Kiev was always considered one of the prettier cities in the Soviet Union, but like many places in former Soviet states, it has struggled against the economic and political tumult following independence in 1991. Fueled by one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, Kiev - with its forested hills, glorious churches and monasteries - has been transformed. The Orange Revolution that followed the disputed presidential election in November could well do more, turning Kiev into the next Prague or Belgrade. For now, Kiev's restaurants, cafes and bars remain inexpensive. And while some hotels have reached European standards - and prices - many more still charge around $100, including the Domus, the Kiev and the Ukraina, which overlooks Independence Square, where hundreds of thousands gathered to protest the November election.
I've got only one comment: I'm not sure Hotel Ukraina is a very good place to stay, especially in cold weather - the view of Maidan is amazing from there, but two journalists I was assisting were overjoyed when they managed to move to another hotel after a couple days - they said they were freezing at Hotel Ukraina and there was no room service there.