We stayed one night at Desitaka, also known as Hotel Chernobyl, the only hotel in the Chernobyl exclusion zone for visitors. Our accommodations there were arranged by Chernobyl Welcome, who we used to book a private two day Chernobyl and power plant tour
Honestly, when I learned that we’d be staying at the only tourist hotel in the exclusion zone, I figured this would make for a rough experience and a great story for later. Shared bathrooms? My time staying in hostel-style housing has passed. I’m happy to report that my pre-assumptions were wrong.
After being picked up and beginning our tour, our guide asked if any of us were vegetarians, so the Desiatka – Chernobyl Hotel must offer meat-free dining on request, though we didn’t take them up on this offer.
Midday, we arrived at the Desiatka for a quick lunch. A quick stop in the
“lobby” bathroom told the pretty much told the whole story of our upcoming lodging experience. This was to be a quirky, but very clean stay.
The hotel has a small dining area and bar. Our guide, Alex, had been in contact with the hotel. A table was reserved for us and was ready with bread, a salad, and fruit drinks. After we sat down, a server quickly brought out a hot soup with sausage (hot dogs) and potatoes. It was actually quite good! The next course was a small pot with potatoes and beef, also very tasty. We finished this hearty meal up with some sweet pastries. After lunch, we were off for the afternoon portion of our Chernobyl tour.
Near the hotel is the only grocery store. In the evening on our way back, we stopped to grab snacks to pack for day two. I wanted to try some local beverage, so I consulted with Alex and he pointed me in the direction of some very vodka-tasting vodka. You are only able to buy alcohol between 6:00 and 8:00 PM, so if you’d like to imbibe in Chernobyl, this is the time to buy.
When we returned to the hotel for dinner, we were again presented with a multi-course meal. It wasn’t fancy, but it was quite tasty. We had more salad and bread, breaded chicken, and unique french fries- all of it was, again, much more appetizing than we had expected. After being out in the cold, the carb-heavy fare was a great way to warm up. The bar was also open from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, so we grabbed some cold beers to toast our day.
We headed to our room after dinner. We checked out the three Ukrainian channels on the television and prepped for a shower. The bathrooms are shared, but completely private and well equipped. In our wing of the hotel there were two rooms with a sink, toilet, bidet, and shower. The hotel provided soap, shampoo, towels, and little slippers for your walk to the bathroom.
The room itself was far nicer and cleaner than we had anticipated. Oddly, our footsteps seemed to shake the door to the room and make a bit of noise, which was strange. However, that was the only inconvenience in our stay, so we can’t complain. The beds were comfy and we slept well until we had to meet in the dining area for breakfast at 8:00 AM.
In the morning we were back in the dining area for breakfast. We had more bread, an egg-only omelet, and ricotta cheese crepes with cream cheese sauce. Every meal so far also came with a watered down cranberry-like juice. I wasn’t into it at first, but by breakfast on the 2nd day I quite liked it.
To summarize our review of the Desiatka – Hotel Chernobyl: our expectations were low, and we were thrilled when those expectations were surpassed. The food was hearty, filling, and plentiful. The staff were extremely attentive and friendly. Their English was great for us Westerners with horrible Ukrainian. It’s not a five star hotel, but for staying inside the exclusion zone as a tourist, you’re literally not going to find anything better.
The Desiatka is clean, the beds were comfy, the food was tasty, and between 6PM and 8PM, the beer was cold. I’d absolutely stay there again. I’ve stayed in FAR worse.