I’m guessing that a lot of you might not even have considered Georgia for a romantic minimoon break. But just a quick search on Google should help change your mind – the country is on just about every list of “hot destinations to visit in 2017”. The capital, Tbilisi, is fast becoming renowned for its culture, nightlife and food, while trips to the country’s seemingly endless mountains offer a chance to escape into the sort of dreamy peace that you hanker after at the end of a long week in the office. And if you've ever eaten Georgian food, I can guarantee that you have been longing to visit the country ever since. The delicate spices, tangy aubergines and delicious cheeses are the things that culinary dreams are made of. If you haven't tried it yet, Tbilisi is an ideal place to start and Rooms Hotel Tbilisi would be the perfect base to stay when you do.
Walking through the doors of this converted publishing house, you're welcomed by lovely staff (more on them later) into a haven of calm that feels like a New York townhouse on the afternoon before a party. Fireplaces, floor-to-ceiling bookcases and squashy sofas add to the relaxed bohemian vibe that makes you never want to leave.
My charming room was in keeping with the decor of the rest of the hotel – wooden floors, cool furniture and a wonderful comfy armchair to relax in. The gorgeous shower was a delight, with delicious-smelling toiletries, and the bed was heavenly to slip into after a long day of sightseeing. I have to give a special mention to the staff, who were kind, attentive and helpful – they help to make the hotel’s ambiance so special. Rooms Hotel also has a gorgeous bar that feels more like the living room in that New York townhouse, which at any time of day is a hangout for Tbilisi’s hip and arty crowd.
At the front of the hotel there is a heated terrace, draped with plants, that makes a good people-watching spot, and an internal courtyard that becomes a stunning place for an evening drink or two in the spring and summer. The hotel has a fabulous restaurant that wouldn’t be out of place in Soho and offers delicious meals throughout the day, but the food highlight for me was the buffet breakfast. It was wonderful – overseen by friendly and laidback staff, with so much choice you really need to spend a couple of hours there to do it justice. Just what you need first thing in the morning before heading out to experience everything this special city has to offer, or after a workout at the hotel’s well-equipped gym.
Tbilisi itself is in a stunning setting, in a valley with the Kura river running through it. When I arrived the hills were shrouded in cloud, but the following day the bright sunshine lit up the mountains; the views were just breathtaking. The city has everything you could want from an urban escape, whether you’re the kind of person who likes to immerse yourself in museums and exhibitions, or, like me, you like to combine it with wandering the streets, enjoying the unfamiliar sights and sounds of your new temporary home. Just a short walk from the hotel are some of Tbilisi’s best museums and galleries, including the National Gallery for art lovers and the fascinating History Museum which will help to put your trip into context. Or you can swing up to the ancient Narikala fortress in the cable car to see the city in all its glory, popping in to one of the stunning sulphur baths on your way back down to experience a centuries-old tradition that you will leave you feeling cleansed and relaxed. When you come out, you can head to Tbilisi’s old town, full of cute cobbled streets, quirky shops and cosy restaurants. I was there in December, but I could see that in spring and summer it must be a gorgeous place just to hang out and sip on a glass of Georgian wine.
Oh yes, the wine. Georgian wine isn’t well known in the UK, but only for the reason that it doesn’t stand a chance against the biggies like France, Spain and Italy. I can confirm that, having generously given my time to sample quite a bit for this review, it is truly delicious, and you will be spoiled for choice with the number of wine bars that line the streets of the old town. Some of these are perfect for cosying up on cold winter days, and others for accompanying your wine with a golden Tbilisi sunset in the summer. While you’re there, make sure you experience the delights of Georgian cuisine, which will have you racing to your nearest Georgian restaurant when you get back home.
You can also head out of the city quite easily for some of that mountain air in the Kaheti wine region, believed by Georgians to be where wine itself was first produced, and its spectacular David Gareja cave monastery. Rooms Hotel Tbilisi also has a sister property in Kazbegi, a stunning Caucasus mountain retreat that you could use as a base to immerse yourself further in this wonderful country.
Book Rooms Hotel Tbilisi and Rooms Hotel Kazbegi at designhotels.com
Flights to Tbilisi from £154 (price from Skyscanner.net, flying from London)