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Premier Palace Hotel
In 2009, The Most Famous Hotels in the World® added the Premier Palace Kyiv to its library of books about famous historic hotels of world renown. Andreas AUGUSTIN, the author of the book, gives us a brief synopsis of his work.
Let me take you to the most famous hotel of the capital of the Ukraine, the Premier Palace Hotel. Highly praised by today’s travellers this one hundred years old edifice has a great history to tell. Originally called the Palast H^otel, it was built in 1909–1912. Since 1908 the idea of an “All Russian Exhibition” encouraged investors to build hotels. Apartment houses rose in various parts of the city — it was one of the most ‘constructive’ periods in the history of Kyiv. Finally, the exhibition was held in 1913. That was sufficient time to build a perfectly equipped hotel: the Palace Hotel, which would later be renamed Premier Palace — the first hotel of the Palace hotel chain in Ukraine.
The book Premier Palace Kyiv takes you back to the Kyiv of the 19th century, when the stage was set for an international capital, which would one day govern the largest country of Europe. We read about the days when the city grew into a railway hub, when modern transport turned the ‘Mother of all Rus cities’ into a trade centre. We meet Kyiv building tycoon Lev Ginsburg, who built part of the hotel. We come across the brilliant hotelier, Austrian Jacob Zellermeyer, an early master of Public Relations, the first lessee of the Palast H^otel, as it was called. Kyiv’s newspapers immediately hailed the new hotel as ‘luxury premises’. Needless to say, during the All-Russian Exhibition in summer 1913, the most important visitors stayed there.
The early success of the Palast H^otel didn’t last for long. During the Great War (1914–1918) the ‘enemy’ (Austrian) Zellermeyer had to close down his hotel and to leave the country. During the last year of the war the Palast H^otel served the Germans as their embassy and consulate in Ukraine. Turkish ambassador Mukhtar-Pasha also stayed in one of the suites. The two neighbouring buildings (which were later incorporated into the hotel) housed the Soviet-Russian embassy and an Austro-Hungarian delegation. On 14 December 1918 the leader of an independent Ukraine (installed by the German forces), Hetman Skoropadsky, made the hotel again the centre des affairs. He resigned at the Palast H^otel. In due course, the Palast H^otel was nationalised. Bibikov Boulevard was renamed Shevchenko Boulevard in honour of the most famous Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko. The Palast H^otel building now housed AUDA — the All-Ukrainian Department of Arts. All cultural institutions, in fact the entire cultural heritage of the country was to be registered in this building. After the World War II adjacent buildings were joined and the hotel was renovated. During the 1950s the hotel ‘was back’: it had 230 employees, 339 rooms for 555 guests, a celebrated ‘first-class’ restaurant with a seating capacity of 200, a cafe-restaurant for 120 people, two banquet halls for 110 people and even two bars, a true Western decadence.
The switchboard managed 400 telephone extensions. More services available were a tailor’s workshop, a hairdresser’s salon and a library with a collection of 25,000 books. Patriotically it was renamed Hotel Ukrayina. Famous guests were always among the clientele of the hotel. Singer and movie star Alexander Vertinskiy, born in Kyiv but based in Moscow, spent several memorable weeks at the hotel in 1955 while filming Flame of Sorrow at the Dovzhenko studios. Today Suite 439 is named after him. In 1962 Russian film Star Lubov Orlova stayed at the hotel. Of course a suite is named after her, too. All together the hotel has named ten suites after famous personalities or themes. The hotel was soon rated what would internationally be five stars, its restaurant keeps receiving culinary awards ever since. A wind of change blew from the early 1990s. Important acts paving the way for Ukraine becoming an independent state were drafted and discussed at the hotel, and on 24 August 1991 Ukraine proclaimed its Independence.
