Our hidden guest assessors have been busy at work in 2023, crisscrossing the region of New Europe to find the best regional meeting hotels. From boutique to resort hotels, a host of new additions have facilitated growth in the hospitality industry. This year’s meeting hotels stretch from Astana to Tirana, and we have selected the best.

The Meetings Star is a holistic methodology of evaluating quality, resulting in a clear answer regarding a provider’s services, as it is based on the hidden congress guest evaluation.

In each category, individual hotels and venues are segmented into three sub-categories in light of the points they achieved in the evaluation by the hidden congress guest:

GOLDEN: final mark from 4.81 to 5.00
SILVER: final mark from 4.61 to 4.80
BRONZE: final mark from 4.41 to 4.60

The latest meeting hotels were evaluated according to the Hidden Congress guest methodology. Here is our selection:

1. HIDDEN GUEST: W Budapest
4.99 GOLD City Meeting Hotel

W Budapest incited our hidden guest assessors to write a concise summary: “Entirely different and grand.” The hotel is different thanks to its innovative and meticulous renovation that aims to attract a specific focus group of guests. We can say it is grand because of its unmatched offer and services that rekindle the idea of grand hotels in a modern and youthful way. Hence, we believe W Budapest heralds a new era for luxury hotels, bringing back glamour and transforming similar hotels into the epicentres of urban social life. W Budapest has excelled in connecting the local community, with its instantly recognisable lobby protruding onto Andrássy Avenue. Although the radical colour combinations seem bombastic and overwhelming, everything is perfectly measured, apart from the high price. Yet, even the prices will eventually adapt to the market prices. The top of the hotel pyramid in Budapest is dynamic, ever-changing and exciting. At present, the glamorous newcomer has taken the crown.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

2. HIDDEN GUEST: Triangel Boutique Hotel
4.93 GOLD Boutique Meeting Hotel

Triangel Boutique Hotel is a discreet, superb boutique hotel. Its exterior does not turn heads but instead elegantly incorporates into the stunning ambience of Triglav National Park. The essence of the hotel is hidden behind the Alpine facade. Triangel Boutique Hotel can easily compete with the competition over the northern border in terms of staff kindness and professionality. The owners have proven that people are what make the tourism industry so captivating. Their choice to enable young chefs and staff members to prove themselves is praiseworthy in and of itself. The hotel is a prototype of a boutique incentive hotel that all event organisers dream of.

Photo Credit: Triangel Boutique Hotel

3. HIDDEN GUEST: Hotel Nomad Bjelašnica
4.92 GOLD Boutique Meeting Hotel

Hotel Nomad is open year-round, which shows it is interested in more than just the short winter season. Thus, it is an ideal option for event organisers seeking mostly spring and autumn dates to host their events. Bjelašnica has become a competitive and attractive year-round incentive destination with Hotel Nomad. The essence of the hotel lies in the final product. Hotel Nomad is, without a shred of doubt, one of the best Bosnian incentive mountain hotels. Once the offer is polished, it will become the first pick of event organisers who seek authentic experiences.

Photo credits: Hotel Nomad

4. HIDDEN GUEST: Marriott Budapest
4.91 GOLD City Meeting Hotel

The hotel exudes a classic character, marked by distinct architecture and paired with superb hotel service and an excellent conference centre. You are terribly mistaken if you believe classic chain hotels, such as Marriott Budapest, are nearing extinction. Even within its hotel chain, the establishment has fierce competition. Nonetheless, the hotel is among the city’s most frequented, regardless of the season. The service is excellent, and the flops here and there do not taint the overall great impression. Marriott Budapest is an establishment where you can trust the hotel team to pull off a spectacular event and meet the most demanding requests.

Photo Credit: Budapest Marriott Hotel

5. HIDDEN GUEST: Palazzo Rainis Hotel & Spa
4.91 GOLD Boutique Meeting Hotel

In contrast with general trends of minimalism, the hotel remains loyal to the iconic and timeless classic style. Palazzo Rainis Hotel & Spa is charmingly opulent and can easily compete against other luxury hotels. One of its advantages is the possibility of privatisation. Event organisers cherish such hotels. In light of the hotel’s advantages, there is one drawback, however – the price of staying at Palazzo Rainis Hotel & Spa is high. Hence, every detail or slip in service is easily spotted. I do not doubt the team will have improved by our next visit. For hotels in the top tier, service is similar to professional sport – you have to perform at your best at all times.

Photo Credit: Palazzo Rainis Hotel & Spa

6. HIDDEN GUEST: Skopje Marriott Hotel
4.91 GOLD City Meeting Hotel

The philosophy of Marriott Hotels is an age-old, universal and enduring model for luxurious hotels: We put people first. We had the privilege of experiencing that concept upon visiting the Skopje Marriott Hotel. The hotel bets on its quality and elegance to outdo the fierce competition in the city. The hotel is charming and refined, lacking virtually nothing. Should you host your event here, the attendees will surely enjoy their stay if they know what to expect from an international hotel institution such as Marriott. The superb interior design in the conference centre and rooms turns heads. Last but not least, the price policy of the hotel (the Marriott Best Rate Guarantee) is comparable to other luxurious hotels in the city.

