Hotel Insider – Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora in Montenegro's capital city

Housed between city parks, this five-star spa hotel offers a luxurious stay in the heart of Podgorica with views all the way to the far off mountains

Located in a site that once housed the first luxury hotel in Montenegro, Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora in the Balkan country's capital is a spa hotel that offers a five-star stay right in the heart of Podgorica.

Sitting between city parks, the hotel is a short walk from several tourist attractions including the Montenegrin National Theatre and the Natural History Museum of Montenegro, making it a good place for sightseeing tourists to check in. It's also a good base for travellers keen on checking out Skadar Lake National Park or Jul Plantaze, Europe's largest vineyard, which are both a short car ride away.

The welcome

Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora is located in the heart of Montenegro's capital.

Guests checking in to this five-star hotel towering above Montenegro's capital will step into a huge lobby filled with marble, crystals and huge armchairs. There are some nice nods to the past in the hotel's design with vintage filing drawers creating the base of the reception desks and a dangling display of old hotel room keys on the wall behind the friendly receptionist. Check in is effortless, with staff providing plenty of information about the hotel and its facilities.

This hotel was formerly known as the Hotel Crna Gora – a famous property that attracted a lot of celebrities including Sophia Loren and Queen Elizabeth II. Today, the hotel is still a popular choice and was scouted by the England football team as a base for the squad to stay during their 2019 European Championship match against Montenegro.

The neighbourhood

Podgorica, the capital of Montengro, by night. Photo: Sergej Zabijako / National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro

Podgorica has a bit of an unfair reputation with many locals from across the country quick to tell travellers the city is the most boring capital in the world. While it might not have the glistening azure waters or untouched mountain wilderness that much of Montenegro does enjoy, it has its own charm.

The Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora is located beside Kings Park and Park Sastavci – we went wandering around the area and discovered a waterfall, the Old Ribnica River Bridge and a monument dedicated to King Nikola, who ruled Montenegro from 1860 to 1918. It's also within walking distance of the city centre and all its galleries, embassies and newly pedestrianised area that is lined with shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.

The safety measures

The hotel follows Hilton’s CleanStay policy so guests can rest assured that rooms are sanitised and sealed when they arrive. All staff are wearing face masks, there are hand-sanitising stations throughout and masks indoors are compulsory. The hotel’s large-scale design also means that it's quite easy to stay socially distanced from other guests when in public areas like the lobby and lounges.

The room

Rooms at Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora offer views over Montenegro's capital.

We stayed in a King Deluxe Room with a Park View and it was absolutely huge. Giant windows on two sides of the room gave us a wide view over the city and all the way to the mountains in the background. There was a stylish chaise longue, a large desk in case we needed to get some work completed, a minibar, plenty of wardrobe space and a king-size Hilton Serenity bed. We loved the TV in front of the bed, which could disappear into the unit below at the touch of a button.

The bathroom was equally huge, with double sinks, a separate shower and a sunken bathtub in front of a picture-frame window so you can take in the views as you soak.

The service

Montenegrins are famed for having a relaxed attitude towards life and this is something that comes across at Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora. While staff were quick to answer any questions we had or point us in the right direction if we tracked someone down and asked, we also had to get used to waiting a little bit longer than we were used to when it comes to placing an order for coffee, getting a waiter's attention or anticipating when our meal will be served. Housekeeping staff were faultless, discreetly making up our room while we were out for the afternoon so it was ready and waiting for our return.

The scene

The spa and health club is a great place to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing in Podgorica.

With 180 rooms and suites over eight floors, the Hilton Podgorica is one of the biggest five-star hotels in the capital and it attracts a wide mix of well-heeled locals, tourists and groups of holidaymakers. The indoor spa centre is a delight, with experience showers, a sauna, Jacuzzi and an indoor swimming pool. There’s also a fitness suite – with state of the art equipment.

The food

Breakfast is served buffet style in Crna Gora, the restaurant named after the original hotel built in the same site in 1953. The continental spread is laid out in a small windowless area at the back of the eatery and consists of a good selection of cereals, pastries, fruits, meats, cheese and more, as well as hot dishes. There is a lovely alfresco terrace that's the perfect place to enjoy breakfast.

Crna Gora is also where lunch and dinner is served. We joined for lunch and were one of only two tables in the restaurant. Staff sat the other diners right next to our table, which felt a little strange during Covid times. The menu has a wide choice of fish and meat dishes, plus salads, soups and appetisers – many of which are locally inspired.

Not being too hungry, we only ordered main courses but after waiting more than 30 minutes for the waiter to reappear, we were definitely ready to eat – sadly he was only bringing bread for the table. After another 15-minute wait, he appeared with the grilled sea bass fillet ($26) and the grilled beef steak ($21). Both dishes were served with vegetables, although not particularly warm. Noticing we've not had the best lunch experience the waiter offered us a complimentary glass of grape, which we declined. He told us that we happened to be dining at the same time as a private function in the hotel, which hopefully explains the slow service.

The Sky Bar on the rooftop is a definite must-visit, even if you're not staying at the Hilton. It's the city's only real rooftop bar and has great music and panoramic views of the city, mountains and valley of Podgorica. It's not really much of an eating location, the menu has light bites and snacks, but for a sundowner you can't go wrong. There's also the glass-fronted Terrace Fontana on the lobby level of the hotel which has views of the fountain and serves coffees, cakes and beverages.

Highs and lows

The best thing about the hotel is it's Spa Centre – it's the perfect place to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing. The hotel also boasts a really good location, right in the heart of the capital. No real lows other than having to practice a good deal of patience when it comes to service, especially in the restaurants.

The Insider Tip

Pre-book a table at Sky Bar on the rooftop for sunset and you'll be rewarded with some of the best views in the city accompanied by chilled-out lounge music.

The verdict

While it’s not breaking the mould when it comes to luxury hotel stays, the Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora offers a very comfortable place to stay in Montenegro's capital. Rooms are spacious with a distinct air of sophistication and the central location means you're in a great spot for sightseeing.

The bottom line

Rooms at Hilton Podgorica start from €101 ($114), including taxes. Check-in time is from 2pm and checkout time is at noon.

Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora, 2 Bulevar Svetog Petra Cetinjskog, Podgorica, Montenegro; hilton.com

This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel during the global coronavirus pandemic. It reflects hotel standards during the time, services may change in the future.

Updated: December 12th 2021, 3:45 AM