1. Back from Europe: a Crazy/Amazing Rollercoaster of a Trip
Review of Popovic Apartments in Kotor, Plus Hotel Points Options in Montenegro (this post)
Before I get into the review itself, let me quickly summarize why we picked Kotor as our base in Montenegro. We had a total of seven nights, and I went back and forth on splitting it between the coast and Zabljak (a town near Durmitor National park). In the end, I’ve decided to keep it simple, as juggling a vacation with nine people of different ages is complicated enough.
As mentioned in my previous post, instead I booked a daytrip via organized tour that would include a visit to Durmitor. I felt that was a good compromise. Anyway, back to Kotor.
First and foremost, it’s a delightful compact medieval town (minus the plague), one of the best preserved in Europe. In fact, it’s a UNESCO heritage site.
There are some things you need to be aware of when staying in Kotor. First of all, if you like to sleep in, you may be out of luck. The church bells start ringing around 6-7 AM, and you can hear them all through the city. Also, many restaurants have live music until late at night. We kept hearing it in our apartment until 10:30 PM, but I’ve read that some places keep going until midnight.
So, if you have an infant, this could be an issue. We brought a couple of noise machines with us, which mostly drowned the sound. Plus, we went to sleep around 11 pm anyway, and I woke up around 6 AM on my own. The noise wasn’t a dealbreaker for my relatives either, but YMMV
If you like quiet, one decent alternative may be staying in a tiny Perast, about 20 minutes away via taxi ride or bus from Kotor. It’s a charming town, reminiscent of villages in Italy. Many say it’s the most beautiful city in Montenegro, and I tend to agree. However, Perast won’t be as convenient as Kotor if you have a packed schedule like we did. But it depends on what you plan on doing.
One more thing. If you hate cats, Kotor is not for you. They are literally everywhere. My kids are obsessed with cats, so they were in heaven.
Of course, we had to visit the Cats Museum, which had, let’s say, interesting feline-inspired art.
Popovic apartments in Kotor
I did a ton of research before settling on Popovic apartments, located inside the city walls. There were a couple of factors that influenced my decision. First and foremost, the price was very affordable. Since we had to rent three apartments for a whole week, I had to stick to a budget. I’ve looked into renting a vacation rental that would fit all nine of us, but couldn’t find a good option. Either the bedding situation wasn’t what we needed, or it had only one bathroom to share for everyone.
For about the same price, I could get three apartments, each with its own bathroom, washing machine, as well as separate entrance. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but at the end of the day, we were all happy to have some privacy. Plus, the apartments were located in the buildings right next to each other, so it was easy to walk over when needed. The total cost worked out to be a bit more than $1,400 for the week, including all taxes.
Keep in mind that you can reserve these apartments via Booking.com, but you have to pay cash (in euros) when you get there. You can withdraw money from the ATM or like me, order some euros to get shipped through FEDEX via this website The rate wasn’t quite as good as I could have gotten via ATM withdrawal, but it was one less thing to worry about upon arrival.
Our apartment consisted of two bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen and the living room. The sofa can be turned into a sleeper, so the apartment can potentially fit six guests. But it will be tight.
It was a bit over 800 square feet total, and suited the four of us just fine. Be aware, there is no coffeemaker. I just brought a small one with us, and it was sufficient.
The kitchen even had a tiny dishwasher
There were two A/C units, one in the guest bedroom, and the other one in the living room. As a result, we kept the master bedroom’s door open in order to let the cool air in.
The apartment was pretty basic, but it had everything we needed to be comfortable. A washing machine was a huge plus. The best thing about the apartment was, of course, its location.
For $85 per night all-in, I consider this place a steal. I would stay again, for sure.
While our apartment was rather basic inside, my parents’ studio did have a bit more character to it. It had a beautiful courtyard and original stone walls inside.
The description said that it was built in the 13th century.
The studio had all the modern conveniences inside, including A/C
My apologies for the mess inside. My parents arrived in Kotor exhausted at 11 pm at night, so taking photos then wasn’t a priority. Even so, can you believe I paid only $55 per night for this place?
