Rooms Hotel is on a lively street in the historic Vera district of central Tbilisi. The neighbours are buzzy bars and hip restaurants, and it’s handy for all the major sights.
Hurrah – there are now direct flights from London with Georgian Airways, which reach Tbilisi International Airport in under five hours (otherwise, change planes in Vienna or Istanbul). From there, it’s 20km to the city centre (30 minutes by car); the hotel can arrange transfers for $50 each way. For help with all your travel bookings, call the Smith24 team.
Rail travel in Georgia is possible – and cheap – but not to be undertaken in a hurry. You can get to the Belle Époque resort town of Batumi or the historic city of Kutaisi in about six hours from Tbilisi Central Station, which is ten minutes by car from the hotel.
Driving in Georgia is not for the faint-hearted (especially near the politically-charged region of South Ossetia), but if you're feeling adventurous, hire a motor from the airport and head out to the mountains (Kazbegi and Svaneti are two of the most picturesque regions.
Worth getting out of bed for
First up, basic orientation – take the walking tour of Tbilisi offered by the hotel. It hits all the big-gun sights, but delves much deeper too, unearthing the secrets of the city and its intriguing past. Pick up your own piece of history at the Dry Bridge Flea Market in Dedaena Square, where the local traders unfurl mats laden with Soviet-era relics. Follow in the footsteps of Persians, Mongols, Ottomans and more, by conquering the climb up to the 1,700-year-old Narikala Fortress; or skip the hike and take the cable car from Rike Park (ft. views over Old Town rooftops on the way). Either way, give your muscles a sulphurous soak at the ancient baths in Abanotubani district – Bath House No. 5 has intricate mosaics beneath the domed ceilings, and absolutely nothing to do with Lou Bega. Let the puppets entertain your little ’uns at Gabriadze Theatre, or just go along to marvel at the topsy-turvy clocktower outside. To get up close and personal with the Caucasus Mountains, indulge in an alpine retreat at sister property, Rooms Hotel Kazbegi.
For the ultimate in authentic Georgian cuisine, book in at Keto & Kote (3 Mikheil Zandukeli Street) – khinkali dumplings are the essential order, and the gebjalia (herby cottage cheese) is as good as any local grandmother’s. Littera (13 Ivane Machabeli Street) gives time-honoured local recipes a modern twist, and has an atmospheric garden for balmy summer evenings. Shavi Lomi (28 Zurab Kvlividze Street) has a cozy tavern vibe indoors and a courtyard terrace outdoors – either way it’s the place to hang out with the arts crowd and sip Saperavi wine.
To keep it in the Rooms hotel family, pop next to the Café Stamba and sample the latest produce from the chocolaterie and coffee roastery; or nip across to Gothic-industrial Lolita (7 Tamar Chovelidze Street) to live out your brunch fantasy by day or mix it with the locals in the cocktail lounge each night. If you find yourself on the other side of the river and in need of a good cuppa, stop by home-style Books Cafe (37 Tsinamdzghvrishvili – not a typo – Street).
You don’t get more hip than a hostel in a converted factory: Fabrika (8 Egnate Ninoshvili Street) is on the other side of the city, but worth it for the in-house party scene. Underground techno club Bassiani (2 Akaki Tsereteli Avenue) is literally on another level – a night on the disused-swimming-pool tiles here is one you’ll never forget (or, quite possibly, remember).