Tbilisi’s Abanotubani neighborhood, home to a majority of the city’s historic sulfur baths, has changed greatly in recent years. Much of the information I could find, even online, is out-of-date. We poked our heads in a few of the bathhouses and discovered that most are now geared toward tourists. Alas, the one bathhouse we did find that is frequented by locals is not recommendable to Hideaway Report readers.
However, the recently renovated Chreli Abano bathhouse may not be entirely authentic, but it is definitely worth considering and has a magnificent blue-tile façade that wouldn’t be out of place in Samarkand. It has only private bathing rooms, which I recommend reserving in advance through your hotel’s concierge. We booked Room 11, a VIP space, which cost a rather steep $100 an hour (towels, scrubbing mitts and soap cost a few dollars more). It was worth it. Both our relaxation lounge and our spa room had blue mosaic-tile domes and crystal wall sconces. A mosaic mural of two pheasants overlooked our hot and cold sulfur baths, next to which stood two marble massage plinths straight out of an Istanbul hammam.
We had a splendid time in our palatial private spa suite. Our exfoliating scrubs and soap massages were relatively brief but very restorative, and they cost less than $10 per person (longer massages are available). I recommend starting with a relaxing soak in the warm bath and following your scrub with an energizing dip in the cold pool. And you can even have cocktails and wine delivered to your suite.
Glittering Chreli Abano offers a sanitized English-speaking sulfur bath experience, geared mostly toward foreign visitors. But a bathhouse is one place where I’m happy to sacrifice a little authenticity in exchange for comfort. (Note that the bath accepts credit cards, except for the massages, for which we paid cash.)
2 Abano Street, Tbilisi. Tel. (995) 32-293-0093