Home Home away from home5 stars Winter at Grand Hotel Therme, near Bansko, Bulgaria

Winter at Grand Hotel Therme, near Bansko, Bulgaria

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We adore the feeling of getting out into the cold barefoot, taking a few icy steps, slowly stepping into the hot water and diving into timelessness to enjoy every moment of rest while looking at the snow-capped mountain peaks in front of us. Today we will tell you a story involving a quick travel decision, hot pools and a favorite hotel, where we are going for the second time – Grand Hotel Therme in the village of Banya,near Bansko, Bulgaria.

The new outdoor pool of Grand Hotel Therme in the village of Banya
The new outdoor pool of Grand Hotel Therme in the village of Banya

Our articles about hotels are very personal, but also a reason to add to our Hotels section, where we share recommendations for favourite places to stay and relax. For us the hotel is one of the most important parts of the trip. And if you travel frequently like us, you will probably agree that it is hard to leave the comfort of home if the road does not lead you to a nice place.

The only thing missing in our December Christmas story is the white fluffy snow, which had evaporated just before our appearance, Santa Claus, who had probably passed by here the previous days and we missed him. But that didn’t harm our pleasure. So we entered the spacious lobby of the Grand Hotel Therme with the two kids and immersed into the holiday spirit. We dreamed of returning here in winter, after our first visit in August 2023. And here we are on the last day of Christmas, enjoying a wonderful family gift. We left the kids by the fireplace and headed to the reception;

In the common areas of the hotel there are always enough places to play
In the common areas of the hotel there are always enough places to play

Just as any sugar-coated story would begin, ours will also sound like this: “Like in fairy tales, miracles happen completely unexpectedly and always at the right moment.” The idea of ​​coming here came quite unexpectedly, when we really needed some refreshment and had no other plans for the holidays besides board games with the children at home. Until on a Friday afternoon, while driving and getting ready for the vacation that starts in hours, we got a surprise call from a beloved partner who invited us to visit him again, in January. The invitation was irresistible, but thew us in a bit of a tizzy because our January schedule is arranged in a particularly inconvenient way. After a frantic rethinking of options, we arrive at a dynamic solution – we can fit in between Christmas and New Year. By some miracle, an apartment was available for us, and in the fastest way we collected our luggage and headed to the Grand Hotel Terme for 3 days, still in disbelief that things somehow turned out well again.

Our road to the village of Banya passes by Avramovo railway station, the highest railway station in the Balkans, through which the Rhodope narrow-gauge railway also passes. One of the few places where we found snow and stopped so the kids could play for a while.
Our road to the village of Banya passes by Avramovo railway station, the highest railway station in the Balkans, through which the Rhodope narrow-gauge railway also passes. One of the few places where we found snow and stopped so the kids could play for a while.

Grand Hotel Therme – the Christmas town of miracles

After almost 4 hours of travelling, we reach the hotel, which looks more like a Santa Claus village. Christmas carols, cozy decorations, trees and bells and lots and lots of warmth from the lit fireplaces. Through the windows of the main building you can see the wooden houses lined up next to it with picturesque green alleys between them. The kids are ecstatic and even us adults who don’t like too much sugary talk feel very comfortable. The hotel is really transformed, compared to our impressions of the summer.

One of our many photos of the magnificent fireplace
One of our many photos of the magnificent fireplace
The spacious atrium to the Grand Hotel Therme restaurant
The spacious atrium to the Grand Hotel Therme restaurant
Christmas at Grand Hotel Therme
Christmas at Grand Hotel Therme

In addition to the wonderful decorations everywhere, there are also new amenities and pampering for the guests that set the mood. Champagners with well-chilled sparkling wines quickly attract our attention, and we do not wonder much before trying them. It turns out that they are new addition to the All Inclusive package and we enjoy them until the end of the vacation. Cotton candy is served at the pastry shop, and marshmallow candies contribute to the season mood.

Sparkling from breakfast to dinner - why not?
Sparkling wine from breakfast to dinner – why not?

