This vibrant new hotel on the Right Bank, about a kilometre from the river, features the Chill-Out café and pizzeria and the Artraise poker club. Though gambling is now illegal in Astana, old habits die hard, hence the arrival of such ‘sport poker’ clubs offering the challenge of the game without the usual element of risk. Artraise even offers free tuition to those wishing to cultivate their card skills. There’s also the Golden Dragon Chinese medicine centre attached to the hotel where guests can treat themselves to a massage, acupuncture session or other, more exotic treatment. The 48 rooms are bright and reasonably stylish, with quirky petroglyph-inspired stencils dotted about the walls, a warm colour scheme and good soundproofing. The hotel offers a good value range of tariff options, too, including a 10 per cent discount at weekends, and has a friendly staff, some of whom speak a little English. We hope this individual, almost boutique-style hotel is the first of many in Astana.