Photo Credit: Skopje Marriott Hotel

7. HIDDEN GUEST: Hyatt Regency Sofia
4.91 GOLD City Meeting Hotel

Hyatt Regency Sofia offers guests the doorway to the exclusive level of hotels without compromises. In Sofia, it seems their concept is enough to be crowned as one of the best. With its typical Hyatt qualities, lovers of the hotel chain will appreciate the offer. Yet, the hotel is among the most expensive in Sofia. Luckily, the hotel justifies the price, even though it could polish its offer in segments. Hyatt Regency Sofia is impressive and, in many ways, an excellent meeting hotel.

Photo Credit: Hyatt Regency Sofia

8. HIDDEN GUEST: Zonar Zagreb
4.90 GOLD City Meeting Hotel

The hotel is worth admiration for multiple reasons. Most notably, we were astonished by the urban cosmopolitan concept that is no copycat but the result of Croatian know-how. As such, the hotel has set the bar for Maistra’s selection of City Vibes hotels. Secondly, the size of the hotel enables larger conference groups to stay in one hotel. Up to now, that has been Zagreb’s Achilles heel. Thirdly, the hotel sells experiences and not just hotel rooms. The lobby is the heart of Zonar Zagreb, functioning as an experiential living room. Fourthly, the hotel was renovated with the needs of the event organisers in mind. Lastly, the designers had the courage to address the trends and changes in the market. Generation Z will be grateful for the youth-in-mind approach they adopted. Even older generations may find the hotel dear to their heart.

Photo Credit: Maistra Hospitality Group

9. HIDDEN GUEST: Mövenpick Resort and Spa Fruske Terme
4.89 GOLD Spa Meeting Hotel

Hotel Fruške Terme was renamed last year. The hotel chain undoubtedly brought new knowledge and imbued the hotel with the Mövenpick mentality. Regardless, we were most impressed by the ambition, vision and boldness of the resort’s owners, the Cicmil family. They created a superb resort with a design unparalleled in Serbia. As they emphasise, the resort is a bleisure area. We can confirm that. Attendees will surely cherish the holistic offer of the resort. I firmly believe many event participants will return as tourists.

Photo Credit: Mövenpick Resort and Spa Fruske Terme

10. HIDDEN GUEST: Monti Hotel & Wellness
4.89 GOLD Resort Meeting Hotel

Monti Hotel & Wellness is a hotel that lives a double life as a top-tier incentive hotel and a family resort hotel. We experienced both sides of the hotel during our stay. Both target groups will feel welcome in the charming hotel, finding their zen spots effortlessly. Even though the hotel borders the boutique category of hotels, its superb interior and design place it among resort hotels. Monti Hotel & Wellness has revived life on the plateau, making it a hotspot for incentive groups.

Photo Credit: Monti Hotel & Wellness

11. HIDDEN GUEST: Sheraton Astana Hotel
4.89 GOLD City Meeting Hotel

Sheraton Astana meets all the expectations of a five-star hotel in the business and administrative centre of the city. The service is fantastic, and the youthful staff ensures every guest experiences the best of Kazakhstani hospitality. Even though the city boasts many international hotels, the Sheraton Astana is a safe choice, as the hotel meets all the expectations of the international hotel chain. Kazakhstan is a leading destination in Central Asia, and its hotels, including Sheraton, are no exception.

Photo Credit: Sheraton Astana

12. HIDDEN GUEST: Lua Resort
4.86 GOLD Resort Meeting Hotel

Lua Resort heralds the future of tourism for the north of Lake Balaton. The region is poised for a five-star transformation. The hotel’s architecture, quality and service are promising signs for its future. Still, a few details and consistency are what the hotel must improve to compete with the most luxurious five-star hotels. At the moment, the resort is not complete. We found the conference centre and its format particularly praiseworthy. We have no doubts that business guests have already discovered the conference centre and its uniqueness, which sets it apart from the competition near Lake Balaton.

Photo Credit: Lua Resort

13. HIDDEN GUEST: Zala Springs Golf Resort
4.85 GOLD Boutique Meeting Hotel

With its tidiness and confidence, Zala Springs Golf Resort swiftly earned recognition among event organisers. Although hotel capacities are currently limited, meeting planners can still organise mid-sized events for up to 110 attendees in the hotel and the nearby Batthyány Castle. Golfing is a reason on its own to organise corporate events here. The resort has set the bar high for other golf resorts. Zala Springs Golf Resort is a wonderland for corporate events, celebrations and other commemorations.

