In this review we will stay at Old City Hotel and Apartments in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Leaving the airport
After a nice flight in business class on Azerbaijan Airlines I found myself in the wonderfully modern and organised arrival hall of Baku Airport. Once outside it’s however a completely different world as dozens of taxi drivers stand ready to ambush you the moment you walk out of the doors. Advice on the internet was to haggle hard – and even then you might still not be able to get a fair price for the ride into town.
After a few seconds haggling with five taxi drivers standing around me, I got a price of 20 manat quoted (around 10 euro). As at this point I really wanted to get to my accommodation as soon as possible and given that the price was acceptable enough to me, I accepted the offer, after which one of the five drivers forcefully dragged me away by my arm to his taxi.
This was somehow unacceptable for one of the other taxi drivers, who tried to grab me back to his taxi. The two drivers even ended up nearly fighting each other – although in the end one of them wisely backed down.
Into the old town
Inside the taxi – a nice, black London cab – it was all much more sedated and calm and I could finally relax and watch the scenery outside. It took some 30 to 40 minutes to get from the airport to the old town, from where I had to walk the last few metres to my accommodation on foot as some of the smaller alleyways are not navigable by car.
Hotel prices in Baku – especially those in the city centre – are very expensive compared to the rest of the country and the wider Caucasus region. Although price levels have somewhat dropped in recent years, you should still expect to pay Western European prices.
Where outside the capital you can get a good hotel for 25 EUR a night, you pay at least four to five times as much in Baku. As I really wanted to stay in the middle of all the action, I opted for a serviced apartment at Old City Hotel and Apartments as it had good ratings and reviews. The rate of 90 EUR per night also included breakfast.
Once I rang the doorbell of the building I was welcomed by a friendly host who escorted me to a desk to arrange all formalities. I was then brought to my apartment, which turned out to be on the ground floor close to the entrance.
The apartment was big, clean and nicely furnished. It consisted of a large living room with a few sofas and dining table, a modern kitchen, bathroom and master bedroom.
The apartment has everything you might need for a prolonged stay in Baku, such as a washing machine and a well-equipped kitchen with oven, microwave and a large fridge.
All apartments in the building have access to a common rooftop area which you can reach by elevator. From the terrace you can enjoy some sweeping views over Baku’s old town and the Caspian Sea.
If you however go up one more level to the actual rooftop using a rickety ladder, the views are even better. Even though it was extremely cold and windy I ended up staying for 15 minutes to absorb the lovely views, which were some of the better city views I’ve seen on my recent travels.
Probably due to the effect of the city lights the sky had a weird but gorgeous glow. Watching the old town streets below in this weather almost made me feel like being on an altogether different planet- it was fantastic.
Besides the views over the old town you also have a near-perfect view of the most famous Baku landmark. The Flame Towers, a trio of skyscrapers designed in the shape of flames, are by far the biggest eye-catcher of the Baku skyline. At night they are illuminated by LED lights, projecting a variety of scenes on the building from flames to the national flag of Azerbaijan.
The host explained that during the summer season, breakfast is served on the rooftop terrace and that they even host the occasional rooftop barbecue for their guests.
It being March, the weather was nowhere near good enough for that as the light drizzle and heavy winds blew in my face. Baku’s nickname is The City of Winds for a reason! In the winter months rain and wind is what you can expect – while in the summer months the city is way too hot to visit, making spring and autumn the best seasons for a Baku city trip.
The next morning I went up on my own again to the rooftop to get a glimpse of Baku during daylight hours. Again the views did not disappoint. I can indeed imagine the rooftop being an excellent location for a summer barbecue or evening beer!
After a good night of sleep in my apartment, a knock on the front door the next morning announced the arrival of the breakfast service. The host asked me about my preferred breakfast time the evening before and they did indeed follow up on that on the dot.
The breakfast was very tasty and similar in style to a Turkish breakfast, with some white cheese, jam, honey and other spreads, fresh cucumbers and tomatoes as well as some eggs.
As you would expect, the location of Old City Hotel and Apartments is excellent. You are right in the middle of the old town, which is lovely to walk through both at day and in the night.
The commercial city centre with its grand, ornate buildings of the Russian oil-boom era some 150 years ago, is a lovely 15 to 20 minute walk away. In this area you will find most restaurants and bars.
The nearest metro station is also a short walk away from the building.
