Europe,  Montenegro,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Christmas 2020 & 10th Year Anniversary in Montenegro

For our 10 years of marriage, we had imagined so many dream destinations: Seychelles, Maldives, Kenya, Tanzania… but because of Covid, the dream destinations will wait. We spend them rather in Montenegro.

Note: this article is part of our road trip Croatia – Montenegro. To read the previous parts, click here : #1, #2, #3

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

But that’s not why we’re going to settle for a simple Airbnb, eh? We choose the 5 stars hotel which seems to us the coolest, not very far from Budva, to spend Christmas in the warmth. The prohibition to change regions applies from 10 pm on the 23/12 and this until the 28/12 morning, so we hurry to go to the Budva region before the sunset.

The arrival in Budva is as shocking as the arrival in Herceg Novi. If we like the Yugoslavian style buildings in Herceg, in Budva, there are concrete buildings in full construction with sea view, it reminds us of Cannes but in much less harmonious. Frankly, without its old town, Budva wouldn’t even have been in my list of visits.

Day 4 in Montenegro

Maestral Resort & Casino

It is a recent 5-star hotel (2017), nestled between the mountains and the sea. We have access to a private beach, but especially to the spa. We have preferential rates thanks to the low season (100€/night, breakfast included, Booking link) but in the high season, it is necessary to count 3 times more.

Montenegrins seem to like jacuzzis and sauna because their sauna is always of good quality, with variable temperature showers, the ice bucket, and especially hyper hot saunas.

As for Jacuzzis, it isn’t uncommon to see hotels equipped with huge Jacuzzis in the middle of the room. Ours (superior sea view) has a normal bathroom with shower. But there is also a second “bathroom”: with washbasin & jacuzzi tub right next to the bed, completely open. There might be a need to look at the window from the bathtub or something like that because many hotels are equipped this way.

As soon as we arrive, we are given a document with the new opening hours (of the restaurant, the spa etc.) because due to new restrictions, everybody is lost ahaha 🙂 the swimming pool and the sauna are closed on the 24th, 25th but not on the 23rd, 26th etc

Fortunately they offer massages, half price on the 24th and 25th. The masseuses are Asian, and very competent (count 80€/hour normal rates). Even JB, who is very difficult in terms of massage, has the impression of floating on a cloud afterwards. His back pain, caused by stress due to uncertainty (covid period) and too much work, has finally disappeared. They also offer facial care with products from Biologique Recherche (from 100€), a brand I like very much but I didn’t want to test. Biologique Recherche’s treatments often use radiofrequency, which is very effective for wrinkles, but forbidden to those with metal prostheses (I have a dental crown). I put here a video of the Spa area :

For the Christmas Eve meal, you can only order room service. We discover that we can put YouTube videos on TV and we choose to put a fake fireplace ahaha with Christmas music. Well, the meal isn’t extraordinary and not much provided, but at least we spend a pleasant Christmas Eve.

Day 5: Sveti Stefan

Sveti Stefan is a private island, transformed into a hotel (with a few private apartments of the same hotel), frequented by the stars. Even in low season, the price of the rooms is around 1000€ per night so it can only be seen from a distance. There are several view points for that.

We can see on this picture that the coast is invaded by concrete constructions.

The best view point is from this church at the top of the mountain: Church St. Sava

The view from here is magnificent. Too bad there is no sun. We will come back there to take better pictures.

There are many constructions in the surrounding area, forming ghost villages during the low season. It’s a sad thing! In my opinion, in summer it isn’t pleasant either. Already, the roads aren’t so wide, moreover, the beaches are very small and many are private.

We try to get to the place where there are big antennas on the top of the mountain, but our car starts skating on the gravel roads. We give up halfway. But I think that a 4×4 will arrive there without concern.

Days 6 & 7

After having tasted all the dishes that interest us in the first hotel, we decide to go to another 5 star hotel (after Christmas restrictions, weekend restrictions apply) so we still stay in the Budva region, at the Splendid hotel for 70€/night the double room (with access to the private beach, spa & sauna of course, Booking link). This hotel is older so the infrastructures are a little bit old-fashioned.

The hotel’s parking lot isn’t very visible, so you have to constantly call a valet. It stresses us a little bit to entrust our car key to someone permanently, we aren’t used to it 😀 We saw guests leaving their Mercedes with the key on it just in front of the hotel… while the valet takes care of other guests. The level of relaxation is a little too high for us, the former parisian ahaha

On the other hand, everything is massive. We are more on a big tourist factory than a hotel with a 5 star service. To go to the swimming pool, it is necessary to cross several buildings. It must be horrible in summer, with hundreds of people crammed in the main restaurant for breakfast. In any case, the size of each room & restaurant says a lot about the number of tourists they have each summer. JB is a bit disappointed because the comparison with the service of our previous hotel is quite cruel. We aren’t going to complain, these are clearly problems of rich people 😀

The huge outdoor pool reminds us too much of another massive pool at Vinpearl in Vietnam, which JB loved very much. Here the private beach is huge and much more beautiful. Usually there are no waves, but the bad weather these last days makes the water less transparent and the waves a bit more present.

There seems to be more guests in this hotel. They love to lounge at the bar all day long, it’s fun. Maybe they are travelers who don’t know what to do at Christmas like we do. It is still very difficult to recognize the languages of the region. It is said that Serbian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Albanian are very similar. We only know how to recognize Russian from the other languages, but that’s all. In any case, we haven’t heard French since our arrival in Montenegro, it’s the first time it happens to us, usually the French are everywhere 😀

We really want to discover the surroundings, including the old town of Budva but the weather isn’t at all kind. So we spent Christmas to rest… and to blog a little 😀 with a small tour in the only Thai restaurant of all Montenegro: Taste of Asia. Their pad thai isn’t bad at all.

I hope you had a happy holiday and were spoiled by Santa Claus

Like every year, we don’t give each other gifts because we give each other gifts all year long. My favorite gifts in 2020 are

JB’s favorite gifts this year: the stop-over in Las Vegas, the tree house for his birthday.

Part 2: Practical Tips

Budget

  • Hotel Maestral
    • 100€ per double room (breakfast included) link Booking
    • Restaurants :
      • count 16€/person minimum/meal
      • christmas meal: 45€/person (room service)
    • Spa :
      • from 45€ the massage
      • access to the sauna & swimming pool included in the rates
  • Hotel Splendid
    • 70€ per double room sea view (breakfast included) link Booking
    • Restaurants :
      • count 20€/person minimum at the Japanese restaurant (not good)
      • count 16€/person minimum/meal at the main restaurant

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