Photo Credit: Zala Springs Golf Resort

14. HIDDEN GUEST: Lendhotel Graz
4.84 GOLD Boutique Meeting Hotel

Amid a flood of generic hotels in Graz, the Lendhotel stands out from the competition with its innovative, unique concept. The ornate details turn heads at every step. It seems the owner is obsessed with them. All materials are quality-made and eye-catching. The hotel appears avant-garde and serves as an ideal venue for companies with an artsy DNA. Guests get all of that at a relatively affordable price.

Photo Credit: Lendhotel Graz

15. HIDDEN GUEST: Swissotel Sarajevo
4.83 GOLD City Meeting Hotel

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.

Photo Credit: Swissotel Sarajevo

16. HIDDEN GUEST: DoubleTree by Hilton Skopje
4.83 GOLD City Meeting Hotel

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.

Photo Credit: DoubleTree by Hilton Skopje

17. HIDDEN GUEST: Limak Skopje Luxury Hotel
4.82 GOLD City Meeting Hotel

Limak Skopje Luxury Hotel has already solidified its position as one of the best hotels in Skopje. Once work is finished, it will shine in all its splendour. The tiny discrepancies in execution do not mar the generally good impression, and guests must consider the hotel is located amid a construction site. The guest experience is top-tier. The hotel’s greatest advantage is the vast conference centre and the main hall with a view.

Photo Credit: Limak Skopje Luxury Hotel

18. HIDDEN GUEST: Aleksandar Palace Hotel
4.82 GOLD City Meeting Hotel

The hotel has hosted everything from the most important protocolary events and corporate meetings to weddings in Skopje. Thus, the hotel team easily tackles even the most demanding challenges. Still, the hotel is slowly ageing, and the conference centre is in dire need of renovation. The conference halls seem generic and do not follow the latest trends. However, the hotel and its enticing offer deserve praise because the establishment was the only meeting hotel in Skopje for a long time.

Photo Credit: Aleksandar Palace Hotel

19. HIDDEN GUEST: Tarčin Forest Resort and Spa – MGallery Hotel Collection
4.79 SILVER Resort Meeting Hotel

Every time we visit the hotel, we are stunned by the style that has proven excellent for event organisation. The hotel design is perfect for smaller incentive groups who can choose among plenty of activities in the green surroundings. Tarčin Forest Resort and Spa is a quality hotel that could become excellent with some coordinated effort. Although it is among Sarajevo’s leading hotel establishments, it will need to earn five stars by improving hotel service and becoming recognised on the international market, where the Accor MGallery brand is positioned.

Photo Credit: Tarčin Forest Resort and Spa - MGallery Hotel

20. HIDDEN GUEST: Habakuk Hotel
4.78 SILVER Resort Meeting Hotel

The hotel was in dire need of a thorough renovation, both technology-wise (kitchen, restaurant and wellness) and architecture-wise. If you ever stayed at Habakuk Hotel in the past, you will now enter a hotel with a distinctly different character. The architecture, design and quality of materials are premium and could easily be mistaken for a five-star hotel. That is – when guests stay in the renovated rooms. With the new architectural look, the management now has an excellent platform on their hands that they can build on. Still, everything depends on the staff, who should go the extra mile to make the hotel one of Slovenia’s leading. The refurbished hotel heralds good news for local event organisers.

Photo credits: Hotel Habakuk

21. HIDDEN GUEST: MJUS WORLD Resort & Thermal Park
4.75 SILVER Spa Meeting Hotel

When evaluating this hotel, we must not forget that a factory once stood in its place. As we mentioned, the transformation was a resounding success. Altogether, the hotel is utterly convincing. That is no surprise, as the Italian owners manage the hotel with love and attention to detail. We see the hotel as an excellent choice for organisers of incentive events. There is also room for unusual wishes, such as a private pool party. The hotel stands out from the competition because of its alluring event space. In our opinion, MJUS WORLD Resort & Thermal Park is a hotel that exceeds guests’ expectations of the hotel and its location. The best things in life are hidden from the eyes – undoubtedly true for Mjus.

Photo Credit: Aljaž Čad

22. HIDDEN GUEST: Cool Mama Salzburg
4.74 SILVER City Meeting Hotel

Although the impressive urinals with cityscape views are cool, they are not enough for Cool Mama Salzburg to become the leading hipster hotel in the city. With a broad selection of similar hotels, the hotel was sure to become the coolest in Salzburg. Yet, there is a long way to the top, and the hotel lacks excellent service to edge out its competition. In that light, we are not sure the hotel service justifies the hotel name. The management has plenty of work to make their nomen an omen. Otherwise, the hotel is a decent conference hotel that complements the capacities of the neighbouring Salzburg Messe.

Photo Credit: Cool Mama Salzburg

All the evaluated hotels will compete to win the Meetings Star Awards in February. The competition, honouring the best meeting hotels, destinations and influencers will take place as part of Conventa 2024 (21 – 22 February 2024).

Learn more about the Meetings Star Awards here

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