Hotel Review: Poda Boutique Hotel, Ksamil, Albania

On trip to Albania and Greece last summer, Dan and I spent a few nights in Ksamil, Albania, a small beach town on the Albanian Riveria, just south of Sarandë, next to Butrint. We stayed at what may be Ksamil’s nicest hotel: the Poda Boutique Hotel. As I could not find much good information on this hotel online, here is my review of our four-night stay stay.


The Poda Boutique Hotel is located right in the middle of beachfront Ksamil, just behind the insanely busy and Instagrammable Poda Beach. Seriously, its a 1 minute walk from the beach and Adriatic. There are numerous restaurants and bars within a five minute walk (although some an uphill walk), as well as the tacky Ksamil vendors hawking trinkets and carnival rides at all hours. Despite the crowded beach and busy area, we found Poda to be pretty quiet at night and the hotel itself never felt too busy. Ksamil proper, including grocery stores, gas stations, banks, etc., are located an uphill walk from Poda. We made the walk pretty easily, but it would be annoying for anyone with any mobility issues, especially in the summer heat.

Poda Boutique Hotel.

In terms of the building, the Poda Boutique Hotel is small. With only four floors, staff recognize all of the guests and are strict about who comes and goes.  The entrance to the Poda Boutique Hotel consists of a small reception area with a free shelf of books to borrow (mostly in Albanian) and a hotel cat. To the right of the reception area is the hotel restaurant, where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served. The pool area is just outside the restaurant and the beach is right in front of the hotel.  Guest rooms make up the remainder of the hotel.

The restaurant area of Poda.


We stayed in a Deluxe Double Room with Balcony and Sea View for 230 euro per night at the Poda Boutique Hotel in 2022, which is pricey for Ksamil. The price was made a little better when I arrived and learned – for the first time – that the  room included half board of breakfast and dinner. Setting aside the half-board, our room consisted of a very comfortable Queen bed, a flat screen TV mounted on the wall, a mini fridge, some shelving, a decent sized closet, and a balcony overlooking the beach with a table and chairs!  The air conditioning and wifi both worked great (American style).

Our balcony with sea view. The “sea view” was slightly interrupted by the covering of the dining room, but it still served its purpose – coffee in the morning!

The bed was very nice.

Easy to notify staff to clean your room or stay out. We always have our room cleaned daily but apparently some people don’t like that.

The room also included an en-suite restroom, which was pretty good sized, but included only a shower (no bath tub). The one weird thing about the bathroom is that the shower has a window looking into the bed room… I always find those incredibly odd! Be sure to pull down the shade if you want any privacy in the restroom.

The shower with said window.


The Poda Boutique Hotel’s pool is located just outside of the restaurant. Around the pool is a small wooden deck scattered with loungers and tables and chairs. The pool is fairly large, with a shallow children’s area closer to the hotel and a deeper end further away. The pool was very warm in July, but I think that was just a result of the summer heat. It was the perfect temperature for me. There is no bar at the pool, but restaurant staff will serve food and drinks at the pool and came around pretty frequently.

Poda pool area.


In addition to the pool, Poda also has beach access! The Poda Beach Club is located directly in front of the hotel on Poda Beach, which is JAM PACKED with other “beach clubs.” For those unfamiliar, a “beach club” in Ksamil (and much of Europe) is basically rows of sun loungers with umbrellas that you can rent for the day. Most beach clubs have an attached restaurant or bar and you can order food and drinks to the lounger, as well as staff to assist you with the umbrella or lounger if you need help. Poda’s beach club is open to the public for pay, but the front two rows are reserved for Poda guests for a couple hours in the morning, and hotel guests do not need to pay for the chair and umbrella rental. While a few rows are reserved for guests, these fill up by mid-morning.

Poda Beach Club – the blue chairs with straw umbrellas are Poda’s.

A close up of Poda hotel loungers.

One more.

In terms of the beach club, if you are going, I recommend going early to beat the crowds and heat. First, the prime seats go first. Second, the beach is not super crowded in the morning and the water is calm and clean. Later in the day, with all the water toys and boats in the area, the beach area gets a little dirty with debris.

Lots of water toys out in the afternoon.

There is also the Instagram famous Poda Beach swings, which in my opinion are best for pictures in the very late afternoon. The swing was not crowded at all every evening. I’m not certain who owns this swing, but its free for anyone to use.

The Poda Beach swing.


