Gjakova is a town in Western Kosovo that is often overlooked by travelers – or at least quickly passed through en route to Northern Albania/Lake Koman and as a halfway point between Prizren and Peja. Case in point: ME.
One of my main motivations for planning an extended stay in Gjakova was so I could check out Çarshia e Jupave which always caught my eye on every time I passed through. From the outside it looked cool and what I found on the inside…well, let’s just say it is for sure one of the sexier hotels that exists in Kosovo.
Creativity and attention to design is something that is rarely a priority for hotel proprietors in this region so I get extremely excited when I see places like this that are not just places to sleep, but they are also experiences. What’s great about finding these kinds of places in the Balkans as well is the killer deal you can get in comparison to boutique/design hotels in Western Europe. Singles go for €40/doubles for €50 and that includes a feast of a breakfast buffet. For sure you can end up paying the same or more for two crusty hostel beds in central London that doesn’t include anything except bed bugs, so you get my point.
Aside from its visual appeal, Çarshia e Jupave is also a full-blown family affair and as a result much attention is placed on making you feel right at home. While not everyone may have the pleasure of having a coffee with the owner and his son (shout out to Zoti Shkëlqim and Rron Jupa) and checking out pictures of them with Nicole Kidman, Eliza Dukshu and the former King of the Albanians (?!) when they visited, you will most definitely find them on the ground trying to ensure all guests are well taken care of. History of hospitality in their family runs back some 60 years and is incorporated in the details of their “compound” both large and small.
Aside from the hotel and its restaurant, they have also built a sassy little underground wine bar which no doubt was a highlight for me. Only recently opened this year, it’s already packed when the weekend arrives with locals, overnight tour groups, and occasionally me and my Gjakova squad. My favorite element is the retro MOTEL sign behind the bar which actually came from motel/restaurant Zoti Jupa’s father had back in the day. You see, it’s the little things…
Between the live music, delicious Balkan-style tapas, and incredible wine, I didn’t want the night to end. Or actually, I just wished I could have put the place in my pocket and brought it back to Prishtina with me, but then it would surely lose its charm. Some great things are better left for the ones willing to make an effort for it and even if you don’t get a chance to stay the night, I say definitely make it a point to stop into Çarshia e Jupave for a glass of wine or three and ride the elevator.
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