I haven’t had a bottle of Newcy Brown since I was at university in Newcastle 20 odd years ago. Normally when travelling I would make sure that my first beer is a local one, but on this occasion I’m going to have a bottle of broon. Nice. More about the lounge later.
First, the essentials. The Intercontinental Kyiv is in a perfect location, being right next to three spectacular Orthodox churches including St Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery, and behind that the Volodymyrska Hill park which is great for a walk and an ice-cream and offers some wonderful views.
Kiev is a big place and there are many sights that will require using a taxi or riding the metro, but the Intercontinental is surrounded by some of the top sights all within reasonable walking distance. The nearest metro station is at Independence Square, a walk of less than 10 minutes.
St Andrews Church is another great sight and is a short walk away, leading to the popular Andriivskyi descent which is a great place to do some souvenir shopping and takes you to the National Museum of the History of Ukraine.
In the other direction, St Sophia’s Cathedral is a short walk, and 600m downhill from the hotel is Independence Square, the Founders of Kyiv monument and the main shopping district.
Being so close to Saint Michael’s is perfect for getting some spectacular sunrise and sunset photos of the golden domes. Kiev is a beautiful city with lots of things to do, and is a perfect base for visiting Chernobyl and then extending your holiday with visits to Belarus and Moldova. The Intercontinental Kyiv is the perfect base for exploring Kiev.
Rooms and facilities
On the outside and in the guest rooms the hotel is quite elegant, with simple light colours and quality fabrics. Classical, is the word. Public areas inside are richer and darker, quite sumptious. The hotel is only about 10 years old and was built as a showpiece intended to attract business travellers and government officials, and is correspondingly plush and luxurious.
The check-in experience was swift and friendly. I had booked using the Ambassador free weekend night voucher, which meant paying for one night, the IHG Mastercard free night certificate, and a fourth night on points. For the paid night I’d gone for the cheapest available as prices were very high on my dates. I was hoping for a decent upgrade and I was given one of the junior suites. I was happy enough given the amount paid versus the cash rates.
My room was a decent size with a very comfortable bed and high quality linens. High quality fabrics everywhere, and the burgundy armchairs would not be out of place in a top Paris hotel. Spotlessly clean. My bathroom was large and nicely presented, although oddly shaped, but with Occitane toiletries and separate shower and tub.
A small balcony with a view of simple city streets which may not be spectacular but did look very nice at sundown. The suite had a separate study and lounge area with a decent sized desk and a comfy sofa. A little disappointing to see only a kettle, but after I’d been in the room for 20 minutes an employee arrived carrying a tray with fresh coffee and some cakes, and came back in again with a bottle of prosecco, a bowl of fruit, and a card thanking me for my loyalty.
Intercontinental Kyiv has a spa and salon, though I didn’t try it. The spa has a pool and a gym.
There are a few dining options including a French restaurant modelled on classical Parisian style with an outdoor terrace, and the main breakfast buffet restaurant. The club lounge was so good I didn’t try either of them.
I did try the rooftop bar, and it’s well worth a visit. It has very comfy seating and room to be private and romantic or sit with a group. The cocktails are great and delivered with care, and there is a very good menu offering sushi, burgers, and all manner of Japanese and Thai style dishes. Even something as simple as crispy spring rolls was beautiful and delicious. There are also some nice views, including the golden domes.
The breakfast restaurant menu includes all the standard fare you would expect and some you wouldn’t. Fried quail’s eggs and Currywurst anyone?
The French restaurant is very chic but I’d suggest passing on the French classics and instead trying the Ukrainian options. Ukrainian varenyky (dumplings) are a sensation, especially after a long day of sightseeing.
While you’re in Ukraine, you have to try the Borsch. Thankfully this is also offered in the club lounge. And it’s goooood!
Wifi was stable and worked well for uploading photos and downloading emails. Car parking is available under the hotel for €8.
Points, perks, and loyalty
The Club Intercontinental lounge is very nice all around. Spacious, comfortable, great selection of drinks and food. I really like hotel VIP lounges. I generally travel solo. When you’re trying to visit every country in the world, and you take every opportunity for travel, it’s not always so easy to coordinate with other people. When I’m by myself I usually have a whole load of things I want to do, and I’m reluctant to spend time stuck in a restaurant with nothing to see but other diners.
