If you don’t know much about Georgia yet, allow me to introduce you to one of the most spectacular regions in the eastern part of the country – Kakheti region.
During the time that Mark and I lived in Georgia, we visited Kakheti on a few occasions and it quickly became one of our favorite regions in the entire country.
Locals know it for wine, ample variety of fruits and vegetables, churchkhela, ancient monasteries, mysterious fortresses, and mountains. They love coming here to escape the hustle and bustle of noisy Tbilisi and distract.
Visitors from outside the country mainly know Kakheti for Alazani Valley and wines such as Saperavi, Tsinandali, and Khvanchkara. Indeed, all main vineyards along with numerous quirky wineries are located here.
But Kakheti region though is famous not only for wines. Besides wineries where some of the best world’s wine is produced, Kakheti has old monasteries, nature reserves with spectacular views, rich history and gorgeous hotels that don’t cost much.
We got a chance to spend 2 nights in one of those hotels and actually, the entire experience impressed us so much that I wanted to share it with you guys and highly recommend to pay a visit to Babaneuris Marani Hotel too. Even if you don’t plan to stay overnight, I still encourage you to check out their winery, taste homemade wines and dine at the restaurant with a mind-blowing view.
TIP: To get to this part of Kakheti, you need to have a car. I have a step-by-step guide on car rental in Tbilisi. Check it out!
BEST HOTEL IN KAKHETI REGION, GEORGIA
There are a lot of various guest houses, bed & breakfasts and hotels in Kakheti. Everyone can choose a place for his budget.
We personally stayed and visited a few different properties but our favorite one turned out to be Babaneuris Marani hotel. And here is why.
First of all, it is located not far from the capital of the wine region – Telavi. By the way, if you are going on a self-guided wine tour in Georgia, I recommend renting a car, driving to Telavi and starting from there. In this case, you’ll be able to see the most interesting places and visit the most famous wineries (no, not Sighnagi.)
If you don’t have much time, it is better to purchase a one-day wine tour from Tbilisi. But that tour should include a visit to Telavi area.
In our case, we spent two nights in Babaneuris Marani hotel. Being close to both Kvareli and Telavi towns, surrounded by the mountains and nature reserve, and having a few ancient monasteries nearby, it turned out to be a wonderful base for all our explorations.
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Beautiful Grounds of the Hotel
Babaneuris Marani has only 13 rooms and feels very homie. Small but beautifully decorated modern rooms have comfy beds and pillows, big fluffy towels, bathrobes, TV, are quiet and exceptionally clean. Each room has a balcony or own terrace from where you get a mind-blowing view.
Each staff member is courteous and ready to help right away.
The entire hotel is not only very beautiful but it has this positive energy that brings you inner peace and calm. And no wonder why. Originally, the owner built Babaneuris Marani property for his family. But so many travelers were stopping by and inquiring about the room that he decided to turn it into a small hotel.
On the second day of our stay, we met an owner – a very welcoming and friendly gentleman. Every time we were meeting him on or around the property, he would smile, wave and ask how we were doing.
Everything in this hotel was built with the attention to detail. And you can tell how much love was put in this project.
Babaneuris Marani is surrounded by farmland, its own vineyards while the interior has pieces of art and modern furniture. It overlooks the Alazani Valley (with 180 degrees view,) has a wine cellar and a few pergolas on a grassy terrace with outlets where you can work, relax or have a picnic.
Honestly, I couldn’t even call Babaneuris Marani a hotel. It felt so much like someone’s home.
Gorgeous Restaurant With a View and Delicious Food
If we had to pick a place with the best barbecue lamb meat (shashlik,) it would be a restaurant at Babaneuris Marani hotel. Seriously. We tried this dish in many restaurants in Tbilisi, around Kazbegi region and on the way from Tbilisi to Borjomi. Still, the best lamb shaslik was here.
But let’s put food aside. A restaurant at this property delivers a unique experience and has its own personality. The staff knows how to surprise and make your visit special.
As I mentioned above, even if you don’t plan to stay overnight, come here to eat. If you are a gourmand who loves to taste new foods prepared and served in a unique way, stop by for lunch. Those who appreciate peaceful and quiet restaurants with delicious meals and excellent wine choices while enjoying the sunset views should come here for dinner.
If you book a room for a night, a superb breakfast is going to be included in the price. Food options are wide and all ingredients are of the highest quality from locals in the area.
