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History and Mystery: Bristol Hotel


Natalya Stadnikova columnist of The Odessa Journal reveals the secrets of Odessa hotels. She talks about the magnificent years of Odessa in the 19th century which turned into the modern gilded age.

She is ready to share her knowledge and love for Odessa with Odessa citizens and guests of the city.


The history of each hotel is always a mystery, proud and treasure. Taking into consideration the history of Bristol Hotel we would like to invite you to the most mysterious and absorbing adventures full of wealth and treasures.

The unique location of Bristol Hotel is the focal point of Odessa entire history, beginning with the moment of Odessa city foundation until today.

Bristol Hotel was built between 1889 and 1899, replacing the boarding house with three baker shops that belonged to merchant Naum Yurovsky.  Next door was a house where famous Russian literary figure A.S. Pushkin stayed in the 1820s. The finely detailed five-story Bristol Hotel was designed by famous Odessa architect Alexander Bernardazzi.

Bristol Hotel (…-1917)

The hotel architecture was recognised as one of the finest in Russia. It provided unique amenities: electric lights, an elevator, telephones, a bathroom on each floor, central heating and a well-trained staff; all at the guests’ disposal.

The name was borrowed from the hotel of the same name in Austria. Vienna “Bristol” at that time was a favourite resting place of the Odessa nobility, headed by the mayor, Count P.P. Shuvalov and his wife.

Bristol Hotel Advertisement

From the very first days of its opening the hotel was a success among visiting guests: to trade, to complete a deal, and to relax , and visit the port with the incoming goods; everything was close by. Advertising campaigns were carried out regularly and after the opening of the hotel, in addition, Bristol immediately issued a special promotional postcard.

The hotel’s servants recruited experienced, well-trained people who spoke fluently French, German, Italian, Yiddish and Polish, and the head waiter, chef, waiters, as a rule, also knew a little English. In “Bristol” for the first time in the hotel practice of Odessa they bought a car and hired drivers to serve the guests.

A 1909 guide to Odessa (by Moskvich) noted that this is one of the best hotels in the city with a restaurant that has a good reputation. Five-course dinners cost 1 rub. 25 kopeecks and were served from 1 pm to 7 pm.

Having launched and promoted a magnificent hotel, Yurovsky sold it profitably to his business partner, Odessa merchant Mikhail Ivanovich Sinitsyn.

Bristol Hotel housed a number of famous travellers, ranging from the rich and powerful to the artistic and intellectual leaders of the day. Among them were renowned Russian writer and Nobel Prize Laureate Ivan Bunin, the silent cinema star Vera Holodnaya, and writers Henri Barbusse, Theodore Dreiser, Willy Bredel and James Aldridge.

When the Russian Revolution broke out in 1917, the Hotel was closed. As the war progressed from 1920-1921, the building fell into disrepair and from 1922-1925 the former luxury rooms of the magnificent Bristol Hotel were converted into offices for railway station administration.

After the revolution, in 1928, Bristol Hotel was restored and renamed as Krasnaya (Red) Hotel in honour of the Red Army, the Red Banner as the symbol of revolution, and the Red Square in Moscow.

The hotel restaurant and bar became incredibly popular spots in Odessa, and have been frequently visited by the crème de la crème of the Soviet cinema and music, renowned captains, journalists, writers, musicians and artists.

Odessa literary local historian Rostislav Aleksandrov told a documented story about Isaac Babel’s repeated visits to the restaurant “Krasnaya”. The bottom line is that an exquisite ladies’ drink called “Grenadine” was served here. What kind of drink it was, what its recipe was, is unknown today. In any case, Babel said the following: “If a lady acquaintance happened to you in Odessa, you must treat her with grenadine.”

Bristol Hotel (formerly Krasnaya Hotel) has found a permanent place in the history of cinema, having served as the location for many of the films that were produced in Odessa.

In 2002 – 2010, a full-scale reconstruction took place, which allowed the facade to return to its original beauty, and the hotel itself was renamed “Bristol”.

Reconstruction

Today, Bristol Hotel is ready to welcome its honourable guests keeping the spirit and new history.

Legendary Italian star Claudia Cardinale, British filmmaker Peter Greenaway, Charlie Chaplin’s daughter Geraldine, Hollywood stars John Malkovich, Darryl Hannah and Michael Madsen expressed their warm gratitude for the Bristol Hotel’s hospitality, dignity, luxury, and beauty.