Why Tbilisi Is the Coolest City You've Never Been To
Our new series, Reasons to Travel Now, highlights the news, events, and openings that have us scoping out plane tickets each day.
Sophisticated travelers started waking up to the allures of Georgia, a small country in the Caucasus, a few years ago, as its amber wines racked up international accolades and the appointment of Georgia-born Demna Gvasalia as Balenciaga’s creative director raised the nation’s profile in the fashion world.
With all Georgia has to offer—picturesque landscapes, a fascinating collision of cultural influences, and did we mention the wine?—it’s a wonder tourism hasn’t skyrocketed sooner. For a first-timer, a stop in the capital city of Tbilisi is a must.
Check in to Rooms (doubles from $174), then hit the town to sample cheesy khachapuri, sip natural wines, explore sights like Narikala Fortress, and dance till sunrise at Spacehalland Bassiani. Save room in your suitcase for souvenirs—Tbilisi’s many concept shops are the best places to find the homegrown labels that are changing the country’s style landscape. These are the ones to look for.
Find clothing and accessories from Georgian designers (including Nicolas Grigorian and Chaos cofounder Gola Damian) alongside funkier pieces by international brands, like buzzy Tokyo-based jewelry line Ambush and British women’s-wear label Shrimps. The space is pared down, with a scattering of cheeky tableaux, a rumpled bed, a Ping-Pong table, and a skate ramp.
This Soviet-era former garment factory opened as a hotel and urban marketplace in 2016, with restaurants, bars, boutiques, and artists’ workshops. Don’t miss studio store Flying Painter, where three Georgian artists sell kaleidoscopic apparel and hand-painted ceramics, or the stellar lineup of home-goods vendors, including Plant Shop, Funduki, and Ceramic Studio 1300.
For a glimpse of where Georgian fashion is headed, look no further than this style incubator. Throughout the year, Matériel releases small seasonal collections by several emerging designers. The result is an eclectic assortment of distinctive pieces, from Aleksandre Akhalkatsishvili’s slouchy suiting to Lado Bokuchava’s asymmetrical tops and skirts.