There is a rather appealing billboard outside Radisson Blue Hotel Kyiv that reminds me of the quirky logo-photos for headhunter Benoit Gateau-Cumin’s Boutique Search Firm website. Here the publicity is for Mille Miglia, the hotel’s Italian restaurant that is so authentic, thanks to Rome-born chef Fabrizi Righetti’s cooking, that it is full every weekday lunch with ambassadors and others from the many embassies immediately around – what a luxury it must be for Italian diplomats to find a hotel serving authentic pasta, paired with tasty Ukraine beef. Well, says the gal, Ukraine was the food basket of the USSR in years past, and it is now providing much of the rest of Europe with much-needed blueberries and other fruit, and honey and vegetables.
My Danish friend Jesper Henriksen arrived to take over this Radisson, owned by the Vienna-based Raiffeisen Bank, only three weeks ago and everything is still new to him. He has already fallen in love with Kiev, however – it seems to be a true generalisation that, once here, every GM wants to stay forever. They just hope that head office has forgotten about them. They find the people’s desire to please is infectious. We had dinner in Mille Miglia, at a table that was quickly covered with Fabrizi Righetti’s tastes, cubes of his pâté, big olives, bruschetta and thick chunks of his Roman-style bread. Ideally, here, I would start with his caprese, because of the burrata he brings in from Puglia, and follow it with local beef fillet, with local mushrooms, ruccola and parmigiano – and drink, as we did, Fattoria le Pupiile 2009 made by one of Italy’s best known female winemakers, Elisabetta Geppetti, from Grosseto.
The 255 rooms in this hotel, due for renovation from this November, are comfortable, and ideal for business without paying through the nose. WiFi was instant, This Works toiletries were first class, and I was intrigued by the standing-doughnut shape that was my Krups espresso machine – see the video below. Having a 24/7 gym with well-used equipment was definitely a plus – I really felt humbled watching the brilliant video, on the television screens, showing Radisson Blu’s support for building fresh water wells throughout Africa. I got extra exercise, by the way, walking the streets around, some of which are almost as hilly as the seven hills of Fabrizi Righetti’s birthplace. Exercise is certainly recommended before arriving for the buffet breakfast that you always expect from a Radisson Blu but, let me tell you, this one is top of the form at this brand.
Here, as in so many luxury hotels – last experienced at Hotel Sacher in Vienna – you have a separate breakfast room, Côté East. It is light and bright, with colourful red chairs and lots of helpful, home-made signs. Head for the coffee first, says one blackboard. Make your own juice, says another, with a humorous drawing. There are boiled eggs marked five and ten minutes, or a lady chef will come and make to order. Coffee is pumped from a filter pump pot or make your own from a commercial-size WMF espresso machine, actually more customer-friendly than the Krups in my room. Yes, I ate magnificently here, and lived well too – see the video below of end suite 447, double the size of standard rooms.
THE VIDEO IS BELOW