The Impetuous Mother-Son Team

Fairmont Grand HotelPhoto: Courtesy of the vendor
Photo: Courtesy of the travelers

Tim Robinson, 27, senior PR account executive, and Cathy Robinson, 58, director of R&D for a soft-drink company

Budget: Splurge

Duration: One Week

“We’re good travel buddies because of our measured impulsiveness; my father and sister, by contrast, aren’t as fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants. When abroad, we always hit up museums: I like modern art, and my mom is more interested in history and churches. We’ll often have dinner until midnight, then get a late drink.”

Go here: Kiev, Ukraine

Why now: After freeing itself from Russian rule, the capital is more vibrant than ever, having launched its own art biennale (Arsenale 2012) and co-hosted the European Soccer Championship. Even the Vogue-ettes have caught on—Condé Nast is launching its latest edition of the magazine here next year.

What to do: By day, the hilly city is best crossed by exploring the very old—like the St. Sophia Cathedral ($4; 24 Vladimirskaya St.; 380-44-228-2083), built in the eleventh century to rival the Hagia Sophia—along with the very new: At the Pinchuk­ArtCentre (1/3-2, Block A, Velyka Vasylkivska; 380-44-590-0858), “The Future Generation Art Prize,” highlighting the world’s 21 best emerging artists, is on show from November 3 through January 6. After dark, mingle with the cheekbone-blessed fun seekers at Ibiza outpost Privilege (2 Parkova St.; 380-44-451-6790), or, for something more low-key, head to the Vintage Cocktail Bar in the new Fairmont Grand Hotel Kyiv (1 Naberezhno-Khreshchatytska; 380-44-322-8888), where the bartender will school you on horilka pertsivka, Ukrainian vodka infused with hot peppers.

Where to stay: All 289 gilded rooms at the centrally located Art Nouveau Premier Palace (from $284; have been renovated, and the aforementioned Fairmont (from $385) features a stunning ballroom and killer views of the Dnieper River.

What to eat: Posh Tsarske Selo (42/1 Ivan Mazepa St.; 380-44-288-9775) serves palatable takes on peasant classics like chicken Kiev; L’Entrecote (5b Baseynaya St.; 380-44-323-9977) has perfected the steak-and-fries combo; and the 10,000-square-foot Besarabsky Market (2 Besarabska Sq.), where most local chefs source their ingredients, is well worth a walk-through. (It will be all the free boar samples you can stomach.)

Buy this: Though plenty of Soviet matryoshka are sold throughout Kiev, those nesting dolls aren’t uniquely Ukrainian; the matonka is. The folk keepsake (around $20) sticks a knot of thread where a face might be, signifying luck, love, or good fortune. The best place to find them, along with other handmade crafts, is at the Andriyivskyy Descent souvenir stands outside St. Sophia.

Also consider: The Grecian isle of Hydra , where nascent galleries like the Slaughterhouse, Hydra School Projects, and the Hydra Workshop have been attracting art-star scenesters like Chloë Sevigny. Here, the drinking takes place at beach-side tavernas, and the faltering economy makes the hour-long jaunt from Athens surprisingly cheap.

The Impetuous Mother-Son Team