Until a recent trip to Tbilisi, it seemed to me that the old, cozy, “Italian courtyards,” with ivy-lined open balconies, clotheslines, chatty neighbors hanging from windows, remained only in the movies.
I don't know how in Italian cities, but in Tbilisi, it turned out, those courtyards are very well preserved, right in the center of the city; but to see them, you need to know where to go. And you may feel like you're trespassing on someone else's personal space because life in these courtyards is as open as a palm.
But you will be warmly welcomed, asked who you are, where you are from, even entertained. In general, to really get to know Tbilisi, you need to walk a lot, especially along the streets of the old districts of Sololaki, Havlabar,and Bethlehem.
Go up to Narikala Castle past Metekhi Church and look at the city from above.
Go to the Botanical Garden and find yourself in a shady forest without leaving the city, refresh yourself by the waterfall and visit the sulfur baths. See how a whole performance takes place right at the entrance to the ringing of the bells of the puppet theater of Rezo Gabriadze; and if you are lucky enough to get tickets, go to the performance. Rezo Gabriadze is the screenwriter of such well-known films as "Don't cry," "Mimino," and "Kin-dza-dza." His father's work is now being continued by his son Levan Gabriadze.
Then try traditional Georgian dishes and, of course, wine, in one of the many wine restaurants right on the streets of the old town, enjoying the coolness of the evening after a hot day.
And finally, tired, lying down in the Sweet Bed of one of the ibis family hotel rooms, burying your head in the soft pillows; by the way, the ibis logo is a pillow.
What has always caused good envy in me, a Yerevan resident, when visiting Tbilisi is the ability to combine the old with the new, without demolishing all the old houses in the city center and erecting glass-concrete high-rise buildings on top of elegant old private houses and 5- to 6-story buildings of the Soviet era.
Thus, ibis budget Tbilisi Center was located in the building of the former Physics Institute, which was disassembled brick by brick and reassembled, completely renovated, rebuilt in accordance with the needs of a hotel while preserving the small inner courtyard where hotel visitors like to drink coffee.
Behind the courtyard is the most famous street of Tbilisi, Rustaveli Avenue. Tbilisi Concert Hall and Vere Park are nearby. ibis budget is the most budget version of ibis hotels.
It is for those who lead an active lifestyle. You came, slept, had a delicious breakfast, and went to explore the city. If you decide to go for a run, you will be given a map of the running route near the hotel, and they will also calculate how many calories you have burned while climbing the stairs of your choice. You can take water and snacks with you from the refrigerator in the lobby of the hotel. ibis budget aims to make the most of the space.
The largest room is 28 square meters, which can comfortably accommodate a family with three children. How? It should be seen.
There are specially equipped rooms for people with limited abilities, who can call for help using special alarm devices if necessary. There are no phones in the rooms, but there are QR code cards to access a special mobile app that allows you to order food and request an iron, and the hotel manager can use this app to track how many requests have been received and how quickly the guests have been served.
The lobby area, which is decorated in a musical style, is also used to the maximum. There you can have breakfast, drink coffee, read books, get acquainted with the Georgian alphabet—which is so discreetly displayed on various surfaces—, and play table tennis.
By the way, I hadn't picked up a racket for so many years, but I got a good result: the second place among the visitors. Along with all this, there is still room for meetings with friends and coworking. This is another important feature of all ibis hotels—and there are three ibis hotels in Tbilisi: ibis Styles Tbilisi Center, ibis budget Tbilisi Center, and ibis Tbilisi Stadium—, a place for meetings and work in the lobby of the hotel.
All hotels have their own concept, their own unique design, but the idea is the same: to create all the conditions for rest, leisure ,and work. The design is modern and modest, but without excesses and luxury.
In the lobby of ibis Styles Tbilisi Center, you can comfortably sit with friends, drink coffee or tea next to or under a large "lamb" assembled from round white lamps, at a table, or on the steps with cushions in the form of an amphitheater.
By the way, about pillows. Hotels are distinguished by their main color, which is found everywhere, from the pillow logo to various interior details.
The color of ibis budget is blue, ibis Styles is green, and the classic ibis is red. And this "lamb" was created by the designers for ibis Styles Tbilisi Center during the search for unique national symbols because here there are mountains, shepherds and, of course, lambs.
Here they look at you from very unexpected places, for example, from above the bed. In general, everything here is so unique and at the same time simple. There are no traditional lockers; just hangers and shelves.
The sink in the room is located right in the middle of the corridor, literally. You enter and at first think, why didn't they put the sink where it should be? Then you turn on the light, and above the sink there is a large, round, lighted mirror, and on the wall next to it, there is another, bigger mirror.
And you understand that for the sake of such mirrors, the sink can be placed in the center of the corridor. But the main thing is the view from the window: the very heart of Tbilisi.
And better yet, for this view, head to the fifth-floor Rum Roof Kitchen Bar restaurant, which serves Caribbean cuisine. In total, the hotel has seven floors, and that is enough to see old Tbilisi from above because there are no high-rise buildings in the old city.
And once again, good envy overwhelms me. Rum Roof Kitchen Bar is such a fun place. Instead of a bar, it's a painted bus where you can grab tacos with Georgian wine or khachapuri, a unique rum-based Caribbean cocktail, depending on what you like. Here you can also play chess or other board games.
ibis Styles is a hotel for creative people. ibis Styles hotels across Europe, including Tbilisi, hold master classes in art. And I, a person far from painting at all, was given a brush, paints and an easel, a poster with the image of a Tbilisi house which had to be painted. And they showed how to hold the brush in general.
Then, while walking in the city, we looked for that house for a long time and found it. If you're in Tbilisi for work, the best place for coworking is Fabrika Tbilisi, a conceptual art space in a former garment factory. In addition to the coworking space, there are cafes and restaurants, local brand shops, hostels and, as always, a cozy courtyard. Graffiti artists painted on most of the walls of this factory.
Various events such exhibitions, master classes, parties, and much more are often held here. And if you need a place to hold business meetings and conferences, then ibis Tbilisi Stadium is the most suitable place.
There is a comfortable conference hall located in the former Soviet history museum, next to which the hotel was built. The museum building is considered a historical monument built at the beginning of the last century. The overlaid ceiling was not allowed to be changed, and it was expertly restored.
By the way, all ibis hotels in Tbilisi adhere to the concept of not using single-use plastic. In ibis Styles water is only in glass bottles, in ibis budget there are glass containers that can be filled with water from coolers in the hallway. ibis Stadium keys are made of wood, and the hotel does not have any printed material. All information, as in ibis budget, can be obtained through a special mobile app.
The lobby of ibis Tbilisi Stadium has a comfortable stairwell with a large screen from which to watch football or movies. There is also an area for video games. Incidentally, the hotel is located near the Tbilisi stadium, and you can even watch football matches from the balconies of the upper floors.
And below, right in front of the hotel, is a comfortable space for concerts and events. That evening we had dinner to the music of a virtuoso violinist. In general, Tbilisi is a very musical and festival city.
Recently, on June 23-25, the Tbilisi Open Air Festival, Georgia's main music event with the participation of the most popular artists of the Georgian and world rock and electronic music scene, was held here. If you did not manage to attend that event, at the end of July another interesting festival will be held at the Ethnographic Museum: Art-Gene Festival.
You can listen to jazz at the Movement Theater, or you can go to Bassiani, one of the main clubs in the city.
And don't forget to buy unique souvenirs at the vernissage on the Dry Bridge. There you can feel the unique colorful atmosphere of the capital of Georgia, walking around the stalls of souvenirs and antiques and various old things.
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