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A restaurant in Tbilisi
A weekend in Tbilisi, the place to spoil yourself
A favored destination among Israeli tourists, the Georgian capital has a lot to offer in practically every area: Interesting historical sites, breathtaking landscapes, romantic ambiance, excellent restaurants, bars and a vibrant nightlife, cheap shopping and indulgent hotels.
Tbilisi has become a favored destination among Israeli tourists in recent years, and quite rightfully so. The awakening Georgian capital has a lot to offer in practically every area: Interesting historical sites, a breathtaking landscape, a romantic atmosphere, excellent restaurants, bars and a vibrant nightlife, cheap shopping and pampering hotels.

 

 

Tourism to Georgia has tripled within less than a decade, indicating that the discerning Israeli traveler is not the only one to discover this beautiful city. Tbilisi has become a favored destination for Iranian tourists as well, in fact, with many planes land in the city at the end of every week, carrying thousands of Iranians on their way to a burqa-less weekend.

 

A Tbilisi street
A Tbilisi street

 

Tbilisi isn't a big, daunting city and its most interesting parts can be explored by foot. It's pleasant and safe to walk around, even at night, and it offer an underground train network. The recommended way to move around, however, is by taxi, as fare is ridiculously cheap.

 

The Georgians are extremely friendly and the many travel agencies in the Old City offer plenty of excursions outside the city, but one can spend a perfectly nice weekend in the city itself, indulging in sins, food and dancing.

 

The Rooms Hotel
The Rooms Hotel

 

Rooms is considered the greatest and most luxurious hotel in all Tbilisi. Like many successful hotels, it was built in an area which was quite boring and dull until recently. Rooms' inauguration four years ago, however, sped up development of the area around it, which led to the opening of modern, stylish Georgian restaurants, boutique stores and trendy bars. It offers 125 rooms of nine different sizes, all equipped and designed down to the very last detail, including the Sophia Loren suite, so named after it accommodated the Italian diva.

 

The hotel's entrance
The hotel's entrance

 

The style is warm and inviting—vintage with multiple uses of wood, exposed concrete pillars, Italian chandeliers and an old-fashioned iron elevator, which have been well-preserved here. They all originate in the hotel's previous life as a publishing house for one of Georgia’s highest circulated newspapers.

 

A bathtub by the bed. Vintage style
A bathtub by the bed. Vintage style

 

Apart from the excellent rooms, the hotel also includes a romantic and pleasant bar with a creative cocktail menu, blues music and comfortable sofas to sink into. Some of the guests have even fallen asleep on them. Located next to the bar is the hotel's restaurant, which offers a modern Georgian menu—fish, salads and different Georgian pastries with a modern touch and a vitality shot.

 

The financial profitability of a trip to Tbilisi is reflected here too: a three-course meal at the hotel’s excellent restaurant, including a glass of wine, costs around NIS 250 (roughly $71). A trendy cocktail at the bar costs NIS 20. The accommodation isn't expensive either: NIS 1,000 for a room during the weekend, if you book ahead of time.

 

Rooms Hotel, 14 Merab Kostava St., Tbilisi 0108 (www.roomshotels.com/tbilisi )

 

"You must go to the complex behind Fabrika Hostel," we were told by every up-to-date young man or woman in Tbilisi—and there are quite a few of those. So we went. And on evenings during the weekend, we discovered a perky, naughty and vibrant complex filled with alcohol. It is, in fact, the internal yard of a large building that used to be a cloth factory in the Communist era.

 

After the Communist Bloc’s dissolution, the compound was abandoned. It has been revived in recent years, turning into a recreation complex with restaurants, bars, boutique stores and quite a lovely hotel called Fabrika, which serves as a must stop for young people visiting Tbilisi.

 

Hotel Fabrika
Hotel Fabrika

 

Some call the place "Tbilisi’s Berghain," after Berlin’s famous nightclub, and although it's a wild exaggeration, the principle is quite similar. So what does one do at the complex? The evening begins at the Tone restaurant, which offers a limited but good menu of traditional Georgian dishes with a modern touch.

 

The owner is married to a Georgian diplomat, who served in the United States and in other countries across the world for many years. During her missions, she acquired culinary knowledge and expertise in hospitality, and she used them to open this pampering food establishment, which has a traditional Georgian oven in its yard to bake the bread.

 

Video: From Hotel Fabrika's Facebook page

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The restaurant often uses traditional Sulguni cheese, which is the Georgian version of mozzarella. It's a dense, heavy type of cheese made from cow milk, which is churned in villages and arrives at the restaurant in huge blocks. Questions about the amount of fat in it are answered with a smile: it's natural, rustic, non-industrial cheese, so there is no accurate measurement of the percentage of fat or salt in it. One thing's for sure: it's to die for.

 

Next to the restaurant, there's an old-fashioned ice cream stand, which is open in the summer days. The pubs around it serve beers or cocktails, and people sit on the stairs or on the benches scattered across the compound and get drunk. You can also visit the skateboard store or the small clothes boutique right next to Fabrika Hostel, which specializes in vintage clothes inspired by the uniform of the women who used to work in the old cloth factory.

 

A square in Tbilisi
A square in Tbilisi

 

Fabrika is not a bad hotel to stay in if you’re on a limited budget. Some of the rooms are designed like a hostel, but there are private rooms as well, preserving the factory’s industrialist and minimalist design. In the evening hours, the hotel offers a bar, a restaurant with tasty pizza and a café.

 

And then, in the wee hours of the night, we move on to Bassian, Tbilisi's hottest club. Like every Eastern European city to come alive and embrace Western culture, Tbilisi boasts a club that both celebrates and enjoys nightlife. A large dance floor and a few smaller floors, bars packed with alcohol at ridiculous prices, techno music, international guest DJs and a fun, early-2000s vibe. Sometimes, it's a good thing progress comes late.

 

And then, in the wee hours of the night, we move on to Bassian, Tbilisi's hottest club. Like every Eastern European city to come alive and embrace Western culture, Tbilisi boasts a club that both celebrates and enjoys nightlife. A large dance floor and a few smaller floors, bars packed with alcohol at ridiculous prices, techno music, international guest DJs and a fun, early-2000s vibe. Sometimes, it's a good thing progress comes late.

 

Fabrika Hostel, 8 Egnate Ninoshvili St., Tbilisi 0102 (www.fabrikatbilisi.com )

 

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