A hotel offers a new look at what luxury means

Valeri Ched and Angela Brav

Valeri Chekheria and Angela Brav

Well well well, as a change from super-luxury hotels the gal checked into a Holiday Inn, but not, it is vital to say, any old Holiday Inn. The doyenne of Georgia’s capital city’s hostelries, the 270-room Holiday Inn Tbilisi, is absolutely fabulous. Look at its striking entrance, above – the image shows how Tbilisi does, alas, have its ghastly drive-through McDonald’s but fortunately, as well as cranes showing modern structures to come, it also has magnificently preserved old buildings. Valeri Chekheria, nominally GM of Holiday Inn Tbilisi, was showing the hotel off to Angela Brav, who heads IHG, and thus Holiday Inns, for the whole of Europe, which also includes Georgia, on the eastern seaboard of the Black Sea.

Looking up at the splendid 21-floor beauty

Looking up at the splendid 21-floor beauty

The hotel was born in 1972, as the Adjara: it then had 18 floors, and its massive casino made all the money. In 2007 the casino operator bought the tired hotel from the government, added three more floors and covered the whole caboosh in shiny one-way blue glass. He also cleverly enticed Valeri Chekheria, a Georgian economist and statistician whom he had met in New York, to come and run his hotel, and also start what would become Adjara Group Hospitality (Valeri Chekheria’s business card actually calls him CEO of the company). With the help of 269 team members, however, he does run an absolutely first-class hotel, as I found evidenced again and again.

Room 1107 has a whole wall of 'books'

Room 1107 has a whole wall of ‘books’

First, I loved my room, which had a whole wall of ‘books‘, or rather it was papered with repeating photographs of what appears to be a library – see the video below for a tour of the whole room, with its wood floor and whole wall of window, looking south over the old city. The hotel has a gym that is better than 50 percent of those in so-called luxury hotels: it has the latest Technogym equipment, with the ability to play games while you work out, and it is open 24/7. The breakfast buffet, and accommodating egg chef, are spectacular, as is the coffee (probably only 75% of luxury-level hotels tick all these boxes). And for the staff nothing is too much trouble.

Georgian salad, right, and chicken stuffed with Georgian truffles

Georgian salad, right, and chicken stuffed with Georgian truffles

Email front desk your boarding card and it is literally delivered, in an A4 plastic wallet, in five minutes. Ask to have your room cleaned, and two maids arrive, in five minutes (they must have a five-minute mantra, even an engineer arrived in five minutes). I arrived at 10.20 pm, ravenous, and my room service dinner came in 25 minutes, and it not only looked good, on Villeroy & Boch china, but it tasted good, too, and it reminded me where I was. My Georgian salad, with cucumber and crushed walnut, was memorable for some of the world’s tastiest-ever tomatoes, and then I went on to chicken breast stuffed with black truffles – yes, Georgian. Frankly, who needs ‘luxury hotel’ status after this?