Borovets ski review: A ski trip with young kids
Hey y’all. So we’ve been back from Bulgaria for a while; maybe we’ve unpacked everything or maybe we’ve put an entire case of ski stuff up the loft ‘cos we can’t be bothered? You’ll just have to guess. Now we are back and our legs have stopped aching, we can tell you what to expect if you fancy skiing in Bulgaria; this is our Borovets ski review.
Borovets ski review: Summary
To summarise, it was awesome. We had an amazing week, loved the resort and just had a grand old time. If you want to ask us anything specific about skiing in Borovets with kids leave us a comment, ping us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop us a DM over on Insta cos we basically live on that thing, yo. In the meantime, here’s the good, the bad and the ugly from the ski resort of Borovets:
Travel time: The flight was 3 hours from London Gatwick to Sofia airport, which is more than do-able with kids (iPads and Haribo, amirite?). It was then a 90 minute coach ride to the resort; the kids were shattered as our flight had been delayed so they struggled with this, but for us parents it was lovely to be able to drive through the countryside and see Bulgarian villages in all their snowy cuteness.
The price: We stayed at the Samakov hotel around 100m from the main slope, on a half board basis for one week. With flights, transfers, lift passes, ski hire and ski school, this came to around £2000 via Neilson, which is extremely good value for a skiing holiday.
Borovets snow: Borovets snow was good; actually it was great. Apparently it was the best for 20 years which is funny because that’s the last time I came to the resort as a kid, and I remember the powder being great then, too. The moral of the story? I’m a Borovets snow good-luck charm; you need me on your ski breaks, people.
The skiing: There is a very good variety of runs from absolute beginner to off-piste for experts. There are extremely steep black runs all the way down to gently sloping runs through quiet woodland, and everything in between. The kids snow-bunnied around on the nursery slopes with Patrick, getting their ski-feet for the first time. When Patrick and I hit the slopes we like to go a bit hectic and got up early a few times to be the first down the runs, which was magical. There are several chair lifts and button lifts and a gondola that takes you on a breathtaking 30 minute ride to the top of the mountain. Ski school was included in our holiday package but we only bothered with it once as we are crazy-mad rebels and we really enjoyed having some ski-dates with just the two of us (is there anything sexier than seeing your spouse absolutely nail a sport and looking like some total James Bond-esque snowy mirage? No, there is not).
The size of the resort: Borovets is small, which means that you are never too far away from your hotel or villa. After a long day in ski boots this is an important aspect of a ski holiday as you don’t want to trek with sore feet for ages to peel off your kit! We stayed at the Samakov and managed to ski to within 50m of the hotel; if you stay at the Rila you’ll be able to ski right up to your door!
The food: We love rustic, authentic food and proper Bulgarian food is a real treat. Imagine a cross between Greek and French food, perhaps? Hearty soups, stews and hot breads, all freshly made at the local tavernas and cooked on open fireplaces in the middle of the room, were our mid-piste treat. In the half-board or all-inclusive hotels the food probably won’t be as good but it is cheap to eat out.
Overdevelopment of the resort: It really makes me sad when global sandwich chains and knock-off Mexican restaurants start popping up in places with their own valuable, unique and attractive culture. However there is also a kind of upside to this which is that if you need familiarity when travelling with kids, you have the option of popping into Subway and ordering something that you know will comfort them and that they will definitely eat!
Customer service: This is a notion that seems to have skipped over some of the Borovets tourism industry. When our bath flooded across the bathroom floor, it took two phone calls to reception before they came to fix the plumbing, and when we needed to contact our Neilson rep they were completely unhelpful. They just aren’t that customer-focused. Our kids did not like the brusk manner of the ski teachers, but I went to ski school here as a kid and loved it; it depends on your kid and the teacher. I had remembered from previous visits and it doesn’t bother our family at all; however some British and American guests were struggling to cope.
The kids’ club: The kids were entitled to daily ski lessons and the services of the kids’ club. However the manner of the teachers wasn’t the most warm and reassuring and for a child who hasn’t skied before, being made to put on the really uncomfortable boots and ski gear and carry their own skis to the slopes, it might be too overwhelming. In the kids’ club in the Samakov there were hardly any toys, MTV was playing in the corner (super inappropriate videos) and workers from the ski schools were allowed to wander in and out, so I didn’t feel at all comfortable leaving my kids there. They had a far better time playing in the snow with Patrick and I, and with him teaching them to ski. There are other clubs to choose from though so it may be that other schools are better; private one-on-one lessons may also be a good idea.
Strip clubs/ brothels: We saw three of these on the high street of the resort. Not much more to say other than wouldn’t it be nice if they didn’t need to exist at all? When we came twenty years ago (I was seven) there were lots of sex workers in the lobby of our hotel; now they seem to all be in the establishments. We are hoping that this means more regulation and protection for the women; in reality we have no idea.
In summary, our family ski holiday to Borovets was a fantastic adventure and we would thoroughly recommend it to those families who want to ski with kids on a budget. We recommend booking private accommodation as it is cheap to eat out, the food is better in the cafes than the hotels, and if you have skied before then the ski school that is often included in packages is a waste of money. During our six months of full time travel across Asia and now living in Bali, we use Booking.com or Hotels Combined to get great value family accommodation, and we recommend you do the same.
Disclaimer: We booked and paid for our holiday ourselves; all opinions, as ever, are our own. This Borovets ski review post contains affiliate links that make us a small commission at no cost to you.