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Kiev, or Kyiv, as the Ukrainians would prefer we spelled it now, is one of Europe’s oldest cities. Some of Kyiv’s buildings date back to the 5th century, though there were people living on this spot on the banks of the Dnipro River even earlier. And between the 10th and 13th centuries Kyiv was the capital of the state which would go on to become Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. As you would expect with such an historically significant location, Kyiv is awash with grand an beautiful architecture, but it’s also a surprisingly eclectic place. The best places to stay in Kiev are probably those in the heart of the action, around the river and Kreshchatyk, the main avenue, but our Guru’s recommendations for the best places to stay in Kiev also include some more modern offerings.
Modern Kyiv has been though two revolutions in the past couple of decades, so despite its age it still feels fresh and even a bit rebellious. There’s a delicate balance here between the city's historic ties to Russia, seen in the architecture of many of the main sights, and the nationalist movement which has been bubbling to the surface.
Kreshchatyk is a good place to start your explorations of the city, it’s a great place to people watch and get an idea of the city’s layout. You might then want to visit the National Museum of Ukrainian History to get up to speed. After that it might be time to start seeing the churches... Green, white and gold St. Sophia’s Cathedral is the city’s oldest church, it’s adjacent to the Royal Palace. Then there’s St. Michael’s Monastery, which has more wonderful golden domes and is at the other end of Proyizd Volodymyrsky. And the monastery of Kyeno-Percherska Lavra, which is on the hill and has more wonderful golden domes.
The Museum of Folk Architecture is another interesting heritage museum. It's an open air museum with six carefully restored Ukrainian villages collected from all over the country.
The military and war museums and the Motherland Statue and war memorials offer a fascinating insight into that page of Kyiv’s history.
Don’t just see Kyiv’s old sights, Maidan Nezalezhnosti might be recognisable to you from recent news reports when it was transformed into a guerrilla camp besieged by government forces. It also played a key role in the Orange Revolution in 2004. On a normal day it’s a lively place where you can expect to hear music and buy souvenirs. The Chornobyl Museum is another monument to recent history which it would be a shame to miss.
It might seem like our recommendations are focussed on understanding Kyiv’s past, but it’s also a lively, forward-looking city, so you could also totally ignore anything but the present and enjoy your time strolling around the Podil and the Hidropark and hanging out at the beach and in cafes and restaurants.
Our pick of the best places to stay in Kiev offers stylish modern accommodation in the heart of this fascinating city.
- The 11 Mirrors Hotel is fashionable and centrally located with 47 rooms and great concierge service. There’s also an excellent bar, lounge and restaurant.
Best Hotels in Kiev
11 Mirrors Hotel 47 rooms from $242Kiev
Style, comfort and guest satisfaction are key in this fashionable, centrally-located design hotel. 11 Mirrors prides itself on services from booking tickets to sold-out concerts, to securing reservations in exclusive restaurants. This is well complimented by an excellent restaurant, bar and lounge.Concierge - Notable concierge - go out of their way to organise events and days for guestsElegantSwimming Pool - Swimming pool off-siteSpa - Spa off-site