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About Russia

Russia's vast size, the enormous differences in living standards of its people, and its tumultuous history make it a mystifying place for outsiders. However much you've read up on the country, as a traveller you're still probably going to be surprised by what you find. And whilst most people imagine that the best places to stay in Russia to experience all of this are Moscow and St Petersburg, there is plenty to explore beyond these headline destinations.

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If you want to see grand palaces, gloriously colourful onion-domed churches, and historic treasures beyond your wildest dreams, then Moscow and St. Petersburg are the Russia you’ll want to see.  

Moscow is rife with the remnants of Communism, but it's also littered with wonderfully ornate churches and brightly coloured palaces.  And it hasn’t just embraced Capitalism, it’s capitalised itself into one of the world’s richest cities in the space of a few decades.  Moscow has the most billionaires, it’s where you can buy the world’s most expensive cup of coffee and the most popular nightclub is called ‘The Most’.  The red brick of the Kremlin and black cobbles of Red Square are steeped in history and many treasures built by the Tsars stand as a reminder of the pre-concrete-block era of architecture. But since then many of the less glamorous buildings - factories and warehouses - have been converted into more beautiful ones, now housing art galleries and museums and even clubs and restaurants.

St Petersburg is more European looking and feeling than Moscow, as well as being arguably more elegant.  This was Russia’s imperial capital and it looks like a city built by Tsars.  There are fabulous Baroque and Neoclassical palaces, Italianate mansions, beautiful plazas, and grand churches, all showcasing the sophistication and wealth of the Romanovs’, and one of the world’s great collections: the treasures of the State Hermitage Museum.  Built, at much cost of life, on a swamp, St Petersburg is cut through with canals, has around 350 bridges, and plenty of opportunities to stroll along the water.  Which is why it’s often referred to as the Venice of the north.

As well as the Hermitage, St Petersburg has the almost-as-vast Russian Museum and the contemporary Erarta Museum.  Beautiful in summer with the endless hours of light, St Petersburg is also brilliant under the snow.

If you want to get a sense of the grande scale of the place - and Russia covers more than an eighth of the surface of the globe - then consider one of Russia’s epic train journeys?  Up to the Caucasus where you can trek or ski or climb, or to serene Lake Baikal, where you can sail or row.  Or to the north, close to Scandinavia, where you’ll find Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega - where you’ll find Kizhi island and a spectacular collection of traditional wooden churches.  Or travel to the far east and the volcanoes, geysers and bears of Kamchatka.  Sochi, the Black Sea resort, has become familiar with more of us since the 2014 Winter Olympics, and Vladivostok is the city onto Pacific side, known for its hills, its battle ships and for being the terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway.  

