Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hotel Rus

Hotel Rus in Kiev is a huge Soviet concrete structure. Sitting almost on top of a hill, with its more than 17 floors it dominates the skyline of this side of Kiev.

In good old Soviet style it has a few big burly beefy
security guards in combat uniforms sprawling around at the entrance, and at the restaurant entrance
one floor up; all with batons ready for charging. It's funny how different cultures interpret security. In the UK you'd rarely have security guards at the entrance of hotels, and if so, they would probably be standing up, wearing very smart uniforms (and often they'd be rather elderly, too).

There do not
seem to be the Babushkas on every floor,though I did notice a
housekeeper's room on my floor which might have the same function (more comfort for the babushka).....Sometimes some
countries/organisations take a long time to drag themselves out of the
old rot!

The hotel does a lot of group trade; on two out of my three mornings I hit the dining room at the same time as a huge group of twittering American pensioners - the first group was on a cruise down the Dnjepr. It was hard finding a seat for myself.... but then again, on another evening our conference completely took over the dining room, leaving no tables for anyone else.

The amount of group trade means that the hotel is very efficient at processing large numbers of diners very quickly (unlike the Hotel Neringa in Vilnius, which also does the group trade, but is absolutely hopeless at getting them through). On my first evening at 10.30 pm I went for some dinner, at the same time as a group of French people arrived for theirs. They had salad, chicken Kiev and chips, and icecream - the latter arrived while the first were about to start their chicken Kiev. Meantime my potato pancakes and sausage took ages to arrive, and I swear the potato pancakes had been cooked a good long while before (days?). I find Chicken Kiev vastly over-rated - not sure what the original chicken Kiev was, but this combination of processed chicken, plastic breadcrumb coating and greasy filling is close to the bottom of my list of desirable food. In fact that night I had gone, with a song in my heart, to the sushi bar on the ground floor, only to find that it was out of rice. Happens all the time that one is out of rice, doesn't it, especially if one is a sushi bar. I think it's still out of rice three days on....

The lifts in the hotel are a serious challenge - there ain't enough for all the people who want to travel, and they are cramped - so you get to know people more intimately than you'd normally choose. Also the stairs seem to lead to no-where - once I tried to run down the stairs from my 7th floor room; only got to the third floor where they stopped, and then had to climb back up since the electronic door card did not open the door to that floor. I wonder what their fire procedures are like?

So it's not badly located, but about the peak of impersonal, anonymous hotel. The rooms are quite small (in true Soviet style with a large empty fridge), and the heating does not seem to go above 20. But it was only three days.

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