Winter news from Grand Hotel Therme

Only 4 months have passed since our first visit here, but new things and improvements are everywhere. Anna and Adriana feel at home, they already know the hotel better than we do and they enthusiastically dive into the world of the All Inclusive concept. We notice a positive change in the quality and variety of the food, although there was nothing to complain about in August either. As soon as the children enter the restaurant, they notice the Spanish ham jamon standing proudly on its stand and rush to try it. Delicacies are all around us and we can’t miss the beautifully arranged plates, although the All Inclusive format has its own peculiarities in terms of serving and aesthetics.

All Inclusive is the format that works best for us when it comes to visiting a restaurant with children.
All Inclusive is the format that works best for us when it comes to visiting a restaurant with children.
Ready suggestions for breakfast - toast with avocado
Ready suggestions for breakfast – toast with avocado

We love following the history of the places we are writing about and it’s great to see how they develop and change over time. And besides all other travel experiences, we have special attitude to the Hospitality itself. In other words, do we really feel good when we are not at home?

Once a month the hotel organizes themed culinary dinners with famous guest chefs. During our visit, there was a culinary workshop for traditional local delicacies with Baba Deshka’s team, in which our children also participated.

The workshop with Baba Deshka ended with a cheerful folklore program
The workshop ended with a cheerful folklore program

New: Pulse Therme Spa

Something new and great has opened at the Grand Hotel Therme in the past months. Namely the second Pulse Therme spa center. If in the previous article we told that the existing relaxation areas are spacious and comfortable, with various amenities, then Pulse Therme raises the experience to an even higher level.

The Pulse Therme outdoor pool
The Pulse Therme outdoor pool
The outdoor pool at Pulse Therme
The outdoor pool at Pulse Therme

The spa center has an area of ​​3,000 square meters and includes numerous pools and thermal areas. At the time of our visit, it was not fully completed and only the first level was functional. But we learned that literally every week something new opens. For those looking for absolute rest and relaxation, we’re happy to say that the entire Pulse Therme spa center is for adults (16+) only . If you came with children – leave them in the children’s corner or in the room, depending on the age, and enjoy. In fact, we too can appreciate 1 hour of peace without other children around.

The Pulse Therme is as magical a place as the main hotel building. It is reachable by a long arched corridor with a decorated ceiling. It takes us to a spacious aqua area with .. um.. several indoor pools and one huge outdoor one divided into zones. And although all the pools are formally in one room, they offer great privacy and each a different mood.

One of the pools at Pusle Therme at sunset
The panoramic pool at Pusle Therme at sunset
And the same place early in the morning, even before the first guests arrived
And the same place early in the morning, even before the first guests arrived

The larger one has French windows and a view of the courtyard of the complex. Opposite it is smaller pool with romantic lighting. Behind it in a secluded niche is the Kneipp path. This one is unexpectedly and pleasantly deeper than other similar facilities we have used. A great toning experience.

The pool with a starry night ceiling
The pool with a starry night ceiling

This SPA area is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

We move towards the exit and stop at a small cozy pool with a burning fireplace – an unexpected and exciting experience in an aquatic center. On the other side is the spacious lavender sauna overlooking the outdoor pool.

A pool with a fireplace - why not?
A pool with a fireplace in Pulse Terme – a rare and very attractive experience

The pool and the frost

A step outside is the huge outdoor pool with views of the snow-capped mountain peaks, which quickly became our favourite. As we mentioned at the beginning, we adore the feeling of going out into the cold, taking a few icy steps, slowly stepping into the hot water covered in clouds of steam, enjoying every moment of warmth and spending hours there.

Night at the pool - Pulse Therme
Night at the pool – Pulse Therme

A very positive thing here is that the water in the village of Banya is mineral, but tonic and does not make you feel tired and exhausted after a stay. That’s why we can stay in it for a long time.