Russia also has 35 National Parks and 100 Nature Reserves…

What not to Miss

  •  One of the best ways to experience Moscow is on a tour with a local. There are plenty of themed tours such as cooking and eating. Setting up one or more of these tours in advance is also a good way to get local insight into some of the best places to stay in Moscow. 
  • The red brick of the Kremlin and the famous, colourful onion-domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral sit at either end of the 400metre by 150metre stretch of black cobbles that is Red Square.  Historic and beautiful, you should make sure you’re flexible about your visit as it’s often being used and is closed to the public.  Lenin’s Mausoleum is on the Kremlin side, a severe affair which feels a bit sad: Lenin had requested to be buried beside his mother in St. Petersburg.  Some of his most significant comrades and political followers are also buried nearby.  
  •  One of the oldest buildings in Moscow is the Novodevichy Convent, originally constructed in the 16th century. On the convent's grounds is the even more famous Novodevichy Cemetery. 
  • Moscow has many other interesting churches, one of the most architecturally notable is the Church of the Ascension, built to commemorate the birth of Ivan the Terrible.
  • Moscow’s art museums are probably slightly less well known than The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, but only slightly, and the headliners are the Tretyakova Gallery and the Pushkin Museum of Western Art.  
  • Gorky Park was a Communist era leisure centre, with an injection of culture into the mix, and is a fascinating place for appreciating the changes that have taken place here in relatively recent history.  
  •  Old Arbat Street is also worth a stroll and, if you can afford it, a visit to the Bolshoi, which is still one of the most atmospheric ways to spend an evening in Moscow.  
  • New Arbat Street is where you’ll find the most expensive bars, clubs and restaurants. 
  • Around Moscow is a Golden Ring of pretty, historic towns and cities, and it’s well worth hopping between a few of them - if only to admire the beautiful churches. 
  • St Petersburg’s headline attraction is the State Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace.  It’s not only a magnificent building but also houses a stunning collection of art - you could easily spend a day here and only scratch the surface of its extraordinarily rich collections.
  • Then there’s the iconic Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, built in the late 19th Century to memorialise Alexander II, is an architectural masterpiece. Featuring Italian pink marble floors, wonderful mosaics and opulent interiors, it's a truly breathtaking spot.
  • The Catherine Palace, which is about 30km south of the city, makes for a great day out. It is a lovely place to wander around, however the main attraction is the 1400 acres of parkland that surrounds it. Take a break from sightseeing and unwind with a picnic.
  • And for something a bit different visit the Grand Maket Russia Interactive Museum, which houses an 800 metre large miniature display of all the country's cities and regions. 
  • Tchaikovsky lived in Klin and remote Votkinsk, Dostoevsky had a summer house in Staraya Russa, Chekhov in Melikhovo and Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana.  
  • You might also whale watch off the coast of arctic Wrangle Island, or spot the Amur Tiger in Sakhalin.  

In Moscow

  •  The Hotel Baltschug Kempinski's location, just across the river from the Kremlin and St. Basil's, makes it one of the best places to stay in Moscow. The fact that it's extremely luxurious also helps. Service is slick and you'll also find a top-notch spa and iconic views across the river.
  •  The 5* Hotel National is a top spot, boasting a wonderfully central location and set in an historic building. The interiors are classy with an understated opulence and there is a pool, lovely restaurant and spa.
  •  Set in one of the 'Seven Sisters' high-rises, Radisson Royal Hotel offers palatial, classically elegant accommodation as well as a 31st floor bar offering superb views of the city. There are 5 restaurants to choose from or you can stay in a self-catering apartment instead.
  • The Hotel Metropol is the grand dame of Moscow’s hotel scene, and has been since she opened her elegant, Art-Nouveau doors over a century ago.  You’re in the Tverskoy district, right across the the Bolshoi and very handy for the Kremlin, Red Square and St. Basils.  

In St. Petersburg

  • The Corinthia on Nevsky Prospekt has recently undergone massive renovation. It now boasts ornate 19th century facades alongside tasteful public areas with an art deco feel. Great for shopping and the sights.
  • The Grand Hotel Europe is Belmond's five star offering in the city, located on Nevsky amongst St Petersburg's architectural treasures and great for all attractions. Here interiors are modern yet undeniably classic and excellent food is to be had in L'Europe, Russia's oldest continually serving restaurant.
  •  The Hotel Angleterre is a buzzing four star property situated across the road from St Isaac's Cathedral. Come here and sample the afternoon tea if you're missing home.
  • Casa Leto has only five rooms and prides itself on their spaciousness plus all the extra freebies it offers as standard: breakfast (continental or cooked), tea and coffee, light refreshments, wifi and free local and international phone calls.
  • Alexander House is a family run, 19th century guesthouse in the historic heart of St Petersburg, offering 20 individually designed bedrooms - each themed around a different foreign destination.  There’s a Japanese spa and some great Russian food.

For Luxury

  • Moscow’s Ritz Carlton is a good bet for luxury seekers. Here opulence is the name of the game with gilded interiors, sumptuous suites and a great spa.
  •  If you fancy a different sort of 5* experience in Moscow, then Mamaison All Suites Spa Hotel Pokrova should do the trick. Offering chic boutique suites with eclectic furnishings this glitzy hotel boasts a top-notch restaurant and spoiling spa.
  •  The Savoy Hotel boasts a quality befitting the name, providing smart classical accommodation and communal areas with breathtaking Rococo ceilings. Enjoy cocktails, champagne and caviar in the piano bar. A superb all round stay in Moscow.
  •  The Astoria is Rocco Forte's Russian offering. It has been St Petersburg's grandest address for years, but with the Rocco Forte makeover you can now expect smart modern bedrooms alongside grand and glamorous public spaces.

