The view, what a view! That’s the first thing which comes to mind when people ask me of my stay at the Doubletree by Hilton in central Minsk, Belarus. There are not many places in this former Soviet Union state which has amazing view points but since this hotel was built a few years ago, this is one excellent view out of the window which I am looking through as I type this review from room 1741 on a cold, snowy winters day.
Let’s rewind and start from the beginning of my stay here at this four star hotel. On arrival I was greeted by Julia, a small petite lady in her 20’s who spoke cut-clear English (better English than mine!) and had the perfect smile. After explaining everything to me about the hotel facilities, breakfast and what to do around the city, she gave me a nice warm cookie. It was delicious. Also I asked her about transfers back to the airport (as its about fifty minutes on a clear road and there is only a bus for public transport which I wasn’t sure about, so I needed a taxi or a transfer). She offered this to me on check out and the price was half of that of the local taxi companies (as I just found out, my journey from the airport was expensive for Belarus but still cheap for me as I come from the UK).
I love the decor around the area where the elevators are. This reminded me of the time I visited the Empire State Building in New York city with the number font and the arrows as they turn to tell visitors waiting which floor the elevator is currently on. On the left hand side there are three elevators which takes guests to all floors (but the room key card is needed to make the elevators go). On the right hand side is a lift which only goes to two floors, floor seven for the restaurant and floor 21 for the rooftop bar (more on that later). Also that lift has champagne (shame the bottle is empty) and groovy lounge music to get guests into the party mood.
My room, well. The very best in Minsk I must say. The main feature from the seventeenth floor with a river view (the best side of the hotel of course), has to be the view (have I mentioned the view?…I just want to keep saying this!). What else. It was great to stand and look out at some of the sights, the other buildings and questioning their facades, the crowds gathering around the Christmas tree and checking out the market down below. I could stand here for a while checking out what the locals were doing. My favourite part of the stay was before a ice hockey game in the city, my friend Tanya who lives locally came up to meet me and we just sat at the window in my room, looking out for an hour, talking about the local life and Soviet times/other parts of Belarus history while the sun was going down whilst the crowds gathering even more so down below at the Christmas market. It was a great moment to see all the lights around the city lite up.
The bed has to be mentioned of course and what a comfortable bed it was. I had the best sleep for a long while. It was that good that the moment my head crashed onto the pillows, I didn’t wake up until it was time to get up! It felt like I slept for a few minutes but instead it was for about ten hours each time (which I don’t get back at home). Other features of the room were the slippers, the mini-bar, television (which has five Belarusian channels plus all the international news channels, not good when you want to switch off), The desk is quite big to have my office set up (laptop and all the other bits and bobs needed for blogging/running a business whilst on the move).
I loved the washroom. The shower from the ceiling is quite powerful and catered for my needs, plenty of space around the wash basin to put all my toiletries around it and plenty of towels needed for my stay.
Whilst on my stay, I had three accounts of room service (for a couple of reasons, two cold outside and couldn’t be bothered to go out and to be honest, I found some of the restaurants had slow service nearby and I was working, places to be and all that, so room service seemed a good idea), to which the food is excellent, not too expensive and the service every time was spot on.
Breakfast. What can I say? Is this the best in Eastern Europe. Yes! On all my travels to neighbouring countries and Russia, this is by far the best breakfast I have come across so far on my travels. There is a range of local and international breakfasts, from hot food, pancakes, yogurts, drinks, you name it, it was probably here. Instead of rushing the breakfast like I usually do, I was totally chilled out at this point of the day (maybe as I did either the gym or a 10km run beforehand) so I was spending around an hour in the restaurant, eating and relaxing. Staff here once again were excellent, kept the place clean, food quickly topped up once a certain type has gone and also whilst at my table, the waiter would sometimes get me another cup of tea! It was excellent service, a service I didn’t expect to receive in Minsk.
Elsewhere I tried out the fitness room. A nice small room which consists of a treadmill, cycling machine and a cross-trainer as well as the usual weights and assisted weights equipment. A great way to start the day and do some core work.
Now for a part of the hotel which everyone can enjoy. Bar:Dot XX1 is located on the 21st floor and opens at 20:00 each evening and runs into the early hours. I hosted a little meetup here for my friends in Minsk whom I know from previous visits. I reserved a table with a view, got a fantastic welcome from staff and the waiter/waitress service was 100% blooming fantastic. I could not fault it. The prices of drinks here a little bit expensive compared to bars on the ground floor in the city but not by much and too be honest, I had a cheap night here. I even ordered lots of chicken (not the KFC style) as there is a lot of Asian food on the menu, to which was served in under fifteen-twenty minutes. I just couldn’t fault the service. I was that impressed I paid for all five of us, which included about twelve drinks and seven lots of food and I think it came to $120! I even gave the waiter a good tip. It was one of the best service I have seen on the road in a long time and to be honest, on my next visit to Minsk, I hope the bar is still here and the service is the same because this will be the first place I will come back to.
After my four night stay here, I came away very satisfied. For anyone doing a stay in Minsk, I recommend the Doubletree by Hilton. I just couldn’t find a fault with my stay (I wasn’t looking but everything was spot on for me) and I can’t wait to come back here again. At check out my transfer back to the airport was waiting, the final bill was paid and got another lovely smile from Julia who wished me well on my travels. (She also kept bugging me about going to see Christmas trees around the city, so one evening I did and she was right, the Christmas trees were amazing here. Much better than home!).
A personal note from me – my time at the Doubletree by Hilton was paid for by myself and was not sponsored in anyway by the company. The opinions in this post are my own and is totally honest. I would like to thank the staff for making my short stay here an enjoyable one.