Fabrika Tbilisi Hostel

Breakfast at Fabrika Hostel in Tbilisi.

Staying at Fabrika Hostel in Tbilisi

Published: July 3, 2024

Fabrika Hostel is a large and centrally located hostel in Tbilisi. Students on regular SRAS programs in Georgia stay at homestays while in Georgia. However, SRAS recently hosted a group of students on a short-term faculty led program from University of Richmond who chose a hostel stay for their time abroad. The following was written by Richmond student Chase Hartley documenting their time there to help future student groups hit the ground running and feel at home when they arrive.

History

The Fabrika Tbilisi Hostel opened in the summer of 2016. It gets its name from the building’s original purpose: during Soviet times, the enormous rectangular building, which takes up half of a city block, was a sewing factory that produced women’s clothes. The industrial edifice stood empty after Georgian independence, but eventually, as Tbilisi’s economy surged to life in the early 2000s, an enterprising architectural group decided to bring the abandoned factory back to life. The goal was to create more spaces that would promote tourism in Tbilisi.

The architects of the Fabrika Hostel, Gogiko Sakvarelidze and Devi Kituashvili, are well known for their other design projects in the city of Tbilisi. Their upscale, boutique hotel Stamba attracts a wealthier clientele in the Vera district; a sleek-looking workspace “Flutter” houses several start-up company offices. In each of these cases, the two men brought life back to industrial ruins to accommodate the preferences of a hip new clientele and a growing desire to increase the appeal of Georgia for visitors and foreign investment. The hostel is a mix of old and new as it combines old industrial Soviet architecture with contemporary art and style.

Today, Fabrika is a multifunctional space that is one of the most popular places to stay for youthful and budget minded travelers, including study abroad groups like ours. Fabrika is more than just a hostel: it is an art-filled and mural-covered beacon of hospitality that people associate with innovation and fun, a hipster laid-back feel and vibe, eco-conscious living, great food and drink, and an intentional sense of community.

Fabrika Hostel Location

The Fabrika Tbilisi Hostel is located at 8 Egnate Ninoshvili. The street is named after a 19th century Georgian writer and social democratic activist, who might still approve of Fabrika’s DIY social activities: the building houses an “Impact Hub” that hosts Climate Fresk workshops. It also has a ceramics studio, an all-local all-natural wine bar, and rotating art exhibits and happenings.

Fabrika sits just on the opposite side of the river from Old Town/Tbilisi. While Old Tbilisi contains both the government center (Parliament), major museums, and the toniest tourist attractions, the Fabrika side of the river is definitely a place where ordinary people live, work, shop, and barter. Its an excellent place to live if you want to see how the people of this city actually live. The streets around Fabrika are full of thrift shops and food stores. Should you want to visit Old Tbilisi (which you do), it is easily accessible from Fabrika by foot (approximately 25 minute walk), one stop on the metro (Marjanishvili station is closest to the hostel), or using a Bolt. In this way, our group concluded that the location of Fabrika is a prime take-off point for exploring the entire city of Tbilisi.

The central feature of Fabrika – literally and figuratively – is its large inner courtyard. Here, hostel residents and locals congregate to drink coffee, hang out, order meals from several on-premise restaurants, and generally have a good time in a space that seems utterly vibrant and entirely safe at the same time. The minute you step into the courtyard, you notice the multilingualism: Georgian, English, Russian, German, Turkish, French… Wait staff speak Georgian and English; guests seem to come from many parts of the world.

Rooms

The Fabrika Tbilisi Hostel offers nearly one hundred rooms, priced according to the various layouts. The hostel has dorm, private, and apartment style suites. The most common layout is a double private room with two twin beds. Each bed comes with a small bedside table and a lamp. These double rooms include a full bathroom stocked with towels, toilet paper, shampoo, body lotion, and conditioner. The room also comes with pairs of slippers, a mirror, a small bench, and a place to hang jackets and coats. My roommate and I were comfortable enough in our double room, but we were also a little envious of the girl’s triple, which was much larger, and included a small balcony, an extra sink, some chairs, a small fridge, and other amenities. Although none of us stayed in the dorm rooms, we saw pictures of this option, which includes bunk beds and a shared communal bathroom. The dorm rooms come in a 12, 10, 6, 4, and 3 person layouts. These rooms also come with individual lockers for the occupants. All rooms come with air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. The hostel provides regular cleaning services to the rooms as well. The custodians will make your beds and restock your bathroom with new towels and toilet paper when needed.

