From LAX, KLM, Air France, Lufthansa and Aeroflot offer connecting service (change of plane) to Kiev. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $634, not including taxes and fees.
To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 380 (country code for Ukraine) and the local number.
WHERE TO STAY
Premier Palace Hotel, 5-7/29 T. Shevchenka Blvd. at Pushkinska Street; 44-244-12-01, http://www.premier-palace.com. This is the see-and-be-seen spot for Kiev's nouveau riche oligarchs and foreign dignitaries. Beautifully renovated and expanded, the five-star downtown hotel now offers 289 deluxe rooms with marble bathrooms and flat-screen TVs. Doubles with breakfast from $345.
Hotel Kozatskiy, 1-3 Mykhailivska St.; 44-279-03-41, http://www.kozatskiy.kiev.ua. The Kozatskiy's big advantages are its bargain rates, clean, modest rooms, and primo location — a short walk takes you to Independence Square, the opera house and the golden domed St. Sophia and St. Michael's cathedrals. Doubles with breakfast and private bath from $123.
Hotel Express, 38-40 Shevchenko Ave.; 44-234-21-13, http://www.expresskiev.com. This three-star hotel boasts lovely views of St. Vladimir's Cathedral and Kiev's botanical gardens. Rooms are simple but modern and clean. Doubles with breakfast and private bath from $99.
WHERE TO EAT
Puzata Hata, multiple locations around Kiev; 44-391-46-99, http://www.puzatahata.kiev.ua/eng/about. Puzata Hata claims to be the city's largest chain of Ukrainian cuisine restaurants. We liked this bustling cafeteria so much we returned a second time. Potato dumplings, borscht, stuffed cabbage — it's all here. Lunch from $5.
Pizza Express, 1 Fizkultury St.; 44-287-55-50 The name notwithstanding, Pizza Express is a halal restaurant and bakery serving schwarma, falafel and Middle Eastern pastries — besides pizza. Dinner from $15.
Coffee houses: Kiev has its thriving coffee culture with several upscale chains, many with pleasant outdoor cafes. Caffeine addicts can find a list of chains, their locations and subway directions at http://www.gokiev.info/coffee.php.
TO LEARN MORE
Ukraine Travel and Tourism: http://www.traveltoukraine.org