Historic

  • St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya is opulent to its core, and has lavish suites harking back to a Romanov style of grandeur. Located in the heart of the city, it's a top choice for an upmarket city escape.
  • St Petersburg’s Kempinski Hotel Moika 22 is a restored Romanov style property.  The interiors have been furnished with antiques galore, and the emphasis is on understated luxury and elegance, plus the usual high Kempinski standards when it comes to looking after its guests.

Hip

  •  The Barvikha Hotel & Spa is located in Moscow's smartest suburb and is a seriously cool hotel. Minimalist chic is the order of the day. Come here for a serious spa break, where they give you a full health evaluation and devise individual therapy programmes!

For Affordability

  •  The Golden Apple is a hip hotel just 20 mins walk from the Kremlin and by Moscow standards it is excellent value for money with rooms starting at around £100 per night including breakfast, if you book far enough in advance.
  • St Petersburg’s Rossi Hotel & Spa overlooks one of the cancels, and has 50 rooms designed with comfort in mind, but also showcasing the hotel’s 19th century heritage.  Each of the rooms is individually designed and the spa is a great place to relax.  Plus rooms start from around £50 per night!
  • The Pushka Inn is a real find. A stone's throw from the Hermitage and most of the major sights, it’s a riverside mansion with an elegant facade and 33 rooms - some with balconies.  There’s cosy restaurant and an equally cosy bar.  
  •  St Petersburg’s Hotel Rachmaninov, situated just behind the Kazan Cathedral, can boast of being, not only, a former home of Rachmaninov himself, but also of its antique filled rooms.  And it has an in-house art gallery which changes exhibits every month.
  • St Petersburg’s Petro Palace enjoys a superbly central location and boasts simple, traditional accommodation featuring plenty of soft hues. With two restaurants, a hot tub and a pool, it's a splendid all round choice.
  • Also in St Petersburg, the four star Dom Boutique Hotel is located in the heart of the city, perfect for exploring the sights. Their accommodation features antique furniture and pink walls, creating an elegant effect, whilst you can enjoy delicious Italian cuisine from the restaurant.

For a self-catering Apartment or private accommodation

If you’d prefer to stay in an apartment or private house or cottage we recommend you visit our online partner, booking.com.

Travel Information

  • Moscow is served by three airports: Sheremetyevo Airport, Domodedovo Airport and Vnukovo Airport. These all have public transport links to take you into the city.  St. Petersburg is served by Pulkovo Airport, located 20km south of the city, and Yekaterinburg Koltsovo Airport.  Sochi, Vladivostock, Kaliingrad and Ekaterinburg also have their own international airports, but the services available here are much more limited.  There are also plenty of rail options, and travelling by train is a good way to appreciate some of the vastness of Russia.  
  • If you want to hire a car we recommend you visit our online partner, Rentalcars.   
  • Being so vast, Russia has a pretty full compliment of climactic conditions.  We think of Siberia as being freezing, but in the summer the temperatures regularly rise to more than 35degrees.  In winter Russia is generally cold and snowy, though in the south they don’t expect snow every year.  

Still not sure which is the best place to stay in Russia for you?  

See all » 12 hotels in St Petersburg

  • Rossi Hotel & Spa 50 rooms from £50

    St Petersburg

    Overlooking one of St. Petersburg's canals, Rossi Hotel & Spa offers an excellent balance of heritage and comfort. The individually designed rooms retain some of their 19th century features with added modern comforts. The spa is a great place to relax after a day exploring.

    Sights nearby  -  St Petersburg is full of palaces such as the nearby Vorontsov Palace and Anichkov Palace.
    Spa
    Check prices
  • Petro Palace 194 rooms from £75

    St Petersburg

    A grand hotel in a very central location. Well proportioned rooms have simple traditional design with soft hues. Two bars and restaurants includes an elegant Italian as well as more casual spaces. Positioned within walking distance of many of the cities best sights. Ideal for city exploring.

