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18 Sep

St Regis Moscow

You know what can really make or break your first experience in a new city?  It’s all about choosing the right hotel. The St Regis Moscow Nikolskaya made my first taste of Russia something out of a fairytale. When you think of five star luxury, it’s easy to find a hotel that will have nice rooms and great food. The St. Regis Moscow takes it up a level, however. From a concierge who was able to scour tickets to a sold out Swan Lake show at the Bolshoi Ballet the day before the show (without paying a month’s rent on ticket prices!) to a hammam-like experience at the spa, staying at this hotel made me feel like a princess. Or a Russian countess, at the very least. Anna Karenina, who?

The Welcome

The hotel location couldn’t be more perfect. A mere 3-5 minute walk from Moscow’s biggest tourist attractions (Red Square, Kremlin, Bolshoi Theater, Gum department store and the beautiful St Peter’s Basilica), it is close enough to the sights without being smack dab in the middle so you have to battle through crowds to get to your hotel lobby. Instead, the hotel is on a quieter street that faces the KGB and is right next to a metro station. It literally doesn’t get cleaner, safer or closer to the action than this.

When our car parked in front of the sleek entrance beneath the dancing lights, my excitement rose. The St Regis brand is synonymous with elegance – when I lived in New York, it is where President Obama preferred to stay when in town – and the same understated glamor is found in Moscow. A perfect marriage of tradition and modernity is expressed in the interior design, with sleek mahogany wooden elements, a regal staircase and a chandelier standing proudly as the piece de resistance of the lobby. Doesn’t the symmetry make you smile?

This mix of heritage and modernity is a beautiful expression of Moscow as a city, as we would soon discover on our visit to the Red Square. But first, I couldn’t wait to see the room and jump on the bed. It’s my tradition.

Sweet Suite

When I say room, I mean suite that’s bigger than apartments I have lived in.

Beautiful art is placed thoughtful throughout the suite, including paintings of dancers (how did they know I was dying to see the ballet?). Walking in, there was a living room area with couches, armchairs and a grand wooden desk that looked fit to sign presidential papers.

Next was the bedroom, a sumptuous space with high ceilings, long narrow windows, and a bed with a duvet thick like frosting on a cake.

The plush red drapes and armchair facing the bed made it look like a royal suite. The entire space had wall to wall carpeting, which I especially appreciated after a long day of walking around sightseeing in the cold.

The bathrooms were works of art. Marble countertops, standalone bathtubs and golden accents made it almost too pretty to shower in.

The view from the room was of a quiet street below. While it was tempting to just hang out in the room all day, we were excited to explore Moscow beckoning from just outside. This was easy to do because the St Regis has a butler service that unpacks for you – and packs when you’re ready to go back home. Because unfortunately, I can’t stay here forever.

Upon arrival, our butler brought tea to our room along with complimentary chocolates. They can also arrange morning wakeup calls, draw your shades, bring the day’s newspaper and weather forecast, and are available 24/7 for whatever needs you may have.

Food-Tastic

I fuel up for sightseeing the way I would before an intense tennis game, so lunch at A Tavola, the hotel’s main restaurant, was perfect. From delicious plates piled high with pasta to delicate sea bass and spinach for dinner, the food was as yummy as it was healthy.

Breakfast in the morning was a feast fit for a queen, with Russian delicacies including cottage cheese cakes and pancakes with caviar. Paired with a cheeky bit of prosecco made every morning a party.

In A Tavola Restaurant, cold and warm antipasti, salads, homemade pasta, panini and focaccia will catch diners’ eyes on a compact menu that changes with the seasons. The creative Art Lunch menu changes weekly and offers new undiscovered combinations of tastes and textures to the most discerned gourmands. Its thoughtfully designed interiors will remind you of the warmness and hospitality of Italian homes, where, just like in A Tavola, each guest is welcomed by a basket full of selection of freshly baked breads.

Sightseeing

Take a walk along the shop-lined street leading to the Red Square and brace yourself for arresting views of Moscow’s most famous, historical sites. We had a brilliant tour guide who spoke English, Arabic and Russian showing us around (you can find his details here and here).

 

My favorite was St Peter’s Basilica, Moscow’s famous church that looks like a castle out of a Disney film.