Following this new freedom, the hotel employees formed a collective enterprise to successfully keep the hotel open and running. In 1999 it was time for a major facelift. The hotel was totally renovated and two years later, in 2001, the first part of two, the building in 5 Shevchenko Boulevard, reopend. 141 rooms, a conference hall and a business centre were at guests’ service. Oleksandr Lytvyn was appointed the hotel manager. In 2005 the hotel reconstruction was completed. Now the hotel has a total of 290 rooms, it was renamed Premier Palace Hotel and was immediately and unanimously accepted A Select Member of The Most Famous Hotels in the World®. This was recognition of the perfect blend of a restoration of a heritage property into a modern hotel, paired with a management that shows a deep respect for its remarkable history. In the years of 2009– 2012, the Premier Palace Kyiv commemorates 100 Years of Building the Legend, three years of celebrations of the erection of the first modern hotel in Kyiv, a tribute to a centenary of international hospitality in Ukraine and a glowing testimonial of modern Ukrainian hospitality standards. VIPs enjoy the Premier Palace. General manager Oleksandr Lytvyn welcomed Paulo Coelho, the famous Brazilian author, Prince Michael of Kent, politicians like Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice and supermodels like Eva Herzigova. They all enjoy Kyiv’s most famous hotel as their “home away from home”, as Lytvyn likes to see his hotel: ‘We aim to make our guests feel as if they are really at home. Many of them have circled the globe more than once. Sometimes, they travel so much that they spend more time in hotels than in their own home. And when they’re tired of travelling, there’s nothing better than to feel the comforts of home, especially when they are in a foreign land! When the Premier Palace opened a hundred years ago, one of its first managers established a rule that we strive to keep to this day: “Our hotel must be a cosy, restful place and serve travellers as a second home while away from their real homes.”
That’s why Bohdan Stupka, widely recognised as Ukraine’s most famous living actor, loves to come by. Polish film director and screenwriter Jerzy Hoffman regularly enjoys the Premier Palace hotel, as do movie actors like Fyodor Bondarchuk, Hollywood star Eric Roberts, Italian actresses Sophia Loren, Ornella Muti and actor Vladimir Vinokur.
Soccer star David Beckham walks past the concierge desk in sneakers and sportswear. Elena Franchuk, founder of the ANTIAIDS foundation, poses with the reunited rock band Queen, who held a concert for the benefit of Aids in the Ukraine. Another VIP guest, the talented Ukrainian singer Ani Lorak, travelled as a goodwill ambassador for HIV/Aids charities. Christina Aguilera spent a few days at her rooftop suite, while other stars who have stayed include Sir Elton John, British singer Sonique, French cross-over soprano coloratura Emma Shapplin, and singer Patricia Kaas.
Russian singer Alexander Rosenbaum also sojourns at the hotel. Stand-up comedian Mikhail Zadornov visits Ukraine on a regular basis and enjoys the hospitality of the Premier Palace. Legendary Soviet ice hockey players Vladislav Tretyak and Alexander Sergeyevich Yakushev join the list of VIPs. Local heroes also stay here, including Pavel Romanovich Popovich, the first ethnic Ukrainian to fly into space in his days as a Soviet astronaut. An A-list crowd flocks to the Premier Palace for the fashion shows of Aina Gasse. Heads spin when the Miss Ukraine final is held at the hotel. And recently, the top of the hotel has impressed Kyiv residents and foreigners alike. I’m referring to the rooftop restaurant, where Terracotta has opened — the Premier Palace’s new flagship restaurant. Its blend of cuisine takes you from America to Europe and from Russia to the Mediterranean. Opening night was New Year’s Eve 2009, providing me with a new chapter in my little book.
Here’s to another 100 years at the Premier Palace!
Andreas Augustin founded The Most Famous
Hotels in the World (www.famoushotels.org) in 1986,
and authored over 30 books in this library. Today the
group has 377 Select Members in the world, and one
in Kyiv: Premier Palace.
The lobby of the Premier Palace is the heart
of the original historic hotel.
The alley has been known by several names over
the years, before it was renamed Shevchenko
Boulevard. The building to the left, one of the
oldest hotels of Kyiv, is today part of
the Premier Palace Hotel.
Beautiful details like historic ornaments and
pictorial ornaments in stained-glass windows
were lovingly restored.
Oleksandr Lytvyn was appointed general manager
of the Premier Palace in 2005: “Our hotel is a
second home to our guests.”[Prev][Contents][Next]