One of the most striking additions to the modern skyline are the Towers of Flame, a trio of towering structures that resemble tongues of fire reaching high above the Caspian Sea.
Designed by the American architectural firm HOK, and with Tower 1 at 182 meters, they are the tallest buildings in Azerbaijan.
And visitors can stay in them – one building is residential, one is office building, and the third, 165-meter Fairmont Baku, is a modern five-star hotel.
Enter the flame
The towers are visible from almost anywhere in the city, but at night they really come alive. Orange, red and pink LED lights dance across the towers like a burning flame.
For some in Baku, they have become a symbol of home.
“When you fly into the airport, you can see the Flame Towers lit up with colorful lights and light the way,” fashion designer and media specialist Nina Zandnia tells CNN Travel. “This is a sign that allows everyone to understand that they have arrived in Azerbaijan.”
So what’s it like to stay in one of the country’s most familiar landmarks? This is definitely not an ordinary hotel.
Bold, sometimes pompous statements start on the dramatic exterior and continue on the inside.
The seven-story lobby of the hall is dominated by an extravagant chandelier with five kilometers of threads, adorned with 840 lights and more than 600,000 crystal beads, weighing two tons.
Guests shouldn’t expect to hear it at any random jam sessions, it is now only played by top pianists on special occasions.
In the late afternoon, Flame Towers put on a light show that was enjoyed throughout the city.
Courtesy of Fairmont Baku
The tower houses more than 300 rooms, suites, and serviced apartments, ranging from $170 to $5,000 per night.
Even the simplest rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and luxurious king-size beds. The décor is a combination of contemporary luxury with sumptuous carpets and contemporary furnishings. Spacious and comfortable, every room at the hotel overlooks either the city or the bay to the sea.
Fresh and glamorous for whatever it is, it has a corporate softness that doesn’t match the regal vibe felt at nearby Four Seasons, for example.
The typical 17th-floor one-bedroom suite offers Caspian Sea views and, subject to availability, access to the Fairmont Gold Lounge on the 19th floor, which has a separate check-in area and concierge services.
The ultra-fast elevator to 17th Street opens onto an impressive deck overlooking the bay. Once inside the suite, you will find a lobby with stunning views, an office/dining room with a wooden desk and a 4 seater dining table.
In addition, there is a spacious living room with rich carpeting, a large sofa and a stylish signature armchair. The separate bedroom has a huge double bed. A huge walk-in closet with hangers, drawers and laundry essentials leads to a large bathroom with tub and shower.
Both suite bathrooms have bespoke toiletries – yes, your name is printed on the bottle of shampoo, moisturizer and conditioner. This is a souvenir that just begs to be taken home.
Nice touches, but does the hotel have celebrity appeal? Yes, says Zumrud Ismailova, the hotel’s public relations and marketing manager. No names have been released, but the list appears to include leaders, royalty and celebrities.
“We’ve had a lot of VIP guests stay at our hotel, but we never revealed who they were,” she tells CNN Travel. “When our guests come to visit us, they expect privacy and privacy, and that’s exactly what we give them.”
The Royal Suite, located at the very tip of the flame, offers panoramic views of the city and the sea. There are two bedrooms, both en-suite, a living room, a separate dining room, an office, a guest bathroom, a kitchen and a large entrance hall with a chandelier – a total of 375 square meters (4036 square feet) of living space.
“VIPs or family will stay in the suite, but the rest of their company usually takes up the entire floor. We have additional rooms for security and staff, as well as a suite for additional family members,” Ismayilova explains.
There is an open-plan living room, a separate study, a dining room for 12 or more guests and a fully equipped kitchen (of course, for the servants). But the main attraction is the large bathroom with a huge oyster-shaped tub and a window overlooking the bay.
Facilities in hotels are mixed. Spread across two floors of the hotel is an elegant spa area with an indoor pool, sauna, hot tub, hammam and relaxation areas. There is also a fully equipped gym.
The beautifully designed Sky Garden allows guests to relax on the sun terrace or use the poolside sauna while overlooking the sea. There is an S-shaped rooftop pool and an open-air bar that look better from afar than up close.
Best to visit in the evening. When the sun rises, the towers reflect the sun and amplify its heat, turning the area into a frying pan.
Food and entertainment
As you would expect from a trendy hotel in one of the country’s biggest attractions, the main restaurant, Le Bistro, offers a wide selection of local Azerbaijani wines and delicacies. The Balcony Café offers signature teas and cakes, as well as afternoon sushi.
There’s also the Nur Lounge, which serves cocktails and snacks, as well as a good spot for a pre-drink to soak up the atmosphere before moving on to the hotel’s Jazz Club, a local establishment.
“We always recommend that people stop by the Jazz Club after 21:00 because that’s when it really comes alive. It is very popular with both hotel guests and locals, and we always offer something new to entertain people,” says Ismayilova.
There are two things most hotels can’t provide – a mall and a movie theater. Fairmont Flame Towers offers both.
Park Cinema provides guests (and members of the public) with six screens, including IMAX, showing the latest films in Arabic, English and Russian.
Next door is the Flame Towers Mall, due for completion in early 2020. Luxury brands, well-known street brands, cafes and restaurants are ready to become residents.