If you are a chap, avoid eye contact with the belly dancers at all costs.
The great cellist, Mstislav Rostropovich, was born here — there's a charming museum and a street dedicated to him. Far odder is the Museum of the Miniature Book in the Old City.
There are 4,350 volumes on display, some no bigger than your little fingernail. 'I buy zem een Piccadilly Circus,' she replied in a heavy Russian accent.
In 1886, an oil gusher in Baku burst 224ft into the air, spewing more oil a day than all of the U. The evidence of that first oil bonanza can be seen in the city's grand Art Nouveau architecture and wide boulevards.
Baku today is fed up with being just a giant oil terminal and is looking for a new status as a good-time destination. It's an Islamic state, but secularised and it feels very relaxed. It's also a nostalgic smoker's paradise — you can light up after dinner in any restaurant.
I was told that the last person to have stayed there was the Queen of Denmark (and if so, she pinched the bath plug).
In Baku, most of the men seem to spend their time drinking tea and playing what looks like backgammon.
Limousines cruise up to a new glass and steel nightclub called Chinar. Security men stand with their arms folded, and the paparazzi snap almost everyone going in.
It could be just another red carpet bash at a Los Angeles, Paris or West End nightspot.
The rest seem to drive battered Lada taxis for a living.