“If Timmy Mallet made hotels, this would be it”. – Jonny Blair.
A short intro first – I stayed here in 2013 (so five years ago and never finished this article) BUT this is far and away the most ridiculous hotel in my backpacking history. A hotel shaped like a boat in the middle of a village that is smaller than the hotel grounds. In a country that doesn’t exist. No kidding! The hotel had NO other guests apart from us. It had a huge elegant swimming pool which wasn’t open and full of dirty water. It had a cosy room with hot water showers and great beds. It had a bar that was shut. I had a bottle of vodka with a dead snake in it given by the owner of a museum in Stepanakert. There was no WiFi. There was a restaurant called the Van Gogh restaurant which had dogwood blackberry juice and only 3 items on the menu were available so we ordered all three. There were more staff than guests. This was a BRILLIANT night and day in curious Vank.
My journey around the world had many ups and downs and countless completely wacaday moments. I mean just ridiculous moments. Here I was in the Eclectic Hotel in Vank in Nagorno Karabakh. Where? Exactly. This was mental. I was sleeping in a hotel modelled on the Titanic drinking blackberry juice with wood floating in it, just a few miles from the famous Gandzasar Monastery and sleeping in a town called Vank. Oh did I mention I was also in Nagorno Karabakh?! A country which to all intents and purposes doesn’t really exist! Not so much Welcome to the Hotel California, but Welcome to the Eclectic Hotel. Get ready for this.
And guess what? The night we stayed – the hotel was empty! There were no other guests. Just Panny and I. We arrived in Vank around 3 pm I think. It was clear that not only was this the biggest hotel in town and the coolest, but it was also the most ridiculous hotel I’d ever seen. In a tiny forgotten village, this huge fake ship bowed its bow down on the locals across a bridge where army dudes marches. Nah the whole thing was ridiculous. One thing to tell you – if you ever visit Nagorno Karabakh (which you should) PLEASE PLEASE stay in the Eclectic Hotel in Vank!! I hope it still exists and I hope you can see it. Pure lunacy, adrenalin rush and backpacking wackiness all in one. Sometimes I pinch myself and try to recall if these days really existed. It was five years ago, we’re a long time dead.
Getting to Vank, Nagorno Karabakh
For a start there are no plans, trains or boats here. Mini bus, hitch hiking, car renting, walking, biking and taxi afre your only real options. We chose the lunatic minibus and it was rammed full. At one point Panny and I had 2 Nagorno Karabakians sitting on our laps. I had a full bottle of vodka (with a dead snake in it) in my bag bouncing up and down thinking it was going to crack at any moment. I still never told the story about that bottle of Vodka and the snake, but there was another snake story untold.
The minibus journey was crazy and though I wrote about it before I didn’t mention these two things:
1.The whole time I was actually scared of that David guy even though he was about 18 or 19. I felt he might brandish a knife at any point! He is in two of the videos at the bottom.
2.But the real shock (and this girl appears in one of those videos at the back of the bus). There were about 40 of us at one point squeezed into a bus that holds 17. One teenage girl was knelt down in front of me almost the whole journey. At one point, she grabbed my willy (through my trousers I must add) for a LONG time during the bus ride. It was ridiculous – I couldn’t turn round as the bus was full and Panny was a few seats away. I didn’t want to alarm anyone by shouting and telling Panny what this minx was up to. At first I did wonder if she was trying to steal my wallet or camera from my pocket, but she had gone straight to the cucumber. It was too tight for me to move or for Panny to notice. She was young and when I realised she wasn’t going for my wallet or camera, I thought she was just grabbing on to something as the bus kept bouncing, innocently. But she knew it was the willy. I don’t know what she was actually doing but it really makes me laugh looking back now. I wouldn’t have wanted to write about this when I was with Panny, but now I will.
Anyway back to the stay in the Hotel. Here are 10 Ridiculous reasons to sleep here:
1.Nobody Has Ever Heard of It
The Hotel doesn’t have a Facebook, or a Website. It’s not on Google Maps. Nobody has ever checked into it on Instagram and no third party hotel site even features it. It seems like it doesn’t exist but it does so you have to stay here. It’s mandatory.
2.There is No Wi-Fi
This was a key selling point for me. As a professional travel blogger who loves a good night of blogging and Facebooking, that option was gone. Brilliant. Enjoy the hotel room and a night in the Van Gogh Restaurant which has about 4 items on its menu, closes when we leave and has no alcohol.
3.There is No Alcohol
There was a bar so I rocked up for a beer and a night on the rip, at least in my hotel. No alcohol in it. Nobody working. No sign of life. Just as well I had a dead snake flavoured vodka in my hotel room then eh?!
4.Dinner at the Van Gogh Restaurant!
Not only is it a hotel that looks like the Titanic, but they have an artistic restaurant on the basement and it is known as the Van Gogh restaurant!! This is pure fire lunacy to the core. Panny and I rocked in and we were the only customers. They only had about 3 of the items on the menu available so we ordered one of each:
1 -Blackberry Dog Wood Juice (we shared a large jug).
2 – Walnut and Green leaf salad.
3 -Some kind of pancake with either chicken or pork in a soup!
Our room was fantastic. We could basically choose any room in the hotel as there was nobody else staying. The lady tried to tell us there were different charges for each room. So we chose the cheapest price and blagged the best room! If she had said no, then we could have stayed elsewhere and she would have had zero customers that night! For the record we were in room 208 with a balcony.
6.Incredible Exterior Architecture
Come on, it looks like a boat!!! Hotel designs do not get any better than this.
7.Wacaday Interior Architecture
Again you have to see this place to believe it. It was so rich, so extreme, so elaborate. They had spent a huge amount of money and here it was a white elephant. We were the only guests. The restaurant and bar shut as soon as we’d sipped our final sip of Blackberry Dog Wood Juice! If Timmy Mallet made hotels, this would be it.
8.Proximity to Gandzasar Monastery
Panny and I did the morning hike up the hills to the Gandzasar Monastery and were back at the hotel late morning, so it’s a perfect place to base yourself for doing this hike.
9.Free Breakfast in the Van Gogh
It wasn’t just a dinner (which we paid for) in the Van Gogh, but we returned here the next morning for a breakfast. They had one table set for their only two guests. Coffee and bread with jam. Tea on request. Nobody else in sight.
10.The Swimming Pool is Shut
I was excited to learn that Panny and I had a full swimming pool all to ourselves!! Amazing eh?!!
Not really, it was shut and there was dirty water in it. Nice dream. He got wacaday republics on the brain.
11.The Views Are Tremendous
This is real. The views into the Nagorno Karabakhian countryside were dreamlike. All that an Ulster tourist dreamed of as a 1980s Norman Whiteside wannabe.
Here are the details for booking a night at the Eclectic Hotel in Vank, Nagorno Karabakh:
[Page not found]
OK so there is no Website, Spacebook, Flirter or Pastagram account but I found out the address for you (kind of):
Here are some videos from my stay in the Eclectic Hotel in Vank, Nagorno Karabakh: