Russia’s ritziest hotels

By Natasha Dragun

Russia’s ritziest hotels

From Moscow to St. Petersburg, Russia’s hotels are among the most extravagant in the world. Russian hotels regularly top “world’s most expensive” lists, so it comes as no surprise that rooms across the country take luxury to new levels. Here, a look at 10 of the most over-the-top experiences that money – lots of it – can buy.

1.    The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow
Forget vodka – at the O2 Lounge crowing the Ritz-Carlton you can order shots of oxygen to go with your sushi, all the while enjoying sweeping views of Red Square and the Kremlin. Inhale deeply, because that’s just the tip of the luxury iceberg. Rooms come with polished cherrywood furniture, Frette linens, feather bedding and heated marble bathroom floors. The Ritz-Carlton Suite takes things up a notch with a grand piano, library and sauna, not to mention drop-dead-gorgeous views of St. Basil’s Cathedral. Gothic iron staircases and black pillars lead down to the Lobby Lounge, where the who’s who of Russian society nibble on caviar: beluga, salmon, golden. Needless to say, Cristal is the beverage of choice here.

2.    Hotel Baltschug Kempinski, Moscow
Few hotels can boast that their rooms are not only fit for royalty but were designed by royalty – the Kempinski does just that with its Design Suites. HRH Princess Michael of Kent and David Linley are the talent behind the Princess and Linley suites, respectively, the former decorated with lace and chintz and the latter a masculine combination of Italian marble and sustainable hardwood furniture. The breakfast spread in Restaurant Baltschug Grill is one of the most lavish in town – scrambled eggs with caviar, anyone? – while the spa offers yoga sessions overlooking the Kremlin, massages incorporating rose quartz and Philippine seashells, plus royal grooming treatments by Truefitt & Hill.

3.    Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow
Book in for a Russian bath at this Moscow stunner and you’ll be presented with a selection of oak, birch and eucalyptus branches for the sauna component of your treatment, followed by a full body peel and organic honey mask and, two hours later, a soap massage. The blissful experiences continue in Café Ararat, the hotel’s Armenian eatery, where delicacies like ryazhenka and Armenian cognacs are served in a palatial dining room designed with marble columns and traditional carvings. The Presidential Suite also features priceless artworks strung across the living/dining areas and bedroom, replete with a four-poster bed, while the Winter Garden suites have glass walls and rooftop terraces commanding views over the city’s Bolshoi Theatre and State Duma.

4.    Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya
It may be located in one of Moscow’s so-called Seven Sisters skyscrapers, built in the 1950s in a Stalinist neoclassical style, but the Leningradskaya is more posh than it is proletariat. The heritage-listed lobby would not be out of place in a palace, its 12-metre-high bronze ceilings draped with enormous chandeliers; bronze statues, marble pillars and gilded cornices complete the dramatic entrance. From here, guest rooms are accessed via a sweeping staircase overhung with another chandelier – this one was, until recently, the longest of its kind in the world. The Gothic-style Janus Restaurant is also a festival of marble and dark oak, creating an ambiance that just begs you to order Russian specialties such as okroshka soup with kefir, sparkling water and vegetables.

5.    Corinthia Hotel St. Petersburg
Formerly the Nevskij Palace Hotel, the Corinthia reopened in 2009 following the extensive restoration of two adjoining 19th-century buildings, now home to suites and executive rooms. The sensitive makeover saw some heritage elements retained, including black marble floors and a lavish staircase in the glass-encased lobby. Guest rooms and suites, however, were given a contemporary retouch and now come with polished blonde-wood floors, colorful throws and artwork spotlighting St. Petersburg; some suites also come with private balconies and round-the-clock butler service. In a nod to the building’s history, the hotel is also home to a small museum paying homage to the Samoilov family of actors who lived here in the 1800s.

6.    Barvikha Hotel & Spa
Coffee, chocolate, cream… the color scheme at this edgy resort on the outskirts of Moscow is a tasty entrée for the dramatic design flourishes of Italian Antonio Citterio, also behind the Bulgari hotels in Milan and Bali. Come-hither rooms feature private terraces with heated stone floors – perfect for alfresco lounging during bone-chilling Russian winters – and custom-made furniture by Citterio and B&B Italia. Amenities are Henri Chenot, and guests are given a choice of pillows and bed linen. Four fireplaces throughout include one in the Fire Place Suite, which also comes with a steam cabin and massage table. Still, it’s hard to beat the hydro- and fangotherapy
cabins in the spa itself, where you can also book in for weeklong packages incorporating calorie-reduced cuisine.

7.    Hotel Astoria St. Petersburg
Celebrating 100 years in 2012, the Hotel Astoria is as elegant as ever. Over the last century illustrious guests including Prince Charles and Pavarotti have checked in here, no doubt sipping cocktails in the Kandinsky Bar, replete with a genuine Kandinsky painting, or indulging in red and black caviar at Davidov Restaurant, where live piano music entertains diners three nights a week. The suites, named after Russian composers, come with perks including a packing/unpacking service and views over St. Isaac’s Cathedral; the Royal Suite is also decorated with antique artworks and chandeliers from the Astoria’s original collection.

8.    Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg
Opened in 2013, the Four Seasons occupies a 19th-century palace, just around the corner from the Hermitage and the Mariinsky Theatre in Russia’s capital of culture. Once home to home to Princess Lobanova-Rostovskaya, the lemon-yellow 1820 building has been given an artful overhaul, its dramatic double marble staircase and ornate stucco ceilings set aglow with gold and bronze accents and elaborate gilded candelabras. The fifth-floor rooms are the pick of the bunch, with private rooftop terraces overlooking St. Isaac’s Cathedral. But even if you’re not checked in here you can enjoy light and warmth in the glass-enclosed spa, spanning four levels and home to a vitality pool and Russian-style sauna.

9.    Grand Hotel Europe, St. Petersburg
This handsome hotel was the perfect choice to feature in the James Bond movie GoldenEye – it’s at once glamorous and luxurious and has a fabled history of hosting the likes of Strauss and Tchaikovsky. Dostoyevsky also checked in, and there’s a Historic Suite named after him overlooking Arts Square. Built in 1875, the art nouveau property is a collage of marble, exotic woods, floral wallpaper and sweeping staircases. L’Europe restaurant also features a jaw-dropping stained-glass ceiling, under which guests dine on a dozen varieties of oscietra and beluga caviar accompanied by “little water” poured by a dedicated vodka sommelier. Reserve a table here on a Friday evening to enjoy live ballet.

10.    W St. Petersburg
Most W Hotels, that edgy brand from the Starwood group, don’t shy away from drama in design. And the outpost in St. Petersburg is no exception. Milan-based Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel Partners were called upon to deck the place out and took their inspiration from the city’s architectural past as well as the Fabergé egg. The result is a patchwork of bespoke artwork, jewel tones – lipstick pink, purple, fire-engine red – and designer lighting, including disco ball-shaped, 24-carat-gold plated Orten’zia Very Very Gold lamps. The E-WOW Suite is, as you’d expect, rather special, with heated limestone floors in the bathroom, a Jacuzzi, fireplace and every mod-con imaginable. The drama continues outside – gaze out your window and you’ll glimpse the golden dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral.



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