The Moskva ($48 per night) in Moscow was an aging soviet giant, slightly run down, but very well located. It was just off Red Square and near the metro and shopping. It’s easy to get lost in it – it was a long walk from the entrance to the elevators. I received about 6-8 calls for sex services the first night I was there – that got a little tiring, so the next night I disconnected the phone. My room overlooked the central courtyard and was very quiet other than the phone calls. I didn’t eat any meals there. There was a taxi service, slot machines and several convenience shops located in the huge lobby. It was too big to be friendly.
The Uzbekistan ($88) in Tashkent was another aging giant. I stayed in the old part of the hotel: the bathroom was a little dated and the furnishings a little tattered but I like these faded beauties. The best thing about the hotel was the location. It’s near the metro and “Broadway,” the center of nightlife in Tashkent. The food in the dining room was ok. There were pipes in the bathroom to hang your towel over, presumably to dry and heat them. There were also a few cockroaches that lived in the bathroom but they don’t bother me – they don’t bite. They had just remodeled the lobby and it was a little too palatial for me. I would cringe to see my wrinkled, dusty clothes in the shiny elevator mirrors. The floor-lady that did my laundry was very friendly, but spoke no English.
In Bukhara I stayed at Sasha & Son. It’s an old merchant’s house with rooms around a pleasant courtyard. My tiny single room was interesting with floral designs painted on the walls and extremely short doorways – I scraped skin off my head before I learned to duck far enough. The breakfast was good and Sasha came by each day to say hello – a nice touch. The location is superb: just minutes from the pool at Labi-hauz. I made my reservation directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) and paid $25 per night. It was highly recommend on the Internet by other travelers – I agree. It’s a great place to meet other travelers.
I stayed at the Samarkand ($52) in the city of the same name. Much to my surprise there was no air-conditioning in the building. When I mentioned this to the desk clerk, she challenged me, “You need air-conditioning?” “Well,” I replied, “I don’t need it, but I sure do like it.” It was better than 100°F (38°C) every day. I kept the door to the balcony open at night and it wasn’t bad. I had a room on the 10th floor that had a great view of the Registan.
A few cockroaches did share the room with me but I was getting used to them. Also, just one elevator was working for the whole hotel. At times it was near riot trying to get on it. The floor-lady was very friendly and would often come open the door for me as the lock was hard to manage. She also did my laundry. The breakfast was ok, but I ate most of my meals elsewhere. The café on the roof had a great view at night and the beer was almost cold. There was a noisy café in front so you would be wise to get a room on the north side. For such a rundown place it was surprisingly popular with tour groups. I actually liked it too – everyone was very friendly.
The Turan hotel was a very interesting place to stay. It was on the main road out near the mausoleum but quite hard to find – we drove past it twice. All the other guests seemed to be Kazakhi and they didn’t really look like tourists – they might have been long term residents. There was a pleasant courtyard where kids played and adults talked. The room I had was basic but clean. The bathroom was modern, but no air conditioning. There was a restaurant and roof café. My room overlooked an open field and a courting couple chose to watch the moon from under my window – I heard them romancing.
I didn’t see much of the Novotel ($110) at the Moscow airport – just the locked floor my room was on and the small conference room where breakfast was served. My room was the sterile, modern one you would expect. I stayed at the Novotel because I didn’t want to spend the night at the Moscow airport. The “visa-less” transit feature I used might be cheaper in the end than getting a Russian visa. If you have 12 hours to wait, as I did, it’s a convenient place to stay.