I've just returned from a long weekend in Albania. I went with my sister Rosemary as she had never been to the country before and I wanted to show her what an amazing place it is. We had a really fabulous time, and I wanted to share with you a hotel recommendation if you are planning to visit Durres.
Durres is a very old city - it was founded by Greek colonists from Corcyra and Corinth as Epidamnus and a dispute over its relationship with its mother city was one of the causes of the Peloponnesian War. In Roman times it was known as Dyrrachiuim and amongst other things was a backdrop for Caesar and Pompey's struggles in the Civil War, with Pompey landing his troops there. It was the start of the Via Egnatia, the famous Roman road that led to Byzantium (Istanbul), and later Venetian Durazzo. So there is plenty to see there, and it is also a good base for day trips to other places of interest.
We stayed at the Aragosta hotel in Durres. The hotel is on a relatively quiet street, the Rruga Taulantia, and is ideally situated for walking into the town to see the Byzantine walls, late Roman Forum and Roman Amphitheatre, and of course the archaeological museum. Some parts of the town get really busy in high season, but this is a little out of the really crowded beach areas and situated so that you can sit on the terrace and enjoy the beautful sunset whilst overlooking the beach, which is not very wide but very well maintained and clean. As a guest at the hotel you can reserve an umbrella and sunbeds on the beach at no extra cost - and it gets busy onthe beach so if you are there in high season and you want to use the beach you must make sure you reserve a space.
Staff at the hotel speak English and the rooms are well-equipped and furnished to a very high standard. Breakfast can be eaten on the terrace overlooking the beach and is substantial (including bacon and eggs!) The restaurant is also excellent, and reasonably priced. For more information and to book, have a look at the website http://www.aragosta.al/.
I think that this is the only time I have been quoted a price online which had actually gone down when I came to pay. It really was very good value and I would highly recommend it as a base for visiting Durres and the surrounding areas.