Kartuli is a high-rise concept hotel in Batumi, offering boutique suites in the clouds above Georgia’s coast.
Located on the 37th floor of Orbi Beach Tower, the hotel plays to the Black Sea city’s lesser-known creative side while maximising the virtues of its location – sweeping views of the water and mountains can be seen from every window, Batumi’s ragbag architecture sandwiched in between.
In a beach town full of uniform apartment hotels and conformist resorts, Kartuli stands apart from Batumi’s other accommodation offerings in a bold way. From the slick, minimalist designer suites to the warm, eclectic common spaces, it feels like a creative haven – a playground for the senses – cloaked in an otherwise dreary steel-and-glass skyscraper.
Recently, I had a chance to spend the night at Kartuli Hotel. I wasn’t planning to write about it – but I had so much fun photographing the space, I had to find an excuse to share my favourite pics. Here are my impressions of Kartuli, and why I think this is one of the best places to stay in Batumi.
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Kartuli is located on the waterfront at the southern end of Batumi, roughly halfway between the airport and the Piazza. This part of the city is all new construction – most of the skyscrapers here were just holes in the sky when we first visited Georgia back in 2017.
Orbi Beach Tower is a brand new build on Sherif Khimshiashvili Street, adjacent to the promenade and seafront. The south-western aspect faces towards Lech and Maria Kachinsky Park, a massive green space a few minutes’ walk from the hotel’s front door.
This is definitely the quieter end of town. We visited in the off-season, but I think that even in summer, it would be relatively peaceful at this end of the beach compared with the northern part.
There are restaurants and cafes in the area, and Metrocity Mall (with a supermarket and pharmacy) is just a short stroll away.
Kartuli’s strength lies in the juxtaposition between the suit-and-tie, anonymous block the hotel is located in and the overt, unmistakable character of its design.
The fit out features many one-off pieces brought in from abroad or purpose-designed by the hotel’s young directors, Sergei and Liya. Though very contemporary, the hotel still stresses its Georgian identity (Kartuli means ‘Georgian’), with some nice tie-ins that pay homage to Batumi.
An example: As you walk around Batumi (and travel through the surrounding towns and villages), you’ll notice most houses and apartment blocks are clad with corrugated sheet metal to protect them from the rain. Kartuli’s front desk is made from the same material, a nod to the area’s most recognisable architectural quirk.
Batumi is usually thought of as a bright and sunny summer destination, and the beaming, airy common spaces at either end of the hotel certainly reflect this.
Much to my delight, Kartuli also channels the city’s dark and brooding side (it does rain an awful lot!). Heavy ceilings and floors in the corridors give you the feeling of being boxed in – a clever use of colour that makes the sea and mountain views that unfurl as you approach the windows seem even more spectacular.
The hallways are painted with a split-tone palette, which you often see in old Soviet buildings (Fabrika uses the same design in many of its common spaces).
The uneven edge might be a bit of a tongue-in-cheek play on the style. To me, it resembles Batumi’s skyline, sprouting with high-rise buildings.
Dark and light is a motif repeated across the hotel, both in the contrast between the enclosed and voluminous spaces, and in the carefully positioned light boxes and down lights.
Neon sculptures decorate the rooms and hallways, some moulded into the voluptuous curls and hooks of the Georgian alphabet. Our room featured a light fitting that spells out buneba, (ბუნება), meaning ‘nature’.
The hotel’s branding was created by Black Dog Shop, the same studio responsible for the retro posters at Rooms Kazbegi.
The typography and colours are on-point, right down to the swipe cards and stationery.
Kartuli offers a variety of options for different price points, ranging from compact and very affordable queen rooms to two-bedroom suites that sleep up to six people.
We chose one of the studios with a sea view.
Our room was extremely spacious and bright, with floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors along one entire wall. Crisp white paint, exposed concrete ceilings and sharp furniture give the space an ultra-modern, clean feel. Every object serves a purpose and is carefully placed, with no frivolous adornments.
Some of the rooms are decorated with evocative paintings inspired by Georgian artist Lado Gudiashvili or murals by local artists, including Lamb. Ours was plain and simple, further emphasising the vivid panorama outside.
The studio is cleverly divided by a half-wall, with a roomy lounge area with TV and sofa on one side, and a double bed and clothes rack on the other. A console with a safety box, bar fridge and a few essentials (bottled water and glasses) is also provided, along with a dining set.
There is plenty of usable storage space and room to unpack. Long wooden shelves on both sides of the dividing wall are particularly handy.
Design wise, I love the use of traditional textiles which really pop against the otherwise monochrome palette.
Prints carry through from the bedhead to the runner to the indoor hammock strung across the living room window…
That’s right… An indoor hammock. Definitely my favourite design feature!
I also loved the bathroom (although I forgot to get a photo) – a minimal design with Wes Anderson-esque cream tiles and bright green grouting (every room uses a different colour). It’s sharp and extremely effective.
Our room also had a generous balcony with outdoor seating and incredible views of Batumi’s shoreline, the mountains, and the suburbs.
The Black Sea melts into the horizon; and if you stand at just the right angle, there’s absolutely nothing obstructing your view.
Breakfast comes included in the nightly rate and includes a buffet of fresh veg, cheese and cold cuts, cereal, and juice, plus your choice of dish off the a-la-cart menu (we had the syrniki pancakes with homemade preserve – delicious).
If you can bring yourself to leave your room, Kartuli Hotel also features several common spaces for guests and walk-ins to use. Even if you’re not staying here, it’s worth dropping in one evening for a drink just to see the view – especially at sunset.
A big part of Kartuli’s mission is to foster the arts, showcase local designers and serve as a hub for Batumi’s creative community. This ethos shines through in the comfortable hang-out areas, which are filled with books, magazines and design objects to spark your imagination.
At one end of the floor, there’s a spacious library with a disco ball hanging from it’s double-level ceiling. Shelves of art and design books in Georgian, English and Russian line the walls. There’s also a vinyl collection, and a full DJ deck.
The cafe/bar at the other end of the hotel serves hot drinks, cocktails and beer. There’s a projector and tiered seating to accommodate guests for Kartuli’s regular film nights.
During daylight hours, the high bench is a nice spot to sit and work while overlooking the water.
Sunset at Kartuli Hotel
I have to make special mention of the sunset from Kartuli. This has to be one of the best places in Batumi to watch the golden orb sink into the sea.
We were treated to a particularly magnificent blood-red sunset on the night we visited. The view from our balcony was pretty special – as was the vivid light show that painted the walls of our suite.
A memorable end to a perfect stay.
Kartuli Hotel is located on the 37th floor of Orbi Beach Tower, 57 Sherif Khimshiashvili St.
Rooms start from $19 per night.