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Hospitable hostels grow in popularity

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Aug. 12, 2011, 12:59 a.m. | About Kyiv — by Alissa Ambrose

Guests rest in a dormitory at Kyiv Central Station, which offers a mix of shared and private rooms.
© Alissa Ambrose

Alissa Ambrose

Tucked discretely into residential buildings and often marked only by small placards, most youth hostels in Kyiv are easy to miss. But for the past six years, the Ukrainian hostelling industry – with support from government tourism authorities – has been quietly growing.

With the push to expand tourism for Euro 2012, the soccer championships to be co-hosted by Ukraine and Poland, new hostels are appearing all the time.

“They are opening up like mushrooms,” said Roman Ponomarenko, president of Hostelling International Ukraine.

Youth hostels are budget accommodations that typically offer beds in communal dormitories.

Ponomarenko organized the first hostels in Ukraine in 2004 with the help of a Hr 300,000 grant from the Ministry of Youth, Family and Sport.

He currently runs the Ukrainian chapter of Hostelling International out of a government-owned building on Artema Street that doubles as the 120-bed International Youth Hostel Kiev.
Despite the moniker “youth hostel,” travelers of all ages are welcome, with some restrictions for young children.

At 10-15 euros per night, the average cost for a hostel stay in Ukraine is far lower compared to a 100-300 euro hotel room.

Bathrooms, kitchens and lounges are almost always communal while other perks like wireless Internet, breakfast and organized tours vary from place to place.

Despite the moniker “youth hostel,” travelers of all ages are welcome, with some restrictions for young children.

Several rooms in The Kyiv Central Station hostel on Hoholivska Street were recently taken over by an older Peace Corps couple and their entire extended family who were visiting from the United States.

They are a good resource for budget travelers in the know, but youth hostels haven’t caught on yet with the general public in Ukraine.

“Many people are not even aware that such a thing exists or they have a kind of prejudice that a hostel is something dirty, packed with other people, something cheap and terrible,” said hostel owner Artem Danilov. “But when they actually stay here, they are very surprised.”

Danilov is the owner of the TIU Kreshchatik hostel, which occupies a converted apartment in the city center. The 10-bunk dormitory and one private room on Khreshchatyk Street are simple but clean and comfortable.



Olga Khokhlova, the live-in hostess at TIU Kreshatik, prepares tea in the hostel's shared kitchen. (Alissa Ambrose)

It is normal to see a range of travelers, including European tourists, journalists and newly arrived workers from Belarus mingle in the common room or chat over tea in the shared kitchen.

Right now, the majority of hostellers in Ukraine come from the former Soviet Union, according to Hostelling International Ukraine. But a recent deal with British travel agency TUI could change that.


TUI, which is the official accommodation agency for Euro 2012, being jointly hosted by Ukraine and Poland, will promote Ukrainian hostels for the European championship soccer games next summer with a standardized price of 18-22 euros per bed.


Not all hostels will participate, however, including Danilov’s. He is able to fill his beds with regular travelers, he said, and would rather avoid a rowdy crowd of football fans.


But next summer’s events aren’t only about football. It is a chance to promote Ukraine as a travel destination and government tourism officials think that hostelling can play a part by appealing to budget travelers.

“Hostels build bridges between the nations by supporting tourism,” said Dmytro Zaruba, deputy head of state tourism and tourist services.

“There are very few cheap accommodation facilities in Ukraine. And most tourists are looking for the cheapest possible option.”
If you don't mind sharing space, hostels are much cheaper than hotels and a great place to meet fellow travelers

Hostelling International Ukraine has received annual grant funding from the government and, according to Zaruba, state agencies will continue to support initiatives to promote hostelling in international trade and travel shows.

Official government standards for youth hostels were recently developed, according to Zaruba, and should be implemented by the end of the year.

Travelers thinking about booking a hostel stay in Ukraine should consider checking customer reviews first. HostelWorld.com and the Thorn Tree travel forum (www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/index.jspa) tend to have reliable information.

Keep in mind that while some hostels maintain a quiet, peaceful atmosphere, others cater to travelers who want to party, so make sure to choose the one that is right for you.

Hostel beds fill up quick, so book in advance if possible, especially during tourist season.

Most hostels will accommodate drop-ins if they have a bed available, but there is no guarantee.

This is a list of all the hostels listed in Kyiv, but according to Hostelling International Kyiv, more should be opening soon. Not all of the hostels are Hostelling International members, but ratings of all of them can be read online.

Map of All Kyiv Hostels: www.hostelworld.com/hostels/Kiev/Ukraine/Map (Hostel World)

Hostel Ukraine Kiev Backpackers 28 Yaroslaviv Val 4th floor Apt 13

Kiev Lodging Hostel 5 Pushkinskaya St, Apt 10

Kiev- Art Hostel 20 Konstantinovskaya, office 29

Dream Hostel- Kiev 47 Chernovoarmiis’ka St (http://dream-hostel.com, +38 044 289 36 13)

Hostel Really Central Kiev 10 Bogdana Khmelnilskogo Floor 2 Apt 50 (www.reallycentralkiev.hostel.com, +380 982 636506)

TIU Kreshatik 8b Kreshatik St, Apt 11

One Step Independence Square Hostel 18/1 G Prorizna St, Floor 4, Apt 35

City Center Hostel 2 Sofiivska St, Apt 10

Podol Hostel 26/24 Mejigirska, Apt 19

Kiev Central Station 25 Gogolivska, Apt 11 (www.kievcentralstation.com, +380 9 37 58 7468)

Lvivska Brama 10 Artema St, Floor 2, Apt 15

Magic Bus Kiev 31 Saksagunskogo St Apt 3

St Sophia Hostel 2 Heorhiyvskyi Ln, Apt 2

Art Lounge Hostel 18B Horkoho, Apt 14 (www.facebook.com/pages/Art-Lounge-Hostel/123621717717054#!/pages/Art-Lounge-Hostel/123621717717054?sk=info, +380 637 294 688 )

D’Lux Kiev Hostel 10 Observatorna, Floor 6, Apt 6

Eurohostel Kiev 11 Lesi Ukrainki, Apt 31

Downtown Hostel 12 Kropvynytskogo St, Floor 5, Apt 18 (+380 98 263 6506)

Chillout Hostel Kiev 22B/35 Gorkogo (www.chillouthostelkiev.com, +380933324306)

International Youth Hostel Yaroslav 10 Yaroslavska St

TIU Kiev Backpackers 18 Krashnoarmejska St, Apt 15

Salve Hostel 18/1G Prorizna St, Floor 6, Apt 46

Why Not? 30/3a Saksahanskoho (http://whynothostels.com/kiev/kiev.html, +380636883880)

Center Kyiv Podil 48/28 Verhniy Val, Apt 7

International Youth Hostel “Kiev” Backpackers 52 a Artema st, building 2, Apt 813
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