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Russia’s 10 ritziest hotels
Thread counts and room service are for amateurs. When you want real hotel extravagance, look no further than Russia
Russian hotels regularly top “world’s most expensive” lists, so it should come as no surprise that rooms across the country take luxury to new levels.
Here are 10 of the most over-the-top experiences that money -- lots of it -- can buy.
The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow
Forget vodka. At the O2 Lounge crowning the Ritz-Carlton you can order shots of oxygen to go with your sushi, while looking down on Red Square and the Kremlin.
Rooms come with polished cherrywood furniture, Frette linens, feather bedding and heated marble bathroom floors.
The Ritz-Carlton Suite has a grand piano, library and sauna, as well as drop-dead-gorgeous views of St. Basil’s Cathedral.
Gothic iron staircases and black pillars lead to the Lobby Lounge, where the who’s who of Russian society eat caviar: beluga, salmon, golden.
The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow, Tverskaya St. 3, Moscow; +7 495 225 888; from RUB 29,000 (US$931) per night; www.ritzcarlton.com
Hotel Baltschug Kempinski, Moscow
The Kempinski isn't only host to royalty, it was in part designed by royalty.
HRH Princess Michael of Kent and David Linley are the talents behind the Princess and Linley suites respectively. The former is decorated with lace and chintz and the latter is done up in 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, for starters -- while the spa offers yoga sessions overlooking the Kremlin, massages incorporating rose quartz and Philippine seashells plus royal grooming treatments by Truefitt & Hill.
Hotel Baltschug Kempinski, Moscow, Ul. Balchug 1, Moscow; +7 495 287 2000; from RUB 21,000 (US$674) per night; www.kempinski.com
Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow
Book 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 bliss continues in Café Ararat, the hotel’s Armenian eatery, where delicacies such as ryazhenka and Armenian cognacs are served in a palatial dining room designed with marble columns and traditional carvings.
The Presidential Suite 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.
Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow, Neglinnaya Street, Moscow; +7 495 783 12344; from RUB 25,200 (US$809) per night; moscow.park.hyatt.com
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 proletariat.
The heritage lobby has 12-meter-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 staircase 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, and offers Russian specialties such as okroshka soup with kefir, sparkling water and vegetables.
Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya, Kalanchevskaya St. 21/40, Moscow; +7 495 627 5550; from RUB 11,700 (US$376) per night; www.hilton.com
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 makeover retained heritage elements, 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.
Corinthia Hotel St. Petersburg, Nevsky Prospect 57; St. Petersburg; +7 812 380 2001; from RUB 5,890 (US$189) per night; www.corinthia.com
Barvikha Hotel & Spa
Coffee, chocolate, cream … the color scheme at this 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.
Rooms feature private terraces with heated stone floors -- perfect for al fresco lounging during bone-chilling Russian winters -- and custom furniture by Citterio and B&B Italia.
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 (heated mud) cabins in the spa itself, where you can also book in for weeklong packages incorporating calorie-reduced cuisine.
Barvikha Hotel & Spa, Barvikha Luxury Village, Moscow; +7 495 225 8880; from RUB 13,600 (US$436) per night; www.barvikhahotel.com
Hotel Astoria St. Petersburg
Celebrating 100 years in 2012, the Hotel Astoria has hosted illustrious guests such as Prince Charles and Pavarotti, no doubt sipping drinks 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.
Named after Russian composers, the suites come with 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.
Hotel Astoria St. Petersburg, Bolshaya Morskaya 39, St. Petersburg; +7 812 494 5757; from RUB 9,000 (US$289) per night; www.thehotelastoria.com
Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg
Opening in early 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 Princess Lobanova-Rostovskaya, the lemon-yellow 1820 building has been given an artful overhaul, its dramatic double marble staircase and ornate stucco ceilings set with gold and bronze accents and elaborate gilded candelabras.
Fifth-floor rooms have private rooftop terraces overlooking St. Isaac’s Cathedral.
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.
Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg, 1 Voznesensky Prospekt, St. Petersburg, Russia; rates yet to be announced; www.fourseasons.com
Grand Hotel Europe, St. Petersburg
This handsome hotel was the perfect choice to feature in the James Bond movie “GoldenEye” -- it’s glamorous and luxurious and has a fabled history of hosting the likes of Strauss and Tchaikovsky.
Dostoyevsky also checked in, and there’s a 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.
Grand Hotel Europe, St. Petersburg, Nevsky Prospekt, Mikhailovskaya Ulitsa 1/7, St. Petersburg; +7 812 329 6000; from RUB 8,900 (US$286) per night; www.grandhoteleurope.com
W St. Petersburg
Most W Hotels don’t shy away from drama in design and the outpost in St. Petersburg is no exception.
Milan-based Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel Partners decked the place, taking their inspiration from the city’s architectural past as well as the Fabergé egg.
The result is a patchwork of bespoke artwork, jewel tones -- lipstick pink, purple, fire-engine red -- and designer lighting, including disco ball-shaped, 24-carat-gold-plated Orten’zia Very Very Gold lamps.
The E-WOW Suite is, as you’d expect, special, with heated limestone floors in the bathroom, a Jacuzzi and fireplace.
The drama continues outside the window where you can glimpse the golden dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral.
W St. Petersburg, 6 Voznesensky Prospect, St. Petersburg; +7 812 610 6161; from RUB 7,321 (US$ 231) per night; www.starwoodhotels.com