Believe me, this was another crazy journey on this ball. I mean, for a start how many of you have heard of Karakalpakstan? Sorry where? Karakalpakstan!! I travel full-time and until last week, I also hadn’t heard of it!! It’s an autonomous region within Uzbekistan. But they have their own language, people, culture, borders, road regulations (much better than mainland Uzbek), beer and flag here. I spent a night in the capital city, Nukus, to see what this place was all about and in the circle of life, ridiculously I loved Karakalpakstan a lot lot more than the main part of Uzbekistan.
The first thing I noticed about the Karakalpaks is that they are a million times more friendly and welcoming than the Uzbeks. It’s a more laid back nomadic desert culture here, no Soviet hangover of men dressed in military uniform checking documents! They don’t believe in stupid road blocks, police checks and ugly time consuming body scans. It felt like I was free again when I crossed into the Republic of Karakalpakstan. I crossed the border just north of Urgench (in the Khorezm region of Uzbekistan) and set my eyes on staying in a real backpacker friendly hotel in the capital city, Nukus, Jipek Joli Hotel.
However, due to the random location (i.e. Karakalpakstan), I assumed this would be just another hotel with slow WiFi and zero luxury. This was the opposite and remains the BEST hotel I have stayed in during my time in Central Asia!! It’s $20 US a night and includes breakfast, in-room WiFi and the rooms are a treat! I loved this place. Without a shadow of a doubt, this cosy place will be remembered for a long long time and for an extra reason.
I arrived at dusk after a truly Wacaday journey from Bukhara via Urgench, and the staff welcomed me and showed me to my second floor room, 118. It was pure luxury! It felt like a four star hotel again. In my room I had a full on heater, WiFi, hot shower and TV. Here I was, aged 35 living the high life in the unknown Republic of Karakalpakstan under the ownership of an Uzbekistan Visa. Here are my favourite 5 things about this hotel, Jipek Jolu Hotel.
The staff are mostly Karakalpaks, this immediately made me feel at ease, I could feel a difference from the Uzbeks already.
Karakalpakstan is back to normality for me – no bag checks, no Uzbek police going over the top. Oh and the girls are rather attractive. It seemed every girl here had somehow got a pretty gene.
2.Amet and Ayimxan Shamuratov’s Karakalpak Museum
A hotel with a museum? Yes indeed! Next door to the hotel Jipek Jolu (the main building) is a fabulous museum. I was given a full on guided tour of this place. Not only was it the first private museum in Karakalpakstan, but in all of Uzbekistan. I’ll cover more about the museum itself in my top sights of Nukus article. Entrance is $5,000 Som.
3.In Room WiFi
Check out my room with a desk, a sofa and WiFi. OK, so we’re in a city in the middle of a desert here but the WiFi worked better here than in most parts of Uzbekistan, though still slow of course.
Breakfast is included and is served from 7am – 9am. Breakfast consisted of cheese, salami and bread, as well as a beef pastie, cake and coffee.
5.Good Location for Savitsky Museum
Jipek Jolu Hotel is just a 6 minute walk from the Savitsky Museum – quite simply the BEST art museum in the world. I toured the Savitsky Museum and was mightily impressed, this is actually the main reason tourists visit Nukus.
There are two restaurants nearby too – one called Jipek Jolu (no relation!) and one called Neo. Other keys sights in the city such as the Bazaar and the Parliament are walkable within 10-12 minutes.
While based here you can also organise some cool tours, not just backpacking through Nukus but the popular tour to the Aral Sea through the Ayim Tour company. And the reason I will never forget this hotel, or my room was that this was the place that my thirty years of hurt dream came true. I found out that I had got tickets for Euro 2016 to watch Northern Ireland play at the tournament in France! Amazing!
Here are the details for booking the Jipek Jolu Hotel in Nukus, Karakalpakstan:
Jipek Jolu Hotel, 50 Tatibaev Street, Nukus, Republic of Karakalpakstan
(+99861) 2242525 / 2225251
Thanks so much to the staff at Jipek Jolu for my night here, especially Zukhra, it was fabulous to spend a day in the Republic of Karakalpakstan. I hope we meet again someday.
Here are my videos from the Jipek Jolu Hotel in Karakalpakstan: