Belarus hotels can feel like a time capsule. During World War II, most of the capital city of Minsk was reduced to rubble, and after the war ended Soviet architects came in to design and rebuild the city, including Belarus lodging. To some travelers’ surprise, the local hotels can look more like imposing government buildings than a cozy place to relax. However, while these aren’t the only options for Belarus hotels, they can be the most interesting. Belarus travel in many ways is like taking a step back in time, from the Soviet architecture, to monuments picturing a worker’s utopia, to the current presence of rumors regarding spies and the KGB.
Finding a hotel in Belarus is part of the process of securing a visa. Unless you are sponsored by a local person or are traveling on business, this is the easiest way of planning a trip to the country. While a visa can be secured independently, there are agencies who specialize in taking care of all the arrangements, including booking your Belarus accommodation and using the confirmation of lodging to secure your visa. Depending on how far in advance you are planning your trip, plan to pay between $50 and $90 for the visa. It doesn’t matter where you are staying or what type of Belarus lodging, as only the confirmation is necessary to complete the documentation.
Not all Belarus hotels have a Soviet feel. Some are known for being more homely and run by friendly local people who can point you in the direction of the best food, attractions, and nightlife. Rooms will be standard, in size and amenities, but will also be clean and comfortable. Budget Belarus options are available as well, often located near train or bus stations, as in Minsk for example. A cheap hotel in Belarus can be found easily, especially for travelers spending dollars or, better yet, euros, where excellent value will be found. Budget options, mid-range hotels, or hotels with a bit more in the service and amenities departments can all be found online or through the agency that is taking care of your visa.
A hotel in Belarus with a bit of a reputation is the Soviet-era Hotel Belarus (pictured). Located in Minsk, this hotel is a great example of the style of architecture imposed by the Soviets. Lacking all warmth, this cold and grey building provides an interesting place to stay. If you want to be at the center of current politics in Minsk, than look into Hotel Complex Oktyabrsky, which is located next door to President Lukashenko’s workplace and residence. This hotel is where regional and European politicians stay during their time in Minsk, and despite its friendly staff, can have a bit of an eerie atmosphere.
Despite the Soviet-era presence in Belarus lodging, upgrades are currently underway throughout the hotels. Travelers will mostly find modern bathrooms and amenities such as safes in the rooms. The best options in town book out in advance, and agencies should be able to point you in the direction of the more comfortable options. Zhuravinka Hotel is a popular option, but its comforts will cost you top dollar in comparison to other choices in the city. Wherever you choose to stay during your time in Belarus, you will most likely be spending more time exploring the streets than relaxing in the hotel. Part of the time-capsule experience, Belarus hotels remind visitors that the country has yet to feel significant foreign influences.