OK, got that out of the way. It pretends to have a bar, in fact "Bootleg Bar" is written on the front of the hotel and described in the book in the room......but it doesn't exist. On the website it says "coming soon" and has for some time from what I can gather.
But....not one to be defeated, and liking a beer, if you go right out of the hotel to the first big junction, turn right, at the bottom hang a right past the bus stop on your right will be a big modern building. In there is a decent sized grocery store/supermarket that sells all manner of alcohol. Simply take it back to you room and put it in the minibar. Invite your friends, problem solved. There are also a bunch of eating places and even bars in walking distance, but I was only there one night. The Uzbek place the hotel suggests is very good (again right, straight past the first big junction and on other side of road) But only takes cash and doesn't seem to do change. Tashkent is only a short distance after all.
To be honest, I think the hotel is aimed largely at Arabs, as I saw a number in robes and others who weren't. It even smelt like an arab hotel (not that I have a problem, I am often in the Middle East) so I wonder if the bar will ever open......
Anyway, just wanted to put that to bed. The rooms are midsized, and decently equipped, too hot as usual as is every hotel in the FSU dating back to the district heating days. There is a window you can open, but midges started to intrude (It is still warm in Shymkent in November). Decent beds, bathroom worked, one door was hanging off of the wardrobe, but this is Kazakhstan. In the basement (which is not underground) is a good size pool, 15m but a bit shallow at one end to swim lengths (according to my translator), a jacuzzi, a sauna (tried by another colleague, he seemed happy) and a gym, which looked well equipped for a small hotel gym with modern stuff from a company I didn't recognise.
There is a restaurant and breakfast was decent apparently according to my colleagues, but of course no alcohol (Not that I drink alcohol at breakfast......)
Anyway, I would stay there again if I am in Shymkent, but the lack of a bar means I cannot mark it more than three blobs. For the non-drinker it is a a good choice I think.
BTW, the hotel cannot change money. Except they would change a US$100 bill, but nothing else. No idea why, or about the exchange rate. There are places to change money about 10 or 15 mins walk away. The supermarket is about ten mins walk by the way, Uzbek place closer (but you have to cross the road....use the crossings, stay safe).
Hope that helps, send me a question if you want, but please give me a few days to answer, I travel a lot with work.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A modern 4 star hotel of international standards where local Kazakhstan art and the feel of contemporary meet; where casual design combines with quality service. It is a place for business and leisure, with comfortable rooms, welcoming atmosphere and unforgettable dining experience. Located in the heart of a long-standing historical city of Shymkent with its museums, art galleries and rich night life. ... more less
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