Tbilisi’s new Stamba Hotel, in a monolithic former Soviet-era printing house (stamba means print) has thrown caution to the wind and gone truly, madly, deeply for industrial chic.
This is no boutique–bijou transformation. The scale is Soviet-empire, though the concept taps seamlessly into the city’s contemporary hipster zeitgeist.
The building is stripped back to bare bones, and often left bare. The original metal newspaper drying racks still span the cavernous atrium (a glass-bottomed pool is planned for the top level).
A bellhop who looks as though he has stepped from a Wes Anderson movie swings open the door. Good-looking staff with flawless English welcome guests at the reception. The ground floor is ground zero for books – more than 90,000 (most in English) line bookshelves, tapping into the printing theme. You can choose one to read (but, seriously, you’ll be way too busy checking out the bar, restaurant and the hip crowd).
Emerging from the lifts on the fourth floor, we find minimalism reigns. It’s stark and moody. Rooms are more than spacious, with stripped parquetry floors, exposed metal, masses of shelving – all rather severe – but there are luxury bedlinens (giant bed), and masses of pillows.
The mini bar is seriously next level – half-size top-shelf liquors, plus a silver cocktail shaker, and fresh orange, lemon and lime for good measure. There are French teas, coffee maker, and a raft of hipster gadgetry – red press-button phone, turntable for vinyl (and some vinyl), a Sputnik-style metal stool.
On the open balcony a full-sized, gleaming gilded brass bathtub awaits those willing to get their gear off.
We, instead, head for the plump red leather stools at the Pink Bar, to order a cocktail. Young Georgian creatives, a delegation from the UN and international travellers seem to just pour through the doors.
Film screenings and talks take place in a vast courtyard amphitheatre. A free co-working space and curated events such as a film festival, music events, and a multi-media museum ensure a steady stream of locals.
Café Stamba’s all-day open kitchen, with its farm-to-table menu and organic herbs and veggies from a vertical indoor garden, also entices a crowd. Breakfast there was brilliant (don’t miss the house-made Georgian black-bread with walnuts and fresh local cheese).
A heady fragrance wafts across from coffee and chocolate roaster.
Stamba is well located, just off Tbilisi’s impressive main boulevard, Shota Rustaveli Avenue. If you fancy immersing yourself in Georgia’s new wave culture, the Stamba is just the hotel to do it.
Rates start from $320 per room, per night.
Find out more: stambahotel.com