After crossing the land border from Georgia, we spent our first night in Armenia at the three-star Hotel Plaza Viktoria in Gyumri. Our initial impressions was that it was brown and old fashioned with lots of communal space on the landings.
Our second floor room was massive with a king size bed, double size duvet and only two pillows, although there were bedside tables, lights and plug points. There was sufficient space for a large brown three-piece suite, coffee table, desk, chair and TV. The fridge was stocked with soft drinks and complimentary water, whilst the wardrobe had a safe, robes and slippers. In the absence of a suitcase rack, we used a low cupboard and the sofa. Wi-Fi was good and although there was AC, it wasn’t needed. Black and white photographs adorned the walls and included a head and shoulders portrait of what Google reverse image search tells me, was Frunzik Mkrtchyan, an Armenian stage and film actor widely considered to be one of the greatest of the Soviet period.
The bathroom was equally spacious but with a small shower cubicle and, although it was only a regular size shower head, the water was exceptionally powerful and hot. Complimentary toiletries were provided, the mirror/hairdryer combination was good, and there were plenty of towel hooks as well as a heated rail.
The hotel was centrally located and whilst getting ready for dinner we heard loud music which we discovered was being belted out from a municipal building opposite our room.
Arriving back after dinner we found the building illuminated in the red, blue and apricot colours of the Armenian flag and Charles Aznavour crooning out: he was instrumental in the rebuilding of the city after a devastating earthquake in 1988. Either the music stopped after we got in, or we were so tired we didn’t hear it after 10.30pm.
Apart from at check in we didn’t see any members of staff, even though we went in and out and passed reception several times. In the evening the bar and huge restaurant appeared closed, so we ate out as there were plenty of options nearby.
Breakfast didn’t start until 9am, and as we were on a tight schedule, we optimistically arrived five minutes early. We found the restaurant in darkness, although having spotted our arrival, the lights were switched on. A young man came and asked if we would like eggs and we said we’d be happy with fruit, yoghurt and maybe bread and cheese. After a 15 minute wait, our table was laid with a feast including a platter of strawberries, cherries and their national fruit, apricots, pots of fruit yoghurt, toast and lavash bread, tomato and cucumber salad with sour cream, two types of ham and three of cheese, dried fruits and nuts, black olives and apricot jam. We were offered juice and either Armenian coffee or Nescafe and we opted for the latter as we thought it would be quicker. It would have been lovely to linger over, but sadly time did not allow.
Although Gyumri is Armenia’s second largest city, we saw few tourists on the streets and we suspect we may have been the only guests in what was a relatively large hotel. We got the impression the lights would be turned out when we left.