Russian Federation Travel Guide
It's almost like Christmas came very early for us at HotelChatter because a very generous tipster sent us these sneak peeks of the InterContinental Moscow which will officially open on December 5, although it has been accepting guests for the past month.
Our tipster did let us know he was "invited" to spend some nights in the hotel but we think his "review" is still pretty objective. He writes:
Hotel has very central location (main shopping street, 10 min from Red Square). Design is very modern with classic Russian elements. Standard rooms are not very spacious but comfortable with fantastic bed and mirror TV in bathroom. Restaurant food are quality prepared but not outstanding (may be they will improve it later). From my point a view (I live in Moscow) Intercontinental is the best place to stay in Russian capital now...maybe situation will change after Hyatt renovation completion in summer 2012.
Another day, another glamorous new hotel to fantasize about visiting. This time it's in Moscow where the city's iconic Pekin Hotel will be rebranded as the Fairmont Pekin Moscow after an extensive multi-year renovation.
The hotel was initially built in 1955 by Dimity Chechulin, one of the Soviet Union's most famous architects and it sits at the junction of the Garden Ring and Triumfalnaya Square.
Chechulin also designed the Moscow's White House, one of the Seven Sisters buildings and four Metro Stations. Therefore, the hotel's historic façade and internal spaces will be restored and repeated in other parts of the building. Also, the Chinese motifs found in the hotel will be highlighted to "to emphasize the period design of the property" but also perhaps to please the growing Chinese hotel guest population?
The "world's biggest hotel family" just got a little bigger. The Phoenix, Arizona-based mega franchise recently opened Best Western Vega Hotel & Convention Centre in Russia—the largest Best Western so far, out of 4,000 hotels worldwide in 95 countries.
Comprised of 970 rooms, the hotel was actually built for the 1980 summer olympics, but got remodeled in 2007. Certainly this will provide a welcome low-budget alternative to the extravagances of certain other Moscow hotels. But if we remember correctly, Holiday Inn was also planning to open their largest hotel in Moscow too. Oh, the indecision.
A few weeks ago, The W St. Petersburg in Russia finally opened and thanks to a very friendly tipster, we've got an inside look at some of the public spaces and a guest room.
Given that W Hotels have missed the mark a few times in the last couple of years as far as design (W Boston, W London), we're quite relieved to see that this W is just downright pretty. We particularly love the cozy warmth of the Living Room and the kailedoscope lights that hang from the ceiling in the guestroom. But the TV stand is a little funky and there may be a bit of an anti-view.
But how is it actually spending the night here? Our tipster reports back:
The hotel is fantastic! Design is cool, stuff are very professional (which are not typical for the new hotels especially in Russia). Everything is opened now (Bliss, Restaurant, Bar). The roof top terrace (the best part of the hotel with unforgettable view will be opened in June). Unfortunately there is no W party mood now but I hope they will change it soon. The worst thing is the price - from 600 USD for wonderful room.
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]