Monday, March 25, 2019

Tashkent: Farewell Grand Orzu Hotel

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The facade of the Grand Orzu Hotel, Tashkent
As many Uzbek Journeys travellers know, the Grand Orzu Hotel in Tashkent was my home away from home.

For many years I stayed there, always in suite #48. I had made peace with the curtains, the noisy and almost broken air conditioners, the towel rack that regularly fell down. I replaced the dreary paintings with artworks from friends.

So why did I stay there? And why did I use this hotel as the Tashkent base for my clients until just two years ago?

Because the staff were wonderful: what they may have lacked in expertise they readily made up for in enthusiasm and sweetness. (Once I caught the flu and the restaurant manager herself made chicken noodle soup and brought it to my room).

The staff were all well-educated people, who, although during Soviet times had professional work, now needed better paying jobs, e.g. my cleaner Oksana was a meteorologist. Another had been a language teacher and helped me with my Russian homework. There was nothing "slick" about the Grand Orzu or the people who worked there, but the atmosphere was special.

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On a hot summer's day this pool was perfect for a dip
The courtyard was exceptional and very rare in Tashkent. Climbing red roses bloomed twice a year and surrounded the small, refreshing swimming pool. Traditional tapchans (raised platforms for eating and sleeping) edged the courtyard. How lovely to sit there in the evening, sipping a beer or wine.

The location was super: Caravan restaurant just across the road as well as Georgian, Japanese and Central Asian cafes nearby. It was an easy 20-minute walk to the State Fine Art Museum, Babur Park 5 minutes by foot, Ulughbek Holmuradov's jewellery boutique just around the corner and Askiya bazaar a further 5 minute walk from there.

And now it has closed its doors. A new Grand Orzu will open in 2020 in nearby Nukus Street. The original building is slated for demolition soon. Like all the Central Asian capitals, land is expensive. Too expensive for a small, cosy hotel. The space will house a multi-storey apartment block.

To all the staff who looked after me, I thank you and hope that you have found work in Tashkent that suits your skills.

To my travellers who were sometimes a little taken aback by its "on-the-verge" of shabbiness, thank you for not complaining too loudly.

Vale Grand Orzu.

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The courtyard was a perfect place for breakfast and a relaxing, evening drink after exploring Tashkent

Related posts:
Uzbekistan's Secret Underground
Tashkent Nostalgie - Eugene Panov's Exhibition, Tashkent
Seismic Modernism - Architecture and Housing in Soviet Tashkent
Pushkin in Babur Park, Tashkent