We found the Hotel Pelister rather by accident, after what seemed like a never-ending, hot, humid and dreary walk into Skopje Centre from the Hotel Portal (see separate review for this disaster of a place). Relieved to find the square and the huge statue of Alexander the Great (an excellent landmark), we were actually looking for a restaurant for lunch and I thought I recognized the Pelister Restaurant, which is on one corner of the square right behind Alexander, from TripAdvisor. The restaurant is, in fact Number 1 for Skopje restaurants on TripAdvisor and, in our opinion, deservedly so: interesting, very extensive menu, excellent food and drinks, cheap prices and fabulous service. We had Meatballs and Shopska Salad and drinks for under AUD$15 total….all good…and while dining, we realized that the Pelister also had accommodation in the building so, out of curiosity (and because we were really unhappy with the Hotel Portal), we went upstairs and inquired if they had something available for our remaining two nights in Skopje. Our luck was in, given that the hotel only has six rooms and, even luckier was that they were offering a 25% discount and throwing in an ‘ anything you want’ breakfast. We could have booked a cheaper room, but we opted for their corner suite, which has fabulous views over the square and includes a Jacuzzi tub, a full dining-table, a living room with a big flat-screen TV and a DVD player and a computer nook, with free WiFi thrown in. Under normal circumstances, we wouldn’t consider staying right in the middle of a capital city. However, Skopje is very small for a capital (just over 500,000 people) and May is before Peak Season, so it wasn’t overly busy, crowded or noisy at all (remember, we had just come from Istanbul too!). Actually, the suite was pretty quiet – the square is a pedestrian area, so there is no traffic noise and we only heard a bit of noise from the restaurant and the noise from the fountain when we opened the window. Everything was new, super-clean and working, breakfasts were great and the lovely young woman from Reception (Layla?) was so helpful…we received great service all round and ended up having just about every meal at the restaurant. Yes, at €128 per night, it was a bit more than double the price of the Hotel Portal, but it was worth every Eurocent…and we got our passports back less than ten minutes after checking in and weren’t asked for any payment until we checked out. A much nicer way to welcome strangers to Macedonia!
Being in the centre also has the advantages of being near the main sights: the Old Bazaar area, the Shopping Malls (and there are a couple of big, modern ones), Mother Theresa’s Memorial House and the various museums, including the really interesting Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia. Do it!