DoubleTree by Hilton Skopje sits on the edge of Skopje, the capital city of North Macedonia. Its location is next to the Vardar River and close to the airport. The city centre is four kilometres away or a ten-minute ride. The hotel has a significant advantage because there is plenty of parking space. The architects had free hands to design the hotel. The result is a building that architecturally stands out in this part of Skopje. There are numerous business facilities in the vicinity, and if you do not mind staying away from the city centre, the hotel, in fact, boasts an excellent location. If you wish to organise your next event here, your attendees will not leave your event and head towards the city centre, even though all monuments are relatively close. Active guests can walk to the heart of Skopje along the Vardar River, a minute from the hotel.
Among 24 commercial airports in Ex-Yugoslavia, Skopje Airport ranks sixth according to air traffic, trailing behind Dubrovnik, Split and Priština. It has surpassed the two once more developed airports, Ljubljana and Sarajevo, by a mile. This data shows how its connectedness improved after the corona crisis. Skopje is becoming an increasingly favoured city-break destination and an alternative city for hosting meetings and events. Air accessibility is perpetually improving thanks to low-cost carriers. The hotel is easy to reach by car or taxi and boasts spacious underground parking alongside an outdoor parking lot. Taxis are a comfortable and affordable option for travelling around Skopje. Cycling infrastructure is improving year-on-year. Public transport is advancing too, and we recommend hopping on the iconic British double-deckers, regionally found only in Skopje.
COLD STARTER - Architecture and aesthetics
Hilton is generally not famed for spectacular architecture but more for its generic, functional hotel design. That is especially true for their hotel in Skopje. Functionality-wise, the hotel is a superb meeting venue with a separate entrance to its spacious conference centre and a separate entrance to the hotel. That combination places it among the leading meeting hotels in Skopje. The exterior is thus expectedly Hilton-like, without a wow effect, apart from its proportions. The interior follows Hilton standards with “traditional” cappuccino colours that ooze a feeling of homeliness. Architects must have strived to create such a feeling when designing the hotel. An unwritten rule of such hotels is that there should not be too much of something or too little. In practice, the design concept functions well.
WARM ENTRÉE - The staff and the culinary experience
Regardless of our late arrival, check-in was smooth and professional. Although DoubleTree cookies are a classic, they make a great first impression. The staff at the reception proved to be the best part of the hotel service. There is room for improvement in terms of breakfast. As DoubleTree by Hilton Skopje is a five-star hotel, the rule of thumb is that the breakfast should be partly à la carte. The staff did not pay attention to guests and instead jointly discussed saving planetary problems. In addition, they dumped waste right in front of the guests etc. The selection of dishes was unimpressive and worthy of four-star hotels at best. The hotel must improve in this segment to justify its position. Still, we must praise the coffee and personnel at the lobby bar, who were always available.
MAIN COURSE – The meetings offering at the hotel
What makes the classic Hilton room exceed expectations is an eye-catching and cosy lounger for reading and relaxing. A large panoramic window offers views of the Vardar River, and if the weather is sunny, you will see the foot of the Šar Mountains. The room is typical for the DoubleTree hotel chain: guests will find everything business travellers needs, including a spacious writing desk with numerous additions. Size-wise, the room is average, but its cappuccino-coloured walls and orange and green ornaments make it stand out from the competition. The bed and bed linen was, as expected of Hilton, exceptional. We were equally impressed by the spacious, tidy and, above all, practical bathroom. The room we stayed in met all expectations connected to the Hilton brand. Considering the excellent hotel wellness, we did miss hotel robes and cosmetic amenities.
The impressive conference centre satisfies event organisers with a separate entrance, spaciousness, high ceiling and functional hall design. The hotel’s conference centre is undoubtedly one of the best in Skopje. All seven halls are ideal for any event, including sought-after weddings. A surprisingly large foyer is perfect for accompanying exhibitions or catering events. With a capacity of 500 attendees in a theatre setting, the conference centre is also one of the largest around.
DESSERT – The extras
The sauna and pool are praiseworthy. Guests can swim in a pleasantly-warm pool or relax in a spacious jacuzzi. The panoramic Finnish sauna was great, and we only wished the steam sauna worked.
FLOP – NEGATIVE SURPRISES
The rooms are not perfectly soundproof. If cheerful groups return from a night out in the early morning, you will hear some noise.
TOP – POSITIVE SURPRISES
The price for staying at a hotel in this category is impressively affordable. That is possibly one of the biggest surprises, as guests would pay up to twice the price in other regional cities for similar hotels.
Apart from the standard hotel reminders regarding towels and using soap dispensers, we did not encounter other sustainable activities. Evidently, sustainability is not the focus of management yet.
FINAL IMPRESSION AND CREDIBILITY
Hotels in this segment have lately been on the rise in Skopje. It is wise to know what event you wish to organise to select the right hotel. In the case of DoubleTree by Hilton Skopje, the functionally designed conference centre is in the limelight. We believe that is the hotel’s main advantage. Otherwise, the hotel is, in accordance with Hilton standards, modern and well-managed but lacking originality and charm, which other hotels in Skopje have in abundance. But every event organiser must decide for themselves, as satisfied attendees count most. In our opinion, they will enjoy their stay at this hotel. Still, the hotel should go the extra mile to fulfil the expectations of guests staying at five-star hotels.
FINAL GRADE: 4.83 GOLD City Meeting Hotel
GOLD final score from 4.81 to 5.00
SILVER final score from 4.61 to 4.80
BRONZE final score from 4.41 to 4.60