Kiev, Ukraine

Photo: michaelaw via stock.xchng
Photo: michaelaw via stock.xchng

So the Baltic states are booming. But what about the rest of the Newly Independent States that emerged from the Former Soviet Union? Tourists haven’t rushed into Belarus, Georgia, or Kazakhstan the way they have Estonia and Lithuania. After years of repression, hospitality wasn’t the first focus. That’s slowly starting to change in Ukraine, though.

Ukraine is a “land on the edge,” located between the Black Sea and Russia. It’s capital, Kiev, is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe. Kiev’s skyline is dotted with golden domed churches. Holy Sophia Cathedral was long known as the city’s social and political hub. St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral is filled with mosaics and frescoes. St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Cathedral hosts organ music concerts. And Kiev Pechersk Lavra, a monastery that was founded by monks in the 8th century, has ancient engravings in the Dnieper Hills. If these churches were in Western Europe, they’d be mobbed with tourists.

In a few more years, they might be. The art scene and the nightlife are thriving. Major European sports events are being held here. Fashion designers are opening high-end shops along Passage. And a design hotel was finally built.

Photo: Eleven Mirrors Design Hotel
Photo: Eleven Mirrors Design Hotel

Eleven Mirrors Design Hotel was Kiev’s first and–so far–only boutique hotel. It’s near the National Opera House, in the heart of the old city. It’s gray exterior blends in with its surroundings, but you’ll feel right at home when you enter the contemporary lobby. With stone walls, a fireplace, and glass everywhere, this is not a utilitarian hotel. You’ll be welcomed with a drink and an explanation of your room’s modern technology. Dark wood rooms are minimal with an open bar and a walk-in rain shower. Touches of purple break up the neutral palette. Higher floor windows have views of the churches. Nothing has been overlooked.

A quick stop for an espresso in the lounge turns into an extensive lunch of ham hock terrine with pickled vegetables, borscht consommé, and quail rissole at the restaurant. Then you’re off to see the Golden Gates, the Fomin Botanical Garden, and Mariinsky park before spending the evening watching the ballet or sipping cocktails at SkyBar. You move quickly from place to place and make reservations or buy tickets at the last minute. Enjoy it while you can. Ukraine is about to change.

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