Forget the metropolis: if you want to experience Armenia beyond the capital, then spend a few days in this unassuming, family-run guesthouse. Halfway between Yerevan and Tbilisi, Dilijan retains the glory of the Soviet resort town it once was, where writers and artists from the USSR spent their summers wandering around the lake, and drinking coffee until dusk during humid summer afternoons. Toon Armeni is the perfect destination for those seeking a nature-filled getaway and the overwhelming experience of Armenian hospitality. Sleep in a wrought iron bed in a room covered in an eclecticly cosy mix of cushions and carpets, and wake up to enjoy a home-made Armenian breakfast by a window overlooking the valley. After a long hike in the Dilijan National Park, the handwoven hanging chairs in the wooden veranda of the guesthouse will be exactly what you need to awaken your inner artist. Toon Armeni is charming and quiet, a hidden gem that will draw you to this idyllic artists’ getaway in the Caucasus.
What not to miss during your stay:
— If you’re confident with your barbecue skills, ask the managers to give you a crash course on how to make khorovats, a traditional Armenian kebab prepared in the garden of the guesthouse.
—Try gata, an Armenian puff pastry. The one made by the cook at Toon Armeni is one of the best you’ll ever taste. Just make sure ask in advance; there’s lots of preparation required.
— Explore the nearby Khanjian Villa, an abandoned circular mansion that once belonged to the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Armenia.
Text: Lucía González Mantecón Images: Courtesy of Toon Armeni