To know it is to love it – here’s my ultimate Tbilisi guide – enjoy!
Where to stay
Just a few months after opening, Stamba was listed as one of Time’s Top 100 Things In The World. The interiors are an Instagrammer’s dream of 1920s old-world glamour, with its sprawling garden bar nestled into a magnificent Brutalist building (it once housed the printing press for Soviet propaganda in occupied Georgia). It is full of hidden surprises – look for the chocolaterie and roastery or the chic casino buried in the depths of the library.
There is a touch of Wes Anderson in one of Tbilisi’s coolest hotels. Owned and designed by the man behind Stamba, it has all of its charm if not its scale. From the uniforms of the incredibly attentive staff to the tassel on your room key and the sound the lift makes when you press the button, every detail has been crafted to perfection. There’s also a fun garden bar with a great cocktail menu and bar snacks.
Affordable, chic, glamourous rooms in the heart of the city
Where to drink
The wine shop and bar reference Georgia’s centuries-old wine production. Georgia’s wines are more naturally produced and need proper climate control and care to store and serve them properly which this place gets right. If you’re looking to sample and learn more about wine in Tbilisi, in a place beloved of locals, as well as tourists who are passionate about wine then this is the place for you.
This small, chic wine shop near the Old Town offers around 100 family-made Qvevri wines. This is a perfect stop for lunchtime wine and fried sulguni cheese while you explore the city.
Communal Craft Wines
Great selection of wines, great food and vibes
Where to eat
Lily Vanilli Bakery
I am incredibly proud to have officially opened the doors to my first overseas bakery in Tbilisi. In the kitchen beneath our pretty café, we’re making single-serve khatchapuri, my take on Georgian apple and sour cherry pies and Medoc (honey cake) alongside some favourites from London and the best custard berry donuts in the land. We use Allpress coffee and have a hot kitchen serving brunch and snacks daily until 10pm. We’re also making celebration cakes to order.
Keto and Kote
This is where I first got a sense of Tbilisi’s old-world glamour. The high ceilinged dining hall and pretty garden at the top of a winding pathway, unlit by night is the perfect backdrop for chef owner Ramaz Gemiashvili’s delicious, carefully sourced menu and wonderful wine list. Make sure you try his kinkali – the Georgian soup-dumpling staple has been reimagined as a melt in your mouth dish more like a gnocchi. Also the Napolean here is the best dessert I’ve found in Tbilisi – have it with cha cha (Georgian brandy, made with grape residue from wine making).
I would put this on my list for the chikhurtma alone (hangover curing chicken, egg, mint soup with house made tarragon vinegar) but the rest of the menu doesn’t disappoint either, get the fried mushrooms with tarragon and sulguni (ubiquitous local cheese that’s like a cross between feta and mozzarella), and the bone marrow. And also make sure you order khatchapuri (cheese bread with regional varieties) with every meal you have in Tbilisi, its essential.
If you want to venture a bit further, this homey, authentic Kakhetian restaurant is worth the trip. Located on the highway to the Khaketi wine making region of Georgia, on the outskirts of Tbilisi, it serves the freshest ingredients, sourced straight from the region, alongside delicious but lethal house made cha cha and their wonderful wine, they also have a really good bakery on site.
Try the goat in season, the herbed kebab and the pork mtsvadi. It makes a great stop on your way to or from the airport as its not too far from there.
What to do
Dry Bridge Market
From 10am to 7pm this daily, sprawling flea market is a labyrinth of junk and treasure. You will find antiques, jewellery and tableware, alongside Soviet pistols and binoculars, old cameras and coins and accordions. Visit to shop or just for the experience and the photos. It’s best but busiest at the weekend.
The curious domed roofs of Tbilisi’s sulphur bathhouses are one of the first things you notice when exploring Old Tbilisi (which you should do on foot), and legend has it that the city itself was built surrounding them after the springs were discovered in the fifth century. In fact, Tbilisi means ‘warm place’ in Georgian. Later, when Tbilisi was positioned on the Old Silk Road, travellers would stop to use the baths on their journey between Asia and Europe. Today you can book a beautifully refurbished marble tiled bathhouse and soak up the healing sulphur in private. Gulos is my favourite.
Take a trip to Kazbegi
Rooms Hotel’s sister is nestled in the mountains and the snow, just a two hour drive from the city, with incredible views of the Caucasus which you can enjoy from the wooden deck or the cosy fire lit interior. Skiing is available in season.
The flower markets
Get up early and head to Navtlughi night market to buy homegrown flowers and see a different side of Tbilisi.
Where to Party
Where to really really party