Katarino Spa resort near Bansko gained legendary status amongst Bulgarians when it opened five years ago or so. It was the place to go. Thinking why the hell I should be bothered to go there when Mountain Residence 3 satisfies, I was lucky enough to be offered a trip there as part of a team weeekend in March; well I could do with a change, and a chance to relax with a swim and a massage in Katarino's spa was too good a chance to miss.
There's no doubt why Katarino was built where it was, the view of the Pirin are probably the best I have seen - stunning. Receptionists were friendly and efficient - a good start. The seating area with log fires was all very calming and frankly more impressively alpine in feel than the Kempinski Grand Arena equivalent.
Four stars implies some degree of finesse when it comes to one's room. So first disappointment was the smell of cigarettes. After a quick call to reception another room with fag odour was offered and the view was even more stunning up a few floors. The views of Pirin and the hills in front made up for what I would call a tired room. Carpet tiles were past their sell by date and the bathroom was good but not Kempinski standard.
Below, there was a predominance of Bulgarians from Sofia relaxing with their families so a visit to the spa was a must and this is where the Katarino scores - a spa that really is special. A pleasant indoor pool and an outdoor pool accessed a few steps (still inside) from the indoor pool. With big glass panels and those views if you cant unwind here you might as well give up. A superb facial and it was time to meet friends for dinner.
The choice was either the buffet or restaurant section. We tried the buffet which was good, for a hotel, and the variety would be more than enough for most. Once you are here it would take a drive to go anywhere else and that is the point of Katarino Hotel and Spa, once you are there why bother moving.
The popularity throughout the year, especially at weekends with Bulgarians means that Katarino has benefited from its superb Spa. However the bar has been raised with many new luxury hotels, apartments and chalets to rent in Bansko that I suspect that, unless the rooms are updated soon, then they may lose some regular clients. As a destination day spa and if you fancy a break from skiing, its your better half's birthday, or you need a holiday indulgence, then Katarino's spa in well worth a visit. 7.5/10 (9/10 for Spa)