In northeastern Turkey, bordering the Black Sea and Georgia, the scenic province of Artvin offers dramatic river valleys and gorges, dense coastal forests and alpine-like meadows framed by the Kaçkar Mountains. Hiking, rafting and even skiing feed adventurous visitors, while ancient ruined castles and abandoned Georgian churches lend cultural colour. Here are the top boutique hotels to rest your head in while you visit.
In the hills a few kilometres east of Artvin town, Dergiz is a row of timber-clad two-storey cottages facing lush green ridges across the valley, a view comfortably enjoyed from the cottage balconies or the slender flower-lined lawn. Their almost rustic simplicity matches the location with Salkimli, a workaday hamlet, just a few minutes’ walk away. The main building with glazed balconies features a restaurant – rather more upscale than suggested by the accommodation – plus a few chessboard tables along with a sauna, hammam and spa.
Overlooking the Çoruh River at the bottom of a deep, rugged valley near Artvin Castle, the Villa has neat two-storey cottages and a handful of A-frame cabins with an almost theatrical cliff-enclosed location. A reasonably spacious garden plus terrace, which slightly overhangs the jade-green river waters, adds to the appeal. The masonry bungalow in the garden with arched windows houses a restaurant, alongside which lies a swimming pool – all rather fetching when illuminated at night.
In rural countryside high above Artvin town, the Koliva’s white-walled and red-roofed terraced cottages might be inoffensively functional, but views from their balconies across a valley to the mountains beyond are superb. Rooms are pleasant enough, with comfy armchairs and masonry-design wallpaper. Things perk up considerably in the restaurant – varnished wooden floors, real brickwork and snazzy chandeliers – where you might happily fuel up and take off for a day’s rambling in the hills.
Courtesy of Artvin Sofrasi Marina Konaklama Tesisi / Booking.com
Stilted and in neat terraced rows, these small cabins resemble oversized beach huts fused with forest lookouts. Their simple pine-walled accommodation overlooks the Çoruh River at Artvin town, but the real charm – across the road on its own pedestrian bridge – is the riverside restaurant, done up rather like a regional mountain chalet. Big windows, a veranda and terrace along with timber panelling and kilims conjure a perfectly twee but affable atmosphere: as good a spot as any to consider the merits or otherwise of the river-crossing zipline.
Up in the hills a few kilometres inland from the Black Sea town of Arhavi, this family-run hotel reclines in tranquil countryside beside a seasonal stream. Lawns and gardens frame the main two-storey building, which resembles a modern farmhouse. Commodious rooms with rugs and mostly pine-clad walls have a faintly rustic atmosphere; larger family ones feature sofas and tub chairs. It’s a great place to unwind, but the hills and scattered hamlets make for lovely and undemanding walks.
This alpine lodge sits on a beautiful meadow with pine trees and the mighty Şavşat mountains decorating the background. Don’t be surprised to see cows grazing or a brook streaming down the valley. During the summer months, the pasture sees a blanket of wildflowers, while the winter brings a lovely cover of thick white snow. Laşet’s rooms are simple and comfortable, giving a homely feel, while the restaurant is popular for fresh grilled trout (a local delicacy).
Located in the remote Maçahel Valley, Tema Foundation Guest House (Tema Vakfı Konuk Evi) offers solitude in a spot far removed from everything familiar. You’ll hear Georgian spoken instead of Turkish, and you should try the respected local honey. The hotel itself is a modern chalet with lovely rooms, a terrace overlooking the beautiful valley and a restaurant serving regional food all day.
Unlike the concrete structures that have disturbed the landscape in the Black Sea region, Ezmoce Köy Evi sits in a renovated alpine lodge that blends nicely into the surroundings. Inside, you’ll find a collection of antique furniture and decorations gathered by the owner over a three-year search. From the homemade regional dishes in the kitchen to the blossoming flowers in the garden to the hotel chicken coop and vegetable garden, everything is done with purpose and love. You’ll get a real sense of the regional culture by staying at this hotel, which feels more like the home of a friendly local.
The Eliya Pansiyon Restoran only has seven little cabins in the woods, but this is exactly why this small hotel is so special. Offering camping and picnic areas plus an indoor restaurant with regional dishes such as fresh trout and a Turkish breakfast, Eliya makes the best of the breathtaking mountain views. This hotel is also great for visitors who want to get active with fishing, hiking or biking around the Akarsu region of Artvin.