And we mean unicorn as in its first company valued at US$1 billion. The capital, Yerevan, is booming in the tech space, which means tech money that needs to be spent somewhere. And spend it they do, seven nights a week, in every packed restaurant, lounge and caviar farm. Here’s a first look at a destination to put on your list.
The Capital City
Yerevan is the capital of Armenia, and this is one layered place. Armenia was part of the Soviet Union so there is the stark architecture you would expect. However, it’s not at all what dominates the vibe of the city. Instead, there is a very European and specifically Italian influence, thanks to architect . He designed the famous Cascade, a staircase to a vantage point of the city, that’s as Italian as it gets. The architecture is distinctly elegant, which is also how you could describe the Armenians.
Yerevan is known as the Pink City, because of the distinct stones that make up a number of the buildings. Stone, and water are important to Armenians. Some say it’s because they used to be geographically sea to sea, whereas now it’s landlocked. Armenia is packed with history and impressive museums as well, which are actually worth your time.
We’re not going to list out every destination you should see, because we’re going to do an entire feature on Armenia in the spring. A country where the first humans passed through 7.8 million years ago deserves that. This destination should be on every world traveler’s list.
Where to Stay
The Alexander. Full stop. The upstairs terrace is where locals congregate for a sunset drink. Rooms are exactly what you would want – spotlessly clean, comfortable beds and modern, contemporary bathrooms. You would be comfortable here for an extended stay. Location is also central to Pushkin street with all the restaurants and bars.
The Restaurant Scene
Armenians are out every night of the week, especially during the summer. For a city of just over a million people, they seem to have as many restaurants as Manhattan. And they are all packed with locals dining outside, before the cold Armenian winters set in. If you go out with locals, they will take you to chic international restaurants, often with Asian or sushi. With the boom in Armenian, you may not get toro, but you will get fresh fish flown in daily to this land-locked country. Armenians generally don’t eat Armenian food when they go out, though your friends do have a few favorite spots they take visitors.
We will say the traditional food looks like it would be standard, but there is so much flavor in every dish. Sauteed greens surprise you out of nowhere, as does a plain barley dish. It makes you wonder how they make everything taste so good. Caviar is a thing as well in Armenia. No visit is complete without a visit to one of the countryside caviar farms if that’s your thing.