Hotel Rahmon, Samarkand: A model of hospitality

Hotel Rahmon, Samarkand: A model of hospitality

On my recent flying visit to the Silk Road cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, my first contact with the locals was in this guesthouse I had just booked quickly in order to crash somewhere upon arrival.

I had already booked some fancier hotels in Bukhara and Samarkand and was looking for somewhere cheap yet clean. Pictures looked appealing, with a lot of green, and for 14 EURO, what could possibly go wrong?

A lot.

But not here. My first guesthouse in the country, however cheap and simple, was perfect. I have not been asked to write this, and I have  not received any rewards for this.  I simply want to share a good central budget accommodation in Samarkand.  More a guesthouse than a hotel, Hotel Rahmon opened last year though there appears to have been a guesthouse operation called called Abdu-Bahodir 2 before.

Location

The guesthouse is located in the Old Town close to the monuments. Unlike a picturesque European Old Town, a Central Asian Old Town is often more like jumbled together buildings, a confusing warren of unpaved streets, no street lighting and absence of cafes and restaurants other than some local tea houses. But if you can negotiate the confusing streets, you may also find curious locals, and historical buildings like the Gumbaz Synagogue and the Maturidi Samarkandi Mausoleum. Linking the Registan with the busy Siyob Bazaar area, the newly redeveloped touristy Tashkent Road is boring but good for orientation.

Walk out of the door, down a dust road, turn left, walk along another dust road, and you’re on the Registan. For accommodation close to Registan, Bibi Khanym and Siyob Bazaar, few hotels and guesthouses are any closer to the ancient monuments.

Old Town, Samarkand

On the other hand, coming from the main road, this place is a pain to find. My taxi driver phoned the guesthouse then stopped several times to ask for direction.

Samarkand feels very safe at all times although I tried to avoid walking in the Old Town after nightfall. Lack of street lights, potholes and uncovered drains are the real dangers here. I also walked between Gur Emir Mausoleum and Siyob Bazaar after nightfall, involving a stroll through the park and felt really safe.  In Bukhara I walked deep into the Old Town in search of an ancient mosque, so I presume the streets are really safe, even for the lone foreigner. And when you stick to paved and lit roads like Tashkent Road, it feels very safe.

Tashkent Road, Samarkand

Tashkent Road, Samarkand

Transport from Samarkand Airport and Station

From the guesthouse, you can easily (and safely) walk to the Registan, Bibi-Khanym, Siyob Bazaar, Shah-i-Zinda and Gur Emir Mausoleum. Bear in mind it gets really hot in the day and there often is no shade, though.

If you arrive at the airport, I recommend taking a taxi. Those picking up from the large boulevard outside the airport appear cheaper then the ones 100m in in the airport compound. Bleary-eyed after my night flight, I looked for a bus stop, didn’t find one and quickly hailed a taxi. I paid 5 US-Dollars for the 6km ride, which was quickly agreed on, and gave the driver the address I had printed out from my booking confirmation.

If you arrive at the train station, which is also 6km away from the guesthouse, you can actually take Bus No. 73 all the way to the Registan Stop then walk about 400m. Taxi fare is about 15000 Sum (~ 1.50 EURO) and a bus ticket, paid in cash to the inspector, 1200 Sum (~0.15 EURO). There is an electric  trolley between the Registan and Siyob Bazaar but it’s easy to walk to I never took it. A tram between the train station and Siyob Bazaar is under construction but wasn’t running as of March 2019.

The Guesthouse

I arrived from a 1am Aeroflot flight from Moscow, bleary-eyed and somewhat knackered, having travelled for about 12 hours. It was only 9am when I rang the bell to the guesthouse, and was greeted by a friendly guy who spoke some English and quickly led me through a green courtyard, past a carefully covered white Lada and though a large sitting room into a second large courtyard into my first-floor room off a communal internal balcony.

Hotel Rahmon Exterior, Samarkand

The tourist season was just beginning very, very slowly in March. A lot of communal areas were still in the process of being spruced up, like this large terrace. It was useable but not particularly cosy yet

Hotel Rahmon Terrance, Samarkand

Stairs up to the first floor and my room.

