27 May 2009

Kosovo - Pristina

Whatever you think the status of Kosovo is (independent, not, don't care, have never heard of Kosovo), a major tourist destination it is not, despite there actually being a guidebook to Kosovo and having been a travel write-up in the WSJ in June 2008 (do people pitch these ideas over late night drinks?). But given the large international presence, and given that omitting it leaves an obvious hole in the region, here we go. Remember, Pristina is only 1 ½ hours drive from Skopje, and about 4-5 hours to either Ohrid or Thessaloniki. Oh and, surprisingly perhaps, the restaurant scene is not bad.

Airport Pristina
(038)548 900
About 16 km from the city. Not sure how up to date the website is. Remember if you fly into Pristina you will have to go south to Skopje and then around if you want to head to Belgrade.

Hotel Ambasador

Rr. Ardian Krasniqi 1
038/248 300
If the Royal is booked then call Ambasador (even if they can’t spell). Located just by the Swiss Embassy, they have more rooms than the Royal but no outside pool terrace. Free wifi and better breakfast than Royal.

Hotel Baci
Rr Nëne Terezë (at traffic circle)
038/548 356/7/9
Better than Victory or Grand, the main problem with Baci is that the rooms on the front side of the hotel can be loud all night due to the location on the main traffic circle at the end of Mother Theresa street. However, if Royal and Ambassador are booked, this might be your next call.

Hotel Grand

Rr Nëne Terezë
038/220 004
Hotel “Not-so-Grand”. At least it has water and its own generators so power is almost consistent. The lobby used to be the place to be seen, assuming you were either a member of the (formally defunct) UÇK or the mafia. Editorial staff would not recommend taking the website at face value –it opens with the statement “Located in the charming premier shopping and business district of Prishtina and set to amid [sic]the lushness of the "Mother Teresa" main road....”

Hotel Pejton

Rr. Pashko Vasa 14a
038/222 204 (landline) or 044/30 80 80 (Vala cellphone)
Miniscule hotel located next to the Hotel Prishtina, with exceedingly nice (and for the most part exceedingly attractive) staff and free wifi. Clean, new, comfortable, but basic, and a location that puts you in walking distance of everything.

Hotel Royal
Pashko Vasa 3
038/220 902 or 903
44 room hotel in the Pejton neighborhood just a few minutes walk from the ‘centre’ of town, this is by far the best hotel in Pristina (Hotel Ambassador being the runner-up, but their location isn’t as good). Small pool in the courtyard, which is really only good as a backdrop to drinks given its size, but that’s still something. Nicole Kidman stayed here when she was in Pristina as Goodwill Ambassador or whatever she does.

Hotel Victory
Rr Nëne Terezë p.n.
038/543 257, 543 277
You can’t miss it – there is a replica Statue of Liberty on top. The rooms are clean but done in a horrific “style” - blue velveteen with gold trim on all the bathroom pieces. Oversized sink and – yes – toilet (why?).


Rr. Rexhep Mala 39
044/161 713, 038/239 535
Pasta and pizza at this modest but solid restaurant up the hill from the Ombudsman’s office – a favorite of some of our Dutch friends. The name is somewhat unfortunate, given that when pronounced as the Americans do, it sounds remarkably like ANA - a small terrorist group sporadically mucking about Albania, Macedonia, and Kosovo.

De Rada
Rr. UCK 5o
038 222 622
Popular Italian restaurant located midway between OSCE HQ and the Government Building – which may explain part of the popularity, but the food does not disappoint.

Gazmend Zahmi (former Dubrovniku) 1 (next to the underground hypermarket)
038 220 739
Outstanding continental restaurant, possibly the most expensive in Prishtina but given the quality of the food it is certainly worth it. The lightly fried spinach leaves are amazing, and the homemade ravioli is strongly recommended.

Thai Restaurant
behind Times Café (near UNMIK HQ)
(044) 140 791 thairestaurant@hotmail.com
The food is really Thai, although reports are it has gone downhill. The owner has fresh ingredients flown in from Europe.

Too Thai
Alleyway across from OSCE HQ
(044)249 451
Another Thai restaurant. Arguments over which is superior.

Rr. Fehmi Agani (across from OSCE)
038/345 841
Good steaks, tolerable burritos, and convenient location. Claims to be an “international” restaurant whatever that means but they do have a large variety of items and it is generally to be trusted. Large portions.

Hemingway (044)145 637 Kroni i Bardhe nr 9
Seafood imported from Albania. Small, pleasant restaurant with fairly good service. Check out that portrait done on fish.

Oddysea Bakery
This small French café and bakery in Pejton is something of a mystery – why here? Possibly the best pastries in the region.

Rr. Fehmi Agani (behind UNMIK Department of Justice/across from Kaca Bar)
Grilled things, they'll cook just about whatever you order. Run by the brother of the Renaissance proprietor. Great for meat!

Amazing seafood and meat at this quaint restaurant. Possibly one of the better restaurants in the region – truly. No fixed menu, with the offer changing based on the market, but the fresh salads and grilled meats/veggies are always good. They give you 5 or 6 little starters too, like smoked bacon, olives with scallions, eggplant dip, spicy cheeses, anchovies, prosciutto with melon, etc. to go with their amazing flatbread. Beautiful music too, usually jazz.

Pellagonia – Veternik
044/347 777
Nouvelle Kosovar – worth the short drive out of Pristina to try the varied menu, which includes seafood, pasta, and game. Interior is superior to Pjata. To get there head out on the Pristina-Skopje road, then take the exit to Gjilan/Gračanica. It is just past the Gorenje complex on the right (you’ll see the sign and then turn right – it’s about 100 m off the road).

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