Ok so if you have taken a trip or two you probably have stayed at a hotel and you know how it works. You show up at the reception desk, give them your passport, the person at reception looks at it and types into her computer with a very concentrated face at least five times more information than your passport's picture page could possibly hold then swipes magnetic key cards and hands them to you, tells you what time breakfast is and shows you to the elevators. The next day when you go out and come back, your bed has magically made itself, the floor is vacuumed and you have fresh new towels in the bathroom. If you're the type and want to feel good about yourself, you leave a tip on your pillow. Easy enough. But how does it work when you rent an apartment, stay at a hostel or a guest house? And what is that like in Armenia.
First off, I graduated from staying at hostels around the same time that I graduated from college. We'll talk about hostels in another posting... but in the last few years of my life I have really become a sucker for residential apartment stays, especially when I travel in Yerevan and Tbilisi. I love staying at apartments because it lets me blend in with the locals and be left alone with no cleaners and other hotel staff around. And because I do not care for extensive amenities (in-house hair parlor, masseuse, etc.) the choice for me is pretty clear.
When visiting Armenia and Georgia many guests are taken aback by unkept and dirty entrances to apartment buildings. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few new buildings, this is endemic to both Yerevan and Tbilisi. And what's even worse, this is usually one of the first things you see when you travel to the region for the first time. So the first impression (they say the most important) is not always a very positive one. But you know what? While this is a nuisance, in my opinion it's not a big deal. Just remember, you don't need to sleep in the main building entrance, you only spend a few seconds there at a time on your way to your probably very comfortable and beautiful apartment and what really counts is the state of the apartment itself.
What you don't get with apartments is a common standard. This is something to watch out for and is where Ginosi's help becomes essential. Ginosi does a great job giving an accurate presentation of apartments with descriptions, pictures, often videos and guest reviews. On top of that, Ginosi reservation agents have personally visited many of the properties and can answer your questions, or if they don't have an answer then they will find out for you. Make use of this resource, it is available at no cost. It's like having your own local agent in the region. The last thing Ginosiks want to see is a customer who is disappointed after arrival but even then, Ginosi gives its customers the opportunity to change their apartment within the first 24 hours of arrival so it is still not the end of the world if you book a place and then discover after checking in that it is not what you had hoped for.
Staying at an apartment can be a rewarding experience. It gives you space, convenience and a feeling of being home even when you are far from home. It also let's you receive and entertain guests the same way you could do it at home. Plus a minor advantage is that while apartments are not a steal, they are usually priced slightly lower than hotel rooms of a similar class, so you end up spending less on accommodation which leaves a bigger chunk of your travel budget to enjoy your vacation.
Here are my favorite apartments in Yerevan .