    City Style  -  An elegant hotel in an excellent location. Dine in style or unwind over a massage after a day exploring the city.
    Sights nearby  -  Walking distance from a number of sights including the stunning St Isaak Cathedral and the Peter and Paul Fortress.
    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor/outdoor
    Traditional
    Check prices

See all » 11 hotels in Moscow

  • Mamaison All Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka 84 rooms from £137

    Moscow

    A Five Star hotel with the wow factor. Enormously chic boutique suites with vast space, all the mod cons, eclectic furnishings, some with jacuzzis and kitchenettes. Fantastic restaurant, bar, and extensive spa. A great choice for the luxury traveller to experience Moscow glitterati style.

    Spa breaks
    5* Luxury  -  Very high service standards.
    City Style
    Romantic Break
    Recommended by  -  Tablet
    Check prices
  • Radisson Royal Hotel 497 rooms from £178

    Moscow

    Magnificent five star hotel set in of Stalin's 'Seven Sisters' that punctuate the Moscow skyline. Opulence personified with palatial rooms, a lavish spa and an incredible panoramic skybar. The perfect sanctuary to escape to after a day's exploring Moscow, and a superb location right on the river.

    Bar  -  The Mercedes Bar on the 31st floor boasts some of the best views of the city.
    Local exploring  -  Easy access to all of Moscow's highlights
    Views  -  Book a room in one of the upper floors and you'll be guaranteed a stunning river or city view.
    Sights nearby  -  Two miles from The Kremlin and Red Square, easily accessible via the Moscow Metro.
    Check prices

See all » 12 hotels in St Petersburg

  • Rossi Hotel & Spa 50 rooms from £50

    St Petersburg

    Overlooking one of St. Petersburg's canals, Rossi Hotel & Spa offers an excellent balance of heritage and comfort. The individually designed rooms retain some of their 19th century features with added modern comforts. The spa is a great place to relax after a day exploring.

    Sights nearby  -  St Petersburg is full of palaces such as the nearby Vorontsov Palace and Anichkov Palace.
    Spa
    Check prices
  • Petro Palace 194 rooms from £75

    St Petersburg

    A grand hotel in a very central location. Well proportioned rooms have simple traditional design with soft hues. Two bars and restaurants includes an elegant Italian as well as more casual spaces. Positioned within walking distance of many of the cities best sights. Ideal for city exploring.

    City Style  -  An elegant hotel in an excellent location. Dine in style or unwind over a massage after a day exploring the city.
    Sights nearby  -  Walking distance from a number of sights including the stunning St Isaak Cathedral and the Peter and Paul Fortress.
    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor/outdoor
    Traditional
    Check prices

See all » 11 hotels in Moscow

  • Mamaison All Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka 84 rooms from £137

    Moscow

    A Five Star hotel with the wow factor. Enormously chic boutique suites with vast space, all the mod cons, eclectic furnishings, some with jacuzzis and kitchenettes. Fantastic restaurant, bar, and extensive spa. A great choice for the luxury traveller to experience Moscow glitterati style.

    Spa breaks
    5* Luxury  -  Very high service standards.
    City Style
    Romantic Break
    Recommended by  -  Tablet
    Check prices
  • Radisson Royal Hotel 497 rooms from £178

    Moscow

    Magnificent five star hotel set in of Stalin's 'Seven Sisters' that punctuate the Moscow skyline. Opulence personified with palatial rooms, a lavish spa and an incredible panoramic skybar. The perfect sanctuary to escape to after a day's exploring Moscow, and a superb location right on the river.

    Bar  -  The Mercedes Bar on the 31st floor boasts some of the best views of the city.
    Local exploring  -  Easy access to all of Moscow's highlights
    Views  -  Book a room in one of the upper floors and you'll be guaranteed a stunning river or city view.
    Sights nearby  -  Two miles from The Kremlin and Red Square, easily accessible via the Moscow Metro.
    Check prices