When it comes to finding budget-friendly accommodation in Tbilisi, travellers are spoiled for choice.
Clean, minimalist designs and all the mod-cons required for a comfortable stay are pretty much standard among Tbilisi hostels and guesthouses alike. Trick is finding a place that has a local feel, good hospitality, and an ideal location.
Gallery Hostel appears to tick all the boxes. It’s set in a historic building in a quiet, suburban area in one of my favourite neighbourhoods between Rustaveli Avenue and the Dry Bridge Market. If you want to fulfill your fantasy of looking out onto an iconic Tbilisi courtyard every morning, Gallery Hostel has that, too!
I had a chance to spend a couple of nights at the hostel recently to see if their rating of 9.3 on Booking.com is justified. Here is my review of the property. My stay was hosted by Gallery Hostel, but all opinions and recommendations expressed here are 100% my own.
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Tbilisi is very easy to navigate on foot or using public transport (metro and buses). Still, it pays to choose accommodation that’s centrally located. I recommend avoiding Liberty Square (the most touristy part of the city) and choosing a place on the quieter, more residential periphery of the Old Town.
Gallery Hostel sits north of Liberty Square behind the Opera and Ballet Theatre, close to the river. It’s walking distance from both Rustaveli Avenue (a popular pedestrian street for shopping, cafes and restaurants) and the famous Dry Bridge flea market.
New Tiflis and Marjanishvili, where you can find more restaurants and bars (including Fabrika), is a short stroll over the bridge. Liberty Square and the nearest metro station lie 1.2km away (roughly a 15-minute walk). Coming from Tbilisi airport, the hostel is a 6-minute downhill walk from the nearest bus stop.
Mari Brose Street (named after a French academic who specialised in Georgian and Armenian language and history) is very quiet with sparse traffic. As you walk along the narrow alleys around the hostel, you feel like you’re in the midst of a suburban neighbourhood. There’s an abundance of enclosed courtyards and overhanging balconies – two Tbilisi signatures – in the area.
When you need some fresh air, 9th Of April Park is on the next block. One of my favourite coffee shops, Minimalist Coffee, is just around the corner, and there are a bunch of great Georgian restaurants in the neighbourhood including Duqani, Sofia Melnikovas and Zodiaqo.
If you need to buy provisions, one of the biggest Carrefour supermarkets in Tbilisi is a 10-minute walk from the hostel.
Like all properties in Tbilisi of a certain age, the Gallery Hostel building has a very interesting heritage that only adds to its charm.
Prior to 1931, the building served as the headquarters for Russian-language newspaper Zarya Vastoka. (The controversial publication still exists today under the name Svobodnaya Gruzia.) During the communist period, the newspaper relocated to a purpose-built, architect-designed office on Rustaveli Avenue.
The original building was sold to an opera singer and become a residence for intellectuals, journalists and musicians (which makes sense, given its location close to the Opera House and other prominent performance venues). Hints of this history can be found in the crumbling facade and in the tiled entryway and grand internal staircase.
Today, the building is a residential apartment block with the hostel spread over several rooms on the first floor. A ‘Tbilisi balcony’ with carved railings and banisters extends from the kitchen and looks out onto a shared courtyard.
The area is very safe, but because the building is shared with private apartments, the front door gets locked at 9pm so you have to take a key with you at night. During daylight hours, guests can access the hostel using two key pads.
Gallery Hostel was renovated in 2019 so everything still has that shiny, new appearance. My favourite things about the design are the stunning hardwood floors (which I assume are original) and the whitewashed brick walls. I also like the Soviet-style split tone walls in the hallway, and the cool typography used for the hostel’s branding.
The hostel uses quirky wall stencils and framed pictures for decoration. Instead of generic pictures, I’d much prefer to see contemporary works from a local artist or even antique posters or maps sourced from the nearby Dry Bridge Market.
The hostel is pretty compact, but there are still a few common areas for lounging. As you enter, there’s a living room with a couch, a flat-screen TV, and a small balcony where you can sit in the fresh air.
The shared kitchen is fitted out with a gas stove, fridge, microwave, and everything you need to prepare your own meals. If you elect to add breakfast to your stay (13 GEL per person), it’s served here.
Gallery Hostel has two double rooms with private en suite bathrooms, one twin room with a private external bathroom, and an 8-bed mixed dormitory.
Because the dorm is located off the lounge room and the private rooms are at the opposite end of the building down the hallway, it still feels quite private even if there’s a full house.
I stayed in the private room with en suite. It features a double bed, a small desk, and shelves for storage. The only thing it’s really lacking is a wardrobe with hanging space. A few coat hooks would also be handy.
Every room has a gas heater/AC and large windows for natural light and fresh air (not so common in old buildings in Tbilisi). The en suite is very spacious, with a separate shower and a large window for ventilation. Towels, linens and soap are provided.
The dorm room is similarly spacious and light-filled. There are a bank of lockers for valuables, and each bunk has its own power outlets and a reading lamp.
Gallery Hostel Tbilisi is located at 11/16 Mari Brose Street.
Prices start from 30 GEL for dorm bunks and 100 GEL for private rooms.
More Tbilisi travel resources
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- The best Tbilisi souvenirs and gift shops
- Recommended day trips from Tbilisi