Snow and ski. amazing views. aprés ski.
I’ve been on many sun holidays and city breaks, but never before had I gone away for a specific winter holiday…until now! Recently I visited Borovets, Bulgaria with my bestie Lorna to take on the snowy slopes for the first time and go skiing. And my what a thrill it was!
Travel & Accommodation Details
We booked our holiday via LoveHolidays.ie, which included our flights, accommodation and transfer between both. We flew Ryanair from Dublin to Sofia (4 hours direct). The flight to Sofia was good traveling in a 737 that was surprisingly comfortable, though we did have minor delays before takeoff. Sofia airport is big enough, but all signage includes English so you won’t get too lost. As mentioned, our booking included transfers from airport to accommodation, where our chauffeur collected us – many of the travel agencies & hotels also offer this. The drive to the airport took approximately 60 minutes.
Getting around Borovets is very cheap, from our hotel to the village centre it was only ever 10 Bulgarian Lev (€5).
We stayed at Euphoria Club Hotel & Spa, which was a gorgeous hotel in the north-east area of Borovets. Check-in was extremely easy, and the staff was very informative and helpful. Our Studio Room, and was in the Block D building. The grounds of Euphoria Club Hotel & Spa include a group of block apartment-style rooms as well as private villas, as they pride themselves in being more a community accommodation than a traditional hotel.
The room featured twin beds with two tall wardrobe units beside as well as a clothing rack and shoes shelf in the hallway, the latter of which has a stopper that’s great for ski boots, helmets, etc. We had comfortable sleeps, and there were sockets on both sides of the bed for easy access to charge devices, as well as two bedside lamps. The bathroom featured the standard toilet, sink and shower though the shower did have a nifty extra-large shower head. There was enough space on either side of the sink for our toiletries and the mirror was a good size. In the living area was a table & chairs, large windows plus a balcony, while the kitchenette featured a hob, sink, tea & kettle area and a mini fridge too.
- Pros: The apartment was very clean upon arrival, with plenty of light and complimentary snacks and tea. The beds & pillows were extremely comfortable, and the covers were very warm at night, which was such a plus. The WiFi works very well throughout the room and different hotel areas. The hotel has a free shuttle service to and from the hotel to the village centre, which we availed of every day. We opted for Bed & Breakfast at the hotel, the latter of which is buffet style. This included ham & cheese, a selection of breads, fruit, yoghurt and savouries as well as a decent tea selection. The hotel also has a swimming pool and jacuzzi, and an in-house spa with a selection massages. Both Lorna and I opted for the 60-minute Anti-Stress Body Massage (80 BGN/€40), which was heavenly and really helped ache the post-ski pains!
- Cons: The room was quite cold considering the time of year, and we did have to ask for an extra radiator though it didn’t help much. It would benefit the hotel to have air conditioning or heating units installed rather than one standard radiator for the whole room. In the bathroom, the space between the corner of the bath and sink area is not spaced enough as when in the shower the water sprays out onto the bathroom floor. Plus, with no handrail and only a small foot mat for stepping onto, this is a rather hazardous. There was quite a lack of delph, given that we had a working kitchenette, and there were only two small teacups and spoons for the whole room. The aforementioned buffet breakfast was only alright, unfortunately the ‘hot food’ was never hot, only lukewarm. It also wasn’t the same consistency as some of the foods varied from day-to-day.
RECOMMENDATIONS – Skiing
Day 1 (Tuesday): It was shortly after 3.30pm when we checked into our hotel. We took our photos, freshened up, and then headed in to discover the village. The snow was still falling throughout the day and when we arrived into the centre, it was busy enough with skiers. We bumped into a friendly Irishman who gave us some great tips for the slopes, lessons and foodie spots too.
We walked around the resort, gathering our bearings, then went to Alpin Restaurant & Pub for an early dinner. The staff was quite attentive, and we opted for traditional dishes and Glühwein with a view of the slopes (read more below). Post-dinner, we walked off the calories and found ourselves in Bobby’s Bar Borovets, a lively bar with an excellent selection of spirits, shorts and beers. It was a great night of food & drinks, and a brilliant first impression of Borovets.
