Heads on Beds: Grand Hotel Europe, St Petersburg

Checking into a St Petersburg legend

The Grand has seen a great deal in its 130-year history. Not just the start of the Bolshevik Revolution, which began just round the corner, but George Bernard Shaw dining with Maxim Gorky, and the composer Tchaikovsky contemplating suicide on his disastrous honeymoon.

Over the years, writers such as Turgenev, Dostoevsky and HG Wells have boarded here, as well as a raft of composers from Johann Strauss II and Debussy to Igor Stravinsky and Elton John. The Grand is also the hotel of choice for visiting politicians.

So famous is The Grand, in fact, that it featured in the 1995 James Bond movie GoldenEye, though a “stand-in” was used for the exteriors; according to the cast list, the part of The Grand was played by the Langham Hotel in London.

Conspicuous consumption is the keynote of the hotel today. This is an expensive venue in an expensive city but many will say it's also the best.

Track it down

Positioned on the intersection of Nevsky Prospekt, St Petersburg’s most splendid avenue, and Mikhailovskaya Street, the former Hotel Evropeiskaya is in the centre of the artistic district of St Petersburg and within walking distance of both the Russian Museum and Mussorgsky Theatre.

Transfer time to the hotel takes approx 45 minutes from Pulkovo-2, St Petersburg’s International airport and a taxi can cost as little as Rbs700 (£15) to Rbs1,500 (£32), depending on traffic. Hotel transfers from the airport can be arranged in one of a fleet of BMW limousines. These beautiful beasts are upholstered in natural leather and wood and are fitted with seat warmers. But you’ll have to budget Rbs3,000 (£64) per journey.

Check in

The marble-and-gilt décor and sweeping staircases of the lobby were installed by Friedrich Lidval and Leon Benois, the Russian-born grandfather of Peter Ustinov. Just before the First World War these two men imposed the new Franco-Belgian style “Art Nouveau” on the hotel.

Reception staff speak Russian, English, French, Italian and German. The hotel also offers “Speedy VIP” check-in at its own discretion. Fortunate guests are met and led to the guest relation desk. Here drinks and canapés are offered while the check-in is completed and priority is given to luggage. There is also a “Special Guest Check-in” which is carried out in the guest’s room.

Room to manoeuvre

There are 301 rooms, all conspicuously plumped with cushions and scattered with elegant reproduction furniture. Even the most basic Classic Rooms feature an entrance hall, marble tiles with underfloor heating and a seating area in the bedroom.

Terrace Rooms are located on the fifth floor and, as you might expect, enjoy terraces overlooking the city. The best are these that face Arts Square and the Church of the Spilt Blood.

Moving up the price list, Duplex Rooms are decorated with modern Russian paintings and have a bedroom upstairs with lounge and working area below. There are three kinds of suite; “Belle Chambre” Junior Suites, which deliberately recall the hotel’s 19th-century origins, plus Classic Suites and Executive Suites, both of which feature lounges and extra washrooms or bathrooms. Top of the range are the two Presidential Suites, which are big enough for meetings, or the occasional international summit.

Soaps, body lotion, shampoo, conditioner and shower gel are by Molton Brown with additional amenities by Bulgari and Lady Primrose.

Get connected

High-speed internet connection is available in all guest rooms, conference and public areas. Rates are per Rbs350 (£7.50) per hour, Rbs960 (£20) per 24 hours and Rbs2,400 (£51) per 72 hours.

There is a Business Centre on the ground floor near the hotel reception, which can provide secretarial assistance, interpreters and translators at a rate of Rbs850 (£18) per hour. It also offers a private meeting room, which can double as a temporary office. Postal and courier services can be arranged and there are the usual fax and internet connections costed at Rbs5 (10p per minute).

There are numerous rooms for meetings and conferences, including the spacious Kryscha Ballroom on the hotel’s top floor, the Kryscha Terrace and the Lidval Room. The Billiard Room and Museum Room are both ideal for private dining. The three Tchaikovsky Rooms will combine to make a large conference room, while the Gorky Room is good for formal receptions.

Fitness regime

The Planet Health Club is on the Mezzanine Café level and offers all the standard cardiovascular exercise machines plus a sauna and plunge pool. Open weekdays, 7am to 10pm, weekends and holidays, 9am to 9pm.

Raid the minibar

From Russian beer at Rbs180 (£3.85) to Romanov Classic Champagne at Rbs2,800 (£60) this is a well-stocked bar. A half-bottle of red wine costs Rbs1,600 (£34) and white Rbs1,800 (£38). Imperial Vodka and Bombay Sapphire Gin miniatures both check in at Rbs400 (£8.50). Use of the corkscrew Rbs500 (£10.50). You picked a very good week to give up alcohol!

Prices are cheaper in the bar downstairs, with a shot of vodka costing as little as Rbs125 (£2.70), but it can quickly climb to Rbs1,500 (£32) per measure depending on the vodka.

Breakfast news

Breakfast is served from 7am to 10.30am in L’Europe Restaurant on the Mezzanine. Go for the buffet which is pretty extensive and caters for most needs at Rbs1,200 (£26). Continental Breakfast is also available at Rbs900 (£19). Breakfast in your room can be ordered from the room service menu.

The hotel now has five restaurants and two cafés. L’Europe specialises in French and European cuisine in Art Nouveau surroundings and is recognised as one of the best restaurants in St Petersburg. Rossi’s Restaurant offers Italian fare in more relaxed surroundings. Next door, Chopsticks provides Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine. The Caviar Bar and Restaurant is another Art Nouveau setting, this time offering Russian food and vodka. The Mezzanine Café is the ideal spot to enjoy fresh breakfast pastries in the morning, traditional afternoon tea and light snacks all day long. The hotel’s other café and restaurant are in the nearby Philharmonic building. The hotel’s Lobby Bar provides live jazz and blues in the evening .

Rack rates

A Classic Standard Room starts from Rbs12,000 (£255) per night room only. Junior Suites start at Rbs18,900 (£400) and Presidential at Rbs66,100 (£1,400) per night.

The address

Grand Hotel Europe, Nevsky Prospekt Mikhailovskaya Ulitsa 1/7 St Petersburg, Russia (00 7 812 329 6000; grand-hotel-europe.com).

News
Disruption at Waterloo after a person was hit by a train
newsCancellations and disrupted service after person hit by train
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The almost deserted Liverpool Echo Arena on Monday
tvCan X Factor last in the face of plummeting numbers auditioning
News
Kirsty Bertarelli is launching a singing career with an album of songs detailing her observations of “real life”
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Content Assistant / Copywriter

    £15310 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reception Manager

    £18750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Hotel in Chadderton is a popular ch...

    Guru Careers: Marketing and Communications Manager

    £Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence