Best hotels and hostels in Eastern Siberia

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Listvyanka

    Belka Hostel

    This purpose-built hostel located at the far end of ul Chapaeva provides top-notch digs for backpacker prices, leaving Listvyanka’s other flat-footed accommodation in its green wake. From the energy-saving light bulbs and basalt-foam insulation to the solar-heated water and solar-generated electricity, owner Jack Sheremetoff has crafted a low-impact haven with lots of personal touches. Start the day with a bit of sun worship on the yoga deck and breakfast on the forest-facing chill-out area; end it with a scramble up the mini climbing wall and a scrub-down in the banya before snuggling up in a handmade timber bed (no bunks) in an en-suite dorm. Two guest kitchens, 24-hour reception and many other features you won’t find anywhere else. Booking well ahead is essential. No fibre-optic cable laid in this part of Listvyanka, so sadly no wi-fi.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Olkhon Island

    Nikita’s Homestead

    Occupying a sizeable chunk of Khuzhir, this intricately carved timber complex has grown (and continues to grow) into one of Siberia’s top traveller hang-outs. The basic rooms in myriad shapes and sizes are attractively decorated with petroglyphs and other ethnic finery and heated by wood-burning stoves – but only a select few have showers (put your name down for the banya). The organic meals are served two times a day in the large canteen near reception and two other (paid) eateries stand behind. There’s a small cycle-hire centre and a packed schedule of excursions and activities. Note there is no alcohol for sale at Nikita's and consumption on the premises is frowned upon.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Ulan-Ude

    Ulan-Ude Travellers House

    So central is this high-ceilinged apartment hostel, you might even catch a glimpse of Lenin’s conk from one of the windows. The 14 beds are divided between two spacious, ethnically themed dorms (Russian and Buryat), there’s a small kitchen where a free light breakfast is laid out daily, and heaps of UU information is pasted on the walls. There's also a washing machine for guests to use. The exceptionally friendly owner, Denis Sobnakov, is in and out of town these days, but the place runs like a well-oiled machine and his staff are just as helpful in setting up trips to Baikal and around Buryatiya.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Krasnoyarsk

    Iris

    Housed in a 19th-century former religious school for girls, the romantic French theme and impeccable personal service set the Iris apart from most Siberian hotels. The 10 rooms are done out in soothing beiges and light browns but the pièces de résistance here are the two romantic design suites, all period wallpaper, belle époque furniture and mock chateau elements. Set in a quiet courtyard, well away from the thundering thoroughfares. Breakfast and cheery welcomes included.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Irkutsk

    Baikaler Hostel

    Experienced tour guide Jack Sheremetoff had a super-central apartment hostel in Irkutsk long before the word even entered the Russian language. Despite competition, the city's original backpacker haven is still the place to meet travellers and organise trips. The spotless, air-conditioned dorms are spacious, but beds are limited so book ahead. The entrance is at the rear of the building.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Krasnoyarsk

    Hovel Hostel

    A sparkling oasis for budget travellers who have made it all the way here through Siberia’s snowy wilderness, this boutique hostel features a large kitchen, a common area with comfy couches, and a range of rooms from dorms and cosy doubles to an airy two-level studio, ideal for a family with children.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Tuva

    Aldyn Bulak Yurt Hotel

    Cupped by bare hills at an attractively sacred site by the Yenisey River, the luxury yurts at this upmarket complex have flushing toilets, air-conditioning, hot showers and underfloor heating, while a more authentic experience is provided by basic yurts and tepees. Book through the Tourist Information Centre. The huge yurt restaurant offers the best Tuvan food you'll taste anywhere in the republic. Start the day with a climb up to the viewing points for spectacular vistas from the cliffs above the swirling river before paying your respects at the nearby ovaa (shamanist holy site) dedicated to khöömei. The site is 45km west of Kyzyl, clearly signposted off the main Kyzyl–Ak-Dovurak road. The hotel offers prearranged transfers from Kyzyl for a symbolic R100. Due to the remote location there's no wi-fi.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Western BAM

    Zolotaya Rybka

    Well signposted from ul Olkhonskaya, SB’s best guesthouse maintains immaculate and imaginatively designed rooms in three buildings, providing glimpses of Lake Baikal through the trees. There are spotless toilets and showers throughout, guests have access to kitchens and a cook prepares a restaurant-standard breakfast on request (R300 extra). Owner offers trips to Evenki reindeer herders.