One thing I should add is that when I booked it, I didn’t realize there were steps involved. I thought their apartment was on the first floor, but apparently, in Kotor it actually means second floor.
It wasn’t too bad for my dad, though he did struggle with steps the first time. But that was probably due to being exhausted from flying. He seemed fine the rest of the week. But if someone in your party has issues with mobility, make sure to research your lodging situation. Medieval cities were not exactly designed for folks with disabilities. We just walked slowly, so dad could keep up.
I didn’t take photos of my sister’s apartment, but it was similar to my parents’. It was located on the third floor of the building, and you could catch a glimpse of the bay from it.
A few words about the owner (Lazar). He was absolutely wonderful! I’ve never dealt with such a responsive landlord. He was actually the one who picked us up from Dubrovnik airport when we missed our flight to Tivat, and charged half of what other transfer companies wanted.
He also took care of us when we needed a ride to the local beach. Plus, he provided a roundtrip transfer for my family from/to Podgorica (1.5 hours away) where they flew from Istanbul. When I asked him where we could buy a fishing rod for my dad, he loaned us his at no cost.
Lazar speaks decent English, and I highly recommend doing business with him if you want a smooth holiday. Just keep reasonable expectations and don’t expect luxury for $55 per night. And no, I don’t get paid anything to recommend his apartments. I just happen to think they represent a great deal.
Lazar even arranged a 15% discount with a restaurant located in the same square, called Konoba Roma. A decent place with very reasonable prices. They even serve good breakfast starting at 8 AM. Some of the other restaurants I recommend: Little Bay in nearby Dobrota (good food and beautiful waterfront views), Bastion (romantic atmosphere and live music) and Pizzeria Pronto (cheap/delicious to-go pizza).
There is a tiny convenience store right across from the apartment that sells most of the basics (though doesn’t have sugar for some reason), and a grocery store five minutes away by foot. Everything you need is nearby, making for a relaxing vacation.
If you prefer to use hotel points
If you have your heart set on Kotor, you are, unfortunately, our of luck. As far as I know, there aren’t any points options available. If you like luxury and want to stay close to beaches, you may want to look at Regent Porto Montenegro, bookable via IHG points. It’s not dirt cheap (60k to 80K points per night) and availability can be spotty in the summer. But it’s an option nonetheless. Porto Montenegro is only 25 minutes from Kotor by taxi. Becky at SightDoing blog has a comprehensive review of the property if you are interested in it.
The resort certainly looks nice and could provide a good base if you want to tack on some beach/pool time after your stay in Kotor. But I wouldn’t spend my entire vacation in Porto Montenegro, as to me it looked rather generic (we were in the area for our yacht excursion). In fact, you could mistake it for Palm Beach in Florida. But the views are nice and according to Becky, mixed drinks are good.
If you prefer boutique luxury hotels, you may want to check out Villa Geba, bookable via Hyatt points. You will pay 25k points per night for a room with a king bed. Villa Geba is located near Budva, and offers direct views of Sveti Stefan. I haven’t been to the area, so can’t comment on it, but TripAdvisor reviews are mostly good.
There are some points options in Podgorica (the capital of Montenegro), but that’s not the area most tourists would be interested in. My parents had an early flight, so I booked them a stay at VOCO Podgorica. I paid cash, but it can be reserved via IHG points. I’ll do a separate post on it as we ran into some issues with billing, but overall, my relatives loved the hotel itself.
In my opinion, unless you love chain hotels, you will be better off paying cash and saving your points in Montenegro. There are all kinds of options in Kotor as well as Perast, for all budgets. Some look pretty darn luxurious.
If you are mostly looking for a place to sleep that also happens to be in a good location, Popovic Apartments are a fine choice. But regardless of what you choose, Kotor definitely gets my vote. It’s so special to explore the city early in the morning or late in the evening when most day trippers or cruise ship passengers are gone. This town is worth your time and money.