Gold and Glitz at the Gabala Garden Hotel

1047 Reviews

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Date of travel

June, 2023

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Gabala Garden Hotel

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The huge five-star Gabala Garden Hotel was gold and glitzy, and possibly designed with high-end tourists from the Gulf States in mind. However, we were only staying for one night to break our journey between the Azerbaijan capital, Baku, and Sheki.

Room 403 was a good size, and lavishly decorated in beige, cream and gold. The king-size bed was a little low and soft, but there were bedside tables, reading lights and sockets. The large wardrobe had more shelving and hanging space than an overnight stay required, along with a safe, slippers and bathrobes. Tea and coffee making facilities, and complimentary water were available and there was an empty fridge, chaise longe, table, long desk, and TV. The floor to ceiling windows with net, blackout and decorative curtains, let in lots of light and we could see the snow-capped Caucasus mountains in the distance.

In contrast, the bathroom was relatively small and a little dark, but it functioned well with loo, walk-in shower, and good mirror/hairdryer combination (although it kept cutting out).
The large rectangular handbasin was impractically an inch deep. Toiletries in small plastic bottles were available, and there was plenty of space for our own. Towels were plentiful, but face flannels absent. Wi-Fi was good and the room had AC which we didn’t need.

Bar service was a little haphazard with confusion over what constituted a double gin (measures were 20 and 40 cl), and in the absence of tonic, we had Sprite. However, the prices were cheap, particularly compared to our previous hotel in the capital.

Breakfast was served in a cream and gold basement restaurant, with ornate chandeliers. It obviously attracted groups as the vast majority of round tables were set for six, but tables were also laid on the terrace. The buffet was like everything else: huge. Two juices were available, and although we found yoghurt and cereal, fresh fruit didn’t appear until 7.45am: 45 minutes after breakfast opened. As bread, butter, cheese and jams are the traditional Azeri breakfast, there was a huge range, along with rather pink, processed cold meats and salads. Although hot dishes were available, I took advantage of the egg chef who made a splendid omelette. Tea and coffee were self-service and although there were several waiters, resplendent in white shirts and black bow ties, milling around the host stand, our table wasn’t cleared during the meal.

As we’d arrived late the previous night, an after breakfast stroll was our first opportunity to explore the extensive grounds. We discovered not only a free form swimming pool with loungers and pool bar, but a wonderful looking indoor pool.

As well as 96 rooms in the main hotel, there are several one, two and three room ‘cottages’ around the grounds. Other facilities included a children’s play area, indoor shisha lounge, conference area, spa, outdoor terrace and many areas to sit around the lobby area and bar.

All in all, it was pretty stunning, and despite the gold and glitz, we could easily have spent a day relaxing around the pool.

Helen Jackson

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