During my time in Central Asia following the Silk Route through the 'Stans' I stayed in some horrid hotels. When I arrived at the Ak Keme I was prepared to hate it, but the hotel and staff offered a marvelous break from the disappointments and bad attitudes rife elsewhere. Ak Keme means White Boat, though I was hard-pressed to find the eponymous allusion in the the structure of the hotel. It's not attractive at all; the lobby is a touch forlorn; the gym downstairs is actually dangerous because the equipment is is such bad shape; the rooms are cookie-cutter and the beds not terribly comfortable; my shower head spewed water everywhere but downward.
And yet, and yet, I really enjoyed my stay in this hotel. Why? The people who worked there. From check-in at the front desk, to the nice woman in the business who hands out the user name and password for the dappertutto wifi (even in the room - the first hotel of our trip in which that was the case), to the cute lady who cleaned the rooms on my floor, to the nice people at the bar, and finally the wonderfully accommodating and caring staff in the breakfast room.
So many fancy hotels pile on the luxuries and amenities and forget that very often the tired traveler is just looking for a friendly face or voice - and wifi throughout the hotel - and genuine help when he or she needs something. And that you have in spades with the staff of the Ak Keme.
And you have real cappuccino when you want it at breakfast, at ten, at lunch, at three, whenever, also a treat when traveling in Central Asia. And a pleasant bar in which to sit with friends and enjoy wine (drinkable) or vodka (Russian mineral water they call it).
The rooms are nothing to write home about, though mine was comfortable, with a small balcony (a clean one - did you hear that King Hotel in Astana - a clean balcony) with a stunning view of the snow covered and sometimes fog enshrouded mountains.
I comfortably recommend this hotel - is the best? Is it luxurious? Is it all you need? Probably not any of those, but it is friendly, warm, charming, with good libations, and good food, and most of all, truly good people.
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- Also Known As:
- Ak Keme Hotel Bishkek, Asia