As mentioned above, our reservation unknowingly included “half board,” which is somewhat common in terms of European beach resorts and generally includes two meals per day of the hotel’s choice. Our “half-board” reservation included breakfast and dinner daily. While I was initially put off by this, the food turned out to be great!

We took our breakfast buffet style every morning in the dining room, the only option available. The breakfast buffet offered a variety of sweet and savory bread products, various local cold cuts, various local cheeses, fresh vegetables and cereals, with the occasional other option.  I would describe the buffet as above-average, but not the best I’ve ever had.  My personal favorite breakfast buffet option was a Nutella and banana crepe one morning. The hotel also serves made to order eggs daily, including omelettes, and espresso beverages. Both are complimentary and ordered via table service.

A crepe bar one morning at breakfast.

A cappuccino at breakfast.

Half-board dinner at Poda Boutique Hotel gave guests a choice of six 3-course meal options, which remained the same every day. Each room had to place the order and schedule a time for dinner daily before 6 PM, and hotel staff will chase guests down if an order is not in by 6 PM! I was first very put off by this, but the food was quite tasty and we found out as the week went on, that guests can kind of mix and match, etc., especially if tipping the staff.

Option #s 1 – 5.

More options.

Every dinner at Poda Boutique Hotel I ordered the #1: a Caesar salad, truffle ravioli, grilled chicken with vegetables, and dessert. My Caesar salad, served with a few pieces of chicken cutlet, was honestly fantastic, and I was not at all unhappy about eating it daily. The truffle ravioli was also quite good and served in a delicious sauce. And by those two courses, I was usually too full for the third course, which was a grilled chicken breast served with grilled vegetables. Dessert every night was a Panna cotta style dish. All in, the dinners were good and plenty of food for an average guest.

My beloved chicken Caesar salad at Poda Boutique Hotel.

Truffle Ravioli. These were big ravioli.

Grilled chicken with vegetables.

The daily Panna Cotta dessert.

Dan opted for the #7 everyday, which consisted of a Greek salad, fried calamari, and shrimp served in a cheese sauce. He was also generally full after the first two courses. I tried some of each of Dan’s courses over the course of the week, and I also enjoyed his selections.

A very good Greek salad.

Fried calamari.

Dan’s shrimp in a cheese sauce.

We had a variation on dessert one night – this was a private party cake with many leftovers.


Of course, in addition to breakfast and the prix fixe dinner, Poda sells for a la carte. While you can order a la carte in the restaurant, the most popular place to order a la carte food is at its open air bar and restaurant on Poda Beach. Poda has a pretty good menu offering lots of good things, including a few that are on the dinner menu. We ate here a couple days, and the food was always tasty.

View from the Poda Beach Club restaurant.

Super fresh seafood at the Poda Beach Club.

Fried crab balls.


The same restaurant serving food on Poda Beach also serves drinks and shisha on its roof top deck. Dan particularly enjoyed this, but he said that he has had better shisha and it can get very windy on the top deck. That being said, its definitely worth it for sunset! We didn’t miss a sunset from this viewpoint.

Shisha at sunset.

Sunset from the Poda Beach Club restaurant’s rooftop deck.

This same shisha bar turns into a proper bar (errr … club) at night sometimes with live DJs. Cover is often charged to both hotel guests and outsiders and it stays pretty loud until around midnight.

DJ Sirius played while we were staying at Poda.


There’s not too much else besides the pool and beach club in terms of amenities at the Poda Boutique Hotel.  Staff is friendly and most guest-facing staff spoke good English. The hotel was also cleaned pretty constantly; I felt good about that.


All in all, I thought the Poda Boutique Hotel was lovely and worth the price we paid. That being said, I’m not certain I would stay in touristy Ksamil again. I would probably stay in Sarandë and take a day trip to Ksamil instead, especially if I had a car. I don’t really have any complaints about the Poda Boutique Hotel, except that they “require” everything to be paid in cash and its super crowded on the beach.


Poda Boutique Hotel: Ksamil 9706, Albania. While credit card is claimed to be accepted, the hotel pretty much told every one that cash is required for payment. An ATM is conveniently across the street… We did see one group of three young women permitted to pay by card when they began crying… The whole cash situation was definitely shady.


If you are on a budget, Ksamil is a great place to visit. The Poda Boutique Hotel is pricey, but Ksamil was full of other housing at reasonable (some down right cheap) prices. We noticed numerous apartment rentals with beach views.

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