Heart of the business Horse stables, restaurant
Vendodhja Shko te harta
Nearby City of Durres, beaches of Durres and Golem.
By private car from Shkallnur, south of Durres, follow the road to the south and signposts to the resort. The approach is on a steep and narrow road, but asphalted all the way. Plenty of parking available.
18 high-standard double rooms from €70/night, single
What to do
Horse ride to the nearby village of Dedej and local reservoir.
It’s clear what the main attraction of Kodra e Kuajve (Horses Hill) is from the name. The restaurant and resort is dominated by a large central riding enclosure, around which the hotel, ground-floor restaurant, horse stables and restaurant’s outdoor sitting areas are arranged.
The resort’s history began when Gerti Hima, the horse-loving owner of Kodra e Kuajve, built the first horse stable in 2011/12 on his family property on a high hill in the vicinity of the village of Dedej, south of Shkallnur, Durres County. Initially, it was supposed to be a quiet place where he could enjoy the weekend with his friends and family, but soon Gerti, raised in Durres and by now in his mid-40s, realised that his passion for horses and business idea of a resort could go hand in hand.
A small restaurant followed, which grew over time due to word-of-mouth recommendations. The business’s success enabled the family to buy and lease more of the surrounding land, and in 2017 a hotel was added to the complex. His horses are still at the centre of the business though, and Kodra e Kuajve is currently home to 15 horses, including 3 ponies.
Approaching the property, the first impressions include the steep narrow asphalt road that leads from Shkallnur up to the hill where the resort lies, and the stunning views over the city of Durres and the long stretch of beach and clear blue water. Entering from the spacious car park, the clean and well-maintained property sports some beautiful old olive trees and several decorative palms. Following the signpost pointing to the bar and restaurant, the view opens up and in addition to the sea, the lush green hinterland, nearby village and a reservoir in the distance appear.
Kodra e Kuajve is not a typical farm, but it still has a strong connection to agritourism, and not only because of its horses. The restaurant has a close collaboration with the local villagers from Dedej, and all ingredients like meat, milk, cheese and eggs, as well as vegetables, honey and fruit for the food served to patrons is sourced from them. The restaurant used to have a small number of cows on the property, but for sanitary reasons, the decision was made to outsource the raising and caretaking of livestock to the village. Villagers also take care of chickens, goats and sheep and deliver milk and meat to the premises when needed. Only the ponies and a few deer live in an enclosure nearby, which can be overlooked from the outside seating of the restaurant.
Unlike most of the restaurants near the coast, Kodra e Kuajve is specialised as a meat restaurant, but there are also some fish and seafood options available, as well as plenty of options for vegetarians. Two brothers from Durres serve as the head chefs, but the menu is comprised of traditional favourites from different Albanian regions and beyond. Dishes on the extensive menu include mixed starters, byrek, homemade jufka (traditional pasta), qull (a kind of traditional porridge made from corn flour), stuffed grape leaves, corn bread, peppers stuffed with cheese, and different kinds of meat, like veal, kid, lamb, chicken and duck. A large variety of pasta dishes, soups, cheeses, fresh vegetables and salads guarantee that every guest find something to their liking, and the freshness and quality of the ingredients is apparent in every dish.
The total of 52 tables which seat around 400 people are overseen by manager Embro. Only in his mid-twenties, he started here as a waiter himself, while still in high school at the age of 17. He continued working through his university years and now, with seven years’ experience, he works to keep the 1000 guests the restaurant serves on average per night happy.
In addition to the tables around the riding enclosure outside, there is inside seating and the fireplace room that can be booked for private parties. On the inside, the walls are decorated with traditional farming tools and other antiques, including coffee grinders and teapots, metal carafes and decorative plates as well as pistols and rifles. Electric guitars and a few original music records, including a limited-edition gold-plated vinyl by Elvis Presley bear witness to the owner’s love of music.
From here, a row of windows provides a view of the horse stables, which are located inside the complex. The horses are of different sizes and breeds, including Friesians, Anglo-Arabians, Andalusians, Haflingers and ponies, and are cared for by Leonard “Nardi” Barziu, a former obstacle course champion, and Ariola “Ola” Dedej, a champion in racing. Both also work as horse riding instructors, and guide guests on riding tours around the village and surroundings.
Above the restaurant and stables, the remainder of the four-storey complex houses a large event and wedding hall on the first floor, while the two upper floors are comprised of hotel rooms for guests. The building has a white facade with brick elements and matching brown roof tiles, and in its centre an octagonal tower with high wood-framed windows spanning three floors.
The interior of the building is composed of a mix of materials in classic, darker shades and enhanced with ornaments and chandeliers. On the upper floor, the corridor is designed with a high ceiling up to the roof and visible wooden beams. The 16 guest rooms and 2 suites are of a high standard, featuring balconies with stunning views, bathrobes and a safe, as well as modern, spacious bathrooms. All upper floor rooms are equipped with a fireplace. Furthermore, original artworks by Albanian painters are displayed throughout the rooms and hallways, with themes including the property, surroundings and portraits of members of the owner’s family, which were painted during an event, for which 30 well-known painters from all around the country were invited to the resort.
In order to further improve the resort, the wedding hall is planned to be relocated to make space for a brand-new in-house spa with a pool and sauna. Another plan is to extend horse riding tours to an overnight camping adventure with a barbecue by the nearby Dursi lake. This way, Kodra e Kuajve is bound to continue to be a compelling destination for visitors of all ages and interests.