It’s been a hard week, so it feels like a
huge load lifts from my shoulders as Zhenya and I leave my apartment jump in
the taxi that’s going to take us to the five star InterContinental hotel. It’s
tough times for us all here in Ukraine, as it has been for a long time now, and
the pressure of business (and the pressure of juggling all that hard work with
a personal life) takes its toll. And while holiday time gives us all a bit of a
break, these days there’s not enough time to take so much time off, so I’m
looking forward to this little mini vacation in the lap of luxury very much –
good eating without cooking, living without having to clean up after, breakfast
already waiting as soon as we wake up in the morning, a much needed massage to
knead all the stress from our tired muscles, and no kids screaming! Just to
think of it all lightens my heavy load.
Lazy Sunny Afternoon
We’ve arranged early check-in, and arrive
at the hotel a little after two, without having to pack more than a change of
clothes, something for the evening and bathing costumes for a swim in the hotel
pool. Check-in is quick and within minutes of arriving we’re in our room, where
we dump our bags and help ourselves to a beer courtesy of the free minibar.
But this particular Saturday afternoon is
one of the first warm sunny ones so far this year, so we quickly head out for a
stroll down the conveniently located Andriivskiy Uzviz. We take a long relaxing
stroll down the hill, looking at the art and the tacky souvenirs, and then
wander around Podil for a while before taking the funicular back up the hill
and making our way back to the hotel.
We have a very nice cup of coffee accompanied
with some sweet delicacies while lounging on a large sofa, and then head back
to the room. Sometimes a couple’s love life can suffer when work mounts up and
the kids take up so much of your personal time, so, with the chance to catch up
now afforded to us, we take full advantage, so excuse me while I draw a veil
over the next hour or so.
A cup of tea while watching a movie in bed
is a nice way to round off the afternoon, and then we get ready for dinner.
First we each take a nice long bath, and then Zhennya does her face and hair,
while I relax with some TV and another free beer. Soon we’re ready to head out
for dinner, but another great thing about this little holiday of ours is we
don’t need to head out anywhere – there’s a very good restaurant a couple of
floors away – and we also don’t need to worry about getting a taxi home.
Good Eats and Good Fun
And that means we can drink freely, and we
do. We arrive at the InterContinental’s very own Mediterranean restaurant
within a minute of leaving our room. We’re greeted promptly and pleasantly, and
asked if we want smoking or non-smoking. We certainly have the freedom to
choose, because the place is very quiet. While it’s strange that such a
pleasant place is not a little busier on a Saturday evening, it’s fine with us
because we’re in the mood for a little private time.
We choose a table in smoking, and our
smiling, jovial waiter gives us menus and a wine list to peruse. We want to
take our time over our selection, so we order a bottle of wine right away, so
we can enjoy a glass as we ponder – a bottle of Marques Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
As we sip
our wine, we take our time selecting what we’re going to eat. For me, the main
course is a no brainer, and the selection is made as soon as I see lamb on the
menu – Herb Crusted Lamb Loin with roasted root vegetables, couscous, pickled
cucumber and mustard sauce (310hrv) to be precise. For a starter I finally
decide upon the Mediterranean Style House Cured Salmon with dill mustard
dressing, cucumber and lemon salad, and breadstick (150hrv).
also makes up her mind fairly quickly opting for Wild Arugula Leaves with
poached pears, candied walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes and goats cheese (98hrv) to
start, followed by Beef Rib Eye with white aparagus, tomato marmalade, pine nut
and lemon butter (290hrv).
is not meant to be a restaurant review, but it has to be said, the food is
wonderful, the service is top notch, and the whole dining experience is first
class. Both salads are delightfully presented, and the flavour combinations are
exquisite. And the lamb! It is just divine, melt-in-the-mouth, perfectly
cooked, full of flavour heaven. All the garnishing in all the dishes combine
perfectly in texture and taste, making this meal a real pleasure.
first opened, InterContinental pitched its prices very high, but they seem to
have gone quite along way in addressing that. Now, it is still at the high end,
but with the quality and pricing one would expect.
The food is excellent!
that not a lot of people know this yet, because the place is quiet, but still
we’ve selected a smoking table, located in a smaller room at one end, and it
has plenty going on to keep us entertained.
ready for dessert, and again the choice is a no brainer for me – New York
Cheesecake with caramel and fresh berries coulis (135hrv). Zhenya can’t make up
her mind, but eventually decides upon Iced Lime Buttermilk Mousse with pickled
cherries ragout (75hrv).
cheesecake is huge, with 2 large slices and a big pile of assorted berries, and
after some cajoling, I manage to get a taste of the mousse, which is very tasty
desserts are finished, the wine is too, so we decline coffee and decide to head
upstairs for a cocktail or two in b-hush.
Taking the lift to the top floor, we step
out into the exquisite b-hush. Now, for those of you who haven’t been here yet,
this has to be one of the best places in town for a nightcap (or five),
especially now the good weather has arrived – the views from here across the
city are hard to beat. And it’s a very cool place too.