I had a great stay at Old City Hotel and Apartments and would love to come back once again. The apartments are large, well-equipped and clean – and the rate includes a good cooked breakfast. The location in the middle of the old town is excellent too.
Best of all are perhaps the great rooftop terrace views, which is a great advantage for those visiting in the warmer months of the year.
The only small downside is that the apartments are relatively expensive, but that is something which counts for basically all accommodation in the city centre of Baku.
You will be able to find cheaper apartments further out of the centre if Old City Hotel and Apartments are a bit above your budget, but to me the central location, great service and lovely views did warrant the price.
Trip report index
This article is part of the ‘Siberian Shuffle – A Crazy Winter Trip Around Eurasia‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:
1. Review: Wizz Air Bucharest to Oslo Sandefjord Torp (Airbus A321)
2. A Day in the Norwegian Capital of Oslo
3. Review: Norwegian Railways Night Train Oslo-Stavanger in a Private Sleeper
4. Review: Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Stavanger
5. Stavanger – A Great Norwegian City Trip Surprise
6. Review: North Sea Lounge Stavanger Airport
7. Review: KLM Cityhopper Business Class Stavanger to Amsterdam (Embraer RJ-175)
8. Guide to the Carnival Celebrations in the Netherlands
9. Review: KLM Crown Lounge (Schengen) Amsterdam Airport
10. Review: Air France Business Class Amsterdam to Paris (Airbus A319)
11. Review: ‘Salon Paris’ Business Class Lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2C
12. Review: Aeroflot Business Class Paris to Moscow (Airbus A320)
13. Review: Aeroflot Domestic Business Class Lounge Moscow Sheremetyevo
14. Review: Aeroflot Domestic Business Class Moscow to Irkutsk (Boeing 737-800)
15. Review: Matreshka Hotel, Irkutsk
16. Irkutsk Trip Report: Exploring the ‘Paris of Siberia’ in Winter
17. Review: Mayak Hotel, Listvyanka (Lake Baikal)
18. A Winter Trip to the Frozen Wonderland of Lake Baikal
19. Review: Ibis Irkutsk Center Hotel, Irkutsk
20. Review: Domestic Business Class Lounge Irkutsk Airport
21. Review: Aeroflot Domestic Business Class Irkutsk to Moscow (Boeing 737-800)
22. Review: Pushkin Hotel, Moscow
23. A 24 Hour Stopover in the Russian Capital of Moscow
24. Review: ‘Moscow’ and ‘Jazz’ Business Lounges Moscow Sheremetyevo Terminal D
25. Review: Aeroflot Business Class Moscow to Paris (Airbus A320)
26. Review: TAROM Business Class Paris to Bucharest (Airbus A318)
27. Review: TAROM Business Lounge Bucharest Otopeni Airport
28. Review: Air France Business Class Bucharest to Paris (Airbus A320)
29. A Short Overnight Stopover in Paris
30. Review: Sheltair Business Lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2D
31. Review: Azerbaijan Airlines Business Class Paris to Baku (Airbus A320)
32. Review: Old City Hotel and Apartments, Baku, Azerbaijan (current chapter)
33. Destination Baku: An Intriguing Mix Between Old and New
34. Guide: Train Travel in Azerbaijan
35. Sheki: Azerbaijan’s Most Lovely Town and Springboard to the Caucasus
36. Must Be the Ganja! A Visit to the City of Ganja in Azerbaijan
37. Review: Shah Palace Hotel, Baku, Azerbaijan
38. Review: Azerbaijan Airlines Business Lounge Baku Airport
39. Review: Azerbaijan Airlines Business Class Baku to Paris (Airbus A320)
40. Review: Air France Business Lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2F
41. Review: KLM Business Class Paris to Amsterdam (Boeing 737)
42. Review: KLM Business Class Amsterdam to Bergen (Boeing 737)
43. Blissful Bergen – Is It Really Norway’s Most Beautiful City?
44. Review: Bergen to Oslo on a Norwegian Intercity Train (Bergensbanen Railway)
45. The Flamsbana Railway – From the Myrdal Mountains to the Fjord at Flam
46. Review: SAS Economy Class Oslo to Brussels (Boeing 737-600)
47. Review: Diamond Lounge Brussels Airport Pier B Non-Schengen
48. Review: TAROM Economy Class Brussels to Bucharest (Boeing 737-800)