Where to Stay in Georgia - Guesthouse and Hostel Roundup

*Note: Family and friends who read this blog and are not planning a trip to Georgia - you all should probably skip this post. Random internet people, if any of you find your way here - welcome! I hope you find this helpful.

Accommodation is a very personal thing - what makes a place great to one person might make it awful for another person. My top requirements are cleanliness, quiet at night, friendly vibe and good food (if applicable). If that matches with your needs, read on for some tips on places to stay throughout Georgia!

First: Do You Need to Book Ahead?

YES, in Tbilisi - at least during the summer high season (July, August, early Sept). If you have a specific place you want to stay you should definitely contact them with a few days notice. I always made sure to email my hostel in Tbilisi at least 2 or 3 days out - only once were they unable to accommodate me. But I heard many a traveler be turned away when they showed up at the front desk at 3pm looking for an empty bed. With a few exceptions, the hostels in Tbilisi also tend to be kind of spread out, so if your first attempt is unsuccessful, you may have to traipse across town to find another option.

*A note on booking: If you can, do it directly through the hostel, not booking.com/hostelworld/etc - it is cheaper for you, and for them!

Outside of Tbilisi, not really - everywhere else I went, I just showed up and started calling places from the Lonely Planet (usually I start with the place that mentions having the best food. I have priorities.) Most of the time I only needed to call one or two before I found a spot. This strategy works best if you have a local cell phone and a guidebook. If you don't, you might want to have your previous guesthouse call ahead for you and book something - the majority of the family-run guesthouses in smaller towns do not have any internet presence.

Where to stay?


Envoy Hostel 

I spent about 20 nights at Envoy over 6 weeks, and only 2 nights at other hostels in Tbilisi.

What I liked: Clean and bright; air conditioning in all the dorms (though sometimes fools shut it off in the middle of the night); ample bathrooms and hot-water showers - including female-specific ones; large lockers for every bed; some very friendly staff; rooftop terrace overlooking the river - perfect for catching up on blogging, drinking free airport wine with new friends, or hanging your laundry to dry in the summer sun.

Bonus: Envoy offers free walking tours to guests (10 lari for non-guests), which I highly recommend as an intro to the city (book ahead, they fill up!) You also get a discount on their day tours to various regions.

What I didn't like: The included breakfasts are pretty lackluster, and some of the dorm rooms are very small.

Price: 25 lari/night for an 8-person dorm bed, breakfast included

(Note: they also have a centrally-located hostel in Yerevan with great staff and tour guides!)

Back up: Namaste Hostel 

One night Envoy wasn't available, so I stayed down the street at Namaste. It's a reasonable alternative.

What I liked: Bright, big dorm room with windows overlooking the whole city. Friendly staff. Cute decor. Communal kitchen.

What I didn't like: Only one shower/bath combo upstairs, and one separate shower/bath downstairs. No air conditioning, which meant the windows were open all night - they open onto the bar/club area of Old Town, so it was pretty noisy.

Price: 25 lari/night for a 10-person dorm, no breakfast


Temraz and Lela Nizaradze's Guesthouse
(phone number listed in Lonely Planet 2012 Georgia guidebook)

My trip to Ushguli was pretty last-minute, so I hadn't had time to even think about where to stay. When the Jeep got to the village my driver asked where I was going. I said I didn't know and pointed to the first entry in the Lonely Planet. He called them for me, reserved a spot, and then carried my bag all the way there! I only intended to stay one night, but I wound up staying for 3 because I loved it so much.

What I liked: Lela's home cooking is amaaaaaaazing. It's so much more varied than what you get in restaurants and includes lots of vegetable dishes (there's always one meat dish on the table, but it would be easy to eat vegetarian here). She baked fresh bread every morning, set a huge array of dishes on the table at every meal, and would send us with breakfast leftovers to eat on our day hikes.

The house itself is also nice - try to get a room with a window, the views are spectacular and the mountain air is so refreshing. There are only 4 rooms, so the 2 shared bath/shower combos were usually sufficient. Everything is clean and cozy.