I like to enjoy a good restaurant, but I’d prefer it to be one with a decent view or seating outside or something special about it, otherwise it sucks up too much time. I’ll usually try several different places for a quick brunch or bar food or street eats, but I’m not sitting through 2 hours of a 3-course meal with nothing more interesting than other people’s conversations.
A decent hotel lounge is a joy, especially when it’s as good as the Intercontinental Kyiv. The food is well presented, there’s a great variety of cold canapés and hot dishes, the staff are friendly and helpful without being intrusive, and I’ve got the place all to myself.
My favourite hotel loyalty program is Hilton Honors, largely because of the guaranteed lounge access that comes with Diamond status. The downside is that Diamond status is so easy to get, especially if you’re American (one credit card does the job), which means that in many Hiltons it seems that every guest is a Diamond and the lounges are often packed.
I really like the IHG loyalty program and the Intercontinental Ambassador scheme, because of the ease of earning points from the IHG Mastercard and because of the incredible value you can get from the Ambassador free weekend night certificate, if you use it well. The downside is that even as a Spire Ambassador I don’t get lounge access, but the upside is that Intercontinental lounges are, in my experience, often much quieter than average Hiltons.
At the Intercontinental Kyiv I hardly saw another person in the lounge either at breakfast or for the evening canapés and cocktails for the 4 days I was there. The seating is comfortable with either tables and dining chairs or relaxing armchairs. It’s quiet. At breakfast you can order from a small menu to be cooked to order. Scrambled eggs, bacon, hashbrowns. Eggs Benedict. Or a good selection of self-serve fruits, cereals, and bakery items.
Evenings came with a fair selection of spirits, wine, and beer, and an assortment of canapes that changed every day. There was always plenty of it and it was well presented. Salads, sandwiches, cheese, bruschetta, cakes and desserts. Two different hot dishes every evening, like curry and rice or goulash or baked salmon and so on.
The lounge is done very well and is perfect for either a pre-dinner appetiser or for filling up before heading out. So how to get access if top-tier status doesn’t get you in? Of course you can book a room with Club access, but what if you book a cheap room or have booked on points?
I’ve had varying success in different Intercontinentals. On rare occasions I’ve been denied access entirely. Sometimes I’ve ended up paying for access, and usually at very reasonable cost, and if it’s not reasonable I always politely express my disappointment, claim to normally have it much cheaper at other Intercontinentals, and more often than not I get a discount.
Usually though, I end up getting in for free. I think this is one hidden advantage of travelling alone. When I ask to get into the lounge they can see that I’m not going to take up much space or be noisy or eat all their food. If you were a family, I think you’d be out of luck. Anyway, I got in for free. Your mileage may vary…
Prices in Kiev are relatively cheap compared to western Europe, but my visit coincided with some big events and so hotel prices were running high. It made using my free night vouchers a good deal, and as busy as it was there was no problem booking with points.
In the normal run of things rooms start at around £200 per night, which can make points bookings a good deal. Looking at some random dates over the next couple of months I see rates normally around €270 / £230 or 30,000 points, which would be 0.76p per point. That is not the best I’ve ever had with IHG, but it’s certainly well above my standard minimum valuation for IHG points which is 0.4p per point.
The Intercontinental Kyiv is the best hotel in Kiev. It has a perfect location for some very easy sightseeing and shopping. The service is excellent. Rooms are spacious and luxurious.
Kiev itself is a great choice for a short break. It has some beautiful architecture, great parks, incredible food, and feels safe and friendly. I was lucky to be there while there were some free outdoor concerts with great music and street food of a much higher standard than anything you’d get at an open air event in England.
Kiev is a great place to visit, in fact it went straight into my top 10 favourite cities, and the Intercontinental is a great choice.
Easily ranked in the top half of the top 10 Kiev hotels by Trip Advisor reviewers, if you take away the budget choices and are looking for an option that can be booked on points then it comes down to the Intercontinental or the Hilton. I haven’t stayed at the Hilton but I can say if you pick the Intercontinental Kyiv then you wont be disappointed.
Don’t miss the views from the rooftop bar, especially at night like this one:
Get more from your trip to Kiev: