The Royal View Hotel, 2 Jane Sandanski, Ohrid, North Macedonia, is a family-owned and -run establishment in an ancient lakeshore town.
Balkan by birth, Steve and Elica Sotiroski returned from exile in Australia in 1989 and decided to settle in the town of 42,000 in southwestern North Macedonia, on the northeastern shore of Lake Ohrid (Ohridsko Jezero). The lake is shared by both Albania and North Macedonia.
Once boasting 365 churches, the city has a welter of architectural styles, with villas, monasteries, fortresses, and castles. Some of the buildings date back to 200 BCE, including the city’s ancient theatre (pictured, above) which was also used to host gladiator fights. The well-preserved grounds now serve as a concert and theatre venue.
The Sotiroski family fell in love with a small property on the lakeshore near the city center of Ohrid. Having had culinary experience in Australia, they opened a small restaurant named “Restaurant Royal” in 1995. A small ice-cream shop was soon added for their children — Vesna, Fanche, and Aleksandar — to learn the trade. Using original recipes for making gelato, it became the first store in Ohrid to offer all-natural ice cream catering for all with a sweet tooth including diabetics. The restaurant operated for more than 11 years. In autumn 2006, restaurant Royal closed for business and began its transformation. In August 2007, Royal View Restaurant and Villa opened for business.
Amenities at the Royal view Hotel
The Royal View Hotel was the first city hotel or villa to offer underground free parking for its guests, the first spa center (started operating in 2010), and the first kids-corner (opened in 2014).
Breakfast is included, and is served in the restaurant called Eli’s Place. I was there during COVID protocols, and the repast had to be ordered early the evening before and was served by staff at a pre-set time the next morning. During “normal” times, I was told, breakfast is served buffet-style with no reservations required.
Each of the 36 rooms has its own balcony, and most have views of Lake Ohrid. Most of the rooms (from 22 to 25 square meters) have one king-size bed or two twin beds, but there are three suites. Most elegant is the Superior suite with a living area, a separate master bedroom, and a separate single room. The living area balcony offers spectacular views of the lake and the old city.
I was pleased to find a hair dryer and a makeup mirror in the bathroom.
The Royal View Hotel offers conference facilities, and has a fitness center.
In the hotel spa, in addition to the usual massage services, there’s a Finnish sauna, Turkish spa, and Jacuzzi. (I was sorry I didn’t have time to indulge in the hot chocolate massage.)
Heading into town
In 1979, the Macedonian part of Lake Ohrid was inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Nicknamed the “Jerusalem of the Balkans”, Ohrid is one of the oldest settlements in Europe, and was once considered to be the epicenter of Slavic religion and culture. Its history is evident in every building that lines the city’s old town and cascades down steep streets, dotted with historic churches, and topped by the bones of a medieval castle. Most photographed is the Church of St. John the Theologian (pictured, below), a 13th-century gem is set on a cliff over the lake.
If you go to Ohrid
Ohrid is three hours from the capital city of North Macedonia, Skopje, and the Greek border is less than two hours away.
When you stop in Skopje, you might like to stay at the Bushi Resort & Spa.
(Review and photos by Susan McKee)