With dirt-cheap direct flights connecting Georgia with London, Berlin and Budapest daily, the emerging contemporary cultural hub of Tbilisi is now more accessible than ever.
Isolated out on the far eastern edge of Europe and despite a zero tolerance drug policy, the raw enthusiasm and energy of crowds in Tbilisi transforms every night into an inevitable endurance contest.
Combine this energy with cheap rents and unused Communist-era buildings – the result is a homegrown club scene that’s internationally hyped –
- “Among the best in the world” – Resident Advisor
- “Like Berlin in the 90’s” – The Guardian
- “Inspiring comparisons with the UK’s second summer of love” – The Calvert Journal
- “Is this Georgian Club the New Berghain?” – VICE
From clubs in Soviet swimming pools under football stadiums and 50’s finedining restaurants with world renowned sound systems to smokey local B.Y.O.B basement bistros and 50p pints – here’s my pick of the spots to rave and recuperate in Tbilisi.
Deep in the crumbling concrete bowels of the Dinamo Tiblisi football stadium, late in 2014 Bassiani was born when an abandoned Soviet Olympic size swimming pool was rigged with a Funktion-One soundsystem and some paranormal lighting.
The result is a space that has become frequently labelled the “closest thing to Berghain you can find outside Berlin” and the “new Berghain in Georgia” .
Alongside art exhibitions and a cotch cafe to chill in by day, come night the tables get cleared out and the compact space transforms into a bubble of energy till sunrise.
Launched in 2008, the success of this multifunctional space and its role as a haven of liberty in extremely conservative Georgia, Cafe Gallery has been a central driver in the evolution of the city’s club scene.
This former finedining restaurant for Soviet elites suspended above the river Mtkvari in the 50’s, has become home to hedonistic young Georgians since launching in 2012.
With a main room focused on house and disco, alongside boasting a Void Acoustics Soundsystem, a relaxed crowd and a wrap-around balcony overlooking the river flowing below it’s an exceptional venue.
Launched in June 2016 and located inside some classic Soviet civil engineering – Vakhushti Bagrationi Bridge – Khidi has rapidly emerged as one of the city’s top clubs, arguably the best for those who prefer a dark and intimate Techno focused atmosphere. Whilst the main room has its own intensity, there are plenty of spots to cotch and watch the entrancing light work.
A former Soviet sewing factory that’s been transformed into a sprawling entreprenurial/creative complex focused on a central courtyard, it’s perfect for predrinks before heading on to a club.
Beyond bars Fabrika is home to restraunts, a barbers, local brands, cafes, the largest hostel in the region – alongside co-working and educational spaces. I was there in late summer and as soon as evening came the central space was flooded till close.
Translating as Black Lion in English, this Georgian fusion restaurant is well-known as one of the best in the city, alongside their in-house beers which are served throughout the city. With a shabby chiq charm to the interior for colder months – the winding outside terrace levels are perfect for an abundance of Georgian food and wine in the summer months.
Centrally located on the ground floor of a pseudo-Gothic house near Rustaveli station, Lolita brings together a bar and open kitchen to form a very chilled, partially open air spot with a warm, unpretentious atmosphere. They played tune after tune and all. Apparently there is a space being renovated upstairs to include a club.
A relaxed place for drinks with a consistent crowd – its rugged asethetic is blended with some tasty music keeping you chilled for hours.
Situated on central Liberty Square, this compact bar draws in locals and foreigners week-long with its combination of excellent location and 2 Lari (apprx 50p) beers and shots of chacha and vodka.
In a smokey basement conveniently only minutes walk from Liberty Square metro station- you can find legit local food that’ll get you right after any night out. One of few remaining traditional duqani in the city, I doubt much has changed in decades. Get some plates of Ojakhuri, Khinkali and the Georigian salad with walnuts – as it’s B.Y.O.B. keep yourself refreshed with some world renowned local Georgian wine.