Neofit Karakol Reviews
Russian hospitality Jul 23, 2010
The description in the guidebook: 'A clean central option, popular with trekkers who swap stories over a beer in the sociable coutyard'
Sounds good, no?
Well, while the above description is spot on, in real life the place offers a slightly different experience than one might suspect.
The hotel is run by Russians who, despite having catered for foreigners for over 15 years, still don't speak a single word of English. When we arrived and asked for a room, the girl at the reception looked at us surprised. “A room...? To sleep?”
We were treated as if we were the first foreigners ever to come here and to ask silly questions about rooms for sleeping. The next morning we found out the place was packed to the rafters with foreigners. Yet the staff kept treating us as if we were aliens and had just established first contact.
The staff is annoying and amusing at the same time. One moment they are really friendly and helpful, next moment they treat you like a piece of shit. Never before have I stayed in a place where the management was so suspicious about their guests leaving without paying and the first thing they'd say whenever I wanted to extend my stay was “money”. One time they didn't have change, so we agreed that I would settle the bill the next morning. Next morning one of the receptionists came banging on my door, waking me up at 6:30 in the morning to ask if I could please pay for my room.
The rooms are cramped, with the tiniest, most uncomfortable beds you can imagine. Value for money this is not, but there aren't many alternatives in Karakol, unless you opt for a homestay outside the city centre. And while unfriendly and uncomfortable, at least the place is clean, something which you can't say about the other backpacker place in town, the Yak Tours Hostel (see review).
There is only one shower available. Or well, they do have six, but they are all in a single bathroom, without much privacy, so only if you are really close will you be able to shower with more than one person at the same time.
There's no breakfast served at the guest house. Although they also have a basement restaurant, with a very weird dragon head entrance, but this was closed throughout my stay. The first night I stayed here there was a German tour group who did get breakfast served here, so perhaps if you book this place in advance (and travel with a group) they do breakfasts. But then again, why bother, the bazaar is just around the corner, so you can get fresh bread and fruit there and eat it at one of the nice seating areas in the courtyard (which, as it turned out, quite sociable indeed).
The guest house used to operate tours as well, but this is no more. At least, they might still do it for Russian speakers, but if you don't speak Russian they prefer to send you off to one of the other tour operators in town where they do speak English.
So in conclusion? Well, it is a convenient place to stay in Karakol. It is central and clean and if you are lucky you might have a bed in which you can actually manage to sleep as well. If you can cope with the strange quirks of the staff, this could be the best deal in town.
Part of the Kiev to Kuala Lumpur 2010 travel blog
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