Mimi
Mimi

The outdoor pool is divided into numerous areas of varying depth, seating and deeper swimming areas, as well as hydromassage facilities. Adjacent to it are also areas with cold water, which, although they were not very popular, there were enthusiasts using them. One early morning, Andrey witnessed a fun competition between three swimming enthusiasts in cold water at an outside temperature of around 0 degrees.

The pool from above - Pulse Therme in the Grand Hotel Therme in the village of Banya, near Bansko, Bulgaria
The pool from above – Pulse Therme in the Grand Hotel Therme in the village of Banya, near Bansko, Bulgaria
Night by the pool
Night by the pool

Pool Party in Winter – Oh yes!

The fact that it is 0 degrees outside and it is already dark at 5 p.m. is not at all an obstacle to organizing a real party at the outdoor pool. Not at Pulse Therme. Every Friday and Saturday night, the pool turns into a DJ party scene with great club music and disco lighting. It starts shortly after dusk – it had already started at around 5pm during our visit. Pulse Terme is open until 9 p.m., so there is time to enjoy the experience to the fullest.

Frozen moments by the pool
Frozen moments by the pool

APERI THERME restaurant – the brunch spot by the pool

On the second floor of Pulse Therme there is also a place to eat – the brunch restaurant Aperi Therme. It’s open daily from 11am to 5pm, which is almost a pity because it’s so cosy, with fireplaces and a terrace with a great view of the pool, it sounds like a great place for an evening drink. In fact, it sometimes hosts special events, but not everyday, for now.

Aperi Therme restaurant overlooking the pool
Aperi Therme restaurant overlooking the pool
Brunch offers at the new Aperi Therme restaurant
Brunch offers at the new Aperi Therme restaurant

Access to Pulse Therme for external guests

Something you’ll want to remember about Pulse Therme is that it can be visited by external guests for a daily or half-day fee . So if you are in Banya, Bansko and the surrounding area, you can easily come and enjoy everything here.

Mom, Dad, where are you?

We are thankful that our kids are now at an age where we can let them out on their own around the complex for an hour to relax in the adults only areas. But it’s always important to us to keep the whole family happy, so our blissful stroll around the Pulse Therme is interrupted at some point by two kids, dressed in bathing suits and bathrobes and ready to splash. So we quickly slip out of the new spa and go into the hotel’s main one, where all family members are welcome.

Let's go to the pool!
Let’s go to the pool!

And here in winter the feeling is completely different. The outdoor pools by the river are our favorite place, where Andrey spends hours reading a book and the children play.

We all love outdoor pools in cold weather, and the ones at Grand Hotel Therme are at the perfect temperature so we don't freeze, but don't overheat either
We all love outdoor pools in cold weather, and the ones at Grand Hotel Therme are at the perfect temperature so we don’t freeze, but don’t overheat either

We are amazed to discover that Adriana has grown enough to reach the bottom in both the outdoor and indoor pools, and we are much more relaxed about letting them play on their own while we watch from the side. It’s nice to see children growing up.

The indoor pool in the family area is about a meter deep and very suitable for children
The indoor pool in the family area is about a meter deep and very suitable for children
The area by the windows is deeper and suitable for swimming
The area by the windows is deeper and suitable for swimming. On the other side of the window is the outdoor pool next to the river
It is because of these happy faces that we enjoy traveling with children
Sometimes we parents really wish we could just run away alone somewhere, but this place is crying out for you to come with the kids

The ambiance in the Grand Hotel Therme

As I write this title, I feel a little weird to mention the name of the hotel so often, but calling something simply “the hotel” is a little annoying to me. Well, in the Grand Hotel Therme, everything is like the time between Christmas and New Year, still festive Christmas decorations, garlands, Christmas trees and a pleasant mood. Every evening we sat in front of the fireplace, played board games, the children were in the children’s corner, which is open until 10 p.m., although we would appreciate more organized children’s animation. But the children found new friends and had fun.