Hotel Rahmon Veranda, Samarkand

The Rooms

I stayed in a double room on the first floor. All rooms lead off a communal veranda, which is wonderfully green in summer. My room was small and very simple – with pretty tatty well-used furniture and a tiny bathroom with one of those showers over the toilet. However – it was super clean, freshly painted, and had a pretty wooden ceiling.

The bed was a less comfortable. I like a hard mattress, but this was pretty much like sleeping on a wooden board. I solved the problem by taking the mattress topper form the other bed to cushion my own, which actually made it quite comfy. Also, for this price I think it is fair to say not to expect high threat count snow white bed linen.

There is an air conditioner for those hot summer days, and a Soviet-era Central heating, which was on all the time and could not be adjusted, a common feature in all the hotels I stayed in Uzbekistan – that or no heating at all.

But the water was hot, the toilet flushing, and I slept well.

It’s an incredibly friendly place. When I returned home from my first day of sightseeing in Samarkand, I was approached by another young man, asking if I wanted tea, and led into the communal dining room, where I was served another pot of green tea, bisquits in the intriguing company of an Uzbek guy who spoke no English and a drunk Japanese guy who spoke a lot. The nice host even helped the drunk guy to his room patiently. In the morning, I was served a nice cooked breakfast in the same dining room, and they arranged for a taxi to take me to the train station. I also had a snoop around the other rooms, most looked pretty much like mine, bare bones basic, but some appeared to have been spruced up with new paint and furniture.

Entry to Usbekistan may currently be Visa-free for citizens of 65 Countries, but there still is a strict registration policy, so don’t be alarmed when they require to take your passport. As quickly as my passport was returned, a tray with green tea, honey, bisquits and seriously the best raspberry jam I’ve ever eaten appeared in my room.

 

Facilities

There are plenty of nice places to sit outside on long tables on a communal terrace, and little shaded courtyard areas. WiFi is great throughout, and thanks to the super attentive hosts, you’re never short of tea and bisquits. There is some secure bicycle storage, and I think it may be possible to park one or two cars upon prior arrangements securely in the courtyard.

They can arrange a taxi at a very reasonable price and some of the family that runs the hotel speak very decent English.

In March, only just beginning to become green again, but for most of the year, the verandahs are covered in vines and very pretty.

And it it one of a handful of guesthouses  within easy walking distance to the  Registan.

The Registan, Samarkand

The Registan, Samarkand

Special Treats

Did I mention the free-flowing tea and bisquits before? I have never tasted such good raspberry jam. Given how much is home-made and preserved here, I am sure a family member made it. Now I kick myself for not asking whether I could take a jar home. This place is super spartan, but the friendliness and warm welcome really make up for the hard mattresses and tiny showers.

Gur-e-Emir Mausoleum, Samarkand

Why stay here when visiting Samarkand?

Despite this being a simple guesthouse, their hospitality and friendliness are exceptional. It seemed nothing was too much to ask. If you can live with a spartan interior and rock-hard beds, this is the place to stay in Old Town Samarkand.

Old Town, Samarkand

Hotel Details

Address:  Bukharskkaya (Бухарская) Street  9, 140111 Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Telephone: +998 97 917 85 69

Hotel Website: (none)

I reserved this room on Booking.com and paid 14 EURO in March 2019 for a double room for single use. The guesthouse takes cash payment only, so I paid at the guesthouse.

Nearest Airport: Samarkand International Airport (SKD), 6km. The hotel can be difficult to find at first.  I highly recommend a taxi or asking the hotel to arrange airport pick-up.

Features: pretty courtyard garden, communal terrace, WiFi, great breakfast

Doesn’t have:  party culture, restaurant although I think bar service and meals can be arranged informally

Disclosure: This trip was entirely self funded. I will only review and recommend places that I have stayed in myself. You can trust me for the whole, unbiased truth. I have received no monetary or non-monetary rewards for linking aside from some affiliate links.  In this case, this post contains some affiliate links to Booking.com and Amazon. This means that I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you  book through the affiliate links. More details on my affiliate link policy are here

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