Same hotel – two different experiences

1043 Reviews

Star Travel Rating

3/5

Review type

Accommodation

Location

Date of travel

June, 2023

Product name

Paliani Hotel

Product country

Georgia

Product city

Mestia

Travelled with

Couple

Reasons for trip

Culture/Sightseeing

If you’re visiting Ushguli, one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe, your starting point is likely to be the townlet of Mestia.

We stayed at the Paliani Hotel before and after our visit to Ushguli, and on both occasions, check in was simple, with dietary requirements being checked as breakfast and dinner were included in our package. Whilst the hotel looks relatively new and modern, there was no lift, but help was provided with our bags.

On our first visit, our third floor room was large with a high ceiling and wooden floor, but disappointingly, a view of the rear car park. On return, we were luckier as our second floor room had a balcony, albeit no chairs, and overlooked the town’s medieval towers and river.

Both rooms were fine, with comfortable beds, tea and coffee making facilities, wardrobes with slippers, robes, and safe. However, our second room appeared slightly unfinished with stools for bedside tables, no reading lights, a bare concrete ceiling, a space instead of a fridge, and a wall bracket for a TV but no TV.

Bathrooms were modern, light and bright, with powerful hot powerful water, and heated towel rail. There were no sockets in the bathroom, but the hairdryer could be plugged in near a mirror in the rooms.

On returning, Wi-Fi was fickle on arrival, and non-existent when we left.

Our first dinner was a splendid, but no-choice affair. First to arrive was a chicken salad with potato wedges and four rolls. Just as we started to tuck in, huge bowls of broccoli soup arrived, followed by a four-piece khacapuri oozing molten cheese. Before we’d even had chance to start the cheesey bread, a ketsi or clay dish full of fried pork and home-made potatoes arrived. At this point I checked it was the final dish, as if not, I was going to call a truce. Fortunately it was the finale as desserts are rarely served in Georgia. Whilst we ensured we finished our bottle of dry white wine, unfortunately lots of food remained uneaten.

On our return, dinner was the same chicken salad, but this time served with a bowl of lobio or bean stew and corn bread. Then came the expected bowl of soup with five huge bread rolls and rather delicious home-made style fries, but it felt as though there should be one more dish. However, having seen the three kitchen ladies retire to the terrace for a cigarette, we knew that was it.

Breakfast at 8am was a feast laid out just for the two of us with yoghurt, chopped banana and apple, orange juice, four hardboiled eggs, four slices of cheese and four of ham, cucumber and tomato salad, rice salad, cottage cheese, sour cream and the star of the show, cheesy potato (tashmijabi – a Svanetian local dish) and also Svanetian salt (mixed with various spices). Tea and coffee were also available, which went well with the chocolate Swiss roll.

There were issues with the timing of our second breakfast. Before retiring for the night, we confirmed we’d like breakfast at 8am, only to be told it wouldn’t be available until 8.30am due to ‘staffing issues’. As this was the time we were leaving, we negotiated a simpler and earlier breakfast.

The bar service was also problematic on our second visit when unlike the previous time when it had been excellent, it took forever to make two G&T with the bar man apologising that he’d never made them before.

Our differing experiences, only one night apart, reinforced my view that you should never return to a hotel if you want to avoid disappointment.

The hotel’s website has a quirky video featuring rabbits on beds, balloons falling out of cupboards when they’re opened and people dancing energetically. It is not clear why.

Helen Jackson

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