Day 2 (Wednesday): On our second day we headed into the village early enough to sign in and collect our ski gear. We booked with Ski Borovets Traventuria paying the Adult Premium package at €136 pp for 3 days – this included an unlimited day ski lift pass, skis, boots, poles, helmets and free overnight storage facilities too. Once suited and booted, we stopped into Dimi Travel, the instructor & ski school Irishman Liam recommended. Our instructor was a cool dude with excellent patience, and good banter too. In my adulthood, I have never before skied, and though at times I found myself frustrated at not getting certain things right, I was very glad we did take this lesson – I really felt more confident on skis. We opted for the 2-hour lesson for two people at 120 BGN (€60/€30 pp).
Though not yet fully ready for the ski slopes, especially during the continuous snow fall, we opted for salad lunch at Restaurant Victoria, and a lot of liquids to hydrate! This restaurant is hugely spacious, plus they allow their guests to wear ski boots within and outdoor storage for skis & poles. Once reenergize, Lorna and I decided to take the Sitnyakovo Ski Lift to check out the views and the next day’s plans. This was also my first time on a ski lift, which was rather daunting going up-mountain as the peak of Sitnyakovo is 1778m high!
Later that evening we went to Chinese Moon for cocktails and dinner, a restaurant my friends D&G recommended, that was full of groups and great atmosphere. We then returned to Bobby’s Bar for a few nightcaps.
Day 3 (Thursday): We headed into the village to take on the slopes shortly after 11am. Luckily for us, the skies were blue and the sun was shining making for truly gorgeous, picturesque photos and excellent skiing conditions. When we reached the top of Sitnyakovo post-ski lift, I did feel slightly nervous but thanks to Lorna’s words of encouragement, and my little practice ski across the top of the flat area (and a cheeky hot chocolate & waffle brunch at Downhill Snack & Grill), I was ready to head down the mountain on skis! It took us approximately two hours from top to bottom, skiing the Green Zone the whole way down. I only had two minor falls…no injuries nor breakages…but I did it!
We decided on a celebratory drink at Hotel Rila Terrace Lounge, which overlooks the slopes as the sun set, quite the romantic occasion for the day that was in it. After freshening up once again at the hotel, we came back into the village and had dinner at The Green King. I was excited as this restaurant was one of the top two I had on my list to visit – and it did not disappoint! Though we had no reservation made, and it was Valentine’s Day, we were seated with another couple who were very kind to share their table…and turned out to be from Dublin too! An excellent meal, the food here was flavourful and vibe was very homely.
Day 4 (Friday): For our final day though, we had tired ourselves out and our muscles did ache so we played in the snow another way. We took the Yastrebets Ski Lift (Gondola Lift) to 1880m and see more snowy sights, but due to it also being quite a blizzard of a day, the ski lift wasn’t allowed up any further to the Markudjik peak.
Later we enjoyed a Baileys Hot Chocolate in Titanic, before making our way over to the ski doo hut (this is at the bottom of the Sitnyakovo ski lift slope). We booked our skidoo tour from our hotel in the morning, which is available to do at most of the hotels. After signing the compulsory waiver and paying 60 BGN (€30) each, a group of us headed over to meet our guide and get on the skidoo! In twos, our guide led the way around the mountain on a very snowy dedicated skidoo route. We had no problem driving and steering through the thick snow, such pros! We stopped at the halfway point for photos, to take in more of the sights and a short break. Overall it took 60 minutes and was well worth it!
Upon finishing up, we returned to Traventuria to return our equipment hassle free. When we got back to Euphoria Hotel we decided to treat ourselves and booked in a 60-Minute Anti-Stress Full Body Massage each at 80 BGN (€40). I really recommend this post-skiing as it truly helps relieve your aching muscles but is also a heavenly treat! For pre-dinner cocktails we went to Mamacita’s Mexican Restaurant, then to Hunters for dinner sans reservation. We had the most delicious meal here (read more below), with wonderful service – twas the perfect farewell to Borovets.