While it’s been a warm day, the evenings
aren’t quite warm enough for them to have the big glass doors open, but as they
are big and glass, that doesn’t hamper the views.
We have a look round first, deciding
whether to stay in the room looking out over the river, or in the one that
looks out over the city. We decide on the latter, because it’s a bit more
populated, and there’s a couple in the former being a little overly amorous for
We take a seat in a couple of fashionable
chairs and order ourselves a cocktail each. Now I’m usually a beer man, but
after some wine, and in a location like this, I’m feeling just slightly exotic,
so I decide upon the ubiquitous Mojito while Zhenya goes for a Margarita
In fact, we have more than one each, but
how many we have I’m not sharing. All you need to know is we had a very
pleasant time. After a while, it was time to go home, and as home for the night
was only a few floors below us, it is very easy to get to: No taxis, just a
lift and a five metre stroll!
Food and Relaxation
For hard working people who either have to
cook breakfast before they eat it, or skip the most important meal of the day
because they don’t have the time (I, sadly, fall into the latter category), so
to rise in the morning, have a nice long shower, and then walk a few paces to a
beautiful spread of food already cooked and ready to eat really needs to be
A glass of orange juice and some cereal to
start, after which follows a good cup of coffee with some croissants and French
cheeses. Zhenya then opts for a plateful of fresh fruit, while I, as usual, go
for the less healthy option of eggs and sausages (cooked to order by the chef),
potatoes – in fact the biggest plate I can pile.
After breakfast we go back to the room to
collect our bathing costumes, and then we head down to the spa where we have
massages booked. The people are waiting for us when we arrive, because we’re a
little late, so we change quickly into the gowns and slippers we’re given and
head down into the massage room, where, as you might expect, there is incense
burning and soft relaxing music.
Unfortunately, and unfairly in my opinion,
both masseuses are male, but they both know what they’re doing and by the end
of one hour of treatment I am so relaxed my bones feel like they’ve liquefied.
We take a quick shower to wash off the
oils, and then swim some lengths in the pool, which we have to ourselves
(although there are a couple of men lounging beside it as if tanning on a
beach, which is a little strange when we’re in the basement). We do a few
lengths, telling ourselves that this small amount of exercise will burn off
some of the calories we’ve accumulated, but really we are fully aware we’re
kidding ourselves. But still, a few lengths of the pool adds to the sense of
relaxation and leisure.
Finally we sweat for 15 minutes in the
sauna before taking a final plunge, shower, and head back to the room feeling
like the world outside and all its troubles have dissolved completely. In fact,
for a moment I get the feeling there is no world outside the InterContinental,
and rather strangely, it is a pleasant thought. But just for a moment.
And More Food
It’s 1.00pm and we really should be
checking out and heading back out into that big bad world I’d fancied had gone,
but we’re not quite ready. I pick up the phone and call reception: Is it
possible to have a late check out? Yes, apparently it is.
“Brunch?” I ask Zhenya. I can see her
ponder this thought for a moment, weighing all the things she’s got to do
against another few hours not caring about that. “Okay,” she says, and smiles
So not only do we have a wonderful
breakfast without cooking or washing up after, we also treat ourselves to a
wonderful Sunday brunch with the same bonuses.
There’s oysters and seafood, and wine.
There are tasty nibbles, and wine. There’s a chef offering to make a delightful
Caesar Salad, and wine. There is a tender joint of beef and racks of lamb, and
wine. There are various fish dishes, and wine. There is such a huge and good
selection that it makes it impossible for one to choose one over the other
making one sample everything, and wine. Some delectable cheeses, and wine. And
there is such a large selection of desserts and chocolate that again, one
cannot choose and one has to try almost all of them. Oh yes, and wine. And
along the way there are lots of laughs and much merriment as well.
By the end of it all, my belt is bursting,
Zhenya is complaining she will have to be on a diet for a month, and we’re both
more than a little tipsy. Our faces may be red with all our overindulgence, but
the smiles there on are broad. And yet again, not a single dish to wash.
Our 24 hours, plus, have been a real treat,
and we head back out into the world (which is still there), fully refreshed and
with batteries recharged. We’re ready to take it all on once again.
24 Hours in the InterContinental Kyiv
rate for What’s On readers
Night in a Classic Room for two people including:
• Dinner in Olivera
• Two cocktails in b-hush
• Breakfast for two
• Two body treatments in the I-SPA
• Full use of gym, pool and sauna
• Free mini-bar
All for only 325 euro*
And why not stay a little longer and enjoy Sunday Brunch for 675
*Rate is payable in UAH at the exchange rate of the
Central Bank at the time of arrival and includes VAT. Package is valid on
weekend nights (Friday-Sunday) only and is a subject to availability. Please
contact Reservations Department and quote ‘Relax package‘: (044) 219 -1931.