The saying goes that he who does not appreciate the past has no future. The history of the Premier Palace Hotel is inseparably connected to the city of Kyiv*, in essence and in atmosphere.
* While the old spelling "Kiev," pronounced "key-ev," is still often used, since 1995, the official spelling of the capital of Ukraine is "Kyiv," pronounced "kay-eve."
The original buildings on the site where the Premier Palace Hotel stands today were erected in the mid-19th century. The site itself included two properties. One of the properties, now bul. Shevchenka 5, belonged to Prince Dimitri Zhevakhov, a colonel in the Russian Cavalry whose family roots went back to the legendary Kartlos, a hero from the Caucasus region and leader of the Georgian people. Kartlos was the great-grandson of the Biblical Japheth, the third son of Noah. The second property, at the corner of the boulevard and vul. Pushkinska, was owned by the Hertzovich–Mirkins, a family of merchants.
In 1908, however, Ginzburg decided to start building a grand building on this property, which was about half the size of the current hotel complex. And he put his money into nothing but the best quality materials.
Alas, the building plans were not preserved. The assumption is that the architect was Edward Bradtman, a graduate of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts, and municipal architect of the City of Kyiv since 1898, one of the leading proponents of the Art Nouveau style. Near the end of 1909, the building at bul. Shevchenka 5 was up and 1910 was spent doing the finishing work. By January 1911, construction was completed.
In 1910, reconstruction of the property at the corner of vul. Pushkinska began. Two Odesa architects, Adolf Minkus and Favel (Fedir) Trupianskiy were responsible converting the main building and several small three-story structures on Pushkinska into a single complex. This was called the Palast Hotel. In the fall of 1910 the walls of the hotel were up. By January 1911 the construction was completed.
The hotel’s façade was a blend of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, with some original features that were more avant-garde. But a fire in February 1911 damaged the building. Through the efforts of then-owner Mendel Mirkin, construction was renewed and by Spring 1912, it was successfully completed. At that point, the building was being leased by Jacob Zellermeier, an Austro-Hungarian citizen living in Kyiv. Together with his brother, Zellermeier headed a number of foreign delegations in Ukraine, representing the fashion and beauty industries.
In March 1912, the Kievlianin paper published an announcement: “The Palast Hotel has opened four more elegant halls and a premier-class restaurant and café”.
Since Jacob Zellermeier dreamed of creating the “dream hotel,” he needed to constantly introduce the latest technologies to satisfy the whims of the most demanding guests. Imagine that, in those days, the seven-story hotel included 150 comfortable rooms with all conveniences: electricity, telephones and hot and cold running water. In the reading rooms, guests could always find the latest papers. When guests required it, they were provided with teams of horses and cars. In the restaurant and café, up to 1,000 guests could be served at a time, which meant that the liveliest receptions and public hearings took place there.
Under the soviets, the Hotel was transferred to the management of the Ministry of Labor of the Ukrainian SSR. For a time, it housed the German Consulate; later it was the residence of the Turkish Ambassador Mukhtar-pasha.
Curiously, in 1918, in rooms on the third floor of the Hotel, the last Ukrainian Hetman, Pavlo Skoropadskiy, submitted his formal abdication. For this reason, the Hotel today has a suite called “The Hetman Suite”, offering semi-deluxe rooms in Ukrainian Baroque style with a panoramic view.
During World War II, however, the Hotel’s buildings suffered considerable damage. In 1949, reconstruction finally began. During this reconstruction, the two buildings were reunited as a single Hotel at bul. Shevchenka 5 and 7. That is why today the hotel has such a long official address: 5-7/29 bul. Tarasa Shevchenka / vul. Pushkinska In 1951, Serhiy Tsapenko, 55, was appointed director of the Palace Hotel.
From 1959 to 1981, management was turned over to a one-time military pilot and WWII veteran, Ilya Mykhailenko, 52. By then, the Hotel had been renamed “Ukraina”. The Hotel was now the exclusive domain of highly-placed officials and representatives of the elite, not only of soviet republics, but of other countries as well.
Later, V. Kriulin and Yuriy Khalipov also managed the Hotel Ukraina. The reconstruction of the Hotel began in earnest in 1999.
In February 2000, Oleksandr Lytvyn became the new director of Hotel Ukraina. At this point, with the first set of renovations completed, it was decided to return to a more historic name while clearly defining the hotel’s status. Names from “Grand Hotel” to “Royal Palace” were considered, but the final decision was made in favor of the word “Premier” combined with the historic name. Thus, the name “Premier Palace” came to be. Soon after that, Mr. Lytvyn became General Manager of the now-renamed Premier Palace Hotel.
In 2001, the Premier Palace Hotel was given the status of a five-star hotel. The only historic hotel in Kyiv, after all its trials and tribulations, had become Ukraine’s first five-star hotel.
If you are interested in reading more about the history of the Premier Palace Hotel, you will be able to find it in our upcoming book in the renowned series “The Most Famous Hotels in the World”.
In May 2009, the Premier Palace Hotel begins a year-long celebration of the 100 year since ground was first broken on the original hotel.
From 2009 till 2012, the Premier Palace will present an entire series of wonderful events that we hope will amaze and please many, many people. The First National Chamber Orchestras Competition conducted in May 2009 has launched this series. At each event, the next event in the legend-making series will be announced. Stay tuned!
In 2009, Seven Stars and Stripes ®, a global awards system for the hospitality industry, announced the official results of its performance rating for the Premier Palace hotel. The hotel successfully completed its first test and received an outstanding 6 Stars and 7 Stripes rating!