Day 5 (Saturday): Our flight was early, but our chauffeur was even earlier collecting us at 5am. Reception was closed around this time so we had no official check out, but left our key cards behind in the room then made our way to the airport.
RECOMMENDATIONS – DINING
I had not been to Borovets nor Bulgaria before, but luckily my friends D&G had been the month before and gave us a few pointers. In addition to this, Lorna and I made a list of restaurants, cafés and bars we wanted to visit. Below are little snippets of all the restaurants & bars we visited, while you can read my full blog post here of the Borovets Recommendations: 5 Places You Need to Eat In next week (March 1st) to even better convince you to visit!
Alpin Restaurant & Pub: Part of the Alpin Hotel, we were seated by the window and to our delight, a hot radiator! The menu is varied with dishes from around Europe and wider. We shared the traditional Bulgarian baked cheese dish which was divine, then I opted for another Bulgarian dish for my main. This stew was tasty and warmed me right up. The food came out when it was ready, therefore we had the cheese simultaneously as our mains.
Tried & Tasted: Baked Cheese with Honey & Walnuts; Chicken Gyuvech with Rustic Bread. Cookie FM Rating – 3.5/5
Restaurant Victoria: This was a lovely spot for lunch post-ski lesson, for which I opted for the pumpkin salad. Pumpkin was their seasonal vegetable, dedicating seven dishes to it! A tasty and fresh salad, the service was great and the restaurant allows guests to wear their ski boots within. It’s located on the main plaza outside Hotel Rila.
Tried & Tasted: Pumpkin & Goats Cheese Salad with Cranberries. Cookie FM Rating – 3.5/5
Downhill Snack & Grill: A decent café with stunning views at the top of Sitnyakovo. We visited here and were lucky to nab an outdoor table on the mountain side. The service could be better though, our waitress only gave 1 fork for the waffle we were sharing!
Tried & Tasted: Hot Chocolate; Waffle with Chocolate Sauce & Nuts. Cookie FM Rating – 3/5
Chinese Moon: On the recommendation of my friends D&G, we headed to Chinese Moon for…well, Chinese cuisine! A very busy Thursday, we did have a long wait until we were served but we didn’t mind as we had cocktails to keep us busy. The food was delicious and plentiful, our waiter (who was also the mixologist and manager!), recommended two dishes to share as their portions are very generous – and he was right!
Tried & Tasted: Chicken with Black Pepper & Garlic; Chicken Szechuan Sauce; Margarita; Piña Colada. Cookie FM Rating – 4.5/5
Bobby’s Bar: We visited Bobby’s Bar on the Main Street twice during our trip, as we found the atmosphere very pleasant, the drinks cheap and the music choice rather excellent!
Cookie FM Rating – 4/5
The Green King: Noted the top restaurant in Borovets, after dining here I can see why! The service was friendly, atmosphere was great and the food was even better. We both had a Bulgarian dish alongside their traditional bread with wine, which was excellent value. I would happily go back!
Tried & Tasted: Bulgarian Bread with Cheese, Pork Hunters Style. Cookie FM Rating – 5/5
Hunters: The second best restaurant in Borovets, according to Tripadvisor, this was our final dinner out and am I glad we got to dine here. We got a lovely table with a view of the famous fireplace, at which co-owner & chef Christo still cooks guests’ dishes. Sharing a lovely bottle of wine, and a large, sizzling skillet that was full of pork, chicken and vegetables, this traditional Bulgarian farewell was worth every cent…or Lev! Highly recommend visiting if you’re in Borovets.
Tried & Tasted: Bulgarian Garlic Bread with Cheese, Shishcheta Pork & Chicken. Cookie FM Rating – 5/5
Images © Nirina Plunkett