Retro Review – Hotel Relax, Astana (Nursultan), Kazakhstan

Howdy folks. It’s time for another ‘Retro Review’, as I like to call it, a review about a place I stayed in quite a while ago now. Previously I review my stay in Semey at ‘Hotel Semey’, and today it’s Nursultan, or as it was when I was there, Astana, and the hotel I stayed there in – Hotel Relax. I thought it was going to be hard to top a name of a hotel which was just the city it was in, but perhaps ‘Hotel Relax’ comes close.

Retro Reviews, I should mention, are not going to solely based in Kazakhstan. But I came to this choice today when I saw a picture of the hotel room when flicking through some pics from 2011. One can only hope that today the accommodation offerings have improved in Nursultan. Because in 2011 I struggled to find anything, and ended up in a place that sounds like there’s every chance it doubles as a brothel. As far as I saw, it didn’t, but you know ‘Hotel Relax’, one could well imagine it…

So I booked online but paid at the hotel. And I paid 6000 Tenge. I checked the 2011 exchange rate and back then it equalled around $42USD. That is a lot more than I would have budgeted for, but it was only for two nights and I balanced that out by having a place to stay for free in Almaty. Was it good value? Well, it’s hard to judge but I can only surmise there just wasn’t a lot of competition for hotels in 2011 in Astana. Cheaper digs were available – dorms at the train station was the only one I remember and that would only appeal… well it doesn’t.

I worked out a way to get there via local bus from the station. I knew Astana to be this glittering place before I went, but apart from the modernistic train station, this is not what I found on arrival. I was clearly in the old city, and could see what Akmola, the city which was there before they moved the capital there, was like. It was Soviet – old decaying buildings, and giant pipes above ground pumping who knows what but I’m going to guess gas.

I really don’t know how I found my way to the hotel, but I did. I had a five-ten minute walk after getting off the train. I did not have a smart phone, but I did have a printed out map with me I had printed off at a cyber café in Almaty or possibly Semey. Those were the days, hey?

It was a newish building, with a gravel carpark out the back. I think around five or six storeys high. It was a bit like an apartment building I guess, with a strange reception on the ground floor where a stuff wolf (or similar dog probably) sat and did little to welcome the guests. Reception was friendly/helpful enough.

Back in those days I rarely took photos of my hotel rooms. As it turned out whilst in Astana I bought a new camera, as my old one had developed splotches on the lens. So I had it in my room one night and I took a couple of photos from the bed. They are not great photos, and I neglected to take one of the large hole in the wall which I guess was made with a fist.

The room was pokey, and is somewhat reminiscent of some newer places in Central Asia which have not really been made to standard and aren’t as solid as they should be. It had a window overlooking the car park and on at least one night there was a lot of noise from youngsters in the car park having a bit of a party. Why they would choose to have it in the car park of such a hotel I know not.

All in all I was pretty regretful about this choice. It didn’t keep the noise out, it was damaged, and although $42 doesn’t sound like a lot it was for me at the time and frankly was a long way from being value for money. It wasn’t well located and I was no where near the centre of town or any of the interesting buildings. The buses were okay but not frequent enough and more than once I gave up waiting and took a cab. It also has a sauna I should say, which might be why it’s called ‘Relax’.

So I did a search to try and find it online today. I wondered if it still existed, and perhaps it does. I found this listing HERE. The price today works at around $24USD which is actually cheaper. The exterior photo I took from the website I just linked too. I do have the ratings I gave it, seems a tad generous to be honest!

Andy’s Ratings:

Value for Money: 2.5/5

Cleanliness: 3/5

Noise: 1/5

Friendliness: 4/5

Total: 10.5/20 [52.5/100]

Also on Nursultan/Astana –

Sunday Spotlight – Astana

The Bizarre Nursultan – Through My Lens

Thanks for stopping by! May the Journey Never End!

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