Despite the rise in tourism, Dushanbe is still cramped when it comes to the number of beds and the types of accommodation available. There will be a cheap bed available in a distant hostel even in peak season, but in the mid- and upper range, beds sell out quickly, and it pays to book in advance.
Best neighbourhoods to stay
The best region in Dushanbe is anywhere close to the southern part of Rudaki, especially the diamond-shaped area between the streets Rudaki, Ayni, Druzhby Narodov and Shohtemur. This district consists of quiet, residential streets where the richer residents of Dushanbe live.
You are within walking distance of Rudaki, and that’s generally what matters in Dushanbe. A quick look at the map shows this is where the majority of accommodation can be found as well.
The northern half of Rudaki, up until the Botanical Garden, can also be considered central.
Dushanbe has two 5-star hotels, the Hyatt Regency and the Serena. Both hotels have about the same age, and facilities and mountain view are roughly similar. Although we are no fans of the Hyatt Regency in Tashkent, and the Hyatt Dushanbe has a similar problem with overcharging its customers, it still outperforms the Serena, where the staff is rather weak (and prices are also high).
Neither is a must. If you don’t need the spa and the extra-sized swimming pool, there are a few excellent 4-star hotels in Dushanbe that do the basics of welcoming, feeding and resting you better, for half the price.
3- and 4-star hotels
If you are on a business trip, Safir Hotel is the top choice. Excellent wifi, and facilities and staff geared towards the business visitor.
If you are not on business, Safir is still a good choice, thanks to its good breakfast selection, often a sore point in other hotels. It’s just missing a more central location to attain perfect marks.
Lotte Palace and Atlas Hotel
The 2 other top choices are the Lotte Palace and the Atlas Hotel. Both really pleasant in their design with spacious rooms and well-trained staff, Atlas has a better location and a bigger swimming pool, while the Lotte Palace has spa facilities and a calming garden. It’s a toss-up.
Atlas B&B and Rohat Hotel
If you are looking for something more homely, Atlas B&B is the best guesthouse in the mid-range.
Rohat Hotel is the cheapest of the better hotels. A bit old-school, so an extra 10$ for one of the above options is money well-spent in our opinion, but the location is perfect.
Beware of lower mid-range hotels. They often retain much of the post-Soviet eccentricities that old travel guides warn about: water problems, broken locks, stained blankets, unwashed sheets, broken lights, unreliable wifi, strange noises, drunk neighbours, prostitutes and pimps knocking on your door, rude or disinterested concierges, aggressive questioning of solo female travelers, et cetera. Dushanbe’s hostel managers tell us “refugees” fleeing their sketchy hotel for a hostel bed are common.
Better to splurge or get thrifty: a guesthouse with good reviews or a private room in a hostel is a far better option than a bad mid-range hotel; these hotels really only exist for local businessmen, government workers and prostitution.
Conferences and special events
Good hotels in Dushanbe are often completely booked during international conferences and any other large offical event when foreign visitors overwhelm Dushanbe’s meagre accommodation options. Book in advance if you can.
However, getting expelled from your 5-star hotel to make way for visiting foreign diplomats and their entourages attending a hastily-organised international conference is not unheard of (it’s not exactly common either, though).
Despite your anger, there is nothing you can do about it except treasure the experience: you now know what it feels like to be a Tajik.
The top choice for years has been the Green House Hostel, which has built up its reputation thanks to its manager’s above-and-beyond attitude, selling camping gas canisters and getting bicycle parts delivered from Moscow with lightning speed. You will find the majority of cyclists and motorbikers here.
There are downsides: rooms are stuffy and the breakfast is light.
City Hostel is a very similar competitor on the other side of town (also has a courtyard and sells camping gas canisters) with an excellent manager. Breakfast is a bit better and rooms are a bit nicer, so we declare it for now the winner.
When it comes to apartment rental, booking.com and airbnb are the 2 main sites that have attracted properties so far. Apartments sell out quickly, so book in advance if you can.
However, make sure the owner has good reviews, or you will be taking your chances: their English may be non-existent, the keys may not work very well (a surprisingly common problem), the arrangements may be unclear, or the address might not be visible anywhere on the building.
You might have a very helpful landlord, or they may just hand you the keys and walk away.
The perfect place is difficult to find in Dushanbe, but prices are very reasonable, even for very large spaces. Rohat apartments and the 3 Studios on Pulody in the hands of the well-organized Firuz have consistently managed to please guests.
Camping, couchsurfing and more
For everything you need to know regarding where to get camping gear and camping stove fuel, tips for couchsurfing and homestays and some more general info, see accommodation in Tajikistan.