Where to stay in Kiev, Ukraine: Kiev Apartments or Kiev Hotels?

Are you planning a trip to Kiev, Ukraine? If so, you may be wondering whether it is better to stay in a Kiev hotel or rent an apartment in Kiev. The purpose of this brief article is to list here some of the factors that will hopefully help you take the decision right for you.

Staying in Kiev hotels

Kiev hotels vary in quality and prices. Daily rates for some of them start from around USD50 per night, but usually hotels within this price category are located outside Kiev downtown and have pretty Soviet-like style. The average hotel rooms cost about USD100 per night and provide major amenities that you may need while in Kiev – room with a bathroom and hot water, telephone line, satellite or cable TV. More expensive hotels can provide high speed Internet and other nice amenities like hotel gym or nice swimming pool. Charge for some Kiev hotels includes breakfasts that may be pretty convenient way to start your day. The daily rates for some of the most expensive Kiev hotels are around USD500 per night.

Advantage of staying in a Kiev hotel is the ability to check-out any day you wish or extend your stay for as long as you want. Also, every-day cleaning, room service, some in-house restaurants, cafés, gyms, swimming pools can be a nice thing to have around. Disadvantages include relatively high price for a small space you are getting, and low privacy.

Staying in Kiev apartments

Renting an apartment in Kiev is becoming increasingly popular among foreign guests to Kiev. Kiev apartments provide a lot of space (one-bedroom, two-bedroom or even three-bedroom apartments), excellent western-standard renovation, variety of amenities. All of Kiev apartments have telephone lines, cable TV, fridge, oven, kitchen with everything you may need to avoid expensive Kiev restaurants. Many apartments have satellite TV with numerous international channels, air-conditioning, CD-players, DVD-players. Some apartments have high-speed Internet or Jacuzzi.

Prices for Kiev apartments vary depending on the amenities and the exact location of any specific apartment. In particular, apartments in the very center of Kiev near Khreshatik St. and Independence Square are much more expensive than those further from Khreshatik or in other areas of Kiev. Accordingly, rates for the apartments vary considerably depending on those factors. The least expensive one-room apartments outside Kiev center can be available at the rates starting around USD30 per night, the most expensive luxury apartments can cost up to USD300 per night. The average rates are around USD60 for a studio, USD80-100 for a one-bedroom apartment, USD120-130 for a two-bedroom apartment. The above rates tend to change and may be different at the time you are reading this article.

There are no two Kiev apartments alike. It is not a hotel where you book one of the rooms which are all nearly the same. All of Kiev apartments are unique. Though, it is obviously an asset of apartments, it has also some downsides. In particular, it may be hard (if not impossible at all) to change the dates of your stay. For example, if you want to extend your stay in the apartment for a few days more, the apartment may already be booked by someone else. On the other hand, if you want to leave the apartment earlier, you will be required to cover for the whole period of your booking anyway, since the apartment was kept for you, and all other clients interested in the same dates were refused. The above disadvantages can be easily eliminated by more careful and thorough planning of the exact dates of stay.

The same uniqueness of the apartments causes another inconvenience. Landlords of good apartments are reluctant to commit to bookings shorter than five nights. If someone agrees to book an apartment for a shorter period, it often means that they will accommodate you in any apartment available at the date of your arrival. One-three night stays are not attractive for apartment landlords and agencies at all, so they will hardly be able to book anything specific. Exception is the situation when there is a few day opening between other bookings that fits the dates you are interested in. Four-night stays are somewhere on the edge. The agencies may book a specific apartment, but there is always a chance that its landlord will let the agency down and do not keep the apartment for such a short period.

In order to book a Kiev apartment, you will be required to provide a booking deposit in the amount equal to a one-night stay or a higher amount depending on each particular apartment and the length of your stay.

Availability of specific apartments is changing very fast, and some agencies have availability calendar with bookings a few months in advance. So, it is always good idea to book an apartment well in advance, at least three or four weeks before your trip.

Those are basically the major things to keep in mind when choosing between a stay in Kiev apartments or Kiev hotels. Regardless of what kind of accommodation you choose, you will enjoy your stay in this beautiful European city with so many things to offer to its visitors.

How to Negotiate When Renting an Apartment

Renting an Apartment is Like Interviewing for a Job

When you are looking at apartments, it is almost like a job interview because the owner or agent is looking to pick the best tenant for this rental unit. The agent wants someone who will help keep up the value of the apartment. Here are some tips to help you get to the top of the line.

Look the part

You need to dress the part of a responsible person who will take good care of the apartment. You don’t need to wear a suit, but you should look neat and wear nice casual attire. As they say, you don’t have a second chance to make a first impression.

Act the part

Just like an interview, a firm (but not too firm) handshake is in order when you introduce yourself. Be sure to look the agent/owner in the eye and smile. I like to make some nice comment, like “what a view!” or “what a nice garden!” or something else positive. The agent will give you his/her card. I like to give my business card. It is a handy way to give my contact information and it shows again that I am a responsible person that can be entrusted with an apartment.

