ICY and HOT at ASPA VILLA BANYA VILLAGE, RAZLOG, BULGARIA
Reviewed 8 January 2015, stayed 30 December 2014- 02 January 2015, traveled with family
Hear: the sound of silence in the mountain of Pirin; the magical sounds of local folk music.
See: the vapour over the outdoor hot mineral water pool and its icy artwork all around, juxtaposing the snowy sharp peaks of Pirin.
Smell: the sulphur smell of the mineral water from the tap which you may find unpleasant but it is very healthful; the fresh clean air of the mountains.
Taste: Katino meze, Kapama, Chomlek, Parlenka from the local cuisine in the taverns of Banya, Razlog and Bansko… and Bulgarian red wine too.
Touch: the freezing cold air on your semi naked body followed by the hot embrace of the outdoor mineral water hot pool, challenged again by the icy air after the bath while fast walking from the pool to the hotel and immediately after that the warm relax in the steam bath.
The mineral water is the main attraction in Banya village. Add to it the magnificent scenery of the mountains surrounding the area and you will feel healthy and full of energy.
Aspa Villa is classified by the owners as a SPA hotel. The truth is that the masseur was only one and could not cover the full demand for massages and therapies. We enjoyed, instead, the steam bath and the sauna. However, the encore of my stay there was the hot mineral water pool outside with 40 degrees Celsius. You should try it at minus 10 degrees outside and you will be addicted forever.
There are some small remarks for the room like worn-out bed damask or too small bed sheet which constantly rolls in but at least it is warm and clean, and generally speaking we were feeling good.
The staff has some difficulties with foreign languages but they are courteous and helpful.
In the bathroom you can enjoy tap water coming straight from the mineral springs. Smells strange but you must not miss to take advantage of hot tubs with it or even try to drink it. Very healthful!
It is better to bring your own shower gel and any other type of face, body and hair care, although the hotel provides one shampoo and a soap.
Our room was facing a forest hill starting just from the hotel and practically we did not have a view. But there are other options which can offer a nice vista to the snowy mountain peaks.
The hotel is lavishly decorated with photos and small sculptures related to horse riding which imparts stylish look to the place.
The breakfast is a little disappointing. There is an option for HB but ala carte is also possible, besides, it’s very cheap.
If you are willing to drive, though, you should try other restaurants. You can find much better places with local cuisine in Banya or the neighbouring town of Razlog or even Bansko which is not very far (10-12 km) by car.
If you are willing to combine mineral pool and skiing, the ski runs of Bansko are on a short driving distance.
You can check in advance at tourist agencies for local folklore events and I recommend to try dancing the local folk dances because they are impressive and very energizing! We were lucky to visit and participate in a kukeri (chaush) dances in Razlog on 1 January. That’s worth to be seen! Many people were dressed up in traditional attire while some were in specially tailored from long-hair goat costumes decorated on the waist with copper bells. The dancers jump vigorously so that the bells clank and the long hairs swing around their bodies, in order to look scary. It is an old custom and it was believed that in such way the people would get rid of evil, diseases and would bring fruitfulness.
Regardless of the small remarks to the hotel, I would come back for the mineral water pools and the fantastic local cuisine.
Room Tip: Wi Fi at the reception only , not in the rooms.