The fireplace from which it looks like Santa will fall at any moment
The fireplace from which it looks like Santa will fall at any moment

There are two main restaurants in the hotel. The larger and the livelier – The main restaurant . Only once did we have to wait for a table.

The main restaurant of Grand Hotel Therme
The main restaurant of Grand Hotel Therme
In the main restaurant there is Show Cooking every day and the chefs create a great atmosphere
In the main restaurant there is Show Cooking every day and the chefs create a great atmosphere

All day Alpine Restaurant – the restaurant that many people use to eat during their stay at the pool and if they miss meals in the main one. Actually the food here is exactly the same and the place is very nice. The restaurant is open until 2am. at night and we used to use it for a late dinner.

Alpine Restaurant in Grand Hotel Therme
Alpine Restaurant in Grand Hotel Therme

Rose Restaurant is the A-la-cart restaurant where we can see some people working on their computer during the day. But the place just invites us to try an a-la-carte dinner. We’ll try it some day.

And the new APERI THERME we mentioned above.

Aperi Therme Restaurant
Aperi Therme Restaurant

Our room

On our first stay we were on the second floor very close to the main restaurant overlooking the adult-only pool next. This time we stayed in the brand new 6th sector (7th to come). We had an apartment consisting of a living room with two sofas on which the children slept, and a bedroom.

The rooms are super nice and this one faced the river which had a nice hum when we opened the windows (winter just for a little while).

The children's room, which is otherwise a wonderful living room - Grand Hotel Therme
The children’s room, which is otherwise a wonderful living room – room 6204

For navigation: sector 1 is next to the reception and SPA area, sector 2 starts from the main restaurant. For the 3rd section, you pass the sweet shop and go up some stairs. Between 2 and 3 and the river there is a small pleasant garden with a children’s playground. Sections 4 to 7 follow, and the higher the number, the further you have to walk for the SPA area. But it gets quieter.

Grand Hotel Therme and the holiday village around it from the air
Grand Hotel Therme and the holiday village around it, seen from the air. Reception and Sector 1 are in the building on the right, and Sector 6 is on the left.
The other adult-only pool at Grand Hotel Therme
The other adult-only pool at Grand Hotel Therme, which is open late for hotel guests

Forgot to mention this pool which is very nice and open until midnight, again for 16+. But there are so many places to talk about here that in three days we couldn’t even visit them all.

Grand Hotel Therme and the holiday village next to it, and the village of Banya
Grand Hotel Therme and the holiday village next to it, and the village of Banya. Some of the luxury cottages are also rented out and also for sale.
Sunrise over the Grand Hotel Therme and the village of Banya
Sunrise over the Grand Hotel Therme and the village of Banya and some fog and frost

A few more useful things about Grand Hotel Therme

Grand Hotel Terme has a charging station for electric cars. Hotel guests can charge for a fixed fee (BGN 25 as of December 2023). We find this a great convenience.

Fitness – a part of the well-known in Bulgaria Pulse Fitness chain, so there’s a gym here too.

Fitness Pulse Therme
Fitness Pulse Therme

There is a transfer for ski lovers to Bansko, as well as a ski locker.

The LOUNGE & WHISKEY BAR also has a smoking room, which is well-ventilated, which made a good impression for a staunch NON-SMOKER.

Evening mood by the pool for adults
Evening mood by the pool for adults

Although they have standard check-in and check-out times – from 3 pm to 12 pm, guests with the All Inclusive package can make the most of the hospitality. If you arrive before the check-in time and your room is not ready, this will not prevent you from using all the other facilities of the complex – for example, having lunch, using the spa areas, etc. If you arrived later in the afternoon or evening, on the day of departure you have the option to stay for lunch after vacating the room.

There are countless beautiful corners around the hotel
There are countless beautiful corners around the hotel

You can learn more details about Grand Hotel Therme, the concept and the main services from our first article about the complex . In the meantime, keep in mind that the site is constantly evolving.

The family photo - Andreevi
The family photo – Andreevi

You can see the prices and options at the hotel on the hotel’s website and on Booking.com .

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