Guide to Kiev Hotels
„Nothing beats enjoying a rich breakfast buffet right after I wake up!“ – I hear you.
Vouching for hotels as the best type of accommodation when you travel is perfectly alright. After all hotels will welcome you at any hour of the day and there is little you have to take care of once you checked in and got your luggage to your room.
There is, however, one big exception where hotels should not be your first choice. The exception I am talking about is a rather big one as I am not refering to certain hotels, but a whole region instead: most Eastern European hotels and most Ukrainian hotels in particular have a cost-benefit ratio that is, well, not really on top of things.
This being said, if you travel to Kiev and you still vouch for Kiev hotels as the best type of accommodation thenI suggest we have a closer look at the Ukrainian hospitality business. Going into detail of the “hotel scene” will give you a better perspective on what type of lodging will be your best option when you travel to Kiev. Let’s get right into it.
Tourism in Ukraine
It may sound harsh, but tourism in the Ukraine is almost non-existent. The Ukraine never was and never will be a classic tourist destination. Let me give you some figures to put things into perspective:
With a population of almost 50 million people the Ukraine had 1.2 million over night stays at hotels in the year 2011. One million does sound like a lot, doesn’t it? Now, let’s compare: with a population of less than 800,000 people the Spanish city of Valencia had 4 million over night stays in hotels in the same year.
In short, a single Western European city can make Ukraine’s touristic performance look poor. Tourism in the Ukraine does exist, but it plays an insignificant role in the economy. To understand why choosing a hotel for your trip to Kiev can only be your second choice two factors come into play.
How History Plays Into The quality Of Kiev Hotels
The first one has to do with recent history. Namely, the fact that most Kiev hotels were built during Socialism in the 1970s and 1980s. Lacking the funds to refurbish them after the collapse of Socialism in 1989 standards many of them today still have a rather rusty charm to them. And because mass tourism will not come to Ukraine any time soon things will not change much.
For the second factor I would like to introduce the term of the Ukrainian Business Mentality. This term I coined myself after dealing with the ins and outs of staying at hotels in Ukraine. What is the Ukrainian Business Mentality all about?
The Ukrainian Business Mentality is a strange mix of traditional mindsets that are all interconnected with each other. Think of a general fear of taking risks combined with the refusal to be proactive or to adapt to changes. Add a good portion of money-hungry greed and you have a pretty good idea of what the Ukrainian Business Mentality is like.
How Local Culture Plays Into The quality of Kiev Hotels
An American expat living in Lviv once gave me this vivid example in regard to the Ukrainian Business Mentality:
„I know this Ukrainian man who owns several apartments cross the city. He rents them out to foreigners exclusively. And he does long-term contracts only. Also that man likes himself some money and puts up an ad demanding insanely high rent. Nonetheless, he gets lots of calls from Ukrainians who are all very interested. Some of them asked about short-term rent. What does he do?
He turns them all down. Sometimes his apartments would be without tenants for months. Then he gets this one call from a medicine student from Saudi Arabia. The student offers to pay in cash and for one year in advance. The owner accepted him on the spot.“
Lowering the rent or agreeing to short term rent never crossed the owner’s mind. He was more willing to miss out on revenue rather than doing anything that would have him adapt to a new way of doing business.
All we have to do now is combine the „recent history“ with the Ukrainian Business Mentality and we can tell what hotels in Kiev will be like:
Many sub-par hotels at bizarre prices that have no incentive to improve
This is the hidden pattern behind the hospitality business in the Ukraine. When you compare Kiev to other capitols in Western Europe, e.g. Berlin, then you can see a live version of the Ukrainian Business Mentality (all prices from booking.com, June 2015):
The Kiev based Premier Palace Hotel (5-star) charges a price of 210€ per night. At the same time spending a night at the Ritz Carlton in Berlin (5-star) is discounted down to 173€.
The same discrepancy can be found in the 4-star hotel category: The Radisson Hotel in Kiev charges 153€ per night while the Radisson Hotel in Berlin is discounted down to 102€ per night. And. So. On.
What’s going on here? – You just saw the Ukrainian Business Mentality at work. Demand may be weak, business may be slow, but until the company isn’t heading for downright bankruptcy there will be no compromises and no adaption. It is especially the high ranking hotels in Kiev that are dealing with a low occupancy rate.
The low occupancy rate is due to the fact that the majority of guests in high class hotels have mostly been Russians who are now avoiding Ukraine’s capitol as a consequence of the war in the East. While Western capitals maintain a high occupancy rate – Paris is at 81%, London at 82% and even Prague is at a stable 70% – Kiev in 2015 is struggling with an occupancy rate of 29%
The only logical consequence to that would be to lower prices. If you were now asking why hotels in Kiev do not lower their prices as do the hotels in Berlin then the Ukrainian Business Mentality is a powerful explanation to that.
If still you are a die-hard advocate of staying at hotels in Kiev then I have these two recommendations for you.
These two Kiev hotels are both acceptable places that meet most of Western standards. Again, the Ukrainian Business Mentality is strong with these hotels so will need to book through booking.com in order to avoid paying too much.
- Lybid Hotel
Located at a huge intersection with a 10 min walk from Maidan. Prices from 26€/night. Check out their pictures and reviews on Tripadvisor.
- Hotel Ukraine
Perfectly located right on Maidan. Prices from 32€/night. Check out their pictures and reviews.
In order to get thefull Kiev-experience I can only recommend you spend one night in the Hotel Ukraina. Not only will you get a hands-on experience of a still very Ukrainian hotel without missing out on too much Western comfort, but you will also be rewarded with this astounding view over the gorgeous city center of Kiev:
What’s The Alternative?
When Kiev hotels have such a meager cost-benefit ratio in Kiev then what’s the alternative? The answer is neither special nor surpring: When you travel to Kiev you rent an apartment, not a hotel.
Renting an apartment will not only give you a much better cost-benefit ratio, it is also an easy thing to do. Sites like Airbnb.com and Booking.com have hundreds of offers that I would prefer to any hotel in Kiev at any time.
And if you decide to book an apartment with Airbnb then we have more travel advice for you. that will let you . Our travel tip on How to save money with Airbnb tells you exactly how to avoid stress and save money when booking an apartment in Kiev.
More about Kiev hotels, travel tips and nightlife
This post is an excerpt from The Ultimate Kiev, my brandnew Kiev travel guide. If you liked this article then you will love what The Ultimate Kiev has to offer.
On over 140 pages The Ultimate Kiev is packed to the roof with spot-on travel knowledge on Kiev. One of its many features is a step-for-step guide on how to book the best accommodation at the lowest price.
Everything you will read is based on my first hand experience dealing with the ins and outs of Kiev hotels. The Ultimate Kiev hels you get the best deal possible and triumph over the Ukraine Business Mentality. Choose your lodging like a local and get the best out of your trip to Kiev.