When traveling, first impressions mean a lot – especially when it comes to hostels. Over the last eight and a half months, the hostels I have enjoyed the most also tended to be the ones that started things off on the right foot.
The Old Town Hostel Tbilisi was actually the third hostel I visited in the city and definitely the only one to start with a great first impression. When I arrived on a Monday morning, I walked up to the building to find four or five people sitting around chatting in a small courtyard. Immediately, a petite girl with long hair and a name badge hanging around her neck asked in perfect English if she could help me. This may not seem like a big deal, but considering that at my previous hostel, I was greeted by a guy with no shirt and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth who barely spoke English, I was ecstatic.
Once we went inside, she introduced herself not just as working there or as a staff person, but as my “host” for the day. I thought that was quite cool and very welcoming, and I appreciated that every other staff member I met during my stay introduced themselves the same way – and they all wore t-shirts and name badges to clearly identify themselves as staff (oops, I mean hosts). Seriously, I wish every hostel did that.
They did everything they could to make me feel at home.
My private room was up on the third floor, which I appreciated both for the extra exercise and for the quiet, away from the common area. I have stayed in private rooms in hostels in the past that may as well have been dorms because they were right off the common areas and subject to loud noise at all hours. I loved that my room was away from all of that – I could hang out downstairs with everyone else if I wanted, but when I needed to get some work done, I could enjoy the peace and quiet of my room.
The location of the Old Town Hostel was great as well – as the name suggests, it is in the heart of Old Town Tbilisi, within walking distance of the Freedom (Liberty) Square Metro station and providing easy access to many of the main sites, like Narikala Fortress, Mekehti Church, several museums and the main drag, Rustaveli Avenue.
How a hostel handles glitches makes all the difference.
Of course, no place you stay is perfect – especially in the former Soviet Union, things can and do come up. I had two hostels in a row in Ukraine lose power in the midst of their deep freeze this winter. Stuff happens.
During my stay at Old Town, their washing machine broke. Now, I had not done proper laundry since I was in Istanbul three weeks earlier and, knowing I was heading to six days of remote homestays in Azerbaijan the following week, I was counting on washing a lot of clothes while in Tbilisi. To say I was a little freaked out about the washing machine breaking might be putting it mildly.
At the same time, I realized it certainly was not their fault and they were doing everything they could to get it fixed. They handled the situation perfectly, keeping me updated, trying to find me a reasonably priced laundromat (if anyone wants to start a business in Tbilisi, I suggest starting an express laundry place that charges by the kilogram because there are none!) and the owner even offering that he would wash everything at his place if the machine was not fixed by the day before I was scheduled to depart.
I really couldn’t have asked for much more – and lucky for me, the machine did get fixed in plenty of time before I left.
And when I returned to Old Town after a weekend trip out of Tbilisi, I didn’t feel like I was checking into just another hostel – my hosts greeted me like an old friend and made me feel right at home again.
The Old Town Hostel Tbilisi and Hostelworld teamed up to provide my stay free of charge, but the opinions expressed above are mine and mine alone. If you want to stay at the Old Town Hostel, or simply learn more, visit the Hostelworld site by clicking the banner below (note: I will receive a small commission from any booking).
Old Town Hostel Tbilisi, Khodasheni Str. 7, Tbilisi.