Swissotel Sarajevo is nestled in the business and shopping centre of Sarajevo City Center. The hotel welcomes guests on the stand-out, architecturally impressive 20th floor of the business centre. Near the administrative quartier of Sarajevo, the hotel is within spitting distance of the iconic Baščaršija Olympic Hall. The shopping centre was constructed in 2014 and is still among the largest in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Saudi-based investment company Al Shiddi, the owners of the business centre, reached an agreement with Swissotel, operating under the Accor hotel chain, to open a hotel within the centre. Officially inaugurated in 2018, the hotel has become a central part of the business centre, visited by numerous international tourists yearly. The number of similar investments in the region is skyrocketing, but only time will tell whether this will benefit Sarajevo. At first glance, it seems the investments are paying off.
Among twenty-four commercial airports in Former Yugoslavia, Sarajevo Airport recorded the swiftest growth in 2022. It increased the number of passengers by 20.4% compared to 2019, thus earning the seventh spot, trailing behind Skopje, Dubrovnik and Split. The airport’s exponential growth comes from attracting new air carriers, who fly tourists to Sarajevo from the Middle East. Still, many visitors opt to reach the hotel by car. Those guests appreciate the vicinity of the city centre, within walking distance. One of the advantages is the vast underground parking lot, which comprises four parking levels with 1100 parking spaces. Sarajevo’s public transport is unreliable and more of an excursion into the past. Luckily, affordable taxis are plentiful in the city, almost ridiculously cheap compared to the rest of Europe. We hope Sarajevo starts constructing bicycle lanes, as the poor infrastructure makes city cycling an adrenaline sport.
COLD STARTER - Architecture and aesthetics
The hotel’s architectural design is the work of the late Bosnian architect Sead Gološ. Architecture is often a reflection of a city. That is true in the case of Swissotel Sarajevo, as the pearly glass facade reflects the architectural ambitions of Sarajevo after the urbicide amid the war in the nineties. Despite some harsh critiques, we believe the design cemented the image of the Sarajevo City Center as an avant-garde entrance to the historic part of Sarajevo. More importantly, the architects elegantly connected the hotel with the surrounding mountains of Trebević, Ozren and Bjelašnica by offering stunning views from the rooms. To understand the concept, you must stay at the hotel, where you will feel the power of the design that feels other-worldly. The connection with the urban tissue of Sarajevo feels unbelievably organic. That is the essence of great architecture. The end result is astounding when paired with the elegant concept of the hotel chain. The flowers are thus always fresh, while the lobby exudes luxury.
WARM ENTRÉE - The staff and the culinary experience
Swiss hospitality is the trademark of Swissotel. But having such a motto raises the expectations of guests. The actual experience of each guest depends on the daily form of the staff. As we stayed at the hotel, we experienced everything from super-professional and kind staff members to an ambivalent receptionist at the check-in. Even though every guest supposedly counts, we felt as though the protocolary delegates had a superior status. The case was similar at breakfast, which was otherwise satisfactory. Yet we cannot forgive the hotel for serving dreadful coffee from an outdated coffee machine. Replacing freshly-squizzed orange juice with a flavourless beverage from the hotel juice dispenser machine befits a second-rate seaside resort, not a five-star hotel. We believe the management should significantly improve the breakfast offer and align it with the expectations of the hotel chain.
MAIN COURSE – The meetings offering at the hotel
The room we stayed in belongs to the Swiss Advantage Room category. With 43 m2, the room is above-standard in terms of size and boasts exquisite decor. The elegant built-in furniture shines in the colours of bright oak wood. Wooden intarsia and golden ornaments on the wall, such as the mirror frame or the wooden TV stand, add beauty to the room. The carpet with grey and brown patterns combines seamlessly with the blue sofa and yellow lounger. What makes the room unique is a divan next to the panoramic window luring guests to see the views. The roomy bathroom boasts an elegant ocean-blue tapestry that exudes luxury. Understandably, the cosmetics and amenities are sustainably-oriented, the illumination is exceptional, and the electric sockets are where you expect them to be. The room offers a splendid stay, inviting guests to experience timeless fashion. Swissotel Sarajevo has rooms that befit a five-star hotel.
The hotel’s conference centre is among the largest in Sarajevo. The grand multifunctional Geneva Hall can capacitate up to 400 attendees in a theatre setting. It can be divided into three smaller rooms. Three additional seminar rooms enrich the offer. Although nothing is out of the ordinary for a conference centre in a hotel, all the halls within the hotel meet expectations.
DESSERT – The extras
The spa, stretching across two floors, is intimate, innovative and above standard. That is due to the staff, overall quality and size, as it measures a roomy 2000 m2. We undoubtedly recommend visiting the spa after a long event day.
FLOP – NEGATIVE SURPRISES
If you expect alcoholic drinks in the mini bar, restaurant or elsewhere in the hotel, you should find accommodation in another establishment. Nonetheless, halal food is a great choice in our opinion.
TOP – POSITIVE SURPRISES
The lightning-fast hotel lifts seem as though you are in a sci-fi movie. A pleasant digital voice will offer you one when you request it. Superb and so different from many other hotels.
Upon entering the room, it becomes clear that sustainability is a top priority for the hotel. It is no longer about using fewer towels but much more than that.
FINAL IMPRESSION AND CREDIBILITY
Swissotel Sarajevo is undoubtedly among the best and newest hotels in Sarajevo, yet slightly inconsistent. It generally leaves a good impression with a tried-and-tested functional design. More importantly, it ensures guests feel commodious in the rooms and the conference centre. The entire hotel functions well and exudes a bit of prestige. Originality is another trait of the hotel, but the staff and service do not meet expectations related to the brand. Regardless, Swissotel Sarajevo is still a typical Swissotel at first glance: likeable, instantly recognisable and very Swiss. It would be a crime to overlook it, as it is among the leading hotels in the city. When visiting Sarajevo, staying at this hotel is a reliable choice.
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