  • Lodging in Tuva

    Say-Khonash Yurt Camp

    Located 55km north of Ak-Dovurak, the Say-Khonash Yurt Camp is the quintessential nomadic experience and brings visitors as close to the authentic rural lifestyle as they’re ever likely to get without having to acquire Tuvan in-laws first. The six traditionally furnished yurts sleeping 12 are surrounded by real nomads’ dwellings and their assorted animals in a jaw-slackeningly remote location few would ever chance upon. The English-speaking owners (Evgeny and Anay-Khaak) and their extended family give masterclasses in felt production, yurt construction, traditional sheep butchery and Tuvan music, as well as organising multiday horse-riding and hiking trips to fantastically off-the-map locations. No road, never mind public transport, goes anywhere near this place, so transfers from Kyzyl (or Abakan/Krasnoyarsk) must be arranged in advance with Sai-Khonash Travel.

  • Lodging in Olkhon Island

    Voskresenie

    The owners, a former Soviet table-tennis champion and his polyglot wife, indulge in interior design passion, as you will immediately notice when you move into one of only four individually designed rooms that sleep up to three people. Newer ones display a significant progress in both skill and material supply. The incredibly nice and well-informed hosts also run a cute coffee shop in the premises.

  • Lodging in Irkutsk

    Hotel Sayen

    Described by some as the finest luxury sleep east of the Urals, this very central Japanese hotel gets rave reviews and justifiably so. The 24 rooms enjoy design-mag decor, big baths and gadgets galore, going beyond the standards of many Western hotels. Twenty-four-hour room service, two pricey restaurants and a celebrated Japanese spa provide additional ways to lighten your wallet of roubles.

  • Lodging in Ulan-Ude

    Mergen Bator

    UU’s only 21st-century hotel is a swish pad indeed and completely on a par with any Western four-star establishment. From the trendy retro-veneered corridors to the commendably equipped fitness centre, the modern-as-tomorrow bathrooms to the impeccable service, this place is worth splashing out on. Breakfast is included and can be served in your room free of charge.

  • Lodging in Olkhon Island

    Baikal View

    Looking from the outside like a research station in Antarctica, this upmarket establishment has rooms with laconic Scandinavian-style interior design featuring many light-coloured wooden surfaces. In summer there is an outdoor swimming pool. Available all year is a nice restaurant and spa that offers bath treatment in a taban-arhan wooden barrel.

  • Lodging in Ulan-Ude

    Hotel Sagaan Morin

    The gleaming 17-storey, 89-room ‘White Horse’ offers spacious, crisply designed, almost understated rooms, lots of amenities and a 14th-floor restaurant (Panorama) with look-while-you-eat city vistas.

  • Lodging in Lake Baikal

    Delight

    Trekking and cycling enthusiasts Rufina and Yevgeny run this cosy and well-equipped homestay with just two rooms and a large shared bathroom, which contains a Trans-Siberian traveller's ultimate delight – a full-sized bathtub. For a small extra fee, Rufina cooks excellent dinners as well as breakfasts that by far surpass most served in multistarred hotels. English-speaking Yevgeny is a wealth of info on Chersky Peak and Tunka Valley hikes, Munku-Sardyk climbs and ice treks on Baikal.

  • Lodging in Krasnoyarsk Territory & Khakassia

    Chalpan

    One of the loveliest hotels in Abakan, the purpose-built Chalpan is colourful but not gaudy, with imaginatively designed rooms, flashy bathrooms, free tea and coffee in the rooms, a sauna, a pool (!), simple pricing and breakfast. It’s well worth enduring the walk along pr Lenina and the staff’s slightly indifferent attitude. There is a 50% discount for those who stay two nights between Friday and Sunday.

  • Lodging in Krasnoyarsk

    Dom Neo

    Definitely the brightest-coloured building in central Krasnoyarsk, this progressive hotel achieves an optimal value for money ratio by cutting out optional amenities, such as minibars, and focusing entirely on the essentials – the bed, the bathroom and the light. Everything is sparkling new and designed in a futuristic style. A filling set-menu breakfast is an extra R350 at Cafe Benedikt downstairs.

  • Lodging in Irkutsk

    Kupechesky Dvor

    Rising high above the 130 Kvartal, this professionally run, freshly minted timber hotel mixes traditional wooden architecture with boldly contemporary design features. The 14 rooms come with big colour-swirl carpets, retro light switches, revolving TV towers and some of the best bathrooms in the city. The English-speaking service is top-drawer and breakfast in the tiny reception area is included.

  • Lodging in Lake Baikal

    Maryina Roshcha

    Twenty years ago, you could only find such folksy timber mansions, known as terem, in illustrated fairy-tale books, but now terem -styled hotels are popping up everywhere. This one comes with a fully fledged farm that has rabbits, chickens and a vegetable garden. Included in the price, a hearty breakfast features some of its own produce. Full-board option is available.

  • Lodging in Irkutsk

    Modul

    Not your honeymoon dream, but a budget hotel that goes an extra mile to compensate for cheap decor and drab surroundings. Smallish rooms are clean and come with a little dining table, lots of kitchenware, a kettle and a fridge. The wooden barracks-style building is tucked in the courtyard of a high-rise apartment block, a short walk from the centre.