A highlight of the trip was also Swan Lake at the Bolshoi Ballet, a 7 minute walk from the hotel. Swan Lake first premiered at this exact theater in 1877 (!) and getting to see it myself was a once in a lifetime, dream experience. I can’t thank the brilliant concierge team at The St Regis Moscow enough for securing us these coveted tickets.

We also visited some interesting historical sites, including the Hotel National, Bunker 42 (Cold War Museum) and Gorky Park/Garage Museum.

Hotel National is a storied hotel right on the front doorstep of the Red Square, with a fantastic restaurant called Beluga that has sweeping views of Moscow’s pretty skyline. Name any celebrity of the past decade and they will likely have stayed here: Sophia Loren, Pele, Barack Obama, even Lenin himself…

Bunker 42 is Moscow’s chilling Cold War Museum, formerly a top secret spot with a fake library facade… 15 floors below ground are red tunnels hiding the country’s biggest intelligence secrets.

 

I particularly enjoyed the Garage Museum in Gorky Park, which had the most interesting curated exhibitions. On one side were fantastical artworks by zany Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, and on the other was a tribute to bootleggers of jazz music during the Cold War – people who literally risked their lives by recording jazz albums onto bone xrays for the sake of art.

 

Here are some more touristic highlights: a watermelon fountain in GUM department store (first department store in the region/Europe) and a video from Moscow’s new park.

 

Spa-mazing

After a day spent sightseeing, there’s nothing like coming back to the warmth of the St Regis’s Iridium Spa. Building on a legacy that dates back to 1938 and the grand opening of The Iridium Room at The St. Regis New York, Iridium Spa at St. Regis Moscow flawlessly combines science and nature to wrap the senses in unsurpassed luxury.
Complemented by 24-hour gym and swimming pool, Iridium SPA tailors SPA programs to individual needs of each guest to promote vitality that radiates from the inside out.  The spa’s dramatic indoor pool was very popular, a wonderful spot to relax in the middle of the bustling city.

I had a jet lag massage and a facial that gave me compliments and glowing skin for days. A must for Moscow’s cold, dry weather. Exclusive Age-Prevention ritual for face Iridium is a unique treatment designed by French brand Thalgo special for Iridium SPA at The St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya. It is a highly effective treatment aimed to correct signs of aging: fine lines and wrinkles, loss of firmness, dull complexion and uneven skin tone.
The final phase of the procedure includes the application of precious Prodige des Oceans serum and suitable cream with marine collagen, hyaluronic acid or silicium
The unique treatment has an incredible effect even after the first time: the skin is plumped from the inside and shines, facial contour becomes sharper, fine lines and wrinkles are smooth. In one hour I forgot about fatigue and stress immersing into the delightful Thalgo atmosphere filled with scents of the sea, the noise of the surf and the incredible tranquility with the exceptional relaxing effect of massage techniques. I had this treatment before going to the ballet and felt so beautiful in my photos.

Gym bunnies will love the spacious gym as well, although I admit I kept my workout to hours of walking around sightseeing.

Evening Drinks

The hotel has Jazz Wednesdays that includes a live jazz performance mixed with Russian acapella – it was wonderful.

Other options include the beautiful rooftop for views that go on forever.

Or the Mandarin bar across the street for a lively atmosphere. Oooor… you can book a private test drive of one of the St Regis’s exclusive Bentley models! Driving around Moscow’s streets at night in a fancy car is definitely an exciting and new way for me to explore a city. I felt like I was shooting a movie. For guests who book their stay in a suite, they can enjoy two hours’ drive or an airport pick up in a Bentley Flying Spur.

Overall, Moscow really took my breath away and it was thanks to the incredible St Regis Moscow Nikolskaya team. This was one of my favorite press trips ever and left me with a desire to see more of Russia. St Petersburg is next on the wishlist!

 

#WhatToPack

Be an ice queen (and stay warm!) in this sexy outfit to enjoy Moscow’s renowned nightlife. Lipstick is Russian Red, naturally 😉

Moscow

 

 

River Island long sleeve cold shoulder top
75 AED – riverisland.com

H m legging
125 AED – hm.com

Malone Souliers leather ankle bootie
3,180 AED – italist.com

Charlotte Olympia paper handbag
4,460 AED – marissacollections.com

Bangle jewelry
95 AED – oliverbonas.com

Monsoon wrap shawl
250 AED – monsoon.co.uk

MAC Cosmetics gloss lipstick
82 AED – harveynichols.com

 

Sara Hamdan