When compared to the local economy (salaries, flat prices) Bishkek hotels often seem shockingly overpriced. The smallest room at the Hyatt is more than half the city pays for monthly rent, and even a standard room in a two star-ish hotel is at least $100.
On the other side of the spectrum there’s couchsurfing (free) and a very few hostels like Interhouse catering to the summer backpackers (though even the cheapest hostels seem to run about $15/person). When E’s brother-in-law decided to visit Bishkek with his two old friends – three forty-two year old men who would most certainly not fit onto our fold-out couch – we were thrown into a bit of a quandary. Hotels are generally of lower quality and higher price than Turkey (for example, see this gorgeous traditional villa we stayed in for 110 lira per night). And then I remembered coming across a listing (on AirBnB) for a clean and spacious guesthouse with favorable reviews.
So we settled them into the SouthSide Guest House for a three-night stay.
We were only in the guesthouse when we dropped them off and waited for them to prepare, but the overall impression was really positive. Southside is a family establishment run in a converted villa-house by an Australian and his local partner a few blocks NE of Manas and Axunbaeva. The guesthouse is located in a quiet, residential area – yet is but 2-3 blocks on both sides to main boulevards and bus stops. Inside there’s a cosy green courtyard, a first floor kitchen and lounge fitted with artwork and traditional Kyrgyz handicrafts, and a few small but clean and neatly appointed single, double and triple rooms. Overall, it was a lot nicer than I expected. Everything was clean, design throughout was fresh, and the owners were amicable to letting our guests in at 5 am. The three guys were also content with their stay – quiet, comfy beds, a nice garden, consistent water and electricity and everything else. Their only problem was that they and the owners lacked a common language, as our guests’ English and Russian was pretty minimal, and their only complaint that breakfast was paltry (not suprising, considering that breakfast spreads at even the smallest of Turkish pansiyons usually have at least a dozen offerings; if you like cereal and toast and eggs I’m sure you’ll find it fine).
A few other things I would note: (1) The guesthouse is not within walking distance of much anything of note, except a few universities, Ata Turk Park, and two pizza places (Dolce Vita and Imperial Pizza). There are pharmacies and grocery stores and the like on hand, but to get downtown you will have to walk a few blocks to either Manas or Axunbaeva to take a bus or hail a cab. Depending on traffic, getting downtown should take 10-25 minutes. However, if you are in Bishkek to wait for a Chinese visa, it is only a 5 minute walk + 5-10 minute bus ride to the Chinese embassy. (2) None of the rooms have private baths. There did seem to be enough to service all the guests, but it’s perhaps not ideal for families with young kids.
Other than that I (through our visitors) could completely recommend it. For $23-34 (shared twin was $46, single was $34) it’s probably the nicest stay in Bishkek (not to mention also a lot nicer than most of the pricier hotels…).