Lifestyle & Culture

Kalina Varbanova: Bulgaria has it all for a romantic St. Valentine’s Day or even a winter wedding

This is the month of love and romance is front of mind in Bulgaria. February is not just cold and winter … it’s a time for candlelight, dining and romance. And hey, why not get married? In Bulgaria you can have it all – feasts, wines and Valentines. The 14th of February in Bulgaria is St. Trifon Zarezan – patron of vines and winery celebrated by the Orthodox Christians. And of course, it’s St. Valentine’s Day, celebrated by Roman Catholics and, well, just about everybody around the world.

In every sweets shop and bakery serves heart shaped cookies and cakes. Hotels and restaurants offer special St.Valentine’s events. Love is in the air, the perfect moment to get married in an exotic place whether it be on a ski slope or in a fancy Sofia hotel.

Of course there are people who are not fans of St. Valentines Day or Cupid’s arrow. In Bulgaria this is isn’t a problem because 14 February is also St. Trifon Zarezan’s day – a day for celebrating wines. Many restaurants and taverns offer special traditional events.

Let’s look at a few five-star options because compared to most of Europe, Bulgaria is the land of the affordable good life:

Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena Bansko

The Geneva-based Kempinski chain of 5-star hotels and spas stretches from Mongolia to Djibouti. And of course there’s one in Bulgaria.

Bansko is deep in the mountains of western Bulgaria, about two-hours drive south of Sofia. This is Bulgaria’s most famous ski resort and the hotel is next door to the gondola station, located in a perfect wintry setting.

The Kempinski is also about a 15-minute walk from the Old City, the city center, shopping and dining.

Expect five-star service and and an upscale menu here. The surrounding Pirin Mountains are the view outside The Gallery Restaurant or Bella Vista Bar & Lounge.

As with most 5-star hotels, the Kempinski offers special wedding packages and services. And there’s an “Irresistible Escapes” 20-percent off offer that coincides with Valentines Day.

Ratings

Kempinski Bansko gets 4. 5 stars out of 5 on TripAdvisor, with the vast majority of the 1,118 reviews very positive, especially glowing about the setting and about the location adjacent the ski complex.

Kempinski The Spa

This is at the hotel, so it’s also a 5-star experience.

The brand new spa features a Finnish sauna, herbal sauna, infrared cabin, experience showers, “deep digital detox” area (whatever that is), and aroma steam bath, laconicum (dry heat), one indoor and two outdoor swimming pools, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi, fitness centre and a snow room (we hesitate to even hazard a guess about this).

There are Thai massages, seasonal treatments and beauty procedures with all natural cosmetic products.

Read more here about Bulgaria’s spas.

Get married on the slopes

Though unusual, it’s not unheard of for people to get married right on the slopes at Pamporovo, a large ski complex south of Plovdiv.

A few years ago, Father Stanimir who serves in Pamporovo church, married an English couple – Christopher Brown and Catherine Green – at a Pamporovo ski resort. Father Stanimir arrived on skis and invitees included other skiers who happened to be gliding by.

Just a thought ….

Of course, if you’re not a skier, Pamporovo also has wedding hotels amid the snowy landscapes.  

Check out Dispatches’ post about skiing in Bulgaria here. Most destinations have great skiing at half the cost of Switzerland … or less.

We’ve seen 3-day online special includes lift tickets, ski school and equipment rentals for about 125 euros, or about the cost of one lift ticket in Switzerland. A studio apartment at the Saint George will run you about 220 euros … for FIVE nights!

Big city love

Dispatches has written a lot about Bulgaria and the co-founder’s sister is a big Sofia fan.

If you’re looking for an upscale St. Valentine’s Day getaway, the Hotel Hilton Sofia has the perfect location in the heart of the city.  Weddings make up a big portion of their business and they have special packages.

The hotel offers spa and fitness facilities. And there’s a Valentines Special on their Facebook page.

Ratings:

The Hilton gets 4.5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor in 1,706 reviews, with mostly positive comments about the location and rooms.

By the way, the chi-chi Grand Hotel Sofia has a “Blaze of Love” package for St. Valentine’s Day that includes dinner.

Finally, if you want a cutting-edge design experience, Sofia has the new Sense Hotel Sofia, Bulgaria’s first design hotel. The Sense Hotel has a spa and a rooftop bar for panoramic city views.

Of course, there’s a St. Valentines Day dinner special at Sense for 90 lev, or about 46 euros.

We’re just scratching the surface when it comes to romantic events. Send us your suggestions at: terry@dispatcheseurope.com

And as Sting would say, “Stand up all you lovers in the world … stand up and be counted, every boy and every girl.”

About the author:

Kalina Varbanova freelance journalist based in Varna, Bulgaria.

Kalina’s interests include culture, tourism, archeology and politics.

(Editor’s note: Terry Boyd also contributed to this post.)

See all of Kalina’s posts from Bulgaria here.

Also, see why we love Bulgaria here.

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