Where to stay in Ukraine
Not long ago, most hotels in Ukraine were former Soviet institutions where little had changed for decades. These days, many of the older establishments have been either closed or refurbished to a decent standard offering a range of rooms of varying quality and price. In larger towns and cities, especially in Kiev, Odessa, Lviv and Yalta, there is also a new generation of hotels offering the same high standards found elsewhere in Europe.
Campsites are sometimes available on the outskirts of cities but the sites tend to be rather institutional affairs. In the Carpathian Mountains, and occasionally elsewhere, campsites often have wooden chalet-like huts available for rent. A few of the better-equipped camping and caravaning sites have swimming pools, but most are quite basic. Wild camping is possible in mountainous rural areas, although some areas are restricted. Some adventure travel agencies are able to rent out camping gear to visitors.
Backpacker hostels: These are on the increase in Ukraine, especially in Kiev, Lviv, Odessa, Crimea and the west of the country, where many have appeared in recent years. Most of these are cheap and cheerful converted city apartments that offer centrally located dormitory accommodation, kitchen and shared facilities for a low price.
Rural farmstay accommodation: This is an evolving sector in some parts of the country, especially in the Carpathian Mountains of the west and in Crimea. They offer bed and breakfast accommodation in rural areas at low prices and are ideal for those interested in hiking or in observing traditional rural life. English is rarely spoken and so communications with host families may not always be straightforward. Nevertheless, they do offer a unique experience and the opportunity to observe traditional rural life at close quarters.
Self catering: A good way to save money on a long city stay, renting an apartment usually offers much better value for money than an extended budget hotel stay. Private companies advertise short-term apartment stays and at railway stations there are often women offering an apartment (kvartira) or room (komnata) to rent. Always insist on inspecting the property first before handing over money.
Youth hostels: There are a growing number of youth hostels in Kiev, Lviv, Odessa, Chernivitsi, Uzhgorod, and Balaclava (Sevastopol). They are all run by the Youth Hostel Association of Ukraine, and while not all are of Western standard for hostels, they offer excellent value. These can be pre-booked online at the Hostelling International website (www.hihostels.com.ua). Breakfast is usually available and all have self-catering facilities.
Homestay: A room in a private home is an excellent accommodation option in Ukraine as the people are friendly and hospitable, and prices tend to be far more reasonable. However, there is no organisation as such that arranges rooms in private homes. Instead, visitors can ask around, as the savings and greater comfort may be well worth the effort (as long as due caution is observed). Bus and train stations are usually the best places to find people advertising 'kvartiry' (flats) or 'komnati '(rooms).