The Vanadzor Fawlty Towers Hotel
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
At 3pm, our packed marshrutka minibus staggered into Vanadzor bus station where we were quickly accosted by an eager taxi driver. We explained several times where we wanted to go and showed him on a map; he didn’t look too convinced but set off at a record pace.
For an extortionate 1000 dram (£1.60), he drove to several hotels (all of which were wrong) and then dropped us off at some old gates. With a bemused look and a vague wave in the opposite direction, he disappeared down the road to swindle other unsuspecting tourists.
We walked through the ancient gates and up the tiny path to find a derelict sanatorium that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Stalin’s Tskaltubo resort. We realised that the hotel had sent us the wrong address - no wonder the taxi driver had looked confused.
After wandering around for a while, we eventually located the operational hotel and were greeted by an empty reception desk. A lone, dusty workman found Sybil who seemed somewhat confused by our arrival.
Sybil didn’t speak any English so using GoogleTranslate I asked about the facilities. It turned out that as it was ‘out of season’, the gym and spa were being refurbished.
Fuming that we’d travelled all the way to a defunct spa, I asked to speak with the manager.
Basil and I spoke for a long while, me insisting that we get a discount as there were no amenities available, him insisting that we shouldn’t complain because he doesn’t complain when he is travelling. Odd logic.
Remarkably, after threatening bad reviews, we were allowed to stay free of charge.
As it was 4pm, we went in search of the hotel restaurant. It was shut.
We headed back to Tbilisi civilisation the following day.