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While we were hoping for a late 2012 opening when we had a first look at some of its photos, things rarely go our way like that in a world of hotel delays, but reservations for Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace in St. Petersburg have now finally started for arrivals from August 1 this year. And as a bonus, the group has confirmed the long in the works Four Seasons Moscow, due later in 2013 right next to the capital’s Red Square, as well.
Dating back to the early 19th century, Four Seasons Lion Palace started its life as an apartment building for the city’s elite, and was famous enough in its day to be captured by Alexander Pushkin in 1833 in his poem The Bronze Horseman.
We've mentioned how expensive hotel rooms can get, especially in Moscow. Where luxury hotels like the Ritz-Carlton can fetch upwards of $17,000 per night for a super flashy suite, it makes sense for an affordable hotel to come to the city center and give options to the masses. Enter, Sleepbox Hotel Moscow, the city's first capsule-style accommodation.
It's not the first Russian capsule hotel, but it is the first in the high-priced city. Sleepbox opened up it's first trial capsules in Moscow Airport ready for long layovers and weary travelers. Now, the boxes have come downtown to one of Moscow's most vibrant areas forming a hostel-like hotel of multiple pods.
Opened last month, the Sleepboxes offers small 'semi-self-contained' boxes that come in various sizes from single, twin, double and a family right in the heart of the Tverskoy District. Each 'room' comes with a TV, free WiFi and unlimited use of the hotel's iPads.
Starting rates of 2,600 Rubles ($86 USD) per night for a twin capsule with bunkbeds is affordable enough for those that are backpacking through the region or even hipster travelers that want a new experience on a dime. If you're traveling with a family and need to reserve some Rubles, the family capsule goes for 4,900 Rubles ($162 USD) per night.
The area is known for a wealth of history, so this place might be the best option for you and your Comrades if you would rather spend your money at the Bolshoi Theatre or other neighborhood culture. And if Sleepbox hopping is your thing, the airport is only 35 minutes from the main train station just a few blocks away.
[Photo: Sleepbox Moscow Facebook]
When it comes to the Olympic Games, historically hotels raise rates because of a little something called supply and demand. We witnessed this in London this past summer. For the next Olympics, we might see reasonable rates coming from Sochi hotels during the 2014 Winter Games.
To make event accessible to more people, Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian Prime Minister, has capped the prices of rooms for the host city for next year's Olympics and Paralympics. With just about one year to go and about double the amount of rooms yet to be built, this is welcome news for those who want to join in the wonderment that is the Games.
In the past, hotels have charged as much as 157,000 RUB ($5,139 USD) for a one night stay, the new reduced prices are roughly 30-40% less than room rates during the port city's peak periods. A deluxe suite in a 5-star hotel will be no more than 13,896 RUB ($455 USD per night) and in 4-star properties the price will come in less than 13,148 RUB ($430) per night.
Though we managed a quick report on the opening of W St. Petersburg in 2011, we haven't since heard too much, hotel-wise, from the land of the tsars. But buzz is starting to build around the Four Seasons St. Petersburg, which is housed inside a 19th century Russian palace.
The hotel's website is up and running, complete with photos of the rooms, but it's a bit of a tease, as an actual opening date has been pushed back to "late-2012," and reservations remain closed.
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.
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.
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.
Cubicle Dreamin' is a feature in which we ask the hotel mavens to take some time out of their busy work day, surf the Internet, and tell us what hotel they wish they could beam themselves to right that very second--all on the slave driving companies dime, of course. Oh, like these people aren't surfing aimlessly anyway--at least now their purposeless clicking will be cobbled together into useful hotel stories--we hope. Have a destination hotel you are just dying to leave your cube for? Send the story our way.
In this episode, Hotel Maven Amanda K fantasizes about Siberia. Enjoy.
The last time I stopped by Siberia's splendid Lake Baikal--don't be fooled into thinking Siberia's just freezing, because a summer spent next to the world's deepest lake is something special--I bunked in at a cold-water-only B&B. Next time round I want something a little more comfortable but 5-star luxury hasn't quite hit the shores of Lake Baikal (yet). The best I can find is the 4-star (Russian stars) Sun Hotel in Irkutsk, the nearest large city to the lake. One comment from a previous guest sums it up: "Everything is relative. This is an excellent hotel for Siberia."
But in fact, it really does look OK. It has all the usual features of a Western hotel, include internet facilities, satellite TV, a sauna and solarium, two restaurants, a café and guarded parking. And another satisfied guest had this to say:
No difference with Holiday Inn in Europe or some mid range hotels in the US. TV has BBC, CNN and stuff. Generous bathroom, king size bed, condition, everything very clean. Restaurant with easy to digest food. Definitely the best deal for the money. Even the most expensive room is not so expensive compared to prices in Europe.
The goal of your stay at Lake Baikal might be a break from a Trans-Siberian journey or just to see a different side of Russia to the big cities, and the Sun Hotel definitely seems a worthy enough place to stay: remembering, of course, that it's all relative.
· Sun Hotel reviews [TripAdvisor]