Baku hotels – where to stay

Since a few years ago Azerbaijan has focused its efforts on developing local tourism sector, hotels in the country have sprung up like mushrooms. Today in Baku you will be spoiled for choice with a wide variety of sleepover places starting from internationally renowned brands to independent boutique hotels. In this post we will give you an idea about some of the best options, depending on your budget.

HIGH END

Fairmont – situated in one of the Flame Towers, the symbol of modern Baku. From the rooms you will get some of the best views of the capital.  It’s location provides a good starting point for the city tour but if you’re planning to visit some of the local clubs or restaurants you’ll have to take a cab.  In the hotel you will also find the only French restaurant in the city and a spa.

fairmont

Fairmont Hotel Flame Towers

Four Seasons – conveniently situated just on the outskirts of Icheri Sheher. This classically inspired yet modern hotel overlooks the Caspian Sea and the Boulevard, and is within a walking distance from most of Baku’s ”must-see”. Apart from an Italian restaurant and Bentley’s whiskey and cigar  bar, there’s also arguably the best seafood restaurant in the city (Kaspia) and a luxury spa.

4 Seasons Forbes

Four Seasons Hotel Source: Forbes

JW Marriott Absheron the hotel is overlooking the massive Azadliq Square and Dom Soviet. JW Marriott Absheron is situated in the modern, futuristic part of the city, about 30mins walk  from the Old Town and other tourist attractions. Apart from the luxury spa, there are as well two restaurants – Oronero and Fireworks. The first one serves Italian food and has spacious outdoor dining terrace, while the other offers an exciting mix of Azerbaijani, Turkish, Iranian and Punjabi food.

Marriott

Source: Panoramio

Hilton Baku – centrally located, overlooking the Boulevard and the Caspian Sea, close to all tourist attractions and the shopping area. Apart from the open terrace Sky Grill located on the 24th floor and Cilantro, a restaurant serving Middle Eastern and Mediterranean inspired food, there is also Baku’s only 360° Bar offering incredible views over the sea and the city.

sky bar hilton

Hilton 360 Bar

MID RANGE

Park Inn – located next to Hilton, close to the cultural sites and business center. Very popular with corporate travellers. The top floor is occupied by Eleven, one of the most popular clubs in the city. Situated in the vicinity of bars, restaurants and the shopping area.

park inn

Park Inn. Source: Hg2

Central Park – located about 15mins walk from the Fountain Square and the Old Town, very close to the spacious, recently created Winter Park and the remains of the last century’ s oil barons’ mansions. It allows you to experience a different side of Baku without taking you away from the center. In the vicinity of bars and restaurants.

Central Park hotel_

Central Park Hotel

BOUTIQUE

Shah Palace  –  a charming boutique hotel situated in Icheri Sheher, just by the Shamakhi Gate (Double Gate), provides an excellent starting point for the city tour. Its atmospheric interior  combines the elements of classical, Azerbaijani architecture with pieces of national artwork. Apart from the outdoor terrace restaurant, there is also a wine bar serving some of the finest local and international wines.

shah palace

Shah Palace Hotel

Atropat – situated in the heart of Icheri Sheher; perfect starting point for the city sightseeing. Atropat offers an open air roof dining terrace with 24hr service.

atropat hotel

Atropat Hotel. Source: destinia

Sultan Inn – located in the center of Icheri Sheher. In their own words ”the hotel blends harmoniously with the surrounding reality and is conveniently positioned close to famous historic landmarks reached by winding old streets with mosques, carpet and handicraft shops”. The hotel offers as well an excellent open air roof terrace restaurant serving good quality Azerbaijani food.

Sultan Inn

Sultan Inn hotel

BUDGET

Noah’s Ark – situated in Icheri Sheher, very close to tourist attractions and within a walking distance from popular bars and restaurants. Apart from the standard hotel rooms, there’s also an apartment available for rent that will accommodate up to 5 people (120 sq m). On the 5th floor, there’s also an Azerbaijani restaurant with 360′ city view.

Noah's ark

Noah’s Ark Hotel

Altstad Hotel – a small hotel (8 rooms only) situated in Icheri Sheher, surrounded by  main tourist attractions of the Old Town and within a walking distance to bars, restaurants, shops and museums.

Alstadt

Altstadt Hotel. Source: Lonely Planet

Caspian Hostel – a family-run hostel located in Icheri Sheher. Rooms available: an eight-bed dorm and a double-bed in a separate room. There is also a kitchen and separate bathroom with shower.

caspian hostel

Caspian Hostel. Source: Lonely Planet

These are only some suggestions on where to stay in Baku. For more information please contact us and we will be happy to advise. In the next post we will  prepare a list of the best places to stay when traveling around Azerbaijan.

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Novruz – celebrating the Zoroastrian New Year

Novruz (translation from Persian language: New Day) is celebration of the first day of the year, according to the Persian calendar, and the coming of Spring. This secular festivity derived from the Zoroastrian heritage (fire worshippers) is celebrated on the day of the astronomical Northward equinox, which usually occurs on March 21, and is preceded by weeks of traditional preparations. In old days the holiday marked the first day of calendrical year but after Azerbaijan came under the Soviet rule New Year’s Day was introduced as January 1, and Novruz celebrations were prohibited. However, after the fall of the USSR the new government put it back in the calendar and today Novruz is the most important holiday celebrated in the country. Apart from Azerbaijan, the traditions of Nowruz are also strong among people in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan and Turkey.

Traditions of Novruz

In this section we include just a few of the most important Novruz customs. For more detailed information please click on the links below.

news.az

Novruz table. Image by: news.az

Symbols of Spring

Typical Novruz table is prepared with various items including: candles, fresh flowers, nuts, sweets, local pastries, dried fruits, dyed eggs, and the samani, a newly sprouted wheat. Samani symbolizes the beginning of new life, prosperity and abundance. Almost every family grows one but you can also buy them in bazar. To ensure that samani is ready for Novruz, it should be sown about 2 weeks in advance.  

Cleansing and rebirth

Novruz is also a good time to buy new clothes or clean the house and the garden. Many treat it as well as an opportunity to renew relationships. People who have had quarrels and refused to speak with each other often choose this occasion to forgive one another.

tree pruning

Tree pruning.  Source: Saturday Evening Post

Family and friends

In anticipation of Novruz, people prepare lots of food and sweets and visit each other at home. There is a certain hierarchy related to the visits –  the oldest members of the community receive guests first. In addition, gifts and food are shared with the needy, poor, and sick (Source: Azerbaijan International). On the eve of Novruz, many Azerbaijani people visit the cemetery where their parents are buried.

Children

Another important custom related to Novruz is the Halloween-like candy hunting. Children go around their neighbors’ homes, knock at their doors, and leave their cups or little baskets while hiding, waiting for treats.

DSC_0009

Source: az-dc.blogspot.com

Jumping over bonfires

Chahar Shanbe Suri or jumping over bonfires is celebrated on the night of the last Wednesday of the old year. During this night people traditionally gather and light small bonfires in the streets and jump over the flames shouting ”Zardie man az to, sorkhie to az man”, which in Persian means ”May my sickly pallor be yours and your red glow be mine”. With this phrase, the flames symbolically take away all of the unpleasant things that happened in the past year. Nowadays, due to safety issues, many people simply light the bonfire in the street and shout the special phrase without getting too close to the flames (Source: Celebrating Novruz. Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Harvard University).

Useful links:

Celebrating Nowruz. A Resource for Educators. The Outreach Center. Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Harvard University

Novruz. Celebration that would not die. Azerbaijan International.