Update: This offer for the Citi Prestige® Card has expired. Learn more about the current offers here.
Introduction: Journey To Kazakhstan
Review: Korean Air First Class 747-8 Vancouver To Incheon
Review: Nest Hotel Incheon Airport
Review: Asiana Business Class Lounge Incheon Airport
Review: Air Astana Business Class 767 Incheon To Almaty
Review: Ritz-Carlton Almaty
Review: Air Astana Lounge Almaty Airport
Review: Air Astana Business Class A321 Almaty To Astana
Review: Marriott Astana
Review: Air Astana Lounge Astana Airport
Review: Air Astana Business Class 757 Astana To London
Review: Sofitel London Heathrow Terminal 5
Review: United Lounge London Heathrow Airport
Review: Singapore Airlines Lounge London Heathrow Airport
Review: United First Class 777 London To Los Angeles
I had a ~22 hour layover in Almaty, as I was arriving from Incheon at 4:45PM, and departing the following day to Astana at 2:30PM. Almaty doesn’t have that many major hotel chains, so after carefully reviewing the options I decided to book the Ritz-Carlton Almaty, which seems to be the best hotel in the city.
I’ve certainly become more interested in Ritz-Carltons since Marriott’s takeover of Starwood was completed, and also since The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card started offering a great sign-up bonus of three complimentary nights after completing minimum spend (which can be redeemed at this property).
The hotel was nearly sold out for the night I was there, so the cheapest rate was for a club room, which cost ~$250. While expensive for Kazakhstan, in absolute terms that didn’t seem too bad, given how great Ritz-Carlton club lounges typically are.
I arranged an airport transfer through the hotel in advance, as I usually do when visiting a country for the first time. It was easy enough to arrange, and the cost of a transfer in a Lexus was ~40USD.
Sure enough, the driver was waiting for me on my arrival, and the drive to the hotel took about 30 minutes. The Ritz-Carlton really stands out in the Almaty skyline, as the building is modern and distinctive.
Upon arriving at the hotel I was ushered through the lower lobby towards the elevators.
The lower lobby level is gorgeous, even though it’s not the hotel’s main lobby.
I took the elevator up to the 30th floor, where the hotel’s main lobby is located. That’s the highest floor of the hotel, so basically you have to take two sets of elevators to get to your room — first you go up to the lobby, and then you take the elevator down to your room.
Upon exiting the elevator I found the reception and concierge desk to the left. I handed the associate my passport and Citi Prestige® Card (so that I’d earn triple points on my purchase). The check-in process was quick, and I was informed that due to the hotel’s high occupancy they didn’t have any standard club rooms available, so I’d be upgraded to an executive suite — awesome! Within a few minutes I was handed my keys, as well as a welcome letter explaining the features of the club lounge.
Before heading to my room I admired the stunning lobby.
The entire design felt so well thought out, down to the telescope by the window.
After wandering around the lobby a bit I was escorted down to my suite on the 25th floor.
Upon exiting the elevator I turned right, and then my room was at the far end of the hallway on the left.
The executive suite is marketed as being ~860 square feet, and features two separate rooms. Upon entering the room I found myself in a foyer, with the bathroom to the right and the living room straight ahead.
The second bathroom featured a toilet and sink.
The living room was a good size, and nicely furnished.
It featured a coach and a chair along with a coffee table.
Across from that was a desk with an office chair, as well as a console with a flat screen TV.
I appreciated that the desk had conveniently placed outlets, including USB plugs.
To the right of the TV was a coffee machine, along with some complimentary bottled water.
Below that was the minibar.
To the side of the living room was the bedroom, which was on the small side. Personally I love cozy bedrooms, especially if I have a partitioned off living room. The bedroom featured a plush king size bed, along with a chair by the window, and a flat screen TV.
The bedroom and bathroom were separated from one another by a glass window. On one hand I like the more open layout, while on the other hand I don’t love that there wasn’t a partition that could be lowered between them. Of course this wasn’t an issue when traveling alone, but if I were with someone I’d find it slightly annoying.
The bathroom featured double sinks, along with an adjacent flat screen TV.
Next to the wall closest to the bedroom was a bathtub.
Both the toilet and walk-in shower were in separate partitioned off areas.
The shower was huge, and featured a rainforest shower head as well as a handheld one. The water pressure and temperature control were very good.
All toiletries in the room were provided by Asprey.
The room had beautiful views of Almaty, which is a picturesque city from above, with beautiful mountains in the distance.
A few minutes after arriving in the room I was delivered a fruit plate.
Overall I thought the room was beautiful, spacious, and well designed. The wifi in the room was also high speed, so I had no issues in that regard.
My time at the hotel was limited, though of course I still took the opportunity to enjoy the club. The Ritz-Carlton Almaty executive lounge is open daily from 7AM until 10PM, with five servings per day:
- Breakfast: 7AM until 11AM
- Light lunch: 12PM until 2PM
- Light snacks: 2PM until 4PM
- Evening hors d’oeuvres: 6PM until 8PM
- Chocolates and cordials: 8PM until 10PM
Here’s the full welcome letter I received as a club guest:
The club lounge was located on the 26th floor, so was one level above the floor I was staying on. The club lounge was a large space, with seating available at both dining tables and on couches. The lounge wasn’t crowded at all, so I’m not sure if that was a function of it being Saturday night, or if it just doesn’t get crowded. I suppose since Marriott and Ritz-Carlton elite members don’t get club level upgrades, Ritz lounges don’t get as full as some other lounges.
The lounge also had a small business center with a couple of PCs and printers.
There was also a meeting room, with seating for six.
Upon arriving in the lounge, one of the attendants offered me a drink. Since I was quite tired, I ordered a cappuccino.
I arrived in the lounge around the same time that the evening service began, which they were just finishing setting up.
They had a cool wine serving system, which reminded me of the one at the Amex Centurion Lounge San Francisco. While they had that display, the servers in the lounge were proactive, so they’d insist on serving you, rather than pouring a glass yourself.
In terms of the food selection, there was a make-your-own-salad station.
Then there was sushi and several types of plated appetizers.
There was fresh bread, all kinds of nuts and snack mix, etc.
Then there were a few hot options, including mushrooms, fish, and beef.
Then at 8PM they brought out dessert, which included all kinds of individually plated desserts, as well as a fondue of sorts.
There were also several types of chocolate.
Overall I thought the evening selection was good, though not substantially different from what you’d find in a lounge at any other mid-range hotel. It certainly wasn’t to the level of the incredible selection at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong.
In the morning I also had breakfast in the club lounge, which featured a better selection.
There were all kinds of fresh fish, cheese, cold cuts, fresh fruit, cereal, oatmeal, pastries, croissants, etc.
There was also an egg station, including accompaniments like hash browns, sausage, bacon, etc.
I ordered a veggie omelet with hash browns.
The Ritz-Carlton Almaty has a Six Senses Spa on the 20th floor, which is also where the pool and gym are located.
The pool was beautiful and also had a hot tub next to it.
The gym looked great as well, though I didn’t have a chance to use it during my short stay.
In the morning I went for a tour of Almaty, and in the early afternoon I headed to the airport for my flight to Astana.
Overall I had a fantastic stay at the Ritz-Carlton Almaty, as it seems to be the best hotel in the city by far. The service in the hotel was top notch across the board, the facilities beautiful, my suite spacious, and the club lounge nice, though not to the level of the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong (then again, I wasn’t expecting that).
The hotel also had a good location best I could tell, though Almaty is quite spread out.
If visiting Almaty I’d highly recommend the Ritz-Carlton, assuming it’s within your budget. This is also a great option if you have complimentary nights to redeem through The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card.