One of the best things about this hotel is its location. In Astana it can sometimes seem difficult to escape the high-rises and endless concrete, yet the Akku is housed in an older building tucked away on a quiet tree-lined street very close to the Right Bank of the river. On entering the hotel guests are greeted first by two life-size ceramic swans – explained by the fact that Akku means ‘white swan’ in Kazakh – and then by the friendly and efficient reception staff. The rooms are decked out in that favoured Kazakh style of rich, shiny curtains and bedcovers, livened up by some bright photographs of the city. The bathrooms are immaculate, but if a hot bath isn’t sufficient head down to the spa – complete with compact pool, bar and sauna – for a proper dip; or try out the popular local pastime of billiards in the huge, grand room devoted specifically to the game. The pleasant restaurant is flooded with sunlight when the weather is fine, but unfortunately the breakfast included in the room rate is somewhat mediocre.