Готель Хрещатик 24/09/2010Posted by brendan in Avions, Trains et Voitures, Leçons Culturelles.
Tags: bars, clubs, consumption, economics, hotel khreschatyk, khreschatyk club, kiev, kyiv, travel, ukraine
Fashion TV cast a sickly blue hue over us as we nursed half-liters of Ukrainian beer recommended by the bartender. He was a nice guy who spoke English, patiently answered all manner of questions, and took no notice of our trashed clothing.
Alienation came from more than freshly pressed uniforms and golden nameplates. It seeped through the wall of tinted glass which protected us from the harsh sunlight. It echoed through the underpopulated marble-floored lobby. It fell from competing lighting schemes and overzealous chandeliers. It was left unsaid by the neckless men stretching out suits as they slowly paced around in circles waiting for a problem they could seriously maim.
We had caught luxury by chasing thrift. Janice roamed budget travel sites and Hotel Khreschatyk satisfied our needs. All I wanted was a place that offered wi-fi and good odds that there would be no waking up in a bathtub full of ice missing a kidney. These standards proved fairly expensive despite Ukraine’s prominence on international poverty indexes.
The place was still a shithole. Stained walls and shredded carpet led to a small room overlooking a neighboring building’s air conditioning. In the shower you’d stand under a tepid mist, praying the rumbling pipes didn’t burst– except when they decided to cut our water for most of a day. Drinking glasses were mismatched and showed no evidence of being replaced by our cleaning lady, whom we routinely tortured by refusing to leave for hours at a time. Elevators broke frequently and would be taped off by a maintenance staff that worked in five minute increments.
Extortionate fees served only to shore up the Khreschatyk’s gaudy image. Swaths of Kyiv have embraced a form of capitalism that subsists on cell phones and gold chains, fueled by the overflowing wallets of Russia’s nouveau riche. Across an opulent expanse of lobby are the velvet ropes and metal detector of a poker club. Janice risked upsetting security by craning her neck, reporting that an enclave of women sat around a table waiting for the evening’s customers. Beyond them lay the local branch of Buddha Bar, a concept lounge of mixed drinks, platinum card meals, and the soothing sounds of downtempo electronica.
During check-in reception issued vouchers for the breakfast buffet. There’s a sushi restaurant downstairs. I don’t know why, she confided, and we all laughed. Somewhere, possibly past broken elevators and down the corridor that needed no sign to scream stay out, is an entire spa boasting palm trees, massages, and a poolside bar.
We chased our beers with espressos and I asked about local tipping custom. The bartender said 10%, swapped out the ashtray, and resumed his post against the back wall to wait for customers who didn’t arrive.