Review: Ritz-Carlton Almaty

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Introduction: Journey To Kazakhstan
Review: Korean Air First Class 747-8 Vancouver To Incheon
Review: Nest Hotel Incheon Airport
Review: Asiana Business Class Lounge Incheon Airport
Review: Air Astana Business Class 767 Incheon To Almaty
Review: Ritz-Carlton Almaty
Review: Air Astana Lounge Almaty Airport
Review: Air Astana Business Class A321 Almaty To Astana
Review: Marriott Astana
Review: Air Astana Lounge Astana Airport
Review: Air Astana Business Class 757 Astana To London
Review: Sofitel London Heathrow Terminal 5
Review: United Lounge London Heathrow Airport
Review: Singapore Airlines Lounge London Heathrow Airport
Review: United First Class 777 London To Los Angeles


I had a ~22 hour layover in Almaty, as I was arriving from Incheon at 4:45PM, and departing the following day to Astana at 2:30PM. Almaty doesn’t have that many major hotel chains, so after carefully reviewing the options I decided to book the Ritz-Carlton Almaty, which seems to be the best hotel in the city.

I’ve certainly become more interested in Ritz-Carltons since Marriott’s takeover of Starwood was completed, and also since The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card started offering a great sign-up bonus of three complimentary nights after completing minimum spend (which can be redeemed at this property).

The hotel was nearly sold out for the night I was there, so the cheapest rate was for a club room, which cost ~$250. While expensive for Kazakhstan, in absolute terms that didn’t seem too bad, given how great Ritz-Carlton club lounges typically are.

I arranged an airport transfer through the hotel in advance, as I usually do when visiting a country for the first time. It was easy enough to arrange, and the cost of a transfer in a Lexus was ~40USD.

Sure enough, the driver was waiting for me on my arrival, and the drive to the hotel took about 30 minutes. The Ritz-Carlton really stands out in the Almaty skyline, as the building is modern and distinctive.

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Ritz Carlton Almaty exterior (per the hotel’s website)

Upon arriving at the hotel I was ushered through the lower lobby towards the elevators.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty exterior

The lower lobby level is gorgeous, even though it’s not the hotel’s main lobby.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty lower lobby

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty lower lobby

I took the elevator up to the 30th floor, where the hotel’s main lobby is located. That’s the highest floor of the hotel, so basically you have to take two sets of elevators to get to your room — first you go up to the lobby, and then you take the elevator down to your room.

Upon exiting the elevator I found the reception and concierge desk to the left. I handed the associate my passport and Citi Prestige® Card (so that I’d earn triple points on my purchase). The check-in process was quick, and I was informed that due to the hotel’s high occupancy they didn’t have any standard club rooms available, so I’d be upgraded to an executive suite — awesome! Within a few minutes I was handed my keys, as well as a welcome letter explaining the features of the club lounge.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty reception

Before heading to my room I admired the stunning lobby.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty lobby

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty lobby

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty lobby

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty lobby

The entire design felt so well thought out, down to the telescope by the window.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty lobby

After wandering around the lobby a bit I was escorted down to my suite on the 25th floor.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty hallway

Upon exiting the elevator I turned right, and then my room was at the far end of the hallway on the left.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty hallway

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty floorplan

The executive suite is marketed as being ~860 square feet, and features two separate rooms. Upon entering the room I found myself in a foyer, with the bathroom to the right and the living room straight ahead.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite entryway

The second bathroom featured a toilet and sink.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite second bathroom

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite second bathroom

The living room was a good size, and nicely furnished.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite living room

It featured a coach and a chair along with a coffee table.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite living room

Across from that was a desk with an office chair, as well as a console with a flat screen TV.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite living room

I appreciated that the desk had conveniently placed outlets, including USB plugs.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite desk

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite living room

To the right of the TV was a coffee machine, along with some complimentary bottled water.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty coffee machine

Below that was the minibar.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty minibar

To the side of the living room was the bedroom, which was on the small side. Personally I love cozy bedrooms, especially if I have a partitioned off living room. The bedroom featured a plush king size bed, along with a chair by the window, and a flat screen TV.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite bedroom

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite bedroom

The bedroom and bathroom were separated from one another by a glass window. On one hand I like the more open layout, while on the other hand I don’t love that there wasn’t a partition that could be lowered between them. Of course this wasn’t an issue when traveling alone, but if I were with someone I’d find it slightly annoying.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite bedroom

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite bathroom view

The bathroom featured double sinks, along with an adjacent flat screen TV.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite bathroom

Next to the wall closest to the bedroom was a bathtub.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite bathtub

Both the toilet and walk-in shower were in separate partitioned off areas.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty toilet

The shower was huge, and featured a rainforest shower head as well as a handheld one. The water pressure and temperature control were very good.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite walk-in shower

All toiletries in the room were provided by Asprey.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty Asprey toiletries

The room had beautiful views of Almaty, which is a picturesque city from above, with beautiful mountains in the distance.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite view

A few minutes after arriving in the room I was delivered a fruit plate.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty welcome amenity

Overall I thought the room was beautiful, spacious, and well designed. The wifi in the room was also high speed, so I had no issues in that regard.

