Did the last place you stayed make you feel like it was a privilege to be there? Well when that word is a part of the hotel name, you know they’re at least going to try.
Privilege Hotel & Spa was just hitting its stride when I stayed there, after only being open a couple months. Situated in a developing area that feels like the countryside, it’s nevertheless just a 10-minute drive to the center of Tirana, the capital of Albania. It has a roof deck with a view of the mountains and a fortress, plus a year-round indoor pool and full spa. This is a great hotel to retreat to after business or sightseeing in the city.
Much of bustling Tirana feels new since Albania was an isolated communist dictatorship until the mid-1990s. Cut off and paranoid, it was a land of military bunkers, domestic spies, and a suspicion of anything that reeked of privilege or getting ahead. (Take a local communist history tour with GoodAlbania to really get a deep insight into the bizarre past.) The country has come roaring back in recent years, however. Construction cranes rise up around the capital and “help wanted” signs in the local language are a frequent sight.
The architect and designer both cut loose when they created the indoor pool area, which is pictured at the top. I have photos from the same angle that are light blue, midnight blue, and green. There’s a program that keeps the lights changing, like a high-tech disco. The 20-something guests swimming at night loved it, but if you want a calmer lighting scheme, come during the day when exterior light comes through the one wall of glass.
It’s a sizable pool with lounge chairs around and towel service. At the far end is a rectangular whirlpool ready for multiple people. At night it’s also part of the shifting light scheme.
There’s also a full gym on site with new cardio and weight machines. The Thai-inspired spa is run by a Filipino manager/masseuse who is fluent in English. There are several massage rooms for singles or couples and treatment prices are quite reasonable.
Any guest can use the rest of the spa facilities, like the changing rooms with showers, the tiled steam shower, and a large dry sauna.
Most of the rooms at Hotel Privilege have a standard layout of decent size, but are loaded with amenities. They have a minibar, cable TV, marble baths with nice toiletries, fluffy towels, slippers (but not robes), safes, and crisp air conditioning. Parquet floors padded headboards, platform beds, and clean lines give them a contemporary look. Deluxe Double rooms add more space, a sitting area, and a balcony.
The suites here are like a very large studio apartment, with a section sofa in one area—with a large TV—then there’s another TV mounted on a room divided facing the king bed. The sofa actually has a USB charger built into the side of it, so you can recharge your devices without looking around for an outlet. There are plenty of outlets all over in these rooms though, plus fast Wi-Fi that’s complimentary. These also have the best baths, with a huge whirlpool tub, separate shower, and double vanity.
There’s only one place to eat and drink on site and it’s mostly a breakfast affair in the morning, a cafe during the day, and a bar at night. The location on the top floor is great, with a large outdoor patio area that has a view in all directions. If the weather is not permitting though, there’s an indoor section as well. While the location feels a bit isolated, there are some local convenience stores and casual dining spots within walking distance on the street running perpendicular to the hotel street.
A young but experienced manager got the place rolling with high energy and he has clearly trained the staff well. There are still some minor hiccups here and there, but in general the employees are friendly, helpful and bilingual.
Rates at Privilege Hotel & Spa are a good value for a hip boutique hotel, usually well under $100 for a regular room, under $150 for a suite. Parking is free on site if you’re driving a rental car and rates you’ll find online often include breakfast. See more at the official hotel site and at TripAdvisor. Book at either or check prices at Priceline.
Review and photos by editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted at the property while in Albania for purposes of review.