St Petersburg’s oldest and most venerated hotel – and once again the pulse of a reawakened city.
City | History & culture
Only 17km from the airport and just barely off Nevsky prospect – St Petersburg’s answer to the Champs-Elysées – the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe is ideally suited to exploring St Petersburg’s plethora of attractions, which include the world-famous Hermitage Museum, home to the largest collection of sculpture and fine art in the world. If you’re not sure where to head, ask the hotel’s savvy concierges, who seem to be able to procure just about anything, from opera tickets and restaurant reservations to boat rides on the city’s beautiful canals.
For the last few decades of St Petersburg’s reign as Russia’s capital, the Grand Hotel Europe was a symbol of prosperity and sophistication. Much of its 19th century splendour remains. Bedrooms are entered through their own entrance hall and are adorned with Russian artwork. Furnishings are antique, bathrooms are slathered in heated marble and the suites in particular reach the highest peaks of luxury. The Presidential Suite has its own sauna and lounge bar, but for a taste of the hotel’s past, we recommend the Historic Suites, with names like Dostoevsky, Fabergé, Romanov and Stravinsky.
Russia’s elite and visiting socialites all flock to eat at the Grand Hotel Europe, whether they’re staying here or not. The hotel’s latest culinary success is AZIA, which serves up a fusion of Asian cuisines. The Art Nouveau Caviar Bar is the only caviar restaurant in St Petersburg, while L’Europe is Russia’s oldest continually serving restaurant and bubbles over with timeless elegance. It’s worth spending the weekend just to sample the buffet breakfast below the stained-glass ceiling, or to draw out the hotel’s signature, Sunday morning jazz brunch.
A stay in a place like this is worthy of a souvenir and there are plenty to buy in the hotel’s shopping arcade. Pick up a memento or two in the gift shops, discover freshly prepared treats in the pastry shop, and be sure not to miss the hotel’s own chocolates, made on the premises using extremely rare cocoa beans. Other facilities include a beauty salon, a health club, a spa and a fleet of luxury limousines.
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