A chip off the old bloc
A mix of traditional, Soviet and modern styles, Georgia is a tricky place to pin down. But that’s half the fun of it for Suzanne Moore, who also
Stepantsminda Soviet chic Rooms Hotel is in an old printing house
into the High Caucasus established in the first century. Green velvet mountains, azure lakes, fresh figs and honey sold by the roadside – totally stunning. I have been in the Himalayas and the Andes, but this is mind-blowingly gorgeous.
We stop at the huge semi-circular Russo-Georgian Friendship monument, and gaze in awe. Then it’s on to Kazbegi Rooms in Stepantsminda, another woodand-glass brutalist structure that was once a Soviet spa. My God, it is fantastic, with decks all around so everywhere you look there are the mountains, one with Gergeti Trinity Church on top. Some big wedding is going on and Georgian aristocracy is being helicoptered in. The men are in traditional dress with swords (and none makes any attempt to kill us). Swoon. We lie on the deck and staff bring us blankets and anything else we desire.
Downstairs there is a pool spa but all I want to do is lie on that deck and look at the mountains. It is one of the most gorgeous places I have ever stayed in, and the nearest I have ever got to meditation. With wine. I would go back tomorrow. Why is Georgia so special? It’s not about gold taps and bellhops. It’s about warmth and hospitality, and feeling you can do what you like. That is what luxury travel is. That and, of course, having someone to travel with who will take a chance with you, wherever you end up.
• Accommodation was provided by Design Hotels (designhotels.com) in Rooms Tbilisi (doubles from £175 B&B), Rooms Kazbegi (from £144 B&B) and Stamba Hotel (from £242 B&B). Georgian Airways (georgianairways.com) flies from Gatwick to Tbilisi from £165 return
One of the first clubs in Georgia was established in 2012 in this 1950s fish restaurant by pioneer DJ Bero. The club is on the left bank of the Mtkvari River, and when you get tired of dancing to house and techno, you can head to the balcony and watch the river.
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A newcomer that has quickly established itself as the coolest place to eat in town, Pepperboy looks like a cosy izakaya [Japanese dining pub] with cyberpunk wall art and neon lights. The food is pan-Asian: pho, kimchi and ramen served with sake, soju or tea.
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Another new spot, Kikliko, serves brunch from 8am to 3pm. It’s named after the traditional Georgian breakfast that’s a piquant version of french toast using spicy ajika sauce, but it also serves other staples such as sulguni (semi-soft cheese). It’s the perfect place to start the day.
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This bar has a huge terrace with amazing views over the city. In a big house with period furniture on Narikhala Hill, it’s the perfect place to catch some live music while eating traditional food such as beef stew with pomegranate sauce, fried potatoes and Georgian hummus.
rooms brings to vivid life a notorious