An ambitious building programme has resulted in Yerevan being well provided with upmarket hotels. There is a wide choice of hotels within the central area although some visitors might prefer, particularly in midsummer, to stay outside the central district. Expect to pay Western prices at these hotels. There are also some less expensive hotels, mostly built in the Soviet era for tourist groups and since renovated. Budget travellers are much better seeking homestays rather than hostel accommodation with the exception of the Envoy Hostel in Yerevan.
Outside Yerevan accommodation has now improved enormously and good hotels are available in most of the places tourists are likely to want to stay. Some of these hotels are new-builds while others are renovated Soviet-era hotels. The latter vary from very acceptable to excellent. There are still some Soviet-era hotels that were used to house refugees in the early 1990s, have never recovered, and are not recommendable. Soviet-era hotels tend to be renovated floor by floor. Renovated floors are usually fine, but avoid those which are not. A chain of Tufenkian hotels (www.tufenkian.am) aimed at Western tourists is being developed in restored buildings. The first outside Yerevan were on Lake Sevan and in the Debed Valley. Others are promised for Areni, Dilijan and Karabagh but construction has not yet started.
Some hotels have self-catering facilities. These may be in the form of so-called cottages - separate small buildings which can accommodate between four and eight persons, although the number is flexible as extra beds can often be erected. Such cottages in Soviet times tended to be in hotels with large grounds and were originally for families spending the whole of their holiday in one place. However, the concept of cottages has been happily adapted to new establishments and it is quite common for a hotel to comprise several small buildings rather than one large building. This preference for individual units can also be found in restaurants where instead of one large dining room there are multiple rooms with a single table.
Another feature of the Soviet era was the guesthouses run by various bodies to provide accommodation for their members while on holiday. They are therefore usually in pleasant surroundings. Some of these have been sold off, while in other cases they remain in the hands of the original owner. It is possible to stay at most of them and they are generally inexpensive. The standard varies enormously. The privatised ones are usually well managed, some having been upgraded, some still needing a lot of new investment. Those still in the hands of the original owners vary from the fascinating and pleasant, to one in which it was necessary to sleep with the window open to avoid choking on the dust, and where the wealth of dead insects in the bedroom provided an interesting identification challenge. (It isn't mentioned in this guide.) Soviet-era guesthouses were usually large establishments offering a variety of activities as well as accommodation. Now renovated, such establishments often call themselves 'hotel resorts'. This slightly puzzling term usually means that the hotel offers a number of facilities (such as sauna and swimming pool) as well as activities (various sports, horseriding, etc) all within the hotel complex.
Yet another feature of the Soviet era was the spa hotels which provided various therapeutic treatments for their guests. Several of these have been upgraded and combine their medical and hotel functions. It is perfectly possible to stay there without being a patient but prices usually include treatment whether you take it or not.
Motel-type accommodation, often associated with roadside eating places on the main routes, is increasing rapidly. Such accommodation is often newly built and pleasant. Hostel accommodation in Armenia is limited. There is one excellent hostel in Yerevan and YMCA accommodation in Spitak is scheduled to open at the end of 2010. The seedy rundown dormitories at the bus and railway stations are not recommended for any but the destitute and not for women under any circumstances.
Homestays (Armenia's term for bed and breakfast establishments) are available throughout the country and provide a real insight into Armenian family life particularly as generally excellent meals can be organised. The one real snag is, of course, the language barrier but many visitors enjoy homestays in spite of this. Homestays, invariably safe and usually very comfortable, can be arranged through one of the Yerevan travel agents, Armenia Information or one of the regional information centres. (It is not unknown for tourists simply to ask around when they arrive in a village, but of course there is an element of potluck in this method.) There will be only one bathroom for everyone, both you and the household.
Rented accommodation can be arranged through Yerevan travel agents and is a good option for those wishing to stay for more than a day or two. The price varies according to the standard of apartment.
It is possible to camp anywhere except on private property and in the national reserves. There are no permanent campsites as found in the West. Some tour operators do include camping during their treks and one enterprise in Tavush province oilers a riverside campsite.
Armenia is a cash-based society and most accommodation (apart from big hotels in Yerevan and some other towns) has to be paid for in cash or by bank transfer.
If you have any questions about travel to Armenia (visa, hotels, guide services, transportation), please feel free to contact us at any time and we will gladly answer your questions.