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Hotel Rila, Dupnitsa: this season’s biggest surprise

If you live in Bulgaria and plan your weekend escape, you probably don’t consider Dupnitsa. Neither did we and it turned out to be one of our biggest mistakes.

At the end of this season we received an invitation to visit the renewed Hotel Rila in Dupnitsa. Although flattered, our initial thought was that Dupnitsa is quite close to all sites we’ve already been to several times – the 7 Rila Lakes, the Rila Monastery, the Stob Pyramids. We thought that we won’t be able to really tell you anything new. Our innate curiosity, however, pushed us – after all, you never know what future holds. Besides, the hotel offered a SPA area and after the long months of tiring travels we could certainly use some pampering.

Hotel Rila

And so, loaded in our favourite Citroen Jumpy from Val&Kar we left Sofia on a Friday evening. We arrived in Dupnitsa about 9 in the evening and found ourselves in front of a commi-looking building. Luckily, our initial skepticism was quickly blown away by the nicely arranged and modern hotel lobby. The room was also a charming surprise – perfectly sized, without any unnecessary extravagance, with plenty of storage units, and the best part: a clean, nice, large bathroom.

The restaurant of Hotel Rila

Shortly after dropping our luggage we headed to the restaurant of the hotel. Matching the style of the entire place the restaurant was stylish yet not pretentious. Contrary to the leisurely feeling which both the hotel and the restaurant leave in you, the food we were served made us feel as if we’re having a meal at a luxury place. The first evening we had a meal which cooked in home conditions would be called a “Wine kebap”. In the restaurant of Hotel Rila, however, this was served as a gourmet dish and was a combination of extremely well-prepared pork chop on a bed of mashed potatoes with butter, and complimented by a thick, delicious wine sauce. Well done, chef! Who would think that Hotel Rila will have such an incredibly good restaurant?

After the lovely welcoming and the incredible (no exaggerations) dinner, we were headed to our room. It was the end of a long (and tough week) and everything we needed was some good rest. To our surprise, all the emotions would not let us fall asleep. Instead of fighting it, we decided to use the moment and treat ourselves to some Netflix (Gilmore Girls, of course). Why are we mentioning this? We ended up streaming until 4 a.m., using the hotel’s WiFi which did not drop even once! It’s so nice when these little things which we take for granted end up being flawless!

Although we didn’t sleep much we woke up refreshed and ready for adventures. Had a lovely traditional Bulgarian breakfast in the restaurant and took off to our Treasure Hunt.

The Treasure Hunt

If this is the first time you hear about Treasure Hunt this is a game much like the escape rooms which are so popular lately. Only that it happens outdoors. In the beautiful park Rila in Dupnitsa, our organizers had hidden 4 little wooden letters. Divided into two teams we had to find them, using a map and solving some logical riddles. The team to discover the letters first and write the name of the hotel (on a little wooden board) was the winning team and received 2 bottles of wine.

I had never participated in anything similar and given that I am not competitive at all, I was actually more worried than excited. Turned out I was wrong to stress. The treasure hunt appeared to be a really cool thing to do which I would happily repeat! So, if you end up staying in Hotel Rila, definitely do check this option out. The hotel organizes those for both, kids and adults (or for families), and you can have a lot of fun!

Charged with the positive emotions from the game we stayed a little longer and have some fun feeding the ducks. Our day then continued with a walk around Dupnitsa and visits to some of the local historical sites.

The SPA center of Hotel Rila

Nicely surprised by the lovely day we had, we decided to go back to the hotel and check the SPA. After all – we had packed the swimming suites and it was about time we use them.

Several different saunas, steam baths, and a nice size indoor swimming pool was everything we needed to truly relax and catch up on some ladies style chitchatting. Even if you’re not a huge sauna fan, do try the one with Himalayan salt – it is about 40 degrees and given there is no burning sunlight in there, this temperature feels absolutely perfect. I also believe that the Himalayan salt on the walls surely adds up to the refreshing effect it has.

Feeling like brand new people, toned and relaxed, we finished the evening with one more lovely dinner in the restaurant of hotel Rila.

Summary: although Nina and I often choose guest houses, villas or camping sites, this hotel certainly won a place in our hearts. It reminded us that the hotel service and the anonymity which you have in hotels are sometimes exactly what you need for a good rest!

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Ellie Alexander

Ellie is the baby sister (as Nina would say). She is а full time marketer, regular psychology student, social butterfly, and a newbie when it comes to traveling. Her favorite quote is “A bad attitude is like a flat tire, you can’t go anywhere until you change it”

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