If you say you are heading to Georgia, people will first scan your mutual friends, ‘you mean Georgie’s?’
Or assume you mean Georgia, Alabama in the US, and only then will you get to inform them of the location of the country and have to explain your crazy choice. Least this is what I found amongst my peer group and it is up to us to make this place popular ladies, rather than people traipsing back to Greece for the fourth time for a lack of new options.
Georgia is in Eurasia, sandwiched between Turkey and Russia, and is the Austria of the region if you will, in terms of beauty, design, and culture. It is most known for its hospitality and cuisine – arrive at any time, in any condition, and you will be very well looked after and fed like a Queen. You can also be pampered and dressed like a Queen with the purifying Sulphur baths in the capital, Tbilisi, and the very talented yet still affordable designers in the city.
Tbilisi is manageable and yet diverse in what it has to offer. It is a thinking person’s heaven. Great food, hospitality, and design aside, it is the cultural capital of the region, and the theatres and operas are snuggly nestled in between breath-taking mountains and architecture, both of which can be experienced from within the city itself.
Thanks to an incredible new Design Hotel find called ‘Rooms’, you can stay in the City and enjoy the hotel there, or you can be transferred within a smooth transitional two hours to the heart of Kazbegi, picture postcard mountains – to hike during the summer and to ski in the winter, where hospitality is more than a virtue, but a deeply rooted tradition.
Back to ‘Rooms’ in Tbilisi. It is based in Vera, which is a neighbourhood known for its creativity, and attracts both locals and international thinker, artists, intelligencia. Situated in a cultural hotspot which houses the best of new and old Georgia, it is walking distance to all the major attractions in Tbilisi.
The Hotel is a former Publishing House which says it all – it is both boutique and functional, charming and modern, traditional in it’s hospitality and yet up to date in it’s facilities. Naturally, it has a very well stocked library, fringed with thick antique rugs, plush cushions and couches, and soft mood lighting.
This theme is echoed in “The Kitchen” which is very farm to table style and a clear emphasis on all things ‘taste’. It feels like your grandmother’s kitchen, from the side of the family that just loves to feed good food! A delectable weekly menu using locally sourced ingredients. ‘Rooms’ really is an Urban Oasis – and the outdoor courtyard garden bar reflects this for it has been designed as a living greenhouse with foliage crawling over the roof and walls. Fittingly the bespoke cocktails are also inspired by homegrown botanics.
My favourite part of the hotel is the homage to natural wood everywhere, so much so that I inquired whether I could buy a desk or chair, only to be told that conveniently the owner has a wood factory in Tbilisi also. Every refashioned plank tells a story of the nation’s past. This use of timber is raw and refined, and what pleased me most, was showering on a wooden floor. The mix of Bohemian with Zen modernity means that Rooms is able to transport you into the future of Georgia, whilst retaining the best of the past. I say this after enjoying some of the best meals (breakfast selection included) of my life at Rooms, which is saying something from a writer who has literally travelled over 100 countries in the world.
Rooms combines fashion, art and culture in an understated beautiful manner through its endless books, furniture, exhibits, and attention to detail.
And then there is the scenery! Simply awe-inspiring. Rooms Hotel rests 1800 meters high on the imposing Caucasus Mountain of Stepantsminda. Time stands still. Even the most phone-obsessed with surrender to this splendour.
A light trek to the Arsha waterfall, a hike to the iconic Gergeti Trinity Church, or a three-day journey to upper Khde Valley, all give a chance to immerse in the local heritage. Or take a dip in their spectacular swimming pool with views of the mountains.
The hotel is built on the belief that when you visit Georgia, you experience it all – the tradition, the spirit, its beliefs. Positioned as the new Istanbul, generous, charming, and on the threshold of a Big Break.
Life doesn’t get much better…!
Note: Average temperature in summer ranges from 13-26C (55 to 75 F). Winter can be very cold and snowy with frequent road blocks in December-January.