Howdy all and time for another RETRO Review, where we shift back through time to many years back now and I write about a place I stayed at which has remained in the corners of my memory for one reason or another. Today, I’m writing about Gulnara Guesthouse where I stayed in June 2011 when I was in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.
It stayed in my mind because it was, to be fair, a really good place to stay. A budget option in Tashkent, not too far from the Chorsu Metro station and the Chorsu Bazaar, a nice market in Tashkent. Trip Advisor today rates it as the number ONE Bed and Breakfast in Tashkent, which you know, is something!
I knew it was going to be pretty cool when I arrived there after a very long day of travel from Bishkek, through Kazakhstan, in one marshrutka and three shared taxis. That was quite the journey, through two border points, many towns, to finally arrive in Tashkent after dark. I rocked up at the Gulnara Guesthouse, knowing it was highly regarded, and sadly it was full.
I was offered a place to stay by the nice gentleman I travelled with, by the name of Sergey, and stayed the first night there before heading off by train to Bukhara the next day. Although I had planned to start my time in Uzbekistan in Tashkent, I decided to move it to the end of my time there, because that’s when Gulnara had free rooms.
So I did my thing in Bukhara and Samarkand before returning to the Uzbek capital. I wondered exactly what my room would be like, I had booked a single. They have a good variety of rooms, from beds in shared rooms to singles, doubles, triples etc. The larger rooms too I think can be booked for a party.
I was really pleasantly surprised. The set up is really nice, although from the street you might not think there’s much behind the doors of Gulnara. It’s a large courtyard, two storeys with rooms to each side of this courtyard. The courtyard is leafy and pleasant, and a wonderful place to meet other travellers. A lot of people at the time were there waiting for onward visas, and in 2011 all countries needed visas in Central Asia and Uzbekistan borders the other four countries – the only one of the central Asian countries to do so.
The room was neat and clean. The shower and toilet were shared, but it was a bit of a budget room, and it’s a well priced place for the value you get for staying there. It was well painted and had a handy heater, a simple but comfortable bed and was very clean. The whole place in fact seems slightly dated in a way, but the fact that it’s so clean and well maintained means that it doesn’t matter one little bit! It was also carpeted and had proper curtains.
I just remember being very comfortable there, and I guess I found this to be my sort of place. Laid back, with many people coming and going. The courtyard was a great place in the evening and mornings. At the start of the day you enjoyed your breakfast there as the city woke up and you could hear that in the back ground.
In the evening people would cook for themselves or bring something back and have it on a table in the courtyard under the lighting. There were plenty of shops in the area, the nearby Beruni Avenue was packed with shops, restaurants and take away spots so it worked very well in that respect. The owners and managers were friendly if business like, but the travellers you meet in Central Asia are a certain type of traveller. They have been to a few places it’s fair to say, and have plenty of stories and are interesting people on the whole.
I am so lucky to have found my book with my 2011 ratings in it. I only did it on four scales back then, but I will give them to you. I did a check on the place and for a room for two adults it’s around $36USD, which is still pretty good value especially in the capital. I paid a bit less for my single, $20US in 2011, that was with shared bathroom and included air conditioning, which is important in the Uzbek summer! Although I recall the room kept pretty cool regardless.
Value for Money – 3/5
Cleanliness – 4.5/5
Noise – 3/5
Friendliness – 3.5/5
Total – 14/20 [70/100]
Actually I think I rated it a little harshly, my memory is that it was better than that!
Thanks for popping by, take care – and May the Journey Never End!