Be observant and ask questions

It is a lot better to see the apartment’s problems or flaws before you move in. If you see a water spot or suspect there may be flooding, ask questions about it. If the apartment is near the road, see if you can hear traffic. You should look at the unit with the same diligence you would use if you were considering buying the unit. If you see something, point it out and ask whether it will be fixed before you move in. It is a lot easier to get something fixed before you move in than after!

Visualize yourself in this apartment

I like to visualize myself living in the apartment. This helps because sometimes I can either be too critical or overlook major flaws in the apartment. If I really like a unit, there can be a halo effect so that I don’t see any flaws, until it may be too late. Drive through the neighborhood and see if there are people on the street. Do they wave to you? I find it comforting to know my neighbors are friendly. How far away is the grocery store? How close is the nearest restaurant? You are not just renting an apartment, but you are really renting a neighborhood. Trust your instincts. If there is a problem, try to resolve it or walk away.

If you don’t like something, speak up

Is there something about the apartment you don’t like? Is it perfect except for just one thing? Then speak up. For example, I looked at a rental condo that I really liked. It was spacious and close to the beach. However, it had an ugly old shag carpet that was burnt orange and even covered the steps to the second floor. When I was visualizing myself in this apartment, I just could not get past this shag carpet from the 70’s. Finally I thought, “what do I have to lose?” I am not going to take the condo in its present condition. I asked the realtor if it would be possible to replace the rug. Apparently others had complained as well and the realtor said “yes,” after consulting with the owners. I rented the condo with a nice new tan carpet that matched my furniture and was very happy. I know I would have been miserable if I had to deal with the orange run on a daily basis!

Follow these tips and you will be negotiating like a pro

Thoughts On Nice – Re-Discovering The French Riviera

A walk towards the Mediterranean

When I “landed” in Nice in my tiny Fiat back in the 70s, I could not avoid being mesmerized by a city so charming and majestic, so full with the colours of its people, of its painted façades. I learned to love the oozing perfumes from the flowers of its gardens, the pungent smell of its spices and the subtle aroma of its herbs: so much different from the Paris I adored.

Nikaia as the Greeks called it when they first set foot on these shores some 2600 years back, is now a blend of gentle climate, African influences, Mediterranean experiences and a trail of an Italian past still engrained in its people, their accent, patois, gestures, warmth.

As, in a more recent past, I ventured out of my hotel in Nice, I looked up at the plane trees lining both sides of Boulevard Victor Hugo: so majestic and maternal in their huge embrace. They reminded me of the same old plane trees that still line the ancient roads of my Po Valley, planted back in the 18th Century when Napoleon colonized it.

I remember climbing them, admiring their patched bark, gathering the fallen twigs to light up our stove on dark winter mornings. I used to play hide and seek behind their huge trunks, climbing them and enjoying them so much in my happy distant youth; in a way it was like coming home.

Waking down towards the sea, past the Negresco Hotel and the Palais de la Mediteranée, I could not refrain from thinking that the breathtakingly splendid Promenade des Anglais used to be, only a couple of hundred years ago, a short, bumpy narrow path built for the enjoyment of the British Aristocracy who swapped the winter chill and the rainy weather of their Northern Isles for the gentle climate and the beautiful surroundings of Nice.

And there it was, the Mediterranean Sea, the centre of the ancient universe, languidly staring at you.

No longer as blue as the French poet Stephan Liegeard described it in 1887 “la Côte d’Azur”, but still warm and inviting, perhaps even now enjoying a Blue Flag status.

Like an ancient pagan ritual, gravity defying breasts and sculpted legs were on proud display to uninterested passers-by, hoping to steal the last precious rays of an already distant sun. Joyous dogs were trying in vain for a good foothold on the round beach pebbles, flattened by the rhythm of tidal waves.

I gazed towards the landing strip of Nice Cote d’Azur Airport; where were the fishermen? “Helas” long gone was the time when Nice’s all embracing bay was known as “la Baie des Anchois” – the bay of anchovies, by “divine” intervention, now known as “la Baie des Anges” – Angels’ Bay, or was it a sound marketing ploy?

My gentle walk was an enjoyable luxury despite my casual clothing. I was now under the spell of a sea of aristocrats, nouveaux riches, playboys parading the promenade in their immaculately tailored outfits. I could smell their joie de vivre, but could it have been a designer perfume? I also heard their indistinguishable proud walk mimicked by their poodles trotting beside them.

They no longer paraded their diamond encrusted jewels, their signature Scarves, their camel leather shoes nor their distinctive Panama hats to shelter their balding heads. It is now cool to show off perfectly bleached teeth, tailored implants, superbly tanned skins, bulging watches, the latest sport shoes and to whizz around in funky gyropodes.

Nice’s Carnival had come and gone, but I could still see faces and aging wrinkles masked by not so skilful surgeons. Like in a circus, properly outfitted youngsters were displaying their skating skill, others, on state of the art bikes, were whizzing in and out of their marked path in a joyous confrontation with the last standing belle époque “heroes”.

It was time to go back to my rugged plane trees and to leave behind the beautifully regimented palm trees, the exuberant exotic flowers and those carefully manicured lawns.