And the view, as a bonus, promises you’ll have an experience like none other.
One of a Few Hotels in Kakheti Region That Has a Pool With a View
Mark and I love choosing hotels with secluded and inviting pools. However, in Georgia, it is a bit challenging since not many properties have this feature.
Kakheti region, in particular, gets really hot in summer. After a day of tours and wine tasting you want to relax and cool off by the pool. In spring or fall, when the temperatures are cooler it would be so pleasant to take a dip in the pool too while enjoying some pretty views. Or, soaking up the crisp air in the winter while dipping into warm water.
Babaneuris Marani hotel is the only place in Kakheti which has a pool where you can swim during each season. A beautiful full-size rectangular outdoor pool has stunning landscape and is heated year-round. Lounge chairs for sunbathing and poolside naps, umbrellas and hot tub are here as well.
Since there are only 13 rooms in the hotel and many guests do not spend much time at the pool, it never gets crowded.
Come and refresh in the early morning before everyone else starts his day or return in the evening after a long day in wine country.
Lots of Activites To Do
Even if you decide not to go anywhere in Kakheti and just stay on the premises, you will be pretty busy.
Besides the pool, winery and peacefully charming grounds, you’ll have an option to go horseback riding, walking in the nature park inside the Babaneuri protected area and even cycling. Ask a staff member to help you rent a bike or saddle up a mountain horse. Just do it with some time in advance.
If visiting in the fall, you can join Babaneuris’ staff in picking grapes and observing the process of winemaking. They also make churchkhela during the same season, so autumn is just the right time to come to this hotel.
Check their website for more pictures and details.
It is Located Near Major Attractions and Sightseeing Spots
Babaneuris Marani hotel is one of the best hotels in Kakheti based on travelers’ reviews and level of service the staff members provide. The amenities are amazing and it reminds of a top-notch hotel somewhere in Italy but at a way lower cost.
Another important fact to keep in mind is that this boutique hotel is close to all major attractions in the area.
If you book a tour to Kakheti around wine and food (which should be a true reason why to visit) then you should base yourself anywhere near Talavi to be able to see all the major sights. Telavi is a starting point for all sightseeing which Kakheti region is famous for. Babaneuris Marani is only half an hour away from Telavi with some points of interest along the way.
And here are a few ideas for you what to do in Telavi and in close proximity to it.
WHAT TO DO IN TELAVI
Telavi is one of the oldest cities in Georgia and is the capital of Kakheti region. It has a population of around 20,000 people and is located in the very center of the Alazani Valley.
Since the city is small, you’ll need a few hours to cover all the attractions. It doesn’t make much sense to plan a trip to Kakheti only for the sake of Telavi. There are only a couple of places that are worth your time. However, a little bit outside the city limits you’ll find all the main sights.
Below is the list of what you can do in Telavi and around:
Go to Nadikvari Park
Nadikvari Park in Telavi is a popular park for young people and families with children. On weekends, it is usually packed with people. Different celebrations, events and sometimes wine festivals take place there.
Nadikvari is located on a hill with a magnificent view of the Caucasus Mountains. No wonder locals love coming here and spending a good chunk of time.
I recommend walking to this park and spending sometime overlooking the valley and mountains. It is very lovely just to stroll through the park and enjoy the moment. Nadikvari Terrace restaurant has a well-maintained terrace from where you get some of the best views. Stop for a drink or food and enjoy this gem!
Visit Historic Fortress Batonis Tsikhe
Batonis Tsikhe fortress, located right in the center of Telavi, at first glance doesn’t look like an interesting place to visit. But if you love history and are curious to know how Kakhetian kings lived, definitely stop by.
In the 17-18th centuries, the fortress served as the residence of the kings. On the grounds of the fortress, you’ll find a museum, an art gallery, smaller palaces, a couple of temples and an observation deck.
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Walk Through the Streets of the City
Telavi is small but strolling through the streets will bring aesthetic pleasure. Most of the neighborhoods look just wonderful: clean, beautiful, sustained in the same style.
If you get hungry, stop for lunch at Bibles Piatto, known for European and Georgian food or Meidani which offers traditional Georgian dishes. Next door from Meidani you’ll see a small cafe Sweet Room. It sells Georgian style pancakes.
