I arrive at the Four Seasons Baku on a scorching day in early July. It is so hot, entering the Beaux-Arts lobby is a relief in itself. Not only is it deliciously cool. It’s also beautiful, with marble floors, glittering chandeliers and a sweeping, grandiose staircase with wrought-iron railings. Comfortable chairs and sofas are scattered around the spacious foyer. Flowers in every shade of red brighten up the cool whites.
Let me jump to the conclusion right away: I have stayed in many hotels around the world, on business and for pleasure, sometimes both – 608, to be exact (yes, I’m that much of a geek). The Four Seasons Baku is near the top.
I’m here for the weekend, and I intend to make the most of Baku. What does the label ‘oil city’ bring to mind for you? Perhaps not exactly charm? It didn’t for me, I must admit. Therefore, I was surprised at just how pleasant this Caucasian capital is. If you’re planning on visiting all three Caucasian countries, I suggest you begin with Baku. It’s an easy landing.
Four Seasons Baku – a perfect location
If you wander along Baku’s seaside promenade, you’ll soon spot the copper green roof soaring above the treetops. Just behind the hotel begins the World Heritage-listed Old City. (More on the Walled City of Baku in a post shortly.)
Just in front – between the hotel and the seaside promenade – is busy Neftchilar Ave, Baku’s main thoroughfare. Practically across the street, and along the promenade a bit, is the carpet museum, housed in a building resembling – you guessed it – a carpet. All rolled up and ready to fly, Prince Husain of the Indies at the ready. A 10-minute walk away is the appealing Fəvvarələr meydanı (Fountain Square) and the pedestrianised streets leading out from it, Baku’s main shopping area.
Rooms at the Four Seasons Baku
Entering my room, no 620, I’m met with a personal welcoming message on the TV. There’s glass bottles of Sirab water (from the foothills of Nakhchivan!), and a bowl of fruit. Perfect!
My room faces the Caspian Sea. I’m a bit apprehensive out on the balcony. It seems so… unattached, somehow. What if it simply, well, falls off? Irrational, of course. Nevertheless, I step out gingerly; stay long enough to get a feel for the busy traffic down below and the magnificent views. Then I step quickly back in. Out again, just long enough to snap photos. Then back in. Out, in, out, in… deliciously eerie. (This is what happens when I spend long periods in my own company, folks).
The room is gorgeous, all creamy and golden. I fall backwards onto the king size bed, making sure there isn’t anything hard to hit my head on (this I’ve learned from hard experience). The bed is every bit as comfortable as it looks – with all of 6 fluffy pillows!
Then there’s the wardrobe. A walk-in wardrobe! Weeeee! Sadly, my bags are lost in outer space with no signal emitting to any computer known to man – somewhere between Frankfurt and Baku, I hope. Is there anything sadder than an empty walk-in wardrobe?
I am a sensible girl (well, mostly), so I have travel insurance. Soon my walk-in is filled with Azeri clothes (Azeri-bought, at least), and good thing too, as my bags remain lost just until it’s time for me to leave town and get on that midnight train to Georgia.
In the spacious bathroom, old world meets new in the gilt-edged mirror with a built in touch-screen TV. There’s a bath tub, a double-basin sink stocked with lovely bath products from l’Occitane, lots of it. Best of all: the large separate room with a rain shower. The shower room is so large, in fact, I don’t have to be anywhere near the water while I wait for the perfect temperature. (Just a tad too hot, in case you were curious.)
So, it’s high noon. The thermometer reads 38°C on this sweltering day. An excellent time to explore the property then.
Jaleh Spa and Health Club is on the 9th floor, with a hammam, a fully equipped fitness centre and a free-weight area. And just look at this beautiful 25-metre long sky-lit swimming pool! All of a sudden, I’ve time-travelled to Ancient Rome.
Sadly, my time in Baku is short, so I don’t have time to try all the facilities. Instead, I wander around the hotel, investigating. Everywhere is delicate; purple jugs of water with lemon or orange – or bottled water if you prefer, is available everywhere. I think if I had given myself over to the deft hands of the masseuses – either in the beautiful spa or in my room(!), I would probably have become so sleepy, the rest of the day would have been spent in the ultra comfortable bed. Can’t have that, with a new city to explore just outside the door.
Let’s talk about Zafferano, the restaurant where I enjoy two sumptuous breakfasts under the quietly attentive eye of a friendly waiter. And that is the best way to describe the service level at Four Seasons Baku: the staff seem to be magically aware of your wants without being intrusive. Doesn’t get much better than that!
I don’t normally eat breakfast, but I cannot resist the offerings here: warm dishes cooked to order, as well as breads, yogurts, meats, fish, cheeses, fruits, and anything else you want, Western or Azeri. It’s poached eggs, Bircher müsli, freshly squeezed orange juice and cappuccino for me. I can never seem to learn how to poach eggs properly, so it is always a treat in hotels. Here: clean and simple, just as I like it – and cooked to perfection.
Zafferani is a popular dinner choice for locals as well. If only I had a few more days in town…
My favourite features in Zafferano, apart from the food, is the gleaming silver bar, the white grand piano, and the outdoor lounging around section, perfect in the balmy summer night. Friends pop around for a glass of wine one evening. I mean to try the shisha here, but time flies, and we have dinner reservations elsewhere. Shisha really requires time and the utmost splendid laziness, doesn’t it…
Four Seasons Baku hotel review: the lowdown
An elegant and exquisite, classic style, fresh and contemporary hotel just across from Baku’s leafy Caspian promenade. I have been searching for something to put my finger on, but no go. Sorry folks, cannot find anything lacking. This hotel is an absolute delight.
Disclosure: I was in town as a guest of Four Seasons Baku. As ever, we retain the right to write anything we want – or nothing at all – here on Sophie’s World.