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The Black Sea Hotel was the hotel selected by my tour operator whilst I was staying in Odessa, a beautiful city in Southern Ukraine, last summer. Apparently there are several hotels in the city by this name (part of the same group) and this one is on Rishelyevska (Richelieu) Street which is in the main part of the city (I think the others are near the beach area). The hotel is situated just a few streets from the railway station and is about 15-20 minutesí walk to the centre of the city. Head down Richelieu Street, and it will take you straight to the gorgeous Opera & Ballet Theatre, which is a handy orientation point as you walk around the main parts.
The hotel on the outside just looks like a tall, concrete building. It is pretty uninspiring, but the floor to ceiling glass windows on the ground floor, make it look more modern than the cold war design. The reception area is bright and smart with modern, clean lines and generally sparse considering the space available. There were low chairs, tables and plants by all the windows, and a long reception desk manned by the polite and friendly staff who generally spoke good English. The hotel also has a gym and a pool, and I understand the latter was quite nice, but with a limited time in the city, I didnít manage to visit personally. There is a tour service on the first floor (2nd as marked in the hotel) which can be accessed within the building. There is a restaurant and nightclub (we couldnít hear it, and we were more or less over it) on the first floor, which can be accessed through double doors at the back of the reception area where there are also lavatories. There is a currency exchange desk in reception. Currency rates are fixed, so you donít need to search around for a better deal.
We accessed our room via the bank of small lifts to the right, which were speedy and efficient (even if the lights went off once when I was in there). Beyond the public areas the hotel was more faded and old in appearance. It did have air conditioning and a fridge with mini-bar, telephone and CRT type TV, although we couldnít find any English channels. My overwhelming impression of the room was bland and brown. It contained two single beds, with brown bedspreads, with the beds at an angle with brown wooden headboards and a brown wooden bedside table next to one of them. All furnishings were brown veneer type wood, so not even a nice brown wood. Each bed had a small overheard reading light which they could control. The bathroom looked tired and the shower was somewhat compact with nowhere to balance your shampoo or anything. The free toiletries were simple and basic. I only used the shower gel, which was fine and did everything I needed it to. The room was clean but desperately needed an update.
Breakfast was served in the first floor (their 2nd floor) restaurant. I was told to come down to reception and then go through some double doors at the back, and go up a flight of stairs to the restaurant (the nightclub is here too, and as a Japanese style restaurant it is open to the public for lunch and dinner). There is a lift also. I assume that because it is open to the public, this is the reason you canít directly access it from the 1st floor of the hotel, as it does seem a bit of a trek as a guest. But I would rather this slight inconvenience for the security overall. It is very smart and reminded me of the 1980ís black lacquer furniture design trend, but fortunately with more modern twists making it look very smart and elegant.
I found the breakfast a bit hit and miss. Some parts of it were good with juices, cold meats, sausages and grilled vegetables. The yoghurts were quite synthetic tasting and the fresh fruit selection was quite poor, made up mainly of large pieces of watermelon. They had a good range of cereals but had presented them in over-full, shallow, round bowls so when you tried to scoop some out with the provided dessert spoon, you ended up showering the table with almost as much cereal as you managed to get on your spoon.
I will be honest, and say that there are better located hotels in Odessa, but of course, a better location usually comes with a higher price, especially in the usually competitive mid-range market. The 15-20 minute walk to the heart of Odessa became a bit of a slog in the end, as there isnít that much up this end of Richelieu Street. If you prefer not to trek too far for dinner and donít fancy Japanese food, there is a Mexican place opposite and a few restaurants on this end of Richelieu Street and on the streets that run parallel on either side.
The hotel had four stars, and whilst it had good facilities, I thought this a bit generous considering the cheap and dated dťcor in our rooms. Like most hotels in Ukraine it offered a variety of room types including suites and I can only assume that these are somewhat better appointed. My stay was included in my holiday price and I would guess that a group rate and advance booking was used. Prices for a room similar to mine look to be about Ä70 per room, going up to Ä98 for a two-room suite. Naturally the pictures on the website represent a much more attractive room than we stayed in. I think this is expensive for what we got, but Odessa is an expensive city, a bit of a millionairesí playground with private resorts, a glamourous marina and designer shops. I doubt you will meet many millionaires in this hotel, but if prices are relative then this may be a better deal than it looks.