Shoved a spanky Samsung SSD into my MBP using a Data Doubler from OWC - easy to confuse with the DiskDoubler of yore, by the way.
So, pried open the laptop, put in the SSD into the doubler plate, screwed everything back in. Turns out due to somewhat inferior SATA port on my particular MacBook Pro model the disk would never work properly in the first place. The Mavericks installer just stopped with the “Installation failed” message, leaving the partition for DiskUtility to repair.
The fix is surprisingly head-on. Apparently the SATA port used by the optical drive is not so good after all, you got to have your 6G SSD on your primary SATA, where the old hard drive is. Just swap the old HD with the new SSD, so that you have a SATA 3G device in your doubler plate, on the not-so-good SATA port destined for the optical drive.
So off goes the lid again, the SSD and the old hard drive swap places and the Mavericks install then proceeded as it should, rewarding me with a pristine desktop.