Starry nights

[b]Next year, Vitebsk is to host the Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk International Festival of Arts for the 20th time, so it’s high time we begin preparations. Guests can already book their hotel, with a wide variety to choose from in the city[/b]Next year, Vitebsk is to host the Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk International Festival of Arts for the 20th time, so it’s high time we begin preparations. Guests can already book their hotel, with a wide variety to choose from in the city. The Vetraz Hotel – subordinate to the Federation of Trade Unions – aims to be a ‘boutique-hotel’. Each of its rooms has its own name: ‘Peach Paradise’, ‘Blue-Eyed Belarus’, ‘Lyavonikha’, and ‘Safari’. Guests can relax in the colourful rooms (no grey here). A ‘Marc’ room – honouring Marc Chagall – is soon to open to the public while a ‘Bella’ deluxe apartment (dedicated to the Vitebsk artist’s lover) is already accepting bookings. Of course, Vitebsk lacks an extensive hotel base (able to accommodate around 1,000) but there is something for everyone, with many styles and prices.
Next year, Vitebsk is to host the Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk International Festival of Arts for the 20th time, so it’s high time we begin preparations. Guests can already book their hotel, with a wide variety to choose from in the city

Next year, Vitebsk is to host the Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk International Festival of Arts for the 20th time, so it’s high time we begin preparations. Guests can already book their hotel, with a wide variety to choose from in the city.
The Vetraz Hotel – subordinate to the Federation of Trade Unions – aims to be a ‘boutique-hotel’. Each of its rooms has its own name: ‘Peach Paradise’, ‘Blue-Eyed Belarus’, ‘Lyavonikha’, and ‘Safari’. Guests can relax in the colourful rooms (no grey here). A ‘Marc’ room – honouring Marc Chagall – is soon to open to the public while a ‘Bella’ deluxe apartment (dedicated to the Vitebsk artist’s lover) is already accepting bookings. Of course, Vitebsk lacks an extensive hotel base (able to accommodate around 1,000) but there is something for everyone, with many styles and prices.

Telephones for the bathroom
Ukrainian prima Taisia Povaliy thought she’d have to stay in a hostel this year. In 1993, she first attended the festival and slept at the Dvina – where medical students often live. “It was great luck,” she recollects. “This time, I was pleasantly surprised to be given a luxurious room with an air conditioner, at the new four-star Luchesa Hotel. The level of Vitebsk’s hotels has pleasantly surprised me,” she adds.
Dutch singer Thomas N’evergreen has travelled worldwide and asserts that Luchesa’s rooms are good. Of course, he’s an expert in the field. The hotel, situated just outside the centre, has accommodated VIPs since the 13th Slavonic Bazaar, when it welcomed its first guests.
Yelena Sych supervises the reception area and guest accommodation. She takes me on a tour of the hotel saying, “Our rooms are decorated in different colours – beige, blue and green. Which do you like best?”
I ask to be shown where the stars have stayed and she takes me to room 702; it has a sitting area, bedroom, office and kitchen.
The kitchen is equipped with a refri-gerator and a microwave oven and there are two WCs – one for guests. The bathroom even has a phone and there are several huge mirrors – perfect for applying make up or shaving.
The Luchesa has 27 such apartments (differing in size of sitting room only). They’re actually small flats, costing over $150 a night.
The hotel has a total of 153 rooms (sleeping 200 guests), including 87 single rooms. There are no grounds for complaint.

Retro-style
The Vitebsk Hotel’s rooms have a wonderful view over the Dvina River, the 12th century Annunciation Church, the Vitba River and the 18th century Dormitory Church. Not far away are the railway station, the Summer Amphitheatre and large stores. Its European-style lobby and fresh restaurant with picturesque terrace create a pleasant atmosphere. However, the sky is the limit, with modernisation continuing.
The sixth storey features the most comfortable rooms – semiluxes equipped with air conditioners, Philips TV sets, double beds and spacious balconies. “Our guests are always delighted,” smiles Lyudmila Yakimovich, who heads the reception service at the hotel. I certainly believe her, as all the rooms are impressive.
Deluxe room number 722 hosted the Belarusian President in 1996. The three-room apartment still preserves its style of Soviet luxury, with 1970s furniture and carpets made from wool. Its crystal door handle was installed in 1973 but the Italian bathroom was installed just a decade ago. The room has two doors, with one designed for staff to bring in food discretely – i.e. during a meeting. According to Ms. Yakimovich, the room is especially popular with businessmen, who feel comfortable negotiating here. This retro luxury costs just over $100 a night, while the modernised semilux room is $20 cheaper.

Wi-Fi by the dresser
Historians say that the northern river of Eridan – known since antiquity – is the Belarusian Dvina. Moreover, the sixth largest constellation bears the same name. For artists, the Eridan Hotel has long been a magnet, heartily welcoming guests eager to return to Vitebsk.
This boutique-hotel occupies a 19th-20th century building, boasting minimalistic interiors. Much wood is used inside, giving the impression of a resort. Guests can visit the comfortable bar and restaurant, decorated with pictures, linen crafts and an old piano. Dressers, bookcases and tables bear records from the 1980s, while Chagall’s pictures and reproductions of postcards depicting Vitebsk from pre-revolutionary times adorn the corridors.
The hotel is situated in a wonderful location – in the historical centre of Vitebsk, far from noisy avenues and squares. Artists who avoid publicity usually prefer the Eridan, whose rooms are moderately priced – at about $100 for a deluxe. Latvian composer Raimond Pauls once stayed here. A single costs $50 while a double or twin is $75.
The hotel is three-star, meeting European levels of service while offering 25 rooms (sleeping 39 guests). No doubt, the advertising on the hotel’s official site does not lie.

By Viktar Korbut
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