Visit Telavi’s Market
Telavi has a rather large market (called Telavis Bazari) where locals sell vegetables, fruits, Suluguni cheese, churchkhela, spices, and nuts. Everything is fresh, smells delicious and sellers are friendly. Churchkhela sold here is the best you’ll ever taste.
Even if you don’t need or want to buy anything, I still recommend to come and take a look at this market. It’s going to be kind of an adventure.
WHAT TO DO IN ALAZANI VALLEY
The most popular route to the sights of the Alazani Valley includes visits to places such as Alaverdi Monastery, Gremi Castle, Nekresi Monastery fortress and Tsinandali winery (or any other winery.)
I do not recommend going to the winery in Tsinandali, where the majority of tourists go. Besides that it’s too crowded, Georgian wine is not really produced there. Tsinandali winery is an overrated place for tourists where they can taste wine but not to see how it is made.
If you are a wine person, check my detailed post on the best wine tasting places in Georgia.
Visit Alaverdi Monastery
This men’s monastery is located only a few minutes away by car from Babaneuris Marani hotel and around 20 km from Telavi. It is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Georgia. We’ve been to many churches and monasteries around the country but this one took our breath away.
If you have to choose only one monastery in particular where to go to, it should be Alaverdi.
It is considered to be the main monastery of the Kakheti region. And, in the former Soviet Union, the church on the grounds of the monastery was the tallest church.
The best time to visit would be either in the early morning or closer to the evening. Those times are the best in terms of tourists. Usually, buses with tourists or students who come on a field trip arrive between 11 am and 4 pm.
If you are staying in Babaneuris Marani, it becomes much easier for you to visit.
Pay a Visit to Gremi Church
Gremi Castle in Georgia, built in the 16th century, is the top attraction of Kakheti region. It is famous for frescoes and views of the Alazani Valley. Located on a hill not far from the town of Kvareli.
Gremi church is not really a church. It is an architectural monument which includes the castle, the church, the fortress walls with loopholes. In the past, the Great Silk Road passed through it.
Entry to the grounds is free. There, you’ll find several buildings: the Royal Citadel and the Church of the Archangels, the museum, the Svan tower, the wine shop, and the restored baths.
The brick church in Gremi is active with beautiful murals, 16th-century frescoes, and icons.
For a surcharge, you can go to the museum and climb to the top of the tower along a narrow stone staircase.
The museum portraits Kakheti kings, created by a modern artist, and a medieval stone toilet.
From the observation tower, you get a superb view of the mountains and vineyards of the Alazani Valley.
Located on a hill near the town of Kvareli.
This is one of the most interesting sights of the Alazani Valley in the vicinity of Telavi.
Nekresi is an ancient and very “atmospheric” monastery located on a mountain above the Alazani Valley. Once, at the foot of this mountain, there was a whole city with the same name, but only the foundations of several buildings survived to this day.
And, if the ruins of the city are of no particular interest, the Nekresi Monastery soaring high in the mountains is considered to be one of the brightest sights of Kakheti, Georgia.
Currently, Nekresi is a functioning monastery. Though tourists rarely see priests and monks there. They live high up the mountainside and try not to intersect with visitors.
All buildings on the territory create a very harmonious architectural ensemble, although they belong to completely different historical eras.
The location of the monastery makes it one of the best observation platforms in Kakheti. You can admire the scenery when sitting on benches carefully arranged throughout the territory, from the ancient wooden balconies of the Episcopal Palace and the wine cellar.
Besides the rich history and wonderful landscapes, Nekresi Monastery is known for its male choir – one of the best in the country. The only time to hear the singing is at 8 am during the service.
So if you feel like getting to the monastery by 8 am, keep in mind you’ll need to walk 1.5 km up the road to the top of the hill. After 9 am, a bus runs every 30 minutes or so when it gets full.
If you are planning to visit Georgia, I highly recommend devoting at least two full days to the Kakheti region. If you have time, for the best experience, spend a night or even two there.
The best time to visit the Alazani Valley is in the fall when the crops are harvested. The cars, loaded to the top with grapes, create a festive atmosphere and truly convey the spirit of the wine region.
But if you are planning a trip at a different time of the year, there are equally interesting places in Kakheti: ancient cathedrals, nature reserves with spectacular views, and wineries work all year round.
It really doesn’t matter when you come since each season offers something special. Just make sure to stay overnight to get the best of your trip.
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