Euro crisis: Hotels hike prices as England fans head to town

A whopping £900 per night for a room as hosts look to cash in on finals

Click to follow

The Hotel St Petersburg in Kiev has a central location, two stars, elegant, if dated décor, and in many cases shared facilities. Rooms can be booked for a reasonable £45-81.

Unless you want to stay during the European Championships. The night England play Sweden, one Independent reader was offered a room here via an agency for £819-921 per night (minimum stay: three nights).

It is the usual story, and no doubt there will be tales of London hotels ramping up prices during the Olympics, but it appears there are hoteliers and travel agencies who regard Uefa's decision to stage their biggest tournament in Poland and Ukraine as a lottery win.

Steven Penney, of ASLA Travel Group, which has been operating in the country for two decades, said: "They have not experienced anything like this before and some people in Kiev and Donetsk expect it to be a bonanza for 20 days. When the draw was made everyone went crazy, expecting people to pay huge prices. We had one hotel offering 150 rooms for 20 nights, for €1m (£855,000). They wanted €250,000 up front and the rest in a month. They are going to come unstuck as no-one will pay that."

Taking the competition to Ukraine and Poland, which was to an extent political payback for eastern Europe's backing of Michel Platini's Uefa presidency, was a huge leap of faith. Both countries have had to be prodded and dragged into updating infrastucture but it looked as if Uefa would get away with it. Then came last Friday's draw.

Logistically it could not have been worse. Of the five qualifiers bordering a host, by land or ferry, only the Czechs, who play in Poland, will be popping next door. Germany, Denmark and Sweden will all have to cross Poland to get to Ukraine while Russia, which borders Ukraine, are playing their group games in Poland.

"It will be a hell of a job to do," admitted Euro 2012 operations director Martin Kallen. He added: "We're working at full speed with all the host cities. It's a nice challenge for them."

It certainly will be. Unfortunately the draw put some of the biggest fixtures in the least suitable venues. Donetsk and Kharkiv are industrial cities with no tourist infrastucture whose inclusion in the tournament owes everything to the investment in the local football clubs by members of the new business elite, who also carry political influence.

Donetsk will stage three matches between England, France and Ukraine while Kharkiv will host Netherlands v Germany, both of whose fans usually travel in large numbers. "There simply are not enough four- and five-star hotels in these cities," said Penney. "Those that do exist have been booked by the 'Uefa family', that's sponsors, the teams, officials. We have lots of places at hostels, university accommodation and hotels out of town, which are being booked very fast, but there's very little accommodation above three-stars."

Campsites are one solution, but anyone looking for a bit more comfort will have to pay for it. Tui have the Uefa contract and their British arm, Thomson Sport, will release packages next week. No price estimates were available but as a guideline Thomas Cook are offering day-trips (no ticket) for £499 in and out of Donetsk for the England-France game, £485 (no ticket) to Kiev for England v Sweden.

In theory life should be simpler for Irish fans, not least as they are based in Poland which has better air links with the west and is more accustomed to tourism. The Irish will travel in numbers but already prices are rising with a three-star hotel in Poznan asking £919 for the standard minimum three-night stay. A day-trip to watch Ireland play Spain in Gdansk with the FAI's official agents is €559 (£478), plus ticket.

Anyone with schoolchildren, or planning to fly this Christmas, will know that the law of supply-and-demand has a punitive effect on air travel and this summer will be no different (see panel). At present the mark-up to fly to Poland and Ukraine is not excessive in most cases, but routing is getting complicated. The best flight back for an Irish fan travelling independently from the Spain match needs an overnight stay in Glasgow.

Once there England fans will be hoping the planned introduction of a six-hour high-speed train service from Kiev to Donetsk takes place. The fastest train at present takes 11 hours and anyone on it should not expect Orient Express levels of comfort. Driving, meanwhile, is described by one veteran as varying from "interesting to challenging", due to road conditions, the lack of maps in the western alphabet (as against Cyrillic) and other road users.

If the past is any guide none of this will deter thousands of England fans. The aforementioned reader, Mark Robertson, said he is hunting cheaper accommodation and added: "I have managed to book a car for the week at £30 per day, so we will probably set off on a road trip through deepest Ukraine. It promises to be quite an adventure!"

Flight Hike: How prices change for Euro 2012

Match / Flight / Airline / May / June

Eng v France / London-Donetsk via Kiev / UIA / £271 / £481

Eng v Sweden / London-Kiev / bmi / £215 / £316

Ire v Croatia / / Dublin-Poznan / / Ryanair / £128 / £249*

Ire v Spain / Dublin-Gdansk (indirect) / Ryanair/Wizz / £155 / 220**

Prices taken from Skyscanner.net, May dates a month prior to June matchdates.

*Via Paris

**Return has overnight at Prestwick

Comments