Advantages Choice of rooms, kitsch decor in unrenovated rooms
Disadvantages Expensive, breakfast not included
|Value for Money|
|Quality of Rooms|
|Standard of Service|
|Quality of Food & Drink|
|Quality of Facilities|
Sevastopol is really quite an odd place; it's a tourist town that has few facilities and is still struggling to catch up with other towns on Ukraine's Crimea. It was closed to outsiders until very recently because it was home to the Soviet fleet and it shows; there are still only a couple of hotels, there is an increasing number of café bars but not much in the way of restaurants and few souvenir shops (a good thing, some might say…). Furthermore it has a reputation for poor customer service and lack of friendliness from Sevastopol residents. However, in and around Sevastopol there are several sites of interest to foreign visitors in particular and so the tourists come regardless of the town's reputation. Our visit to Sevastopol was curtailed because we discovered we had to make a change to our plans but we were visiting primarily to see the sights relating to the Crimean War.As usual we did not book a hotel in advance; we had been hoping to get private accommodation from a local babushka but the bus station was deserted when we arrived and so we turned to the hotels; Lonely Planet lists only three hotels in central Sevastopol; there may be more but we pounded the pavements and didn't find any others. The first hotel was charging a ridiculous amount for a room with no water (not hot, not cold, not even tepid - no running water at all!), at the second hotel it became immediately apparent that the receptionist was not interested in the hassle of trying to communicate with two daft Geordies - even if they could speak basic Russian and less interested still in having to do all the paperwork so she told us to try Hotel Ukraina (I know…it's just what they do…they often can't be bothered).
At the three-star Hotel Ukraina we were greeted by a lovely receptionist who spoke a little English and who indulged our attempts to converse in Russian; as a result we secured a double room - un-modernised - with private bathroom for the equivalent of about £27.00 - not cheap but you don't have much choice in Sevastopol. We had already decided that we would go back to the station later on and see if we could get some private accommodation for the next day anyway.The hotel offers a bewildering range of rooms (basic post-Soviet rooms, juniior suites, suites, a "loggia" - honestly!, and so on); it is a good idea to ask to see a couple of rooms, then go back and show the key to the room you want, checking the oprice again. it really is the only way to make you you get what you want and that you pay the agreed price.
The room was, depending on your tastes, either a hideous mismatch of drab colours and patterned fabrics with a muddled selection of furniture of varying age and condition not to mention design or the most wonderful homage to sixties and seventies interior design you could ever hope to see. A massive writing desk in chunky ebonised wood was placed directly in front of the doors to our balcony, naturally it was too heavy to move and subsequently we could not enjoy our tiny balcony. The bed - a double - had the softest, squidgiest mattress I have ever sat on and the almost threadbare carpets seemed to have had an argument with the skirtings and were studiously avoiding them.The bathroom was, while clean, in desperate need of repair even by Ukrainian hotel standards; the grouting was mildewed, the toilet seat was cracked in several paces and there was a nasty green streak on the bath from the taps to the plughole. The towels were small and rough and there were no freebies.
Still, there was a television - the remote control didn't work and you had to change the channels manually, tuning in the set each time you wanted to change, it wasn't possible to store channels. There was also an envelope and two sheets of Hotel Ukraina writing paper. A veritable entertainment centre!Still, we hadn't gone to Sevastopol to sit in a hotel room; we had plenty to get on with and so we did. Making sure to double check at reception what time the hot water would be available from; in this case 6.00pm until 10.00pm. This is common in hotels in Eastern Europe (and many other parts of the world) and we have never really found it a hardship - you simply wash in could water if you have to and then plan the rest of the day to include a quick pit stop later when the hot water is available.
Several hours later, around 7.00pm, we arrived back at the Ukraina to have a quick shower. However, the water was cold; we both tried it, left it running in the hope it would heat up and then decided to enlist the help of the "floor lady"; all Soviet hotels used to have a lady on each floor whose job it was to maintain order (no easy task), supervise the chambermaids, keep the samovar hot and issue the room keys. Some hotels still have them, the Ukraina is one. She came to see and tried running the tap; as the water came out she seemed satisfied but, using sign language (the phrasebook had gone missing) I informed her that I wanted HOT water. She disappeared and returned accompanied by another floor lady who spoke English; she said that the hot water was finished. We told her it couldn't be, there must be some mistake and that she should speak to the receptionist who had told us the hot water was on until ten. The receptionist backed this up and the issue was resolved quickly with the offer of one nights stay in a "superior" room on the next floor - it was emphasized that it was for one night only but this did not matter to use as we had already decided to move on. We agreed and transferred our belongings.It seems that "superior" means that the room has a considered colour scheme and that the overall effect is a little less "in your face"; personally I found it disappointing but I think most people would prefer it. Here the soft furnishings matched, the bathroom was spotless and very recently modernized from top to bottom, the laminate flooring reached the skirting boards and we had access to our balcony - the balcony was no bigger and had a view over the bins at the back of the hotel but we got to see it and that's what matters!
The bed, too, was new and the television was a new and up to date model; we even had a minibar (expensive), and a teeny hair-drier coyly hidden in a drawstring bag that matched the other fabrics in the room. This room even had a menu for room service; there hadn't been one in the basic room - whether because they had forgotten to put one in there or because room service was not available to those rooms, I do not know. Whatever the reason, we did not order from room service, but could have chosen from a range of sandwiches and burgers as well as soft and alcoholic drinks - nothing out of the ordinary.We found everything in working order and spent a comfortable and quiet night at Hotel Ukraina. However, the water problems aside, I do not think that the inflated price of the "superior" room (over £50) is justified (unless you have chronic back problems and don't mind paying the extra for the comfortable bed). In fact we stayed in other hotels on the Crimea that had been modernized and cost the same price as an un-modernised room at the Ukraina. While the staff were helpful and resolved matters quickly, we could not understand how the receptionist could have got it so wrong to start with.
Another disappointment was breakfast; the hotel did offer breakfast but only if one paid extra. Again, we had paid similar rates at other Crimean hotels where breakfast was included. We decided to eat breakfast on the hoof, considering five dollars to be too much. The hotel did have a small coffee bar tucked away in the corner of the hotel reception area and this was a real hit with us; while you can always get a coffee in the Ukraine it's often Nescafe, decent "proper" coffee is much harder to come by. However, the Ukraina is noted for the quality of its coffee and even Lonely Planet makes a special mention of it.The reception area is quite formal and dark although its pretty comfortable with black leather bucket chairs and, assuming you can read Cyrillic script and either Russian or Ukrainian, a decent selection of newspapers. The other public areas like the corridors are clean and well maintained although the lift is quite terrifying as you have to step down about five inches when the doors open! The lifts are tiny and I do not believe that a wheelchair could fit into one; there are no rooms on the ground floor of the hotel.
Overall, the Ukraina appears to be a hotel for business people; the "superior" rooms have internet points which is unusual for hotels of this kind. The hotel also has a small restaurant, a gym and a massge service - the latter is by no means seedy - all Soviet style hotels offer this.Its location is as central as one can be in a town with no real "centre"; it is as close to the centre as any of the other hotels, is situated on the route which takes the trolleybus all around town and to the bus and train stations and is within walking distance of shops, bars and restaurants.
The hotel was built in the 1960s but doesn't suffer from the grim concrete feel many buildings of this era have; it may be six storeys high but it is certailnly not an oppressive monster of a hotel. A couple of tables outside looked like a pleasant place to sit on a warm evening and this was confirmed later when we saw some elderly men enjoying an early evening drink.Sevastopol is still full of sailors - both Russian (pending the completion of the dockyards at Novorossisyk) and Ukrainian naval vessels are moored here but the service does seem to have improved if only a little if past travellers accounts are accurate.
I find it difficult to give total approval to the Ukraina; there is no doubt that both the superior and basic rooms are perfectly acceptable, though I would question the value for money when compared to other hotels in the Crimea; on a stand alone basis, I would say that the basic room is better value so long as you can manage with the limited hot water. Recommended with reservations.Gogolya 2
Extensive research has not resulted in me finding other contact details for Hotel Ukraina
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