Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, celebrated its 20th birthday this summer, one year after hosting an ambitious international Expo designed to raise global awareness of a city eager to embrace a leadership position in the economic development of Central Asia and the new Silk Road. The luxury hotel most associated with the 2017 Expo and its futuristic Congress Center is the adjacent Hilton Astana, whose stunning architecture reflects the ultra-modern image of a metropolis that is just coming of age in the 21st century.
The Hilton Astana consists of two conjoined and equally impressive wings: the main main building housing the lobby and guest rooms arrayed around a soaring atrium, and a spherical annex containing the hotel’s ballrooms and meeting spaces. Sweeping curved staircases connect the cavernous main lobby with the elegant ballroom lobby.
Glass elevators overlooking the atrium whisk guests to their rooms, whose entrances all give out onto this inner courtyard, which is flooded with natural light that streams in through a glass wall extending eight floors in height. As a security measure, access to guest room floors requires a room key to operate the elevator.
These guest rooms are extremely spacious, accommodating king-sized Hilton Serenity beds, work areas with oversized desks, 40-inch smart HDTV’s that welcome you with a personalized message, and huge windows affording panoramic views of Astana’s sprawling Expo complex. Naturally, rooms are furnished with mini-bars and espresso machines, and are equipped with complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi.
The bathrooms are equally capacious, encompassing a full-sized bathtub and roomy walk-in shower stall — both with multiple and massaging shower heads — as well as toilets with their own doors. The panoply of amenities, by luxury brand Peter Thomas Roth, was the most comprehensive I have found in any hotel: besides the usual toiletries, there was a dental kit, loofah, and a massaging bar of soap.
The Hilton Astana has three options for dining. The main restaurant is the Park Kitchen, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner; food is also served in the AXIS lobby lounge, and in Cloud 9, the rooftop bar whose indoor and al fresco seating areas offer breathtaking views of the city.
There is also an executive lounge, which serves finger food, snacks and drinks during designated hours. While the entire hotel is a non-smoking property, there is one dedicated smoking room in the vicinity of Cloud 9.
One of the great perks associated with staying at the Hilton Astana is the complimentary access to one of the nicest hotel spas one can ever hope to encounter. Room keys enable 24-hour access to a fitness room equipped with state-of-the-art exercise and weight machines, while the other [all co-ed] facilities — indoor swimming pool, whirlpool bath, dry sauna and hamam (Turkish bath) — are open extended hours.
The coolest spa feature by far, however, is the salt room, a real rarity on the road. I am familiar with the concept, having experienced one — and its health benefits — at the Dead Sea. I practiced my daily meditation session on one of the comfortable lounge chairs, and it was the most relaxing hour I had spent in a long time.
The hotel is conveniently located equidistantly between the international airport and downtown Astana, either of which is just a 12-minute drive away. Moreover, right next door is the city’s largest shopping mall, offering easy access to a multitude of restaurants, stores and movie theatres.
No. of rooms: 253 (plus 12 suites)
Text by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of the Hilton Astana, the embassy of Kazakhstan in Israel and the Kazakhstan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photos by Buzzy Gordon and courtesy of the Hilton Astana.