Post an unforgettable long weekend in the Seychelles with the Six Senses, I had a rather swift change of scenery. From crashing waves and sandy beaches, to solid gold topped churches and hidden bunkers 65 metres underground. Somewhere that quickly became one of the most memorable cities I have had the fortune to visit; Moscow.
Here are 4 reasons why I loved Moscow:
The Hotel and Location
I was delighted to hear our press trip was taking us to one of the most iconic hotels in Moscow, The St Regis. I love the brand as a whole (have a read about my St Regis Maldives trip here), mostly because you know whatever is promised will be delivered. Excellent service and luxury settings are just two of the deliverables synonymous with the brand.
The St Regis Moscow Nikolskaya is both grand and beautiful, located in the heart of Moscow and walking distance to many of the iconic buildings and places that people come to Moscow to see. The shops are something out of a fairy book, the buildings handcrafted with the finest details and designed as if they were a set for a fashion show.
The rooms themselves at the hotel are the epitome of Russian elegance with a natural hint of flare. I stayed in one of the suites; complete with a decadent bed one might find fit for a Queen (I couldn’t actually reach the other side … despite trying!), a separate office, lounge area and upper floor for bathroom and dressing room. It was quite the picture.
And if the suites and grand lobby don’t do it for you, maybe the Idrium spa and gym will. I went every morning to use the gym … an accomplishment I was quite proud of given the walking we did each day would happily qualify as my dose of exercise! But it was refreshing to have a facility in the hotel which wasn’t the equivalent to Harry Potter’s under-stair-cupboard! It’s a beautiful open space with good quality equipment and overlooks the impressive pool and jacuzzi area. Quite a few guests would use that for morning laps too. The spa is also equipped with a sauna and steam room, with chair beds as well as your typical benches – something I’ve only ever seen in a wellness retreat in Italy so a nice surprise!
On top of the busy list for in-house guests, it seems the St Regis is also quite the hotspot for evening entertaining and after-work cocktails (or your complimentary glass of champagne that they offer every week night). Whether it was people coming for the exceedingly tempting afternoon tea, the once a week complimentary jazz night or 7pm sabering ceremony – the lobby restaurant always had a welcoming buzz to it.
The Diverse Food and Restaurant Scene
We were lucky to have landed on some of the popular dining destinations in Moscow. Tavola, the contemporary Italian is the St Regis’s “all day dining” restaurant – however, that’s not really a fair description given most “all day dining spots” don’t usually serve caviar and the most incredible salmon sashimi with your morning eggs benedict. It attracts quite the crowd, noting at least two very well-known faces come in over the course of lunch and dinner, to whom nobody seems to bat an eyelid (out of regularity rather than importance). The food is exceptional; delicate with mostly a healthy spin and it screams great Italian cooking all the way.
We also went to one of the favourite restaurants I have been to, world wide, called Cafe Pushkin. Recommended to me by a friend whose partner lives in Moscow, it was a great shout. Authentic and completely unique to anything I’ve experienced before. It was classic Russian cuisine, which I can’t say is my favourite, but it was certainly the best of the best and well worth the experience. Built within an old library with an endearing history, expect to find harpists playing a beautiful background melody and food that whilst stays true to its history, has been modernised and adapted to fulfil a 360 dining experience.
The History and Never Ending List of Sight Seeing
I have to be honest, I don’t tend to be the person clinging onto every word the tour guide has to offer, spending hours walking from sight to sight taking it all in, but this trip turned me into quite the tourist! With the tour guide on my right and camera bag on my left – I was quite the keen old bean!
Truthfully there is so much incredible history steeped into Moscow and many fascinating stories to be told. I guess every city has that element but this felt different to me, and the fact we had a hero of a tour guide, Ahmed and M.I travel to take us through the city topped it all off.
Whether it was the Bolshoi Ballet theatre, the Kremlin or the bustling Red Square, each hour turned into a new story book – and all just walking distance from our hotel. Even the shopping mall, (which we have plenty of in Dubai!) was full of character and had something truly unique about it. 200 years old, GUM shopping mall is not only spotless but transports you to a movie set. There’s a fountain in the middle, which before mobile phones came about was the meeting spot for dates or business meetings, full to the brim of watermelons. Apparently they change the design of it each season. I couldn’t help but steal a quick snap!
We also had the fortune of visiting St Regis’ sister hotel – The National. It is somehow even more in the centre than the St Regis, with the presidential suites looking over the Kremlin and Red Square. The walls of the hotel are lined with an impressive array of guests, from royalty of the crown to royalty of football (Pelé – yes, my husband will be proud of me for knowing!). Purposefully less modern than the St Regis, to maintain it’s rich history and classic luxuriousness.
Fab Day Excursions
Admittedly it may not take you all day, but the trips themselves are packed full of information and stories you’ve most likely never come across that it deserves the title.
Two highlight trips were to Bunker 42 museum and Garage museum. Both completely different but equally as fascinating.
Bunker 42 is a museum on the hidden bunker built by Joseph Stalin, 65 metres underground. No one actually knew of the bunker until 30 years ago at which point it became the museum it is today. Built after the second world war to manage all military operations and withstand any nuclear attack (at the time – now rendered useless for that purpose as nuclear bombs have become so much more powerful) it’s the most interesting museum I’ve visited. The guide takes you down the stairs the soldiers would have used and along the tunnels that were built in case of an attack. A deep red colour – as that was taught to be the colour that relaxes people. Workers building the bunker changed every two months so that they couldn’t see the development of it, therefore being kept in the dark as to it’s purpose. As far as they knew, they were building an underground railway track. Even more incredible – the entire bunker could operate for 90 days with the 2000 people working there with food, electricity, water etc – pretty well equipped, hey!
The second was the Garage museum – a museum of contemporary art, founded by Dasha Zhukov, Roman Abramovich’s ex wife. The exhibitions change all the time but we went to see their ‘bone music’ one, all about how people got around Russian laws that banned music from other countries by printing their music on x-ray images rather than a classic record disc. Really beautifully put together!
During the winter, the park where the Garage Museum is located turns into a massive ice skating rink – one for the bucket list!
Overall, an amazing long weekend stay in Moscow and SUCH an intresetng city to visit. I’m only sad I didn’t get the chance to head to Saint Petersburg too as I hear that is beyond beautiful! To get more information about the St Regis is Moscow, please visit their website here, and comment below with any comments or questions you have!
I hope you enjoyed this post!