What I didn't like: Honestly, I can't think of anything. This place was idyllic - a fluffy dog in the yard who would go on hikes with you, green hills and snow-covered mountains outside the window, even the other guests there were just lovely. There's no wifi in all of Ushguli, which was actually great but good to know ahead of time. And Lela doesn't speak too much English, so communication might be more difficult outside of the summer months when her daughter is there to translate.

Price: 30 lari only breakfast (don't even consider this option)/40 half-board (breakfast+dinner - my choice)/50 full-board

peeking out my window in Ushguli. so peaceful!


Marina's Guesthouse

What I liked: Great location near the road along the river that heads to the springs, but still only a 10-minute walk from the bus station (it can be hard to find - stop and ask for a detailed map at the tourist info center); Marina makes a lovely breakfast; my room was updated, clean and comfortable with a private bath and a separate sitting area.

What I didn't like: Wifi was slow and hard to access from my room. The exterior door to my sitting room and bathroom didn't lock (but my bedroom door did, so I just kept that locked instead).

Price: 30 lari/night including breakfast, for a private room and private bath

Borjomi at night, from Marina's balcony

Back up: Leo's Homestay

What I liked: Leo is very friendly and drove to pick me up from the main street, even though it's just a short walk. The beds were comfortable. And Leo's mom is the sweetest - I had a cold and she heard me coughing through the walls. She came and offered me tea with honey, and also gave me a small dinner because she knew I hadn't left the house to eat. Her breakfasts were also very tasty (don't plan on leaving too early - one couple nearly missed their bus because she wouldn't let them leave without pancakes!)

What I didn't like: One shared bathroom for the whole place; my room backed up to the family's quarters and was rather loud; pretty cramped and not much air flow.

Price: I was told 20 lari per person/per night including breakfast, but because I had a 3-bed room to myself they charged me 25.


Nazi's Guesthouse (pronounced with a soft z... "na-zee" not "nat-zi")

What I liked: Great location if you're hiking up to Gergeti Church/the glacier; dorm room has all single beds, which was a nice change from bunks; communal meals are served on the porch and are quite tasty, if a bit nontraditional - the garlic fried chicken was a big hit; laundry was free; Nazi speaks good English and helped us organize several excursions - to Juta, the waterfalls, and a ride back to Tbilisi.

What I didn't like: The 2 shared toilets and 2 shared showers were mostly okay, though often out of toilet paper, but the one sink for the whole place caused some major backups at rush hours (I'm looking at you, lady doing her entire nighttime face routine when I just want to wash my hands after the toilet; and you, guy shaving his back in the communal sink); no lockers in the dorm room for storing valuables (I kept mine locked inside my backpack).

Price: 35 lari with breakfast and dinner (and Nazi will let you snag bread and leftover veg for lunch while hiking!)

View from Nazi's terrace - the red roof in the foreground is a new hostel she is building, bit by bit.
 Estimated finish date? 2017.

There were also several places that I stayed but wouldn't recommend - none of them were really awful, but they weren't up to the standards I expected given the reviews they had online and the other places I'd stayed.

Batumi - Gulnasi's Guesthouse - the shared bathrooms were always completely wet and slippery, and the toilet paper was usually soaked from the shower (there was no separate shower cube); beds were uncomfortable and I had to make my own bed when I arrived ("Here: sheets"); no breakfast, though there was a kitchen that seemed to get heavy use. This place was highly rated online, but I just didn't have a good vibe here, when it came down to it.

Sighnaghi - Nana's Guesthouse - Nana's nice, it's centrally located, but the shared bathroom had zero water pressure in the shower. Wifi didn't work at all in the first room I was in. Considering the price and the reviews, I expected more.

Mestia - Manoni's Guesthouse - very friendly, though not much English spoken; meals were mediocre and repetitive; shared baths were small; they never turned anyone away, so the last night I wound up being put in the private room of the caretaker which was awkward; no secure luggage storage for trekkers (just leave it behind the couch?); wifi didn't work in many places in the house.

Tbilisi - Nest Hostel - again, very nice people, very friendly atmosphere, and they offer cheap laundry (5 lari). But the rooms were hot and had no A/C or ventilation; the courtyard - which opened on to the kitchen and dorm rooms - was always full of smokers which made the other rooms unpleasant; and there were only 2 bathrooms (shower/toilet combos) for the whole place.


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