Halfway between Tashkent and Bukhara, there’s Samarkand, both geographically as with regards to its accommodation options. It is cheaper than Tashkent but it lacks the glut of historic properties that makes Bukhara such a delight. As in Bukhara, as an independent traveler, we recommend you go for one of the smaller hotels and bnb’s. You will avoid the big bus tour groups.
If having wifi is important to you, have a good look at the wifi ratings on booking.com before you book. It’s an issue in a lot of places in Samarkand. Better yet, invest in a sim card, it will save you a lot of hassle.
The touristification process that is currently destroying the social fabric in the historic centres of Tashkent, Bukhara and Khiva was already completed in Samarkand in the early 2000’s. The consequence is that the area around the Registan feels artificial. Compared to the rest of town, dinner options are limited as well.
A few hotels and bnb’s in the area are excellent, but don’t consider it a must to stay near the famous historic monuments.
Samarkand has a different side: dynamic, noisey and young (well, don’t get too excited). We have dubbed this area the Russian town, because of the architectural leftovers from Russian colonialism and Soviet times. It’s located west of the centre, roughly between Khusayn Baykaro street (north) and the University Boulevard (south), and Bustonsaroy (east) and Kashgari (west). This is where you find most of the bars, restaurants and even a bit of nightlife.
Personally, we prefer this part of town, but Samarkand is not huge like Tashkent, so you don’t have to choose, really. Walking home after dark is safe, although streets are not lit everywhere and crossing the street is occasionally tricky. Alternatively, a quick taxi ride should not cost more than 1$.
The area around the crossroads of Dakhbed Yuli and Rudaki street also has a number of hotels and places to eat, but it’s second-rate.
Since our last visit, the pool of accommodation in Samarkand has effectively more than doubled. So there are a bunch of good options we have not yet reviewed.
Best budget accommodation in Samarkand
When we last visited Samarkand, there were only 3 hostels. In the meantime there are 7. We don’t really recommend any of the 3 we visited: Emir, Sim-Sim and Bahodir. Instead, go with one of the new ones. People have been raving to us about Amir. Seems like the best hostel in town at the moment.
Minora is probably the best option for singles and couples on the cheap, while Lux and Irgashev’s are good too if you have a bicycle or like to stroll. Furkat has the best view in town, but it desperately needs investment. Ishonch is a cheap mid-range hotel with tired decor but lovely location in a park.
Best mid-range accommodation in Samarkand
Antica has lost some its luster, but it is still the most atmospheric bnb in Samarkand in our opinion. However, Jahongir and Dilshoda are really nice all the same, and the rooms are better in some cases. Timur the Great is famous for its breakfast and helpful staff, but you could not call it atmospheric by any stretch of the imagination. Marokand is also a fine option, but less ideally located.
Of the mid-range hotels, we found City Hotel very pleasant all-round. We were less impressed with Arba (decent, but overpriced and sterile), Samarkand Dream (out of town, quite a few hitches with the rooms), Safar (old-fashioned, but perhaps you like this style), Zarina (dated), Billuri Sitora (just weird), Bibikhanum (staff unfriendly, breakfast is not good)
We are on the fence about Bek: nice place, but location is just not that great.
Best high-end accommodation in Samarkand
L’Argamak is the best luxury option in Samarkand we have seen: great rooms, great service, great view. Platan is not in the historic centre, but prices are very reasonable and rooms and service can definitely be called high-end.
Overpriced: Grand Samarkand (Superior), Sultan, Emirkhan. Emirkhan deserves a special mention for its outlandish interiors: you might want to consider staying here after all to feel like an Arab prince or Russian blatnoy.
Situated near the Gur Emir, Antica B&B has been Samarkand’s top place to stay in the mid-range for the past 10 years, thanks to its beautiful 200-year-old family home and courtyard shaded by grapevines and aging mulberry trees.
However, recently, things have changed a bit: prices went up, competition has increased, and there has been a lack of investment, leaving some rooms underwhelming. Nonetheless, it remains (one of) the most atmospheric place(s) to stay in Samarkand, and breakfast and dinner are exceptional if measured against Uzbek standards.
- Feel the history, smell the mulberry
- Dinner and breakfast are yum-yum
- Rooms are not all equal, some are more beautiful and better kept-up than others
Unexciting but decent, Arba is a good mid-range option for travelers who don’t mind being outside of the historic centre. Bit overpriced.
- Big, pleasant courtyard
- Rooms are spacious, bathrooms very up to date
- Breakfast buffet has real coffee, but options are limited
- Mattresses are pretty hard
- Rooms are rather dark and not atmospheric or exceptionally pleasant
It’s dirty, messy and the single rooms are absolutely not cozy. On the plus side, breakfast is good, staff is friendly, there’s a pleasant courtyard and it’s near Bibi Khanym,
- Good breakfast
- Pleasant courtyard
- Staff is helpful
- It’s a (dirty) mess. Run unprofessionally, the place is in need of investment
- Single rooms are absolutely not cozy.
Well-appointed, impeccably cleaned rooms. Professionally run. The downside is the location, right at the crossroads of Dakhbed Yuli-Rudaki. Nice hotel, but perhaps better suited to the needs of a business traveller rather than a tourist.