Laundry

The hostel has a laundry room with three washing machines and dryers. This is quite important if you plan to stay for a few weeks. To operate the machines, you need to get a specific token from a staff member at the front desk. The 10 GEL ($3.45) laundry token (along with a detergent pod) can be paid for with either cash or card. Inserting the token coin causes the machine panel to blink awake with an unfamiliar (for Americans) array of choices. You must choose between 5 different settings: 90°C (194°F), 75°C (167°F), 60°C (140°F), 40°C (104°F), and Cold. What is not clear is how long these temperature cycles take. I’ve heard that some cycles last three hours. I used the 60°C setting and waited one hour for the clothes to be done in the washer. The dryers do not cost anything and do not need any coins to work. However, the dryers only run for 10 minutes and I usually needed four cycles to get my clothes dry.

Food

Fabrika offers a lot when it comes to food. Breakfast is served every day in the lobby starting at around 8:00 am. A range of choices are laid out including cinnamon rolls, ham and cheese croissants, mini pancakes, berry and pear tarts, banana bread, vegan muffins, and a few other pastries. In general, the Georgian foods are a lot less sweet compared to the American equivalents. The prices for these items range from about 3 GEL ($1.04) to about 9 GEL ($3.11). The same items are served every single day, which can lead to menu fatigue.

After a while, we started going out and getting alternative breakfast options. One spot I loved is called Bee and Bee Cafe which serves items like crepes, waffles, and smoothies. I loved getting a Nutella and strawberry crepe with a strawberry and kiwi smoothie. They are short cab ride away (or a half-hour morning walk), but worth it.

Other popular breakfast destinations were Brunch and Dine (a five-minute walk) and Bagelin (again, a short cab ride away). If you want coffee, you can order it from the barista at the Fabrika Bar in the lobby. The coffee will be espresso-based.

For lunch or dinner, Fabrika offers pre-packaged items such as containers of kiwi and pineapple, hummus and veggies, various grab and go sandwiches, water, apple or orange juice, and pudding. These packaged items cost from about 4 GEL ($1.38) to 13 GEL ($4.49). There are also vending machines on the second and third floors of the hostel that serve drinks like Fanta, Coca-Cola, and water along with food items such as candy bars and mini chocolate-filled croissants.

However, the biggest source of food at Fabrika is the big courtyard behind the hostel that has numerous bars, restaurants, and various shops. The restaurants include an ice cream parlor, a ramen/noodle spot, a pizza parlor, and a burger bar. The pizza parlor and the burger bar were popular spots for our group. The pizza parlor had good woodfired pizza for under 30 GEL (~$10.00) per pie, depending on the type of pizza you get. I always got the margarita pizza, which was exceptionally good and filling. Eating in Fabrika’s courtyard felt vastly different compared to eating at a Food Mall in the States. The community vibe is inescapable. In ones and twos and threes, our group merged into the general hubbub of languages, laughter, and the entire lively scene of young people enjoying each other’s company over meals.

I should mention that there is also a kitchen in Fabrika’s basement that you can access via the courtyard. You need your room key to open the door to the kitchen. There is a microwave, panini press, refrigerator, and other kitchenware and appliances that you can use to cook/prepare and store your food. Make sure to label your food when you put it in the fridge, so you and others know whose food it is. You can also make coffee, oatmeal, and other items in the kitchen if you have the necessary items. There are numerous local SPAR convenience stores around Fabrika where you can get items to cook or bake. The kitchen is also a wonderful place to meet new people.

People

The hostel is a place where you can meet many diverse kinds of people from all over the world. In my experience, most of the residents of the hostel are not Georgians (although plenty of local Georgians come to socialize and eat in the courtyard). In fact, it is quite easy to meet Georgians in the courtyard at one of the restaurants and bars, especially later in the day and at night. During our stay, I met people from America, Iran, the UK, Russia, Germany, and more. The lobby is another great place to meet people. The central lobby inside of  Fabrika is more restricted to residents, but it definitely has the same community feel, facilitated by numerous tables, all close together and surrounded by large couches and chairs. The lobby also has an upbeat and kind of joyful/hippie feel with plants and vines decorating the columns, a disco ball hanging from the ceiling along with streamers, colorful lights and artwork sprinkled around the lobby, and constant music.

Conclusion

Fabrika Tbilisi Hostel is an inviting place to stay during your time abroad in Tbilisi. It has a great location, close to numerous bus stops and the Marjanishvili metro station. There are numerous restaurants, parks, and shops within walking distance from Fabrika that allow you to immerse yourself in the Georgian culture and city. The rooms are extremely comfortable and have great amenities. The hostel offers numerous opportunities to try and eat delicious food from breakfast in the morning to the sprawling courtyard of restaurants and bars. You can meet so many different people from all different places and build lasting relationships and friendships with these people. The hostel has a community feel and allows for interaction and meeting new people. It is a beautiful place to stay in beautiful Tbilisi.


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