While in Hrodna I couldn't find someone who could host me on Hospitalityclub or Couchsurfing, but I met with a local girl of HC who suggested me to stay at the big Hotel Belarus. There was a bikers meeting on that night so it was full of bikers from Poland and nearby countries, but the hotel is huge and it was not a big problem to find a room.
The only problem is, once again, if you don't speak Russian and you don't have a Russian friend translating since at the reception they don't know any English word (maybe they know Polish) and you'll probably find the typical "apparatchik" which can be helpful like a stone.
Once you get a room you have to go to your floor with the paper you got from the apparatchik and contact the dizhurnaya, which is usually a nice old lady, and she will give you the key and say something uncomprehensible if you don't speak Russian! :)
My room was very simple and clean, surely not a luxury hotel, but fine for a night even if I slept terribly bad that night, but I suppose not because of the hotel. On the Lonely Planet guide they write that at night you can be called or knocked at the door by prostitutes. It didn't happen to me... was I unlucky? ;)
Do you prefer to stay in your own apartment or house, it is affordable to rent in Grodno and the price is about 50% lower than the hotel prices. From 40 US $ and up per day, very nice apartments with all facilities. Electricity and gas included. Cleaning, changes of bed linen and towels is when you which. This company, Anatol, has been in the market since 2002 and is very professional. You may rent for shorter or longer periods and you can make order by email.
We have had a perfect two room (large) apartment, with wonderful kitchen. A lot of space. Beds for 4-5 people situated just in centre of Grodno.
OBS.: Passport registration is obligatory within three days from arrival. Anatol can serve you with translator. If you don’t know the Russian language, it’s impossible to do yourself. If you stay in hotel, they do the registration for you.
Euro standard apartments. You may ask for all facilities like internet etc.
One week we stayed in the Hotel Semashko. I tell you, it was an oasis in The Russian Shadow. This beautiful hotel is the first private hotel in Grodno. This hotel is in top western standard.
The service in the hotel reception is first class, but in the restaurant they still have much to learn about service and the behaviour doing an experience for the customers. Our experience was not the very best. I think they will make progress the coming years.
The restaurant and the hotel are working together in the same building, but have different owners.
Totally a lovely hotel - in a very special city.
1) Hotel Belarus*. Address: Kalinovskogo Str, 1. Phone: +375 152 441-674.
2) Hotel Grodno*. Address: Popovicha Str, 5. Phone: +375 152 224-233.
3) Hotel Neman*. Address: Batoriya Str, 8. Phone: +375-152 721-936.
4) Hotel Turist**. Address: 63, Yanki Kupala Prospekt. Phone: +375 152 265-520.
5) Hotel Semashko***. Address: Antonov Str. Phone: +375 152 750-299.
Hotels accept Visa and Mastrecard credit cards.
The Hotel Turist is a classic, oversized, Soviet-era specimen. It offers a now rare opportunity to experience an almost forgotten era - as least in part. Think of the phrase 'faded elegance' and then forget the 'elegance' bit. It's typically akwardly situated for the city centre but there are always taxis around who will get you there in 5 minutes for about $2.
Then we part company with the Soviet side of things. The staff are mostly friendly, the food is quite good in a Belarusian sort of way and the rooms are clean and reasonably comfortable. Yes, things have changed. If you want real Soviet style, imagine your plane arriving 2 hours late and they've kept the fried steak cooking for you all the while; try getting into an empty restaurant which is 'full' (because you haven't yet bribed the bloke on the door).
If you look on the Hotel Turist as an experience giving you just a hint of what things used to be like, you'll love it.
There are not many hotels in Grodno. There are actualy just 3 big hotels, all of them big ugly concrete buildings, made in the eighties. Hotel Belarus, Hotel Grodno and Hotel Tourist. We stayed in hotel Tourist, it was most recommended by the travel agency (Belarus Tour Service in Minsk) which organized the hotel for us (foreigners can not organize the hotel themselves, since only a travel agency can help you with organizing a tourist visa).
I read somewhere that probably hotel Belarus would have been a better choice, but I think all 3 hotels are very equal, only hotel Belarus is a bit closer to the center.
For tourists from West Europe (like me) a hotel in Grodno is a weird experience. The hotel room looked as if it was made in the 60's, the bathroom could be in a hotel in India and the whole atmosphere is really just like in communistic days. As a guest you must be happy to stay there, so don't expect nice people or extra service ;-)
The service was not always terrific, but the good point was that the people speak Polish, because my girlfriend is Polish and at least she could communicate good with them.
When I wanted to pay with my credit card in the end of the stay, they told me it was not possible, while we heard from the travel agency it was. It was not possible because of some holiday and even the bank machines didn't work ! Luckily I still had just enough dollars and euro's (the exchange office in the hotel luckily was open), otherwise I even could not have payed the bill, because we had to leave next morning.
The restaurant is a bit lousy and compared to a restaurant in the center a bit expensive (allthough for western tourists still ridiculous cheap ;-) ).
There is a tourist store in the hotel, which sells bus tickets, map of the city and postcards (probably stamps too). Unfortunately the store was only open 1 day when we were there (on a saturday) and after that we didn't see it open anymore.
There is also a small bar where you drink coffee or tea and have a breakfast, don't expect too much of it ;-)
Exchange office that was open all the time, apart from that the hotel didn't had any unique qualities ;-)
Well, maybe for Belarussian standards it already is quit unique that the hotel has 2 restaurants, a bar, a casino, a private parking, a place to clean your suit and a hairdresser.
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