I had high hopes and exceedingly lofty expectations for this icon on Tbilisi's landscape. Although an excellent rating was chosen, I think it really deserves a 4.5 / 5 rating. We booked two rooms within the Premium Room category, and were assigned rooms #511 and #811. For #811, the one I stayed in, there were two issues: (1) The air conditioning unit kept turning off after less than one hour, despite the fact that I did not choose the auto setting. The room became very stuffy very quickly, meaning that I did not sleep very well on all four nights. (2) The bathroom door couldn't open all the way, obstructing the entryway. These are issues that can be easily rectified, so the hotel has potential for 100% satisfaction.
Let me spend some time discussing all of the positives that came with this hotel. It was located on Shota Rustaveli Avenue, the bustling and trendy boulevard of Tbilisi - all of the shops, eateries, and cultural institutions and landmarks for any discerning traveler. You couldn't help but feel like royalty as you walked inside this former IMEL Building. The stately and grand entrance led to a marble wonderland as you made your way to the reception areas. The heart-shaped high chairs, decorative art pieces, and general ambiance were nothing short of perfection and careful attention to detail.
Check-in was relatively fast, especially since it was conducted by a very charismatic and friendly front desk agent. She welcomed us warmly to the hotel and explained some of the amenities available during our stay. I must admit that the bellboy wasn't that friendly to my dad when he refused assistance with his bag!
We were a bit disappointed that we didn't receive a higher floor. If we had known that the other room categories (junior suite, executive suite, royal suite) would score us higher floors and more luxury, we would have made the proper bookings before arriving in Tbilisi. However, as we made our way to our rooms, we knew that our floor assignments were perfectly suited for our needs.
Floors 3-29 were the guest rooms, while the Sonnet Restaurant and Bar, spa, fitness center, salon, and ATM were located on the lower floors. There was also Casino Jewel adjacent to the hotel.
Both rooms #511 and #811 were corner rooms, so we were accorded sweeping views of the city and the river, including the awe-inspiring Holy Trinity Cathedral. Layout was the same, but I will focus my attention on my room -- #811.
The king-sized bed was spacious, although it wasn't firm enough for my needs. The pillows were pretty flimsy as well, and lacked any choice. The marble bathroom was large, and the soaking tub and enormous shower area were to be commended. Toiletries were standard, although I wish there were a few more befitting of a five-star establishment. The vanity area was good, and there was an adequate number of towels on hand. For those interested in soaking with impressive views, the bathroom also features a curtain that can be opened and closed with the press of a button. In fact, if you wanted to listen to news or music, there was also a Speaker button next to the Curtain button to strike your fancy. All in all, many nice features and touches indeed!
Storage space was ample, coffee and tea facilities were available, a mini-bar was provided, and slippers were thrown into the mix.
The work desk was well-crafted, allowing the individual to work comfortably and to take in all of the views of the city and room in style. I'm not sure if installing a TV next to the left of the desk was a good idea, since it would interfere with the person at work and not allow the person seated on the couch to watch without someone's head in the way -- definitely not a smart move.
Besides the room, we didn't really have time to explore some of the other amenities offered around the hotel. We did, however, dine at Sonnet Restaurant and Bar for breakfast on our last morning in Tbilisi. The seating area was nice and attractive, but the options offered lacked the sophistication and variety of a premier hotel. There were your standard offerings - cold cuts; bakery items; some fruit but could have had more fresh options (canned fruit should never be used at a five-star hotel); egg / omelet station; a choice of cereals, nuts, and dried fruits; one oatmeal / porridge option; three types of juices; and coffee and tea. One tip: never serve khachapuri in a buffet lineup - the cheese and pastry harden quickly, leading to a less than appetizing product! There weren't that many hot items being served, besides some wimpy bacon and mediocre potatoes. There was a nice bakery selection, with donuts, mini fruit tarts, and three types of croissants. The coffee and tea station looked tired and in desperate need for an overhaul. It lacked elegance and any sense of proper decor. Premium espresso beverages should have been offered as well, as is the case with other establishments around the world. Service at the restaurant was also lackluster to put it politely. Servers looked disinterested and lacked life and vitality. All in all, a very disappointing and unsatisfactory experience!
Check-out was quick and once again, the friendly and attentive service at the front desk was evident. However, I don't believe the people stationed at the doors and around the hotel were particularly nice and attentive to the guests. They were also busy doing their own thing, and could care less about interacting with the most important people of all - the guests!
I'm still very excited and pleased with The Biltmore Tbilisi, and believe it is rightfully esteemed in the global sphere of public opinion, but the time is right for some minor changes and improvements in terms of rooms and amenities in order to take it to the next level and solidify its place in Georgia's hospitality stage. Good luck - I have faith in you!!