Hotel Review: Ramada Baku, Azerbaijan

I’ve just spent the last 3 weeks staying at the Ramada Baku as part of my trip to the Baku 2015 European Games.  Having stayed in one place for so long I’ve seen a lot about the hotel and its become like a home to me.

Rooms

Unfortunately I had a mountain view room which means I look out over the mountains behind the hotel.  It’s not an awful view but the Sea View rooms are much more pleasant, stay in those if you can!  My room was very large including a separate seating area and generally in pretty good condition.  The bed is one of the comfiest I’ve stayed in outside my house, and the pillows are genuinely comfortable too.  Baku is known for being very windy so one downside to this was that some evening the howling of the wind was pretty loud outside the room.  Not something the hotel can control, but worth noting none-the-less.

The hotel has all the amenities I needed for 3 weeks.  Satellite TV shows around 30 channels, including BBC World News as the only English Channel.  There are also Turkish sports TV channels, a number of Azerbaijani TV channels along with French, German language channels as well.  The minibar is expensive (as normal in hotels), but does provide a fridge in which to put your own items.  Bathrooms are fairly tight given the size of the room, and only include a shower, although a very large one with good temperature and pressure!  The only strange thing about my room was that the safe was not actually connected to anything, it would be easy enough to walk out of the room with it!

Rooms were cleaned daily, and always to a high standard, in fact the whole hotel was always well cleaned, as there was always somebody mopping a floor somewhere!

Wifi is available throughout the hotel, but has variable speeds levels throughout the day.  Sometimes I managed to stream Netflix, at other times I struggled to even load a webpage.  This could definitely be improved.

Just one thing that might be worth noting for new visitor to Baku – my room was a smoking room, and while you get used to the smell eventually, if I was staying again I would definitely prefer a non smoking room.  Smoking laws have not moved at the same pace as Western Europe!

Overall Hotel

Overall the hotel is well decorated, for UK tastes most people would say the communal areas are a little OTT, with plenty of marble, gold leaf, loud wallpaper, carpets and chandeliers, but they are nice enough!  The outside is getting a little dated, but is generally well maintained, and seems to be going through some investment as people were working in different areas during our stay.  The fitness centre is well stocked, although unless its a hot day they tend to leave the windows open rather than air-conditioning, which can make it a little hot.  The indoor pool is full 25m and includes 5 lanes.  To be fair its unheated, so a little cold and does take your breath away when getting in, but given the overall climate is very hot you get used to it!  The outdoor pool is nice, complete with loungers and cushions provided free of charge.  There is a small ‘beach’ but its pretty dirty with rubbish and not really sand as people would know.  I didn’t go in the sea, but it doesn’t look the cleanest!

The hotel is located to the south of Baku, right on a major highway.  Noise from the road is minor, in fact the noise from the wind was more disturbing than traffic noise at any point!  While the location was okay for our tournament, I would not really recommend staying here if you want to be convenient for the centre of town, its only a 15 minute drive, but not that convenient!  You can’t really walk anywhere from the hotel – roads are a nightmare in Baku too due to bad driving and pedestrians walking all over them – so this is a downside.  Should you hire a car, it should be okay!

The view from the sea side of the hotel is pretty stunning.  Its a great view out to see, not really spoiled by the oil rigs ;-).  This does in some ways make up for the location!

Food

Given the long stay we ate regularly at the hotel.  The main restaurant serves a buffet every evening, which is well stocked and has different main courses each evening.  We rarely had repeated courses and the chefs do a good job.  There is also a menu to order from, this serves everything from salads, to kebabs to fish and steaks.  Everything I tried was nicely presented and well cooked – food was definitely a highlight of the trip!  Breakfast is well stocked, from cooked food to fruit – most people should be able to find something they like!  As someone who doesn’t eat gluten (intolerance rather than allergy) it was a little challenging at times to find food, its not really something that’s understood at all!  There is also a restaurant next to the sea that serves cheaper food (the main restaurant is fairly expensive – but no more so than other hotels) – but I never sampled it.  Food can also be ordered in the pool bar so you can sit outside and savour the view!

Summary

Overall I’ve been very pleased with my stay.  The staff are friendly, and while they don’t speak great English, always try to help you out.  I’d definitely recommend a sea-view room, on the highest floor possible to make the most of the view.  You should also really consider if the location meets your needs!  Food was good, if a little expensive, but varied enough to keep me interested for nearly 3 weeks.  I would stay here again, but as a tourist I’d probably look for somewhere closer to the city centre.