- Great rooms and very clean
- Lots of food options in the area
- On Dakhbed Yuli-Rudaki
- All rooms overlook a noisey, busy, ugly crossroads
The up-close view of Bibi Khanum from the courtyard terrace is superb. Sadly, stories of uncaring staff abound. It’s quite a shock to meet such rude people if you have been traveling Uzbekistan for some time. Not recommended.
- Fantastic view over Bibi Khanum
- Staff does not give a shit
- Breakfast is poor
The place to be if you like gold and glitter and don't mind being at a distance from the historic centre (Dakhbed Yuli-Rudaki). It's fine, really, it's just... odd.
A weird mix between a luxury hotel adorned with handcarved wooden ceilings and exquisite craftsmanship in the entrance hall, and a very basic crash pad with simple beds, ancient tv and dirty carpets. It’s owned by a big tour operator and thus sees a lot of tour groups.
- Focused on French tour groups
- Location is not ideal, not close to anything
- Breakfast is filled with sweets only
- The view of Bibi Khanym is too distant to count it as a plus
Owned by the same company as the Sultan Hotel, this is a much better offering, even if the ambience seems to be a bit business-y. Located at a pleasant 20-minute walk from the Registan and near the Russian part of town, the spacious rooms have recently seen renovation and are modestly priced. Only the courtyard is a disappointment.
- Rooms are spacious
- Newly renovated, rooms sport orthopedic mattresses and sparkling bathrooms
- Courtyard is soulless
- Feels a bit like a business hotel. Perhaps not ideal for a holiday
Homely, small and family-run, Dilshoda and her family are warm, kind hosts who invest a lot in their business. The hotel consists of 2 adjacent 2-storey buildings. The original family home set around a leafy courtyard has had its rooms redone in 2018, and, since 2016, an entirely new block in traditional style: it took local artisans a full year to decorate it and it shows.
Doubles 1, 2, 3 & 4 in the old building have a balcony view of Gur Emir - try to get one of those, and avoid the sometimes noisey reception area.
- Breakfast is big, varied and delicious
- Recently renovated rooms
- Lovely courtyard and homely atmosphere
- Serves decent coffee, difficult to find in the area at this price
It's a place that has been struggling for some time and seems to be going down - has ownership changed? The breakfast has gone from bountiful to sad, staff is unhappy and the issues with water, wifi and noise have not been fixed. Too bad, there is definitely potential thanks to the rooftop view over Gur Emir, but for now, Emir does not deliver.
- Roof top view of Gur Emir
- Rooms are sometimes windowless and have issues with noise, ventilation and water pressure
- Breakfast is no longer as big and varied as before
- You get the feeling the place is underloved by its owners
For the oligarch in each of us, Emirkhan offers monumental rooms filled with golden moldings, ceiling mirrors, neon-lit shower cabins and of course, thrones covered in purple velvet. It suffers from 2 typical Central Asian flaws:
- It looks great at first sight, but scratch the surface, and everything quickly falls apart
- It's flaky: you could have a wonderful stay and wonder what everyone is complaining about, or your bathroom floods and the elevator is out for 3 days.
- Spacious rooms for fantasy role-playing
- Location in the Dakhbed Yuli-Rudaki area
- Breakfast could be better
- The level of service is not up to the standard you expect at this price
The place is in dire need of investment, but it has got the best view in Samarkand. If you are ok with the tiny bathrooms and tired, messy interiors, it's a great 20$ hotel thanks to the view, the courtyard, and the friendly staff. But once you start paying more, the value for money ratio becomes unhinged.
- Best view in Samarkand from the rooftop
- Lovely courtyard
- Furkat and the crew are very hospitable
- Rooms look very tired and the whole place is a bit of a mess
- Bathrooms are tiny and outdated, you are sort of showering in the toilet. Semi-lux rooms are bigger but bathrooms are the same
Grand Samarkand / Grand Samarkand Superior
2 similar hotels by the same owner are built on opposite sides of a quiet residential road. Rooms are lovely, the courtyard is beautiful and there are lots of handcrafted elements to give an artistic touch. But it's pricey. If you really want a swimming pool, a sauna and a training room, stay here. If not, stay in nearby Platan for rooms just as nice at a better price.
- Swimming pool, sauna and training room
- Beautiful courtyard, well-appointed rooms
- Lots of hand-crafted elements add to an artistic feel
- 4 floors but no elevator
- Best avoided in weekeds when the hotels become a venue for noisey wedding parties
There's a homely family atmosphere at the Irgashev's guesthouse. Rooms are tired, but clean: good enough for this price point, we'd say. However, situated deep in the mahallas, it's badly located. Perfect for cyclists but others will find it just a bit too much of a walk.
Ishonch is run by the owner of an underwear factory who happened to inherit the hotel in 2017. You can feel everyone is still learning about tourism, but staff makes up for this by being incredibly sweet and helpful.
Ishonch has great potential. Centrally located in a park, it's got one of the best locations in town. If they could get rid of the old-fashioned interior and upgrade the breakfast, this would be a fantastic place to stay. As it is, still good value for money for the budget traveler.
Ask for a room with a balcony.
- Small, centrally located in a park
- Staff is wonderful
- Breakfast is eggs, sausage, kasha
- Old-fashioned cheap-looking rooms
Offering everything you could wish for in a bnb, we cannot think of a compelling reason not to stay here. Excellent.
- Double rooms are spacious, bathrooms are very up to date, decoration is impeccably in tune with its surroundings
- Lovely courtyard
- Rooms are a bit dark
- Not a lively area in the evening
New since 2017, this is a huge, soulless hotel aimed at large groups. The semi-luxe rooms are spacious, but otherwise, it's just very uninspiring to stay here.
Owned by a French-Uzbek couple, l'Argamak sees a lot of French visitors, but English is spoken as well. It is our favourite luxury option in Samarkand: the satellite tv receives 1000 channels and the cabinet has a drawer with an extensive tea selection. In short, you will not be left wanting. L'Argamak also has the best rooftop view over Gur Emir in the city.
Some rooms have a window view of Gur Emir. Newer rooms have been added in 2018 that are bigger than the older rooms, which are a bit cramped for this price point.
- All amenities
- Very professional staff
- Stylish rooms with a local touch
- Best roof top view of Gur Emir in town
- The older rooms are smaller than the newer rooms for the same price
If all you need is a cheap room to yourself and you don't mind walking Samarkand's untouristed side to get somewhere, Lux offers good value for money for singles and couples. Rooms and bathrooms are simple but functional, and staff is pleasant. To avoid noise from the reception area and the streetside, ask for a room upstairs on the courtyard side.
- Free laundry
- Staff are fun, friendly and real pleasers
- Not centrally located
- Eggs and sausage for breakfast (again)
- Some bathrooms have small issues
With spacious rooms, an excellent breakfast and very attentive staff, Marokand has a lot of things going for it. Owner Shakir speaks French as well as English. But it does not have the smell of history or the homely warmth of Jahongir, Dilshoda or Antica.
- Very good breakfast
- Spacious rooms with spacious bathrooms and international tv
- Nice courtyard: not the best, but nice enough to chill. Free nuts and tv make you laze around for longer than planned.
- Good location
- In the less desirable Dakhbed Yuli-Rudaki area
- Missing the homeliness and historic ambience of its competitors
We were personally not very impressed with Minora. Good location close to the Registan, but with basic rooms and basic breakfast and run by a bunch of teenagers. Must be that we saw things wrong, since pretty much every other reviewer seems very happy with their stay. Not sure what to say, must visit again for a second look.
It's quite a walk from the centre in a residential area, but that is really the only minus we could come up with at Platan. And even that is not really a minus: it's a good area for dining out.
- Staff is friendly and very professional
- Rooms are perhaps the best we have seen so far in Samarkand in terms of size, style and amenities
- The restaurant is beautiful. Food does not disappoint either
Samarkand Dream is just a bit too far off-centre. The breakfast isn't great and the rooms have issues here and there (lack of plugs, sound insulation), but the place is saved by its warm personnel. Lovely folk. In short, it's not bad for 20$, but if the price should be higher, you can find better.
Decorated in a the style of a German country home from 1890, you will either find Safar desperately old-fashioned, or charming. Most reviewers lean towards charming. We are less convinced. While the breakfast room breathes an air of European aristocracy, the other rooms are dark, with furniture that feels more tired and bought on a discount rather than posh and elegant.
There's a little swimming pool but the courtyard is not really amazing either. We feel you can do better for this price.
- Aristocratic breakfast room
- Very big rooms
- Good breakfast
- You have to be a fan of the style
- Courtyard is not very inviting
It's often the cheapest place in town, and we like the location in the heart of the Russian town. But staff is not very pleasant, the shower isn't very good and the whole place gives off a very uncomfortable vibe. Ok if you are trying to save money, but if you spend 2-3$ more you can stay in an excellent hostel instead.
- Has real coffee (but you need to pay extra)
- Bike rental
- Strange, uncozy vibe
- Squat toilet in the same small room as the shower
- Breakfast is the standard eggs, jam and bread
- Shower is not great either
Run by the same owner as the City Hotel, Sultan's 17 rooms are too small for what is being charged. Really, what you are paying for here is the evening view over Gur Emir from the rooftop terrace. If you want the view, we feel you can do better: pay more for real luxury at Argamak, or a lot less at Dilshoda or Emir.
- Great view over Gur Emir
- For +100$, rooms are small
- No alcohol sold on site but you can bring your own
- No courtyard for morning breakfast
Timur the Great
Rooms and courtyard are not particularly cozy, but Timur the Great still wins because of its unparallelled staff and breakfast.
- Rooms are more spacious than at other similar properties
- Breakfast is very delicious
- Staff goes above and beyond to please its guests
- Rooms and courtyard are not very cozy
Targeted to French speaking groups and situated just behind the Registan, Zarina is a dated hotel that aims to satisfice. It's ok, but we feel you can do better.
- Close to Registan
- A tiny dipping pool is available
- Rooms are outdated