Welcome to the Hotel Bursa

After seven months in Kyiv I’m still having the time of my life. Despite living in an active war zone – or perhaps because of it, I’ve never experienced such a constant stream of good vibes nor have I ever met so many interesting people at my Hotel Bursa in Kyiv. Let me explain by quoting a few lines from the Eagle’s classic song ‘Hotel California’…

Such a lovely place

I’ve been very fortunate to spend half a year in the warm and welcoming environment of what I consider the best hotel in the world, Hotel Bursa. From day one I’ve been met with sincere smiles and caring words by each and every staff member. They all know me by name, and I actually feel like a part of the family.

I’ve been Shazaming like mad because the music in the lounge is incredible. In fact, I’m building a killer Kyiv mix that will become the foundation of my listening repertoire for many years to come.

Any time of year you can find it here

I’m astonished by the amazing variety of people I’ve met from all over the world. Hotels in Kyiv are magnets for foreigners and Bursa is no exception. Guests come from all walks of life and the ensuing conversations are utterly fascinating.

A few weeks ago I spent a Saturday night with a couple of nuclear inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who were in Kyiv on their way to inspect reactors and fuel storage in Chernobyl. I enjoyed a riveting chat about atomic energy and the situation in Zaporizhzhia over a yummy bowl of ramen.

A few days later I met two fine gentlemen who invited me to join them for a beer in the Bursa courtyard. We got right down to business discussing the Russian invasion, how to reform the Irish economy, and lab-grown meat. One of them was an humanitarian who’s been collecting donations across the UK to support Ukraine since the war began. He drives a donated truck full of donated equipment like bulletproof vests, night vision goggles and winter clothes from London to Kyiv every few weeks. On this trip he was joined by his buddy who’s one of the main actors from Game of Thrones. I’ll let you guess which character. 😉

Livin’ it up at the Hotel Bursa

I’ve noticed that life during wartime seems to make people far more open and friendly than they may otherwise be. Perhaps when faced with the imminent threat of death from above, it’s natural to dispense with one’s inhibitions and make as many friends as possible. After all, they might be the last folks you ever meet.

Journalists and aid workers comprise a significant portion of the Bursa guest contingent. I’ve spent many nights spontaneously blowing off steam with friends from the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the United Nations. Furthermore, my Bursa ‘family’ have invited me to countless staff birthday, anniversary and seasonal parties which make me feel as if I never left home.

Last week a German TV station broadcasted from the Bursa on the anniversary of the Russian invasion. It was a big production as twenty people took over the rooftop bar & deck to build a set complete with lighting & cameras to beam the nightly news from Kyiv. Once the show was wrapped, I was humbled to be invited to the celebration that stretched into the wee hours of the morning.

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave

Everyone who comes to Kyiv is living geopolitical history in real-time. This war is not only a conflict between Russia and Ukraine, East versus West, Autocracy versus Democracy, it’s essentially a battle between good and evil.

I could easily rent an Airbnb to save a few Hryvnia per month, but I’d really miss my local Bursa family and friends. It may be just a hotel, but it’s the people that make it special and that’s what life is all about. No matter what the future holds for Ukraine, I will always carry a part of Hotel Bursa in my heart. I may check out one day, but I will never truly leave.