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Where to Stay in Russia: Lodging Tips

Traveling in Russia is filled with grand adventures, from the cosmopolitan cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow to the desolate landscapes of Siberia. While hotels are the most traditional places to stay when exploring a new country, there are many other options to consider here such as bed and breakfasts, apartment rentals and hostels — which often show you a totally different side of Russia.

Following are a few key Russian lodging options to explore.

Russia Hotels

Many people elect to stay in hotels at least for a few nights at the start of their trip to help them ease into a new location. As there is no official nationwide Russian hotel rating system, researching your options carefully is important. Be sure to read reviews and look at photos posted by past guests on sites such as TripAdvisor.

If you’re not looking for unexpected adventures, there are many recognizable international brands here, including Marriott, Hilton, DoubleTree and Best Western. We recommend booking at least some of your hotels in advance, especially if you’re traveling during the busier summer months.

Russia has endless options, ranging from communist-era block hotels with little to no ambience to gorgeous luxury properties. For total opulence check out the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow. The property offers one-stop shopping: You can experience a high-end banya (Russian bath) in its spa or take one of several cooking classes (Russian, Armenian, Japanese…). This five-star property is located in the center of Moscow, and guests can easily walk to the Kremlin, Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Another exceptional option is the luxurious Hotel Baltschug Kempinski in Moscow, which boasts magnificent views of the Moskva River and the Kremlin. If you like the experience, another fabulous place to stay in the same hotel family is the Kempinski Hotel Moika 22 in St. Petersburg. It’s located in the center of the city, close to the Hermitage Museum. The owners have transformed an 1853 mansion into a modern hotel with fantastic views and amenities.

Another high-end hotel with a great location and lots of charm is St. Petersburg’s Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, which dates back to 1875 and once served as a hospital and orphanage. Be sure to go see the spectacular Art Nouveau-style stained glass in the L’Europe restaurant.

For a five star experience in Siberia (don’t fret — one exists!), the Novosibirsk Marriott Hotel has more than 100 rooms and is on the route of the Trans-Siberian railway. The hotel boasts an indoor pool and fitness center.

On a more modest budget? The Hotel Gogol in St. Petersburg is both historic and affordable. It’s the house where the writer Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol lived and worked; a stay here might even get your creative juices flowing.

Another value-priced boutique option in St. Petersburg is the Hotel Vera. It boasts free Wi-Fi and buffet breakfast, as well as a cafe with plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options.

For a mid-priced place to stay in Moscow, we like the Mercure Arbat, located near two different metro stations. The hotel offers high-speed Internet, a gym, a library and access to numerous nearby cafes and restaurants.

Internationally known chain hotels such as the Crowne Plaza, Hilton and Holiday Inn are always a safe bet. If you’d rather give a Russian-owned hotel chain a try, look into Azimut Hotels. These properties offer Wi-Fi, breakfast and moderate rates in cities across Russia.

Russia Hotel Resources:
En.AzimutHotels.com
Booking.com
Eng.GogolHotel.com
GrandHotelEurope.com
HotelVera.ru
Kempinski.com
Mercure.com
Moscow-Hotels.net
Moscow.Park.Hyatt.com
TripAdvisor.com

Russia Bed and Breakfasts

Bed and breakfasts in Russia are an interesting and affordable option, offering a fantastic way to meet the locals and immerse yourself in their culture. Be aware that some are as simple as a room in someone’s home, while others are small hotels that include breakfast in their rates.

In the case of some inexpensive B&Bs, the photos you see online may be a bit misleading (places are often smaller than they appear). Do your research and try to find photos from guests who have recently stayed there on sites such as TripAdvisor. You’ll also want to map the location of the property; some are difficult to find and marked with only a small sign.

Russia Bed and Breakfast Resources:
BedandBreakfast.eu
BedandBreakfastWorld.com

Russia Apartment and Dacha Rentals

Renting an apartment in Russia is another good opportunity to get a taste of local culture. But if you are a first-time visitor, it’s imperative to ask plenty of questions prior to your rental.

Be sure to find out the exact location of the apartment and which modes of public transportation are nearby. Ask the host how close the supermarkets are and if they are open on weekends. Find out about other spots to buy food nearby, such as restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries.

Air conditioning is not a guarantee and most homes don’t have it, so inquire prior to your rental if you’re visiting in the summer. Other key questions: Does the apartment have phone and Internet? Is there an elevator? Does the owner speak English? Will he or she be nearby if there is a problem during your stay?

Look for online reviews from past guests, keeping in mind that their expectations or standards might differ from yours.

Renting a dacha is another unique option. A dacha is a country home where many Russians would stay in the summer to escape the cities. These houses were an integral part of life for the wealthy and middle classes in the 19th century. Renting a modern-day dacha can be tricky, as many listings are only in Russian and most owners are looking for long-term renters, not just guests for a few days. You’ll also want to start looking early, as many people book dachas in the cold of winter to ensure a location for their summer holiday.

Russia Vacation Rental Resources:
Airbnb.com
HomeAway.com

Russia Hostels

Russian hostels offer bargain rates as well as a chance to meet fellow travelers from all over the world. Some have great locations, such as the Cubahostel in St. Petersburg, where you can stay in the same building where the composer Rachmaninov once lived. This hostel offers a variety of amenities, including lockers, a common room stocked with “intellectual” games, a hammock and a free shot of vodka each night of your stay.

Websites such as Hostels.com and HostelWorld.com offer listings and reviews. It’s worth double-checking reviews on multiple websites for a wider range of opinions. Some hostels have private rooms, while others have only dorms. You may need to bring your own linens and towels (or pay extra to rent them).

Russia Hotel Resources:
Cubahostel.ru
Hostels.com
HostelWorld.com

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Getting Around Russia: Transportation Tips
St. Petersburg Travel Guide

–written by Masada Siegel

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