My time at the hotel was limited, though of course I still took the opportunity to enjoy the club. The Ritz-Carlton Almaty executive lounge is open daily from 7AM until 10PM, with five servings per day:

  • Breakfast: 7AM until 11AM
  • Light lunch: 12PM until 2PM
  • Light snacks: 2PM until 4PM
  • Evening hors d’oeuvres: 6PM until 8PM
  • Chocolates and cordials: 8PM until 10PM

Here’s the full welcome letter I received as a club guest:

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The club lounge was located on the 26th floor, so was one level above the floor I was staying on. The club lounge was a large space, with seating available at both dining tables and on couches. The lounge wasn’t crowded at all, so I’m not sure if that was a function of it being Saturday night, or if it just doesn’t get crowded. I suppose since Marriott and Ritz-Carlton elite members don’t get club level upgrades, Ritz lounges don’t get as full as some other lounges.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty executive lounge

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty executive lounge

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty executive lounge

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty executive lounge

The lounge also had a small business center with a couple of PCs and printers.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty executive lounge

There was also a meeting room, with seating for six.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty executive lounge meeting room

Upon arriving in the lounge, one of the attendants offered me a drink. Since I was quite tired, I ordered a cappuccino.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty executive lounge cappuccino

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty executive lounge espresso machine

I arrived in the lounge around the same time that the evening service began, which they were just finishing setting up.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge evening selection

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge evening selection

They had a cool wine serving system, which reminded me of the one at the Amex Centurion Lounge San Francisco. While they had that display, the servers in the lounge were proactive, so they’d insist on serving you, rather than pouring a glass yourself.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty executive lounge wine selection

In terms of the food selection, there was a make-your-own-salad station.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge evening selection

Then there was sushi and several types of plated appetizers.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge evening selection

There was fresh bread, all kinds of nuts and snack mix, etc.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge evening selection

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge evening selection

Then there were a few hot options, including mushrooms, fish, and beef.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge evening selection

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge evening snack

Then at 8PM they brought out dessert, which included all kinds of individually plated desserts, as well as a fondue of sorts.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge dessert selection

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge dessert selection

There were also several types of chocolate.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge dessert selection

Overall I thought the evening selection was good, though not substantially different from what you’d find in a lounge at any other mid-range hotel. It certainly wasn’t to the level of the incredible selection at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong.

In the morning I also had breakfast in the club lounge, which featured a better selection.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge breakfast

There were all kinds of fresh fish, cheese, cold cuts, fresh fruit, cereal, oatmeal, pastries, croissants, etc.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge breakfast

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge breakfast

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge breakfast

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge breakfast

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge breakfast

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge breakfast

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge breakfast

There was also an egg station, including accompaniments like hash browns, sausage, bacon, etc.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge breakfast

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge breakfast

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge breakfast

I ordered a veggie omelet with hash browns.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty club lounge breakfast omelet

The Ritz-Carlton Almaty has a Six Senses Spa on the 20th floor, which is also where the pool and gym are located.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty Six Senses Spa

The pool was beautiful and also had a hot tub next to it.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty Six Senses Spa pool & hot tub

The gym looked great as well, though I didn’t have a chance to use it during my short stay.

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty gym

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty gym

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty gym

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Ritz-Carlton Almaty gym

In the morning I went for a tour of Almaty, and in the early afternoon I headed to the airport for my flight to Astana.

Bottom line

Overall I had a fantastic stay at the Ritz-Carlton Almaty, as it seems to be the best hotel in the city by far. The service in the hotel was top notch across the board, the facilities beautiful, my suite spacious, and the club lounge nice, though not to the level of the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong (then again, I wasn’t expecting that).

The hotel also had a good location best I could tell, though Almaty is quite spread out.

If visiting Almaty I’d highly recommend the Ritz-Carlton, assuming it’s within your budget. This is also a great option if you have complimentary nights to redeem through The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card.

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Comments

  1. I could be mistaken, but in the photo, it appears there’s a blind that can be used to cover the window between the bedroom and main bath. I’d consider that sufficient, given that I’ve stayed in many properties without either a blind or a second toilet.

  2. From your photo captioned “Ritz-Carlton Almaty suite bathroom view” there appears to be some kind of curtain-like thing that could be pulled down – did it not work?

  3. You really need to learn how to travel better. You paid $250 to stay in a western chain when awesome Airbnb’s there are $50. Plus you ate your meals in the club lounge.

  4. Good job going to a fascinating new country and wasting your life by spending it in a completely blah chain hotel and eating lounge stuff.

    This has to be one of the saddest posts I’ve read.

  5. @Tyler You really don’t understand the demographic that Ben is mostly reviewing for do you? It ain’t the AirBnB crowd.

    On the hand Ben, please tell me you at least left the hotel to explore Almaty a little? I mean, how many more times in your life do you expect to be in Kazakhstan?

  6. It’s funny how almost every time Ben does a hotel review, there are idiots that comment about how he doesn’t know how to travel right because he stays in chain hotels and eats at the club lounge. What’s puzzling is that these idiots don’t understand that it’s Ben’s job to review chain hotels and part of that includes reviewing the restaurants and club lounges. It’s like someone telling an accountant that they suck at their job for using a calculator and a spreadsheet and instead should be making sales calls to doctors.

  7. I am so sick of the airbnb cultists. Hey! A lot of us don’t want to shack-up in some stranger’s spare room! We love a stay in a fine hotel. We love the concierge, the 24 hour room service, the perfectly made vodka gimlet in the swanky hotel bar, the twice a day housekeeping.

    It’s great that the @Tylers of the world love airbnb. That sort of travel suits them. Fine. They just need to spare us their bizarre feeling of smug superiority.

  8. Yeah….I have nothing against airbnb but I would not stay in an apartment that is used by the owner..that is just disturbing on some level. My recent trip back ot Canada I would not get anything decent in terms of hotels so I decided to spring for Condos/Apartments In Montreal/Ottawa they were professionally managed by a company that also advertises on airbnb.. in Toronto I went for an airbnb which was owner managed but not occupied… I love that sort of place the amenities of a condo.. when I cannot get a good hotel rate I’d rather go for that.

    And people saying crap and telling someone where he/she should stay should get a life…

  9. The whole point of my post was that in this situation staying at a western chain and paying a ridiculous premium is a waste. It’s only a Tier 1 so points would have even been a better option, but alas that would mean Ben would’ve needed to eat outside the hotel and actually experience something.

  10. In those kind of countries where the offer of chain / premium hotels are not that big the prices are always proportionally higher. Check kiev for exemple Hyatt regency / Hilton and intercontinental has a kind of agreement and average price for the cheaper room is 350usd. Not chocking at all because it’s very specific to those markets in emerging countries.

    Regarding room / living room and lounge…. Nothing amazing to me. Suite looks quite classic and lounge nothing better than the average Hyatt regency or Hilton in Europe.

    Regarding the level of the lounge they should grant access to platinum because it’s nothing more than a good Sheraton or le meridien lounge. Was in a Hilton in Istanbul (bomonti) last week and the suite was 10 times better + lounge much more classy and with better food selection for sure.

  11. @Tyler: The best analysis I’ve seen of AirBNB is that it’s, “a disruptive business model in the same way pervasive mediocrity is disruptive.”
    I’ll take the Ritz anyday. They won’t allow cancelling my 1 month reservation the day before I arrive.
    On the other hand, if you are 18-30, and relatively good-looking, couch surfing is a great way to have free sex. I’ve been told that, and wouldn’t know for sure because I was never 18-30.

  12. @ Tyler. Ur absolute idiot. If you cannot afford to stay in such place then keep your mouth shut. No one asked you to read this post. There are some people who appreciate his works and efforts and for me, i would have no chance going and stay at that property myself so having a detailed review gives me a good insight of how the property is. Why dont you just go back and stay at your favourite ABNB.

  13. Hello, Ben. Thank you for such a gorgeous post. You have included so many photos in it. I have never seen any travel guides that provide readers with so many detailed photos. Usually, only three or four photos are posted. You made a great work.
    I have visited Hotel Ritz Carlton Almaty twice. First time, I was invited at the hotel for a wedding. Thus, I had no opportunity to see its room, bathrooms, and other details. For the second time, I visited Ritz Amaty during my business trip. I spent nearly 2 weeks at the hotel. To be honest, the hotel is amazingly luxurious. The hotel staff does it best to satisfy its clients. However, it is not free from the negative sides you have mentioned in this article.
    Again thanks, for the review!

  14. @Tyler,
    “…staying at a western chain and paying a ridiculous premium is a waste.”

    Kid – that may well be your opinion and financial situation and that’s fine, but I can assure you that as someone who regularly stay at Ritz properties for both business and pleasure, I appreciate the detailed reports of my favorite chain, even if the city is not on my radar in the near future.

    As a side note – Ben’s job is hopping around reviewing five star properties – there are plenty of places that review AirBNB and hostels, those might be right up your alley…

  15. @lovetosoendit. I was at the same Hilton. Neither the suite nor the lounge was not nearly as nice as the Ritz. You’re dreaming.

  16. Look, to me, Ben is not a traveller. Ben reviews airlines and hotels. And as much as I want hear about Almaty and as much as I was dying to read much more about Sardinia, I’m not going to get that here. I know that.

    Ben does a great job at what he does (with a few quibbles here and there

  17. Lol, $40 from the airport?! You got robbed! I paid about $5 (though I admit you went in a little more style)! I can see the apartment I stayed in from one of the pictures you took. I will check this place out next time I go, however the price is steep!

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