“Splendid” is the first word that comes to mind when contemplating the Dostyk Hotel, 36 Kurmangazy Street, Almaty, Kazakhstan. Located in the heart of the city — a sector called the “Gold Square” — the entrance way leaves no doubt that you’ve arrived at a grand place to stay.
A massive open canopy held up by 10 columns, many of which sport trios of international flags, sets the tone at the driveway.
Two sets of stairs lead up to the lobby, which is ornate in that distinctly Eastern way — two stories of opulence with aristocratic purple carpeting, sturdy columns supporting a mezzanine, lots of marble, sparkly chandeliers, and gilded touches.
Art work — reminding guests of the hotel’s place on the legendary Silk Road — decorates the perimeter.
Lauded as the “best Soviet era luxury hotel in Kazakhstan” when it opened in 1983, the Dostyk was updated to Western standards in 2009 — but it’s customer service isn’t quite up to the international five-star level to which it aspires (the Soviet legacy lingers).
There are just 72 rooms. While the bedroom was well-appointed, it’s the gold-tiled bathroom that caught my fancy.
Amenities include a comb, toothbrush and paste, along with the “usual suspects”. Both the bidet and the toilet are stylishly rectangular, and the Dostyk has my favorite bathroom amenity: a heated towel bar. Even though I wasn’t in Almaty in winter, I loved wrapping up in the warmth of the terry cloth after a shower.
Alas! My schedule didn’t allow time for use of the pool or the fitness center. There’s free WiFi and breakfast is included in the room rate. You can make a reservation on the hotel’s site or through one of the usual booking sites such as Travelocity or Hotelopia. Prices start at about $140.
I have only one quibble: stairs. I’m used to hotels built to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act — there’s always another way in for those with mobility issues. Not at the Dostyk — at least as far as I could find. There are five wide stone steps from the driveway followed by another dozen to climb up to the entrance. Then, there are another six stairs from the check-in desk to the elevators. (Hauling a suitcase up three sets of stairs doesn’t say “luxury” to me.)
(Photos by Susan McKee)