Best for splashing the cash: Moscow

Russia is in the throes of the coldest winter in a long while, and that, by any standard, is cold. Across Moscow, locals scuttle from A to B avoiding the huge phallic icicles which jut into the street from the spouts of drainpipes. At the doors to the metro, babushkas in headcarves and battered furs hunch against the bitter wind, begging for pennies. And, all the while, just a few paces away, Russia's super-rich are proving their impunity to these testing conditions.

Day and night, chauffeur-driven Hummers deposit the capital's élite – dressed in little more than fine Italian suits and shiny mini-skirts – at the doors of the blingest hotspots in town. Breezing past bouncers who keep out the riff-raff with a strict "face-control" policy, once inside they routinely blow hundreds if not thousands of pounds on vintage champagne and tiny sushi canapés, without so much as a blink. And this trend for lavish spending is catching on, as the international-jetsetting crowd touch down in Russia's glitziest city.

If evidence were needed that times have changed here for the globe-trotting holiday-maker, just head to the Ritz-Carlton on one of the city's main strips. From 1970 to 2002, 3 Tverskaya was the site of the old Soviet landmark, the Intourist hotel – a vast grey carbuncle where travellers, drawn by the music, the ballet, the paintings, and the complex political history of this land, were met with temperamental heating units, bugged phones and notoriously po-faced staff. Today, following a $350m renovation, the same spot is home to an altogether more discerning crowd. Beyond the revolving doors, they recline in the lavish gold-plated foyer, reclining in thrones, swigging 1964 Château Petrus for the princely sum of $6,800 (£4,200) a bottle, or paying a more kingly $35,000 for a bottle of 1907 Heidsieck & Co Monopole Champagne. If you, too, want to kick back with the It-Crowd, a night's stay here will set you back from $1,000 to $16,000. But in return, you can expect more gadgets, remotes and general stuff in your private suite than you could possibly know what to do with. If – like Barack Obama, a recent guest – you fancy the Presidential Suite, you can expect bullet-proof windows and a steel-lined panic room overlooking the Kremlin, too.

But how to pass the time, when you're not enjoying room service in front of your LCD? By day, the super-tourist heads not to the Russian-doll stalls outside Lenin's tomb, but to the chandelier-bedecked halls of the Gum shopping mall, to pick out their souvenirs. The savvy art enthusiast sniffs in the face of the famed Russian Academy of Arts – and peruses instead the pricey wall-candy at Garage, the trendy gallery belonging to Dacha Zhukova, the wife of Roman Abramovich.

Finally, one can hardly do Moscow without the "authentic Russian experience". So, put any thought of a morning vodka at one of the supposed KGB haunts around Pushkin Square firmly out of your pretty head, and opt instead for the super-swish 02 Lounge overlooking St Basil's, where the seats are made of crushed metal and vodka is doled out from an ice-bar – with an adjoining Audi showroom – on the roof. Once suitably refreshed, bypass the Bolshoi, long considered the epicentre of Moscow night-life. For the modern thrill-seeker points his ride towards one of the bars which from early evening until the wee hours come alive with pop-techno beats and Lycra-clad, plasticated ladies of the night. After that, you'll be glad to retreat to your room, where, for a mere £125, a "bath butler" will pop special herbs into your sunken marble tub and leave you to lay back with a cognac and cigar. Isn't life grand?

Visit or phone 007 495 225 8888

Bling breaks

# There are few places to match Las Vegas right now for glitz. Out go theme-park-style hotels and in comes the new City Center ( ), an $8bn development with smart hotels, spas, a high-end mall (Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co, Bulgari, etc) and even a restaurant owned by Desperate Housewives' Eva Longoria-Parker. Ker-ching!

# With nightclub charges now more expensive than plane tickets, Ibiza is increasingly the party isle for the select few. If you haven't hired a private finca in the hinterland, book into the haute-luxe Hotel Hacienda ( ) or the modernist Villa Roca ( ) and ask the concierge to sort the guest list at Pacha.

# Park the mega-yacht in St Tropez marina and pop over to Pampelonne beach for some serious posturing. Stop into Club 55 to hire your €100 sun lounger for lunch on the sand, then head to Voile Rouge for cocktails before spending the night clacking your Manolos at Byblos.

# St Barts is the Caribbean's bling hub. Book the 1930s Garbo suite at the Eden Rock hotel, take your bikini for a spin along Baie de St Jean, dine at lauded L'Isola and sip rum at the B4 Lounge.

# The glitziest of Indian Ocean jewels, the St Geran in Mauritius comes with a casino, an Alain Ducasse restaurant, Givenchy spa and pair of wedge sandals specially designed by Christian Louboutin. See

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine