Location, location, location
Hotel Rossiya (Russia)
Member Name: Morgenhund
Hotel Rossiya (Russia)
Advantages: Central, great views, comfortable beds
Disadvantages: facilities lacking for business customers
The Hotel Rossiya is only spitting distance from Red Square and the Kremlin with one side of it looking out directly across Red Square and St Basil's Cathedral. For most people the proportions of the Rossiya are simply mind boggling its 2,876 rooms make it Europe's biggest hotel, and it sneaks into the background of many holiday snaps its central tower peaking over shots of GUM and some views of St Basil's Cathedral.
I'd originally read only bad things about it, with comments such as "overpriced", "dirty rooms", and "ex-KGB brothel" being par for the course. On the other hand, seeing as this monolith of communism is going to be pulled down next year, I thought I should sample the Rossiya whilst I could. Apparently it will be replaced with a shopping centre further proof that Russia is trying to embrace capitalism with open arms. It came however as no surprise that the Rossiya had a gargantuan maze of corridors landings connecting the hundreds of rooms this started putting my mind into overdrive as to what the hotel had experienced since it was built in the 60s.
I had booked my room online, which is easily the easiest way to book any hotel room in Russia - and the only way that you can be sure you actually pay what you think you are paying - with the money having been taken out of my account well in advance of my stay the refunds process might have been interesting with the amount coming out in rubles although I chose dollars.
I chose to have a "Kremlin view" and paid USD 25 extra for this. Some people might laugh that I'd pay USD 25 for a view, but when I tell you what the view was, youd understand. To wake up and pull back the curtains to see St Basil's Cathedral and the Kremlin in front of you in glorious sunlight was an amazing feeling just as the view as I drew the curtains at night was also incredible. If you want to save the money, then stay elsewhere in the hotel and sneak to a Kremlin view from a stairwell there are enough good vantage points in the hotel.
After having endured a less than comfortable bed in St Petersburg, it was a welcome surprise to see that the Rossiya has abandoned the blankets and sheets bedding in favour of duvets and with a variety of hardness of pillows which is not always the case in Russian 3* hotels. The double bed was of Queen size proportions (200cm wide) and I enjoyed easily the best nights sleep in my entire trip to Russia.
From its fittings relatively up to date, I was surprised that it was not a four star hotel, but can only presume that lack of certain business facilities (WLAN or LAN Internet access) might be a plausible reason for this being the case. There was, however, information about dial-up connections although as I was on holiday I was not too fussed not to have Internet access in any case. The bathroom was clean and unlike many hotels I experienced in Russia and Eastern in recent years, the water came out clear from the tap rather than coca cola coloured (makes you wonder about the pipes!) and the shower was invigorating a welcome change from the showers in the Ismailovo Gamma Delta and the Sovietskaya in St Petersburg.
It would be very easy to stay in the Rossiya and never to go out to eat the hotel is full of restaurants although I cannot comment on their food as I did not sample any of them. I didn't even bother with breakfast the appeal of walking out through Red Square up to a fine café on Revolution Square for breakfast had a too strong an allure for me to force myself to have another blini-based breakfast - I was starting to tire of Russian breakfasts.
I was able to have a cab booked back to the airport at reception - the rate they secured 1200 rubles was a lot better than the unofficial rates of 1600 rubles that I was offered by privateers outside. And the cab had suspension and shock absorbers - not always the case with privateers!
All told, I'd recommend staying here - but you'll have to be quick - rumours are that it will be consigned to the wrecking ball in January 2006.
Summary: Monolith of Communism - worth the experience!