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World Cup 2018: Hotels in Russia hike prices by up to 18,000% to cash in on flood of England fans

Exclusive: ‘The best-value deal could be £63 for a two-man tent in a field nine miles from the stadium’

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 25 January 2018 16:45
Comments
Russia hotels are charging up to £1,000 per night for cities hosting England games at the World Cup - is camping in a tent better?

Hotels in Russia are hiking prices by up to 18,000 per cent to take advantage of fans at this summer's World Cup, The Independent can reveal – leaving the most likely option for accommodation for one key England game a campsite nine miles from the ground charging £63 for a two-person berth.

Our research has revealed a guesthouse in Kaliningrad is charging £3,125 for a three-person "superior apartment" for the night of England's final Group match against Belgium. A triple room at the Meridian Guesthouse normally costs £17 – representing a rise of 18,282 per cent.

The England v Belgium match on 28 June is expected to be crucial in deciding progress to the Round of 16. On Airbnb, a one-bed apartment is on sale for over £1,000 on the night.

The best-value alternative for England fans could be a two-man tent in a field nine miles from the stadium, currently selling on Booking.com for £63 on 28 June. The pop-up site, called simply "Camping for Tents", is on the outskirts of the village of Petrovo, north-west of Kaliningrad.

One of the advantages listed for the camping option is: “Entire unit located on ground floor.” Its rudimentary facilities include toilets made from chipboard and use of a former Red Army mobile oven.

Rouble ahead: £3,125 for a room sleeping three on the night of England's World Cup match against Belgium in Kaliningrad

The Independent was not able verify who the owners of the campsite were, but last night was able to make a reservation for the night of the England v Belgium match through the Booking.com website.

The World Cup opens in Moscow on 14 June when Russia play Saudi Arabia, and closes with the final in the capital on 15 July. Russia’s onerous visa rules are being suspended for supporters in possession of a ticket and a “Fan-ID” — the easy-to-obtain official identity card, which also provides free local travel by bus, tram and Metro.

With the red tape removed, many supporters are expected to travel to the World Cup - especially from England, France, Germany and Poland, which have a combined population of a quarter of a billion. The Russian authorities predict the tournament will attract at least 1.5 million foreign football fans, and are keen to crack down on apparent profiteering.

Russia’s tourism watchdog has "named and shamed" some hotels for raising rates to cash in on demand. The Hotel Agora, near the football stadium in Kaliningrad, is top of the list, accused of raising its prices more than 50-fold during the tournament.

The Federal Agency for Tourism (Rosturizm) has also called out the Tikhiye Sady (“Quiet Garden”) hotel in Rostov-on-Don, for apparently increasing prices 25-fold for the Brazil-Switzerland game on 17 June.

In Moscow, the Hotel Petrovka 17 — close to the Bolshoi Theatre — is accused of a four-fold hike to £440 a night during the World Cup.

The Russian capital has two stadiums: Luzhniki, where the opening game and final will be played, and Spartak. It is also where organisers and most of the media will be based. But because there is a large stock of rooms to soak up the extra demand, rate spikes are expected to be limited.

The strongest price pressure is on Kaliningrad. It is an "exclave", a fragment of Russian territory on the Baltic between Poland and Lithuania. The location, just 100 miles from the Polish city of Gdansk, makes it far more accessible from western Europe than any other venue. But it has insufficient accommodation for the 35,000 fans expected at each game.

The first match in Kaliningrad is between Croatia and Nigeria on 16 June. With kick-off at 9pm, prospects for onward travel for fans are limited.

A dormitory bed at the Kaliningrad In Like Hostel is selling for £55 on the night of the opening game, six times the normal rate. Many hotel rooms in the city are priced at over £500, with the Meridian Guesthouse charging £1,750 for a “budget twin”. The rate is 125 times the normal price of £14.

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