walking around naked.
The bathroom was a good size with excellent open shower, loo, basin, decent hairdryer next to a mirror, and plenty of space for both our toiletries and the complimentary small bottles provided. Bearing in mind, it was a ‘hang your towels if you want to keep them’ place, hanging space was restricted. There was no loo roll holder and so we used the toilet brush handle, and the press-in plug wouldn’t stay down, rendering our universal plug unusable. But these were minor complaints.
The small dining room served breakfast from 8am. It was a casual affair but with a reasonable buffet: two juices, cereals including oats, pots and bowls of yoghurt, cold meats and cheeses, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, a good selection of breads, pastries, cakes and jams. Although there were hot dishes including pre-cooked scrambled egg/omelette, fried eggs and sausages, none enticed us. There was a garden terrace and some people loaded up trays and sat outside. ‘American’ coffee was fine, although specialities could be had for an extra charge.
At reception there was a small library of books and a water filter which, as we’d taken a reusable bottle, meant we never had to buy bottled water. Wi-Fi was complimentary and available even on the beach.
The small private beach was just over the quiet road, and although it was pebbly, the sea was clean and clear, but relatively cool. Plastic footwear was essential for getting to and from your bed and into the sea. Beach towels were available daily from reception, but this is a far as beach management went, and chairs and cushions were never stacked neatly at the end of the day. On the day of a well-publicised and torrential thunderstorm, the cushions were not removed from the beds to keep them dry.
As we visited in early October, towards the end of the season, the hotel was relatively quiet and although the dining area appeared to have a bar, it was never open. There was a predominance of Scandinavian guests as there is some link with a major Swedish travel agency. Fortunately, one of the hotel’s greatest assets was the young receptionist who spoke excellent English and was extremely helpful in providing restaurant recommendations and answering our questions.
Location wise, there were some restaurants nearby although, because of the time of year, not all were open. It was a 15-minute walk to the main promenade, which involved a significant flight of steps. Also, as the hotel is beach front, there is a large slope to negotiate just to get onto the street, but it is very near the port and was handy for our day trip to Corfu.