Russian Federation Travel Guide
We’ve been so obsessed with the weird shower curtain headboards and the did-they-didn’t-they celeb hookup of W London that our attention has wandered from the The W St. Petersburg recently, but with the Russki hotel nearing completion, we’re swiveling our heads back eastwards.
Last time we checked, the hotel was claiming an opening date of March 1, although it wouldn’t let you stay until April 1. And now, they’ve pushed it back further still: the website is now broadcasting an opening date of April 20.
We've been spending too much time worrying about the opening of W London we nearly forgot about The W St. Petersburg. But thanks to our handy Master List of Worldwide Openings for 2011, we were reminded to see how this property was doing.
The good news? The opening date is still set for March 1. And you can even make reservations. The bad news is rooms don't really open until April 1.
We found rooms from April 1-3 for 8100 Rubles a night which is about $268. Not bad! Sadly, internet is still 750 rubles for 24 hours which works out to be $25 a day.
Moscow in December wouldn't exactly be our first choice for a giant fashion party celebrating photographs of nude models, but then we aren't Karl Lagerfeld. The stiff-collared fashion designer held court at the Ritz-Carlton Moscow earlier this week while promoting one of his other talents: photography. Lagerfeld again shot the Pirelli Calendar, his 2011 edition of which features more nudes than ever, including actress Julianne Moore.
So why Moscow? Pirelli is an Italian tire company, the calendar's theme is Greek Mythology, and the stars of the photographs are of an international assortment. Hmm...perhaps it was all just a great excuse to wear the giant Yeti-like fur coats that Lagerfeld designed for Chanel's Fall/Winter 2010 collection? The temperature outside did hover slightly above 0 degrees Fahrenheit, after all.
Nevertheless, when the hotel opens in March it promises "spectacular views of St. Issac’s Cathedral" and a happening bar scene where "mingling and cocktails are the new social glasnost." (Note: fortunately the phrase "communist cool" is not found anywhere on the site.) You can also expect a terrace bar, a spa and a WET pool on-site.
After posing for some media photo opps on the rooftop of the luxury hotel--which is actually where the hotel's sushi restaurant and spa are located--Jolie headed to Moscow's Oktyabr cinema for the official movie premiere. (BTW, have you seen the (appropriately) red Versace dress she wore? Stunning.)
Now we're not 100 percent certain, but we think Jolie spent the night at the Ritz as well. And if she did, then we're certain they put her up in the Ritz-Carlton Suite
Talk about mixing cultures. The Shangri-La Hotels group has just signed a deal to create its first-ever Russian property, a 400-room hotel in Moscow. And with the deal involving an agreement with the China Huaming International Investment Corporation, there's a real Chinese theme going on with it.
The hotel whose official name seems to have not been released yet will be on the top floors of the Park Huaming Business Centre in the north-east corner of Moscow, about six miles from central Red Square (shown). Many of the rooms will have views over the Chinese-landscaped gardens in the complex; and as for dining, guests will be able to choose between a Russian and a Chinese restaurant (We're thinking Chinese for the food and Russian for the drinks?)
Expected opening date is not until 2012 so we'll get some more details before then, but we imagine that even keeping it out of the super-expensive central area of Moscow won't make it any cheaper. Fancy hotels in Moscow are simply expensive, no matter what and this one surely won't be any different. But at least it will have free WiFi.
[Photo of Red Square: gmetrail]
Hot on the heels of Hilton announcing the launch of its new luxury lifestyle brand at a rather unfortunate time for luxury hotels, incidentally Intercontinental Hotels Group has announced plans to build the world's largest Holiday Inn in Russia.
IHG inked a deal with Crocus Group to develop the massive Holiday Inn with 1K rooms in Moscow, which comes as welcome news at a time where many folks feel that what the world really needs now are budget hotels (sweet budget hotels) and not so many luxury properties.
According to the press release:
Under the historic 20 year management contract, construction is scheduled to start on the 1,000 bedroom hotel in 2011 with the hotel set to open in 2014. It will be located in Crocus City in the rapidly developing Krasnogorsk area of Moscow.
It's difficult to believe anyone has their sights set on opening up a hotel with such a staggering volume of rooms in this economic climate, but we're hoping things will be better by 2014 and we're thinkin' budget hotels have a much better shot than luxury ones.
Hilton's first Russian hotel opened in mid-2008 after they refurbished the Hotel Leningradskaya; more grandly, the PR describes the building as "one of the historic Seven Sisters skyscrapers." And it's true that the exterior of this place looks kind of palatial.
Inside, according to the NYT, it's not exactly fitted out for royalty but it's satisfyingly good with lots of "soothing wood" in the décor. The service was a bit varied and the reviewer was especially unhappy with the omelets he ordered for a room service breakfast, but we figure if an oddly-made omelet features as one of his biggest complaints, the whole experience can't have been too bad.
One of the reasons the Moscow Hilton isn't as exorbitantly priced as some of the city's other haunts is probably its distance from the city, so don't expect to be reaching the Kremlin on foot from here. Nearby: A "rough" crowd and three train stations. Negotiate these at your peril.
[Photo: NY Times]
Big news from Starwood today: a new Sheraton hotel is on its way in the Russian Federation. Sochi, a Russian vacation spot along the Black Sea coast that was recently selected to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, will be the home of a brand new Sheraton slated to open in 2011.
The Sheraton Sochi will be the brand's second property in the Russian Federation (there's one in Moscow already), and the hotel will be located at the center of the city with 188 guest rooms, 24 suites, five restaurants and four bars, including a rooftop bar overlooking the Black Sea. Sexy. We hope they're putting in heat lamps up there.
The lobby will, like most new Sheratons, feature the Link@Sheraton hi-tech lounge, plus 5,000 square feet of meeting space, an indoor swimming pool, gym, tennis court, and a spa with eight treatment rooms.
Hopefully the 2011 opening date will give the hotel a little bit of flexibility and wiggle room as far as making sure it's all open and ready to go for the Olympics (hey, three years is a lot of flexibility -- but when it comes to hotel delays, we know things can sometimes move at a glacial pace).
Russia's sixth biggest city, Perm, may not be too famous yet, but it is at least notable for being the first Russian city to get a Hilton Garden Inn. Perm is 700 miles east of Moscow and is an important city industrially with lots of rail and shipping links; it's also on the famous Trans-Siberian railway route.
Incredibly, they say that the city of Perm and its one million people have been served by only 500 hotel rooms in the whole city until the Hilton Garden Inn Perm opened, so it certainly sounds like it was needed. The Hilton brand--not just their Garden Inns, but standard Hilton and Doubletree hotels too--is focusing on Russia as a growth region and we reckon they're pretty on target with that.
Perm's Hilton Garden Inn has 102 rooms and all the Hilton Garden Inn stuff we like, and it's got free WiFi too in guest rooms and other areas. Room rates begin at RUB 2900 (US$115) a night. Doesn't sound like much but it's probably a fair bit pricier than the other 500 rooms in Perm.
[Photo of Perm Station: musatych]
We've grown accustomed to the Ritz-Carlton Moscow having extraordinarily expensive rooms, food, drinks, and basically everything. But they seem to have a knack for finding even more pricey stuff to make us feel jealous of.
This time it's one of the most exclusive champagnes you'll ever find. Two hundred bottles of 1907 champagne was recovered from a 1916 shipwreck and these bottles are now on the wine list at Moscow's Ritz-Carlton.
Naturally the price reflects their rarity ... you'll find 700,000 rubles (just over US$27,000) added to your bill if you drink this stuff. We're wondering if it even tastes any good after being buried at sea for most of a century.
The luxe hotel scene of Moscow just got luxier. The Mandarin Oriental Hotels group have announced their Moscow property, set for Tverskaya Street which is close to the Red Square. From the official press release:
The hotel will be housed in the redevelopment of a historic building that was originally constructed in the early 19th Century as a private manor house.
Over the course of the century, the original building was extended to house additional apartments and galleries, and in 1911 it was converted to a luxury hotel.
During the intervening period, the premises has lost much of its decorative beauty and the restoration of the period architecture will be an integral part of the building's transformation into a hotel featuring Mandarin Oriental's "21st century luxury with oriental charm".
The hotel promises 237 guest rooms and 66 suites, which will be some of the largest hotel rooms in the city. A spa, indoor swimming pool, several restaurants and bars, along with two ballrooms will round out the hotel services.
And of course, you know how Russians love their luxury retail. The Mandarin Orienal Moscow will have 6,000-sq-ft of retail space inside as well. The opening is set for 2011. Hopefully, we'll have earned enough money by then to afford one night there.