I visited Valbona and stayed with Catherine (from Brooklyn) and Alfred at Rilindja with my husband and 27 year old son. I say I stayed with Catherine and Alfred because they are so warm, friendly and helpful you feel like more than a hotel guest - but rather like a dear and welcome friend. And they created an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.
Catherine is the hostess with the mostest!! Valbona is gorgeous. Catherine and Alfred have made a facility with lovely, comfortable accommodations of all types. We stayed in the Residence which has private bathrooms, balconies, crisp white linens and towels and is new and spotless. They provide clogs or sandals as you enter the building to help keep the floors splotless. Outside the Residence we found a small herd of sheep with a very happy cow (it was explained to us that the cow and sheep are friends as they grew up together. So lovely!!) The food at Relindja was superb and abundant including home made bread. Trout is freshly caught. One day we had rain which we thought would be a great disappointment as we had planned to hike. However, we still had a great time. Relindja is set up with a lot of common room for playing games, reading or chatting, and we got to know our fellow guests from Belgium, Germany, Croatia and Holland. By the end of the day everyone was joining in, laughing and having a good time. Also, I hike with hiking poles but did not have them because they were lost with my checked baggage by the airline. Catherine lent me a pair for hiking around Valbona and for the hike over the mountain to Theth. Finally, Catherine and Alfred are committed to helping Valbona. They have developed a wealth of information for visitors to the area. Catherine provides much information on her website "journeytovalbona.com" which tells about Valbona but does not even mention Rilindja. Absolutely wonderful stay, and a sincere pleasure to meet Catherine and Alfred.
As for the reviewers who complained about the fact that sometime the electricity went out or some food items were in short supply (we did not experience this), their comments make me laugh. We went to the Albanian Alps to experience an adventure in a remote part of the world, and it is a remote part of the world. Catherine and Alfred provide much more luxury than I expected in such a remote area. Go for adventure, beauty, and interesting people. Don't go with expectations of amenities that you would get in New York.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Valbona is the place to "Get Away from It All" - We have no Cinema, Discos, no streetlights no Gas Station not a single store and until recently no telephones. What we do have are the mountains, the clear blue river, more rare animals and plants than anywhere else in Europe, meadows full of wild strawberries and forests full of Hazelnuts and a pure deep silence broken only by the noise of the river burbling onwards. Opened in 2005, Rilindja (“Rebirth” in Albanian) was named for our dream of sustainable tourism and is the